medicating birth

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somehopesnoregrets
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medicating birth

Post by somehopesnoregrets » Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:24 pm

Hello!

To me, birthing is one of the greatest natural initiations. Maybe all other symbolic initiations are patterned after birthing and dying. Midwives and hospice workers witness true transformation. Birthing mothers enter the mystery, not knowing what will happen, since each birth is different. Hours and hours of labor, slowly increasing in intensity, time not being what it usually is, requiring surrender for relaxation and steady progression, up to the naturally mind-altering quality of full transition and then, finally, finally, finally, fully dilated and mustering up all your strength and courage to push another person out into the world. Then, joy, connecting with this completely new creature, both you and baby exhausted, startled with bliss and tenderness. All of this after nine months of watching your body slowly change and make room for this life altering event. If all goes well, that is, since there is possibility for tragic complications at each step of the way. A heroes' journey, if I've ever seen one.

I rejected any and all medical interventions and pain medications during both of my children's births. I labored at home and went into the hospital at the last moment, just in case the baby needed immediate medical attention. Both my daughters were healthy and alert when they were born. I walked to the hospital through transition with my first and my husband drove me there with the second (which came faster). He's a family physician, so I knew I would have been in good hands, had we cut it too close.

I feel saddened by the fact that the vast majority of birthing women in the U.S. do not even come close to the hero journey I experienced through my daughter's births. I do feel this preparation made me a better parent. I'm all for empowering women and giving them choices, but the fact that more than 80% of all women in my hospital get epidural anesthesia (in an urban hospital, in which many of the child birth class educators actually encourage considering unmedicated birthing, even more women in rural settings and less progressive hospitals are being numbed for their births). The experience is a completely different one (I'm reporting on that based on other women's stories about what medicated birth is like, since I did not have the experience nor would I want to). Many epidurals given in the U.S. for birth are so strong that the woman can't move her legs at all. Some of them watch TV or otherwise distract themselves while waiting for the completion of their dilation. What otherwise would be an active, transformative process becomes a mere wait for something to happen.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to demonize epidurals and pain medication. There are rare cases in childbirth, when they are actually helpful. Some women's labor lasts extremely long and then stalls because of exhaustion. Pain medication can then provide a necessary break to regather strength and resolve. Others have babies that are positioned so awkwardly or show a severe drop in heartrate or other forms of distress during contractions, so that a cesarian section becomes necessary, and I'm glad that epidurals allow for painless surgery on an awake and alert mom in that case (as opposed to general anesthesia). I also have no problem at all with numbing the skin to apply stitches if tearing has to be repaired after birth (since pain at that point would interfere with mother-child bonding and be counterproductive rather than helpful). I don't think I'm glorifying or romanticizing pain, just considering it a vital, healthy, and normal part of the process and trying to numb it away as much as possible problematic.

The vast majority of epidurals are requested because the mother wants to be as comfortable as possible during the birthing process and hopes to completely avoid pain. Can you imagine a tribal initiation that uses anesthesia, just so it won't hurt? What if a mythical hero gets ready to slay a dragon but says, oh, wait one moment, I need to first take my anti-pain medication? Isn't pain an integral part of the process? Or am I just a birthing elitist? I of course don't advocate outlawing epidurals, because in my experience unmedicated birthing requires a certain mindset, preparation, and support. Not every birthing mother has access to those. It may not be any of my business how other women give birth, but I'm grieving those lost opportunities for growth, transcendence, and mind-heart-body opening.

If you want to read different women's birth stories and compare those that are medicated with those that are "natural" (unmedicated and minimal interventions), you can do so at:

http://forums.ovusoft.com/tt.asp?appid=55

It's a mother's site, so I trust you will be respectful of the women who post about one of the most private and important times in their lives if you choose to go there and read their stories. Thank you.

Thoughts?

