Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Childbirth Secret

Have you seen the hot-off-the-press ACOG Statement on Home birth? Oh, geeze...come on Guys. Why does ACOG continue to bash home birth and midwives? Of course we all know that Ricki Lake's film, among other artistic efforts out there, showing home birth in all its glory was just too much for ACOG to handle. Home birth has been kept underground so much that most women never even imagined a birth like that was possible before Ricki Lake's film. I remember sitting next to a woman in her twenties at the Business of Being Born showing in New York City who wasn't a mother, who told me she figured she'd have a cesarean because that's the fashion, who was in tears by the end of Lake's film, looking at me afterwards saying, "I didn't know a waterbirth was possible or even legal in the United States." But now, ACOG is scared out of their white coats because women like her know The Childbirth Secret. They know that not only is it possible to have a waterbirth at home, but for most low-risk pregnant women it's a safe, and sometimes - thank you Debra Pascali Bonaro ( orgasmic. Yes, childbirth can be pleasurable for women. This is The Childbirth Secret ACOG is so vehemently protesting.

I feel like we're in the final scene of the Wizard of Oz where the witch and the Wizard all feel like they are going to get their way, keep things status quo. ACOG is the Wizard, the doctors who side with ACOG the witches and the consumers are Dorothy, the Lion, The Scarecrow and Tin man. Yes, the consumers are a bit afraid, but they are still moving towards Oz and confronting the Wizard. The Wizard, behind all his bells and whistles and smoke is really just a weak guy who is trying to create a powerful all-knowing image. If Dorothy and her crew don't move forward, tell him he's not being nice, then nothing is going to change...he's going to keep on bullying everyone who comes into his path. Are you getting me?

It's just too obvious this whole thing today is a Wizard of Oz movie. Really.

Okay, I just have to dive into ACOG's (aka the Wizard) Statement for a moment.

FIRST PARAGRAPH: "complications can arise with little or no warning even among women with low-risk pregnancies."

Sorry Boys....I have talked to countless home birth midwives and it seems they virtually never see complications arising in low-risk pregnancies without significant advanced warning. Why don't you tell it to women straight? This is exactly what is being seen in hospital births today. Low-risk women are entering hospitals and often after receiving intervention without warning emergencies arise. Now that's a true statement.

"ACOG does not support programs that advocate for or individuals who provide home births."

Let me re-write that with a bit more truth in there: ACOG does not support programs that advocate for individuals who:

* Monitor the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle

* Provide the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support

* Minimize technological interventions

* Identify and refer women who require obstetrical attention

(thank you Citizens for Midwifery!

ACOG doesn't support this kind of birth for women?

PARAGRAPH THREE: "Childbirth decisions should not be dictated or influenced by what's fashionable, trendy, or the latest cause celebre."

Okay, now we know you're scared out of your pants of Dorothy and her posse! Thank you artists like Ricki Lake, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Jennifer Block, Tina Cassidy, and - oh - me!

"there is no scientific way to recommend an "ideal" national cesarean rate as a target goal."

Hmmm...the World Health Organization seems to be able to find a scientific way. It's called 15% for industrialized countries. The US is over 30 percent. Shame on us.

: "Multiple factors are responsible for the current cesarean rate, but emerging contributors include maternal choice and the raising tide of high-risk pregnancies due to maternal age, overweight, obesity and diabetes."

Hold on...are you blaming mothers? Here's where my BOLDness really gets fed up. Have you BOYS ever read the Listening to Mother's Survey II which found that the maternal choice issue for increased cesareans is virtually non-existent. I also want to comment on maternal age. Scaring mothers who are in their forties that they have to have a cesarean to birth their babies is just wrong. Sure, sometimes age will put you at a higher risk, but a healthy woman in her forties is by no means high-risk just because of her age. There are plenty of women in their forties these days whose bodies rock.

PARAGRAPH FIVE: "The availability of an obstetrician-gynecologist to provide expertise and intervention in an emergency during labor and/ or delivery may be life-saving for the mother or newborn and lowers the likelihood of a bad outcome."

Wait a minute - did you just say the OB-GYN was available during labor? Maybe by phone, but in general most OB-GYNs show up mostly for the pushing and that's why ..mothers need interventions...monitoring...all to keep the OB-GYN informed by phone of how the labor's going and encouraged that the mother is making progress.

PARAGRAPH SIX: "It should be emphasized that studies comparing the safety and outcome of births in hospitals with those occurring in other settings in the US are limited and have not been scientifically rigorous."

Have you BOYS ever heard of very scientific and embraced studies from other industrialized countries... like the UK? It's interesting to me that a joint statement on home birth made by the UK's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives in April 2007 opens by saying, "there is ample evidence showing that labouring at home increases a woman's likelihood of a birth that is both satisfying and safe."

ACOG, you're busted.

PARAGRAPH SEVEN: "The main goal should be a healthy and safe outcome for both mother and baby."

And by that you mean a planned c-section?

I'd love to know how you define healthy? Judging from the number of birth stories I've heard in America today emotional health isn't a part of your health picture.

PARAGRAPH SEVERN (again!): "Choosing to deliver a baby at home, however, is to place the process of giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby."

Someone wake me up. Am I in a time machine and just landed into the 1950s? Trust your doctor... not yourself...blame the mother. Okay, beam me to a different time period - maybe 2025 so I can see a time when mothers aren't afraid to not follow doctors orders when their gut is telling them something distinctly different. I'm not advocating to forget about the baby - quite the contrary - having a positive, pleasurable birth is all about thinking about the baby. Just check out APPPAH ( and you'll know what I mean.

So are we clear what The Childbirth Secret is? It's just like the book The Secret. It's something anybody can hold. The Law of Attraction. If you want a positive birth experience put it out there, seek it, believe you will have one, surround yourself with people who have experienced birth and pleasure. Now THAT might bring ACOG's house crumbling down...another statement will certainly be issued...maybe two. And we'll start to see a birthing climate that honors women's choices. Finally.

It's in Dorothy and her posse's hands to make this happen. I'm in. You?


Anonymous said...

Scarily enough, there are plenty of women among the ACOG BOYS! Women OB/GYNs are more likely to choose c-section for themselves! Talk about the ultimate brainwashing. I can't even imagine being so out of touch with my body (or my intuition, or my integrity!)

labortrials said...

The reason many of us refer to ACOG is male is because it is a patriarchal institution. Women OBs are subject to the same male-dominated thinking and action that we associate with male OBs.

This is a great post. I agree with your dissection of the statement. I'd also add that cesarean birth is much more fashionable, it seems, in Hollywood than natural (non-interventive non-medicated) birth. Most women who choose cesarean birth have been SCARED into it anyway. They certainly HAVEN'T been informed of the risks - both short-term and long-term - cesarean surgery. said...

Yes...I use BOYS not because all the ACOG folk are men, but because it is very much a patriarchal institution!