Monday, August 03, 2009

Managing Birth

Does anyone ever ask what birthing mothers want?

Canada's caesarean-section rate reached an all-time high in 2007-08, with surgical births accounting for nearly 28 per cent of all deliveries.


A recent survey of more than 6,000 women in Canada who gave birth in 2006 or 2007 found 48 per cent said they gave birth lying flat on their back.

More than half -- 57 per cent -- said their legs were in stirrups when their baby was born.

"I thought that went out with the ark," says Ottawa midwife Paula Salehi.

Research has shown that women who labour in an upright position -- standing, crouching, propped up or sitting -- have shorter labours, and fewer medical interventions, including C-sections.

Oh sure, just what I want to do when I'm nine months pregnant and in labour, walk around.

Maybe people lie on their backs to give birth because that's the most comfortable position.

All this new thinking on birthing sounds new-agey to me

"Why wouldn't you want to use gravity, and the basic forces of nature to help that baby get out, instead of pushing upstream?"

Because you're sick to death of having twenty extra pounds on your belly and want nothing to do while upright? Squatting during labour? No thanks!

"If you're in a labour room somewhere and someone is screaming at you, 'Just get this baby out, I want a C-section,' you know what you're going to do? You're going to do the C-section. It's a vicious cycle of the public having to understand what's the safest thing to do, and physicians needing to stand their ground and say, 'You're safe, the baby is safe, the best thing is to see what happens in the next two hours. We're going to wait.' "

I remember when I was giving birth to my oldest on Christmas Day. The nurses were flustered with me because I wouldn't push. This is about two hours into the pushing stage. I just wanted to sit down, relax, catch my breath, find that second wind I needed to get the baby out. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. They were ready to go home to their families, let me tell you.

After four hours of pushing, I think I earned my C-section (for those unfamiliar with birth, pushing shouldn't take more than half an hour.)

Okay, so maybe I'm the minority view, but I feel a lot of skepticism about birthing theories. Breathing to control your pain? No meds during labour? Feminist theories of keeping control of birth? Egad, what planet are these people living on?

I feel like the "birth plan" forms they give out at the hospital is an attempt to plan the next episode of "A Baby's Story". It's birth people. It's gross. It's tiring. It's fraught with risk and pain. Let's just face the facts.

I often think my mother's generation had it right: go in, get put to sleep, wake up with new baby. No muss, no fuss.

(And in case you're wondering: I get sentimental about babies, not birth :D)