With love,
:) Julia
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Post by JDW » Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:58 pm

Julia,

Wow, our stories are soo similar. I agree wholeheartedly with your angst over the whole problem of medicated childbirth. I birthed both my children au-natural, drug free and by midwives, although it was in a military hospital, not a home birth or birthing center and I coudn't choose my midwife. At any rate, it was the most sacred journey I will ever embark upon. There are truly no words for the experience; A Hero's Journey to the fullest. With my first, my husband was deployed and I had a gaggle of women surrounding me for hours upon hours...although I was in and out of true consciousness, I felt an earthy aura around the room that was unexplainable. We all knew that it had to be done and that was that. My doula almost threatened a doctor who came to watch (male) just in case I got "too tired" to continue. Later she told me "I wasn't going to let that man cut you, I was ready to grab a scalpel and weild it!). It was heady and crazy and just plain amazing...

I believe most mothers are just not getting the real truth, the real stories, the real choices. They are fed what society dishes out. As fewer choose the natural route, there are even fewer to extoll the virtues.

Have you read much about the connection of childbirth to shamans? As our country, and science becomes less gender-biased the truth about shamanism emerges. Barbara Tedlock wrote an amazing book that touched upon this fact: most shamans are women, plain and simple. You can read the founding fathers and they might touch upon the woman helper but Tedlock argues differently (Eliade and others). The rite of passage for the shaman was chilbirth and then midwivery. The two went hand in hand. When I read her book, after birthing my second child, I realized how absolutely grounding, astounding, amazing (no real words) this birthing process is and how grateful and thankful and connected, truly connected I was to this ancient healing art. It was a shamanic journey to the fullest.

Blessings to you and thank you for the post. It was a joy to read.
JDW
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Re: medicating birth

Post by Evinnra » Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:08 am

somehopesnoregrets wrote:

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to demonize epidurals and pain medication. There are rare cases in childbirth, when they are actually helpful. Some women's labor lasts extremely long and then stalls because of exhaustion. Pain medication can then provide a necessary break to regather strength and resolve. Others have babies that are positioned so awkwardly or show a severe drop in heartrate or other forms of distress during contractions, so that a cesarian section becomes necessary, and I'm glad that epidurals allow for painless surgery on an awake and alert mom in that case (as opposed to general anesthesia). I also have no problem at all with numbing the skin to apply stitches if tearing has to be repaired after birth (since pain at that point would interfere with mother-child bonding and be counterproductive rather than helpful). I don't think I'm glorifying or romanticizing pain, just considering it a vital, healthy, and normal part of the process and trying to numb it away as much as possible problematic.

Isn't pain an integral part of the process? Or am I just a birthing elitist? I of course don't advocate outlawing epidurals, because in my experience unmedicated birthing requires a certain mindset, preparation, and support. Not every birthing mother has access to those. It may not be any of my business how other women give birth, but I'm grieving those lost opportunities for growth, transcendence, and mind-heart-body opening.

:) Julia
Hello Julia,

So good to see your passionate and well reasoned post. Indeed, a birthing process - natural or medicated -will always have lasting impact on the female psyche and if we consider only this empirically proven fact alone that ought to convince future mothers not to miss out on their opportunity to grow.

The problem seems to be that all medical practicioners are there to comfort women in their most difficult hours and when expecting mothers get to the delivery rooms invariably they get scared out of their mind by the strange feelings that happens to their bodies. For most women - as I've heard - the passing of a melon through the nostrils would feel like leasure in comparison to being in labor and giving birth. If I recall correctly, the average time in labor for a women with her first delivery is between 8 to 16 hours, but it is quite common that labor exceeds 16 hours.

On the other hand, I've had a girlfriend who described her first - and only - delivery as hardly more painful than what she goes through on a monthly base. Some women are just plain lucky I guess. But I've also met one lady who had an extremely easy time at her first delivery and the second nearly killed her - literally. So, what I'm trying to say here is that nobody can predict from body-shape, weight gain or previous accounts of being in labor how the next birthing will turn out to be.

One thing however is a common theme in all accounts of deliveries I've ever heard about: all women describe the labor and birth of their child as a crucial turning point in their lives.

Those who went through medicated birth invariably suffered from the dreaded post natal depression and those who had given birth naturally experienced euphoria and re-birth of their own self.

