Saturday, March 13, 2010

Birth Event Summary

As promised, this is the report from Monday night's J-WHO event. Women of all ages joined us for our hot topic "What you need to know about birth before you are pregnant". We had single women, grandmothers and everyone in between. Especially heartwarming were the mother daughter teams that attended.

Pray, Breathe, Believe.
Shayna Eliav talked about how most women go into their pregnancies with the thought that birth is a pretty standardized practice and we hope for the best. We assume that our doctors have our best interest in mind. She called this the Pray, Breathe, Believe attitude. We have faith that G-d will take care of us, we keep breathing, and we believe that everything will work out for the best. Sometimes this method works. Sometimes it doesn't.

I shared what happened to me when I prayed, breathed and believed. The short story goes that I planned for a birth that was free of medicine and intervention and what I ended up with was almost every possible medical intervention. You can read a more detailed version here.
Shayna shared about her first birth using the pray, breathe and believe method. She went into labor on her due date. (Who goes into labor on their due dates?) Her midwife encouraged her to labor at home as long as possible. She arrived at the hospital at 9 centimeters dilated and had her baby a couple of hours later. More details here.

I learned the hard way after my first birth and made much better decisions for myself and my family after that. Shayna had another two births before learning the hard way. She too has since made much better decisions. Shayna talked about how we both learned the hard way, and were now here sharing voices of experience. Not just our personal experiences, but the combined experience of the hundreds of women whom we’ve attended to during pregnancy and birth. We learned the hard way, but we’re hoping you won’t have to.

Shocking Statistics
Shayna shared some shocking birth statistics for the USA.
For example, according to the World Health Organization, the USA ranks # 46 in infant mortality. #46! Way below Slovenia, and South Korea. Cuba and Guam ranked higher than the mighty United States of America.
The US has a 32% c-section rate. That means 1 out of every 3 babies are surgically removed. Major abdominal surgery should be respected, and its use should be reserved for true medical emergencies. Other numbers of interest:
25% induction rate
80% of labors are augmented (that means it's not moving fast enough for your doctor)
90% epidural rate
25% episiotomy rate

We watched a short video presentation of different doctors, midwives and other medical professionals sharing their thoughts on our birth statistics. One doctor said that the US is the only civilized nation that uses board-certified surgeons to attend normal, uncomplicated births. Another doctor suggested ‘demythologizing modern medicine’. He said it’s time to stop worshiping these interventions that can be life-saving when used appropriately, yet so harmful when used routinely. The common message here was that technology is good but needs to be respected. Its overuse leaves us with serious, unjustifiable ramifications.

Tools for a Better Birth
After Shayna sufficiently scared us, she gave us some tools to avoid becoming part of those statistics. This is the short version: (for the long version and the most informative childbirth education ever, click here.) There are only 3 factors that affect your birth outcome
1. Believe in Divine Intervention. Prepare yourself spiritually but know that there are some things that are simply beyond our control.
2. Believe in your body and its ability to birth. This is best done through education and a deep understanding of the physical birth process.
3. Believe in the caregivers you choose. In order to safely and intuitively give birth, it is essential that you completely trust the people that will be with you. This also applies to the environment you choose for the birth.

The presentation was over with a description of what a good birth looks like. A beautiful birth is an undisturbed birth; where mother and baby are treated with kindness, respect and compassion. (You can read more about that here.) Using Shayna’s tools of believing in G-d, believing in our bodies and choosing good providers can allow us all to have births that leave us feeling exhilarated, empowered and capable of taking on the world.

The final part of our evening was a question and answer session. We were very fortunate to have two incredible midwives join us. Miriam Schwarzchild and Brooke Farell were gracious enough to answer the many questions that came up. There were questions about interventions, homebirth practices, birth safety and many more.

If you walk away with just one message, I hope it's this:
It's very important to feel safe with the birth choices we make.

To beautiful births,
Chana

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