Pushed, by Jennifer Block

So, I read Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care…

It was a pretty quick read, but really interesting. It brought me to the realization that it really isn’t about home birth versus hospital birth. It’s about choice. If a woman can choose to have an elective c-section, why can’t she choose to have a VBAC? If a woman can choose to have a birth in the hospital, why can’t she choose to birth at home? And why aren’t we supportive of such choices?

In the book, she gives examples of women who are given court ordered sections. The refuse them, and in one case return home to deliver, and are forced back into the hospital, baby inches from being born to endure another unwanted, often unnecessary  abdominal surgery.

It talks a lot, too, about the idea that people think that a repeat section is safer than a VBAC, or safer than a vaginal birth at all. You’re four times more likely to die with a section, and the risk increases with each one you have.

And then it goes on to Epidural. This I found the most interesting. Previous to reading the book, I new that epis slowed down the natural rhythm of birth, but I had no idea what it did hormonally. It actually blocks adrenaline and endorphins, which gives you that hyped high – like when you get a tattoo or ride a rollercoaster – as well as lowering the levels of prostaglandins, which is actually a key hormonal player in contraction. Thus epidural can lead not only to stalled labors that require interventions like Pit, but to things that I hadn’t thought of, like “less responsive uterus, malpositioned fetus, longer labor and higher risk of hemorrhage” (Block, 2007). Why would anyone choose that if they knew what the real adverse reactions were?

I suppose, though, that I’m already willing to accept the relative pain of childbirth for the safety and wellbeing of my child. It is my personal belief that the moment you step into a hospital for care as a low-risk pregnant woman, you vastly increase your chances of ending up with a cascade of interventions.

At home I know that no one is going to force and IV, or strap me to a bed so they can continually monitor the baby. I know no one will break my bag of waters, and no one will stick an IFM (Internally Fetal Monitor) – a corkscrew like device – into my baby’s head, which can lead to lacerations and even infection. I know I’m not going to be checked over and over (or perhaps at all, if that’s what I want), which can increase rates of infections, particularly after rupture of membranes. I know no one will sweep my membranes or tell me that my baby is too big to fit.

So here’s my question…

Where are all the women who should be standing in front of hosptials picketing for the births they want, need and deserve? Why have we given ourselves over to this ‘baby factory’ mentality? Why are there no protests from Planned Parenthood, NOW, or other reproductive organizations? What can we do to get the message across that we want our births the way we want them not because we’re selfish or because we’re ‘hippies’ who want to do it our way, but because we want the safest birth possible, and the one least likely to cause psychological or physical harm!

Is there anyone out there who wants to create a voice for women? Let’s do this!


1 Comment »

  1. womantowomancbe Said:

    You’re my kind of woman–smart! 🙂 Come check out my blog (and also the other links I have there), as well as the independent childbirth educators blog and website. You’ll fit right in to our normal-birth community, and hopefully find out more info that will be useful and beneficial to you! I’ve added you to my blogroll, ’cause I think I’ll like hearing what you have to say, especially as your pregnancy progresses and you give birth.


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