The Today show, that bastion of journalistic integrity posted this on it's show a few days ago. Go watch it and then come back for my pithy commentary.
Ok, you're back!
How many of you are scared to death that babies all over the country are dropping like flies due to mean, scary midwives who make a woman labor for 4 days without drugs?
My heart goes out to this family. I remember how it is, getting that nursery ready for that sweet baby girl, going through all those pink and fancy clothes, feeling every little kick and looking forward to the day you'll meet her. If that day had never come for me I would be devastated and I'd be out for blood.
However, I was lucky, that day did come for me and my own sweet baby girl is currently sleeping upstairs curled up next to her favorite hippo after terrorizing the Tyke, Dilbert and me most of the day. I was lucky because my baby was born alive and mostly well. However, I can relate to the feeling that the mother in the video had of feeling betrayed by her midwife.
The first midwife I labored with, I loved. I'd seen her for most of my prenatal checkups and I felt I connected with her. I'd read the material that the practice put out about what their philosophy of birth was and the Midwifery model of care and all that and that's what I thought I was going to get. Well, not exactly.
I came in with just some little tickle contractions, nothing compared to the real deal (I know that now). They'd been going all day but we'd been prodding them along all day, walking for miles, stimulating things, all kinds of craziness to keep those contractions going. I came in at about 9pm with these tickles and she thought it was enough for me to stay at the birth center. Then at midnight when I'd dilated to 3 (I know women who walk around for the last month dilated to 3) she thought it would be an ok idea to break my bag of waters. Seven hours later and still no baby, she thought maybe I ought to go to the hospital for an epidural because I couldn't seem to relax and let the contractions do their work. Oh, and she wasn't coming, another midwife was going to meet me there.
All of this was pretty far from the procedures I'd expected and what I'd read about in the literature. I hadn't asked her enough questions and I hadn't done enough research myself to learn that pushing labor ahead usually isn't a good idea, if contractions stop when you stop whatever you're doing, they aren't the real deal and speeding up labor isn't usually a good reason for breaking the bag of waters.
If I'd done the research and known those things and felt confident enough in myself to say "NO!" when these things were suggested, I might have had a very different birth and my daughter would have been born with normal blood sugar and pink hands instead of blue ones. The Pudding was cyanotic when she was born which means she wasn't getting enough oxygen between contractions because I'd gotten my epidural so I could relax and she'd gotten a big ole' dose of Pitocin so that the contractions were too hard and too close together for her to get enough of a breath. I shudder to think what would have happened had labor gone on longer. I also hadn't been allowed any food once we got to the hospital so the Pudding wasn't getting any calories that she needed either. They gave her glucose water in the nursery to fix this which insured that the first three months of breastfeeding were hell because she had nipple confusion.
I trusted my midwife too much and myself not enough.
But life was merciful this time and I got to keep my baby despite my mistakes. And they were my mistakes, it was my baby in there and my body that things were being done too. None of it was forced on me, I consented to all of it. If I didn't know better, that doesn't change the responsibility. Those were my mistakes.
I realize I've gotten off track here with talking about my first birth. The biases in this video are plentiful and you can see them for yourself. My personal favorite was that the "expert" (How the hell do you get to be an expert about birth without having done it and thus being a woman?) suggested that women ask their midwives if they carry malpractice insurance or if they have a back up OB. Do you care if your doctor carries insurance? I don't. If they screw up bad enough for someone to sue them, it's their own affair if they're prepared for it or if they loose their shirt in a lawsuit. My midwife(with my second baby) didn't carry insurance and told me so upfront. She said that if I had a problem with her care or handling of any situation I should come to her first and then do what I thought was best for my family. Luckily, we were very well taken care of the second time around so we didn't have to worry about any of that.
Here's the thing, cord strangulating happen. There is very little that you can do to prevent them and in fact I believe it's about 1 in 4 babies are born with the cord around their neck with no adverse affects. It is a sad, sad thing when this happens to a family and my heart breaks for them but lets not confuse causation with coincidence. This baby could just as easily been still born at a hospital as at home. NBC took a families tragedy and exploited it to make all homebirth seem dangerous and the practitioners of such, irresponsible. Homebirth is not extreme, it's not inherently dangerous. Life is both and many times we forget this or try to blame it one anyone at hand.