A few months ago while training to teach natural childbirth, I interviewed nurses at local hospitals in Texas about their maternity wards and some of their birth practices. What I found was disturbing but not uncommon. Both had induction rates of close to 100%. Both had cesarean section rates near 50%. Both had epidural rates close to 100%. Both were surprised when a woman actually came in in labor! To any sane person this must be shocking. You could logically assume that the high induction rate might have something to do with the high c-section rate. And yet- people do not seem disturbed by this trend.
Fewer and fewer American women are actually experiencing birth in an untouched way. Fewer are even going into labor when the baby or their body (or both) begin the process. If the nurses I interviewed are correct, about 95% of these women are never even feeling a natural normal labor contraction not induced by intravenous pitocin.
These statistics are disturbing to me in many ways. I am an advocate for natural birth. Why go natural? Many studies point to the dangers of c-section, medication, induction, etc for the mother and baby. Talking to women, the dangers are probably more often experienced than they are actually recorded. But this is not the reason I am most upset by this disturbing trend.
What is most disturbing is that women are missing out on the experience of birth! What- I know, I am starting to sound crazy... Why would anybody want to experience something that everybody knows is painful? You know the classic argument, would you have a cavity drilled on without medication just so you could experience it? What use is that kind of experience?
I believe deeply, in my core that childbirth and everything that goes along with it serves a purpose.
WE ARE SUPPOSED TO EXPERIENCE CHILDBIRTH FULLY! This issue is about more than things that can be proven. It runs deeper than statistics, scars, fear, or anything that can be measured. What has happened to childbirth in this country is hurting women and their babies in ways that we have yet to understand or even contemplate. I want to explore the unquantifiable reasons to birth our babies without wires and machines and disruption and drugs.
For the next few days I want to talk about about how birth and the experience of it helps prepare us for motherhood. That is why I have titled this mama birth- because the birth experience does not just bring forth a baby- it births a mother.