Saturday, July 5, 2008


I just finished the best book about birth I have ever read, Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern maternity Care by Jennifer Block. I've read a lot on birth, pregnancy, and postpartum so for this book to stand out so much to me is amazing. I think that this book should be read by every woman who has had children, plans to become pregnant or is pregnant, and even women who don't plan on having children. It is wonderfully written and covers every topic from the episiotomy to the cesarean to homebirth and VBAC. It speaks of a womans right to choose to have a elective cesarean to those that are denied their basic rights by being denied a VBAC. It tells the history of birth and how things have so drastically changed yet in 2006 our maternal mortality rate has risen.

While other books such as How To Be a Good Patient, Uhh I mean What to Expect When You Are Expecting, have nice little monthly charts about your growing baby but glosses over the major issues we as women are facing when we enter a labor and delivery unit. Pushed gives evidence based information on topics. We need to hear that cesareans can cause hemorrhage and infections. That your layers of skin can stick together causing adhesions and that adhesions can cause pelvic pain and infertility. That having a cesarean if you want more children may not be the way to go. That in subsequent pregnancies your uterus can rupture and the scar can interfere with the placenta. Miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies are more common in women with with scarred uteri. That placental abruption is twice as likely after just one cesarean. That placenta previa, accretia, increta, and percreta are horrible complications that can result in blood transfusions and sometimes hysterectomy and that such complications have risen 30-fold in the last 30 years. In the 70's the cesarean rate hovered around 5% in 2006 the rate was 31.1%. Coincidence?

We need to hear that inductions have side effects. That Pitocin can cause hyperstimulation of the uterus. It also does not cross the blood-brain barrier so the emotional release that oxytocin gives us during birth is not there. It also signals the body to stop producing oxytocin. That cytotec is not labeled for use in pregnant women. It can cause uterine rupture in women with unscarred uteri and the FDA issued an alert about its use with pregnant women. Yet physicians have used and continue to use it off label because it is a quick and cheap way to induce labor.

That due dates are a guess. They are not set in stone. 38 to 42 weeks (sometimes longer!) is normal. The average length of pregnancy for first time mothers is 41 weeks 1 day. The average, which means many women went past 41 weeks. That ultrasounds are not 100% accurate at estimating size and can be off on dates later in pregnancy.

We need to hear this information and much more because our doctors sure are not telling us. These are our bodies and our babies.

From Pushed:

"Our country has created a mythology of women who are irresponsible and don't care," says Paltrow. "We talk about welfare queens, and crack moms, and murderous women who have abortions." A culture that allows such language to permeate our national subconscious inevitably dehumanizes all women, including mothers. Lyon argues that this thinking perpetuates a phrase often invoked in exam rooms and delivery rooms: The goal is to have a healthy baby. "This phrase is used over and over and over to shut down women's requests," she says. "The context needs to be the goal is a healthy mom. Because mothers never make decisions without thinking about that healthy baby. And to suggest otherwise is insulting and degrading and disrespectful."

What's best for women is best for babies. And what's best for women and babies is minimally invasive births that are physically, emotionally, and socially supported. This is not the experience that most women have. In the age of evidence-based medicine, women need to know that standard American maternity care is not primarily driven by their health and well-being or by the health and well-being of their babies. Care is constrained and determined by liability and financial concerns, by providers licensing regulations and malpractice insurer. The evidence often has nothing to do with it.

Because I feel the need to post this I am. LOL. I have read this article so many times I cannot even count. I think everyone should read it. Birth is such a major life changing experience we as women have. It is our birth into motherhood. Our births should be wonderful, joyous experiences yet so many women get far from that. Studies show that women remember their births years and years later. We should be allowed our feelings no matter what they are and no matter what the outcome of the birth. A healthy baby does not guarantee a healthy (physically and emotionally) mom. You Should Be Grateful.

Next I think I will read Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First. It has been sitting unread on my bookshelf nestled between Spiritual Midwifery and Silent Knife for too long.


Amoreena said...

Thanks for sharing. Will have to read. I have to admit that my own experience with pregnancy and birth played a big part in our deciding to go down the adoption route the second time around.

I just don't know If I got pregnant again if I'd have it in me (especially as a PG mama) to fight the medical establishment for a different kind of experience...

Jess said...

May I repost your post? This is fabulous.

Allison said...


Meenagirl there is actually a study out there somewhere that women who have cesareans are less likely to have more children so its not just you.