Is pain necessarily part of the deal? I don't know, I would imagine that those few women who do not experience much discomfort - naturally - are just as renewed and euphoric after their delivery as those who go through hell and come back alive at the end. However, I'm quite sure that those women who 'give in' and opt for a medicated birth are - without exception - miss out on the body's natural development into a new phase of existence because their 'rebirth' is hampered by synthetic chemicals.

Thank you again for your thoughts Julia, :P

Cheers
Evinnra
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Post by somehopesnoregrets » Thu Apr 17, 2008 1:04 pm

I appreciate the kind responses. Three more thoughts that came to my mind in this context:

I wonder how many women opt for medicated birth out of concern for other people. Seeing somebody you are close to in an altered state can be genuinely freaky and scary. Who knows how many women just follow their social conditioning to try and be nice to others in this most primal time of their lives, essentially sacrificing their bliss and journey for somebody else's sense of comfort (partners worried about seeing her in pain, doctors who worry about lawsuits and want to be proactive about every single possible complication in the book, nurses unprepared for the role as a sidekick in an underworld journey).

I've seen quite a few posts on this site about the comparison of male versus female heroes. People mention fighting females, some of them crude expression of male erotic fantasies of the leather-clad dominatrix, others true examples of maiden strength and refusal to fit in and play nice: Ripley from Alien I comes to mind, or some of the 90s Hong Kong movie heroines. But why is it that there are so many hymns, stories, poems, and mythical lore written about warriors but so little about the true heroes, their moms...?

Of course the journey doesn't stop with birthing. Parenting itself is a genuine hero journey in its own right. Overflowing emotions, great responsibility, and no road map. Conscientious and wise parents soon notice that the scores of advice thrown at you as a new parent have to be taken with a grain of salt. There are helpful tidbits and lots of confusing noise. Essentially, it is about being present with your child(ren) moment by moment, figuring it out as you go along, keeping yourself open, flexible, vulnerable, yet unwavering in your steady caring. When ego pops up, it hurts, so you better focus on the tasks at hand, marveling at the miracle of it all, while being sleep-deprived, screamed, spat, peed, and pooped at. There are days that just flow joyfully and others when I have to take it one second at a time, ready to pull out my hair in frustration. Whenever I think I got them figured out, they change. I constantly say "good-bye" to who I just got to know and "hello" to an entirely new person. I study Soto Zen with an ordained priest, but the best and strictest Zen teachers I ever met are my two daughters. They rock, and I love them.

Love!
:) Julia
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Post by Clemsy » Thu Apr 17, 2008 2:06 pm

Hi Julia, and a warm welcome to the JCF Forums!

Great thread and posts. This is a very important topic at many levels, methinks. Mrs. Clemsy and I come from a very similar orientation: both our boys experienced unmedicated Bradley births. (My wife was a Bradley instructor for years.). Mrs. Clemsy labored at home until just about the last minute with sone number one. This was a remarkable experience from my point of view:

She was as comfortable as could be on the couch and requested I gently pluck the lute like instrument we own called a contele (sp?) pronounced contelay. I watched as she went to this deep, trance like place that no man will ever know. I had to be very gentle about disturbing her, as reaching up out of that place was difficult. Her responses were a bit short and sharp. God forbid I stopped playing! The sound was an intense focus for her. She finally knew we had to leave for the 8 mile drive to the hospital. She kept telling me to stop.

I kept going.

Aidan was born about about 45 minutes after we arrived.

Our second was born at home.

You make excellent points about today's childbirth experiences, especially in the States. The medical community is all about what can go wrong and being in control. The result is that most women are in the "patient mindset," which is passive by definition and even more difficult for someone going through labor.

What's cool about the Bradley Method is that knowing your rights and negotiating the system is part of the training, which includes making sure the coach stands between the birthing mom and the medical staff, and allows any intervention only when medically necessary.

A recent birth we know about is classic: The doctor's "this labor has gone on long enough" alarm clock went off so in goes the petosin, which increases contractions... and the pain. But the baby isn't quite ready to come, so in goes the epidaural to reduce the discomfort. The epidaural slowed the labor down (can shut it right off), so it's in for a C section.

Laboring as long as possible at home is key.
But why is it that there are so many hymns, stories, poems, and mythical lore written about warriors but so little about the true heroes, their moms...?
As Mrs. Clemsy likes to say, "Women don't have to slay dragons. We give birth." That experience, however, was usually treated as a mystery, no?

Cheers,
Clemsy

PS: One wonders if the drug problems with the Baby Boomers are connected to so many of them spending there first moments after birth as high as a kite.
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by somehopesnoregrets » Thu Apr 17, 2008 4:45 pm

Women don't have to slay dragons. We give birth.
I love it. Mrs. Clemsy sounds like a wise woman.
:) Julia
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Post by Evinnra » Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:24 am

somehopesnoregrets wrote:I appreciate the kind responses. Three more thoughts that came to my mind in this context:

I wonder how many women opt for medicated birth out of concern for other people. Seeing somebody you are close to in an altered state can be genuinely freaky and scary. Who knows how many women just follow their social conditioning to try and be nice to others in this most primal time of their lives, essentially sacrificing their bliss and journey for somebody else's sense of comfort (partners worried about seeing her in pain, doctors who worry about lawsuits and want to be proactive about every single possible complication in the book, nurses unprepared for the role as a sidekick in an underworld journey).

I've seen quite a few posts on this site about the comparison of male versus female heroes. People mention fighting females, some of them crude expression of male erotic fantasies of the leather-clad dominatrix, others true examples of maiden strength and refusal to fit in and play nice: Ripley from Alien I comes to mind, or some of the 90s Hong Kong movie heroines. But why is it that there are so many hymns, stories, poems, and mythical lore written about warriors but so little about the true heroes, their moms...?

:) Julia
Excellent points Julia, indeed the greatest difficulty in regaining feminine rulership over the birthing process seems to be that the natural - and healthy - male psyche doesn't like important things happen without his interference. (OK, this is gross generalisation as there are plenty of healthy males who do not wish to interfere with others business, but there seems to be a pattern of 'outgoing' male behaviour that is quite discernible.)

Similarly, if we speak generally about gender typical attitudes, females don't like causing too much trouble - female 'endurance' being the polar opposite of male 'outgoingness' - so accepting help comes naturally to females when they are in need. But it would be a mistake to evaluate 'endurance' to be less powerful survival tool than being a 'go-getter'. Your example of Alien I. is perfectly illustrating this point.

Perhaps a greater balance could be achieved in current world affairs if the masculine principle recognised, respected and feared (?) the power of feminine endurance? Women could come to terms with their own re-birth through sheer strenght of purpose if they were helped by male admiration?

Cheers,
Evinnra

p.s. Just this morning I've 'given a speech' about militant feminism to my daughter. On the end we both agreed that if we were stuck on an island in the Pacific without any males present, we would immediately start swimming back to Australia or New Zealand. Who cares about the sharks ... there ain't no point in living without some man to respect and adore. :wink: 8) :lol:
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Post by somehopesnoregrets » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:49 pm

Thank you, Evinnra for the insightful and thought-provoking comments.
the natural - and healthy - male psyche doesn't like important things happen without his interference.
Hmmm. I'm not sure if I agree. To me, a natural and healthy world would be one in which members of either gender are fully encouraged to explore and unfold both the male and female aspects of their psyche (I guess, what a Taoist would call our "yang" and "ying"). It seems to me that the pattern of more yang being found mostly in males is partly a result of social conditioning and stereotyping, shaming all who don't fit the described norm into fitting in or at least pretending to do so. But then, maybe I've been brainwashed into thinking this way... I was born in 1966 and encountered a little bit of militant feminism in my formative years, that might be skewing my picture.

I feel that healthy is what benefits all (or at least benefits as many as possible while causing the least harm). So, based on that definition meddlesome males and longsuffering females would not be very healthy (since they help perpetuate societal dysfunction), while individuals of each gender who manage to play with their roles and have access to both, their yang and yin, would be potentially much healthier (since likely to lead to more productive and wholesome ways of interacting and problem-solving). I wonder, though, if I'm mutilating the term "health" here into something private and essentially unintelligible for most other users of the English language. As far as I can think back, I've always been a bit of a semantic rebel, so there's a pattern here...

The other idea this brought to mind is that in my experience, each of us has a large number of potential roles in us, which are or are not brought up, depending on the social connections around us. I first noticed that in martial arts class. I've been practicing a traditional Chinese kung fu style for more than 14 years in a number of different schools (since I moved around quite a bit). At some point I noticed that each of these schools had a certain group dynamic with different people taking on different archetypal roles. For example, each of the groups had energetic students with leadership qualities, one prankster (usually not more than one, because it would destroy group cohesion and discipline), a Cassandra reminding everyone of the need for caution, somebody who was extremely overambitious, etc. etc. Interestingly enough, when I switched schools, I often switched roles, depending on which archetype the new school was missing. At one I was the prankster, at the other the overambitious student... And so on...

Of course, there are basic personality traits that we take with us from one situation to the next. Some of us are more outgoing, no matter where and what. Others are shy or slow to warm up. But it fascinated me to see how much variability there in fact is within one person, given the situation. Don't know if this even applies to our conversation, but it came up for me, so I'm just throwing it out here.
Perhaps a greater balance could be achieved in current world affairs if the masculine principle recognised, respected and feared (?) the power of feminine endurance? Women could come to terms with their own re-birth through sheer strength of purpose if they were helped by male admiration?
Or, if not admiration, at least healthy respect and the willingness to cooperate and combine our respective strengths for greater good rather than fight for dominion.

Love.
:) Julia
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Post by Evinnra » Sat Apr 19, 2008 4:17 am

Whooops, I must have stepped on some pretty toes with the term: ‘militant feminism’. :shock:

Julia, it is invariably the case with me that people over-interpret or under-interpret my meaning, so I’m not surprised that you leaped to defend a point I was not making. Essentially I am a feminist my self! Born in 1962 my generation grew up with the ideal that women are equal to men in any walks of life they choose to participate in. (In addition, my mother tongue does not have gender specific pronouns, hence I did not even receive the preconditioning that certain psychological qualities are gender specific.) It came as a shock to me - when I arrived in Australia - that (1) women can be paid less for the same quality of work what men are paid and (2) all women were expected to stay home with their children – and abandon their career - at least until the children go to school. Now, that was back in the 1980’s and the situation had changed for the better here, like in many other countries worldwide. Although I came to respect and advocate the second point, the first still rubs me up the wrong way. It is just plain wrong to pay less for the same thing if one particular gender provides it rather than the other, no? :evil:

However, what did annoy me in this fight for equality with men were those ‘militant feminists’ who spoiled the plot for all of us. Those who took pride in not allowing a man to open the door for them – deliberately misinterpreting a chivalrous act for patronising – those who worked out a certain percentage of parliamentary member quota that HAD TO BE filled by female candidates – disregarding the fact that one ought to get into parliament on merit not on the political correctness of genitals – did not help women in their fight to be taken seriously. And women ought to be taken seriously, whether by feminine or masculine attributes they wish to contribute to the whole of society. It just happens that my personal stance is to ask for more respect for those women who stay home with children, who give up their career in order to have better opportunity to nurture their family, for those women who negotiate and capable of enduring hardship. The gist of my previous post was that it is the qualities that we often associate with the female gender that are NOT being respected and admired enough. (Hence I’ve put a little question mark after the word ‘fear’, as my experience seems to show that the masculine psyche takes due notice of only those things it fears. Was Xena less scary to men than Ripley? I’d dare say yes, for a chick like Xena can be fought by any males but a women like Ripley puts masculine pride in men's ability to use of force to shame.)

In the same vain, I was talking about the ‘respect and admiration’ that I feel for men in general as something that I believe women in general require to be successful in whatever they do. Would you agree that there is nothing more important for a women in labor than to feel that she is loved, respected, admired, instead of being pushed around by medical practitioners, assisted by ‘know it all professionals’, drugged to the eyeball and treated like a piece of meat? What I intended to convey with my previous message is that both males and females are perfectly capable of taking care of them selves as long as they know that there is someone to ‘respect and admire’ their effort. This is the most important help anyone can offer to each of us – I believe. And men/women are perfectly suited to give and take this precious commodity with each other.

You write: “The other idea this brought to mind is that in my experience, each of us has a large number of potential roles in us, which are or are not brought up, depending on the social connections around us.”

Indeed, if we want to draw on our different potentials, we ought not fight for dominion. The best way to bring out our potentials is by accepting what the other can offer … if a female does not want to be like Xena or if a male does not want to be like Narcissus they still have valuable contributions to give - even if those contributions are just plain old fashioned gender specific behaviour patterns.

Cheers, :P
Evinnra
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Post by Robert G. » Sat Apr 19, 2008 4:44 am

Just for a slightly different perspective ... I was born in 1966 without inheriting my mother's immune system. There is a very good chance that I would have died had I not been diagnosed immediately with this disorder. My older brother was born with a disability that I doubt a midwife could have handled in 1962. I agree that a natural childbirth is to be desired, but the infant mortality rates a hundred years ago are not something I would return to (not to mention the maternal fatalities!) Childbirth may be a heroes journey for the mother, but let's not forget how many have succumbed to the dangers on the way :?
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Post by Clemsy » Sat Apr 19, 2008 12:10 pm

Robert, the point you raise is very valid. Things can go wrong with births. However, mortality rates in childbirths contain many factors, including mothers diet and overall health leading up to labor. The point is, American birthing is all about what can go wrong, leading to interventions which cause things to go wrong.

European countries, like Denmark, have health care systems which support home births. I'll look for the stats later, but they're mortality rate is lower than ours, if memory serves.
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Post by somehopesnoregrets » Sat Apr 19, 2008 1:32 pm

Whooops, I must have stepped on some pretty toes with the term: ‘militant feminism’. :shock:
Sorry if I came across as defensive. Didn't mean to. :)

Thank you for clarifying and elaborating.
It just happens that my personal stance is to ask for more respect for those women who stay home with children, who give up their career in order to have better opportunity to nurture their family, for those women who negotiate and capable of enduring hardship.
I very, very passionately agree with you here. I've been finding a somewhat dismissive attitude about stay-at-home-mothering even amongst non-militant feminists. Many otherwise admirable fighters for female rights tend to look at the conscious choice to give up a career or shift a career focus in order to work part-time or from home, so one can be there for the children, as a form of defeat or betrayal of the cause. With the result that I, in my own choice to stay home (mostly, I'm still a part-time university student), went through a pretty intense identity crisis when giving up my paid job in favor of putting more time into being with my daughters. For me, it's the better choice. I have an enlightened, employed, and well-paid husband, my job wasn't something I was passionate about but rather clinging to for an illusion of safety and independence, and they grow up so darn quickly! So, for us it made sense to shift our division of labor as a couple in that manner.

To me, birthing and parenting choices definitely are feminist issues, and I feel organized feminism with its often forced dichotomy of "successful professional working on bridging the gender income and power gap" versus "barefoot, pregnant, and oppressed" is missing the point and failing women. Which is sad.

Some feminists don't get that to choose to mother can be an empowered choice (even if it doesn't happen to be what they would choose). When I was at a time in my life that I knew I could be a good mother, I considered the possibility. I still waited for two more years, because I was unsure, if this was just my biological clock going crazy. I was lucky enough to still be able to conceive, when I finally came to terms with this particular call. I birthed my first daughter when I was 38 years old and my second when I was 40. Therefore, for me mothering was a very conscious choice and experience.

I do feel we are on the same side in regards to this issue and that our respective perspectives very much align and resonate with each other. My "not-agreeing" in my previous post merely referred to what felt to me like a bit of an overgeneralization of "male psyche" (which you even qualified yourself in your post before that, by saying that there are many other men who don't fit that pattern). I just wanted to clarify and emphasize that I find it more helpful to look at male and female aspects of one person's psyche than at differences between male and female psyches (as most people in this society currently like to do, a backlash, maybe, from the more equality-oriented era preceding ours). The latter always has a potential of having stereotypes creep into our thought patterns, while the former is truly helpful, I find. I'm not at all a fan of stereotypes, gender or otherwise, because I feel they tend to hurt people. The fact that there are always some people who (for whatever reason) fit stereotypes doesn't make them any more helpful or constructive, I feel. However, I am aware of the fact that stereotyping is simply a part of how the human mind works and that we can at best be mindful of that, but that it's unrealistic to just wish it away. I'm sure the "positive thinking" crowd might disagree, but in my experience there are certain physical and physiological basic limits to ourselves and the universe, which we come to accept rather than change in our hero journeys.
The best way to bring out our potentials is by accepting what the other can offer … if a female does not want to be like Xena or if a male does not want to be like Narcissus they still have valuable contributions to give - even if those contributions are just plain old fashioned gender specific behaviour patterns.
I agree. As long as such a pattern is a choice not a jail, of course.

I'm sorry if my talk of "brainwashing" (in a previous post) made it sound as if I was disagreeing with you or mocking your perspective. I was merely mocking myself. I find self-irony a helpful tool in dealing with my own pride, fears, and vanity, but (especially since English isn't my native language) sometimes stuff like this comes across all wrong.

Peace.
:) Julia
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Post by somehopesnoregrets » Sat Apr 19, 2008 2:56 pm

Just for a slightly different perspective ... I was born in 1966 without inheriting my mother's immune system. There is a very good chance that I would have died had I not been diagnosed immediately with this disorder. My older brother was born with a disability that I doubt a midwife could have handled in 1962. I agree that a natural childbirth is to be desired, but the infant mortality rates a hundred years ago are not something I would return to (not to mention the maternal fatalities!) Childbirth may be a heroes journey for the mother, but let's not forget how many have succumbed to the dangers on the way :?
Dear Robert;
II am glad to read that a doctor was there when you needed him or her for both you and your brother. I hope none of my posts sounds as if I'm "doctor bashing." I am not. In fact, one of my favorite people in the world, my own beloved husband, is an osteopathic family physician. That is also why I personally consider laboring at home and then going in for a "natural" (unmedicated) hospital birth with a good support system (informed and conscientious husband and/or Bradley coach and/or experienced and compassionate doula and/or well-written birth plan that I discussed with my OB-GYN ahead of time, things like that...) the best option. For me, that is, because I am of course the only person for whom I am at liberty to choose. I personally would not be comfortable home birthing, because even under the best of circumstances things can always go wrong. But that's me, and Mr. Clemsy is right, the child birth mortality stats look a whole lot better in countries that support home birthing such as Denmark and other skandinavian countries (which also tend to have socialistic health care systems) than they are here. Still, I wouldn't jump to conclusions, since so many factors come into play:

-- The age of mothers who get pregnant and give birth (certain forms of genetic disease, gestational diabetes and other risk factors are more likely to happen to older rather than younger moms and might be higher in the U.S. simply because a large and growing number of women decides to establish themselves professionally first and have children then). This is bound to affect both child and maternal mortality, if we look at large numbers.

-- The health status (obesity, nutrition, etc.) and health insurance/health care situation in the respective countries, related to poverty. It is striking how the countries with high taxes and good social networks have better outcomes in all the above mentioned factors (maternal mortality, neonatal mortality, infant mortality, etc.). Maternal poverty seems to be a much, much greater risk factor for a baby than a mother's choice to home birth with a skilled midwife. The data on the relative safety of home birthing could of course also be skewed by the fact that in the current U.S. affluent, educated women are more likely to choose home birth than poor and/or working class moms.

-- The number of elective cesarian sections (affects maternal death rate, due to surgical and post-surgical complications).

-- I have no statistical proof for this but strongly believe, as Mr. Clemsy explained before, that the large number of epidurals plays a role here, too. If a baby is badly positioned, a change in labor position or walking around can help the little one turn. This choice does not exist when I'm lying on my bed numbed from the waist down. Hence, the rise in emergency c-sections and c-section complications.

Compared to other industrialized nations our care here is the priciest yet our outcomes are not what we pay for. I personally would still not choose homebirth, but I respect and support women who do.

Maternal deaths: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20427256/

"-- Infant Mortality: US rate is more than 2x worse than the best rate in Europe, but is better than new European MS
-- Neonatal Mortality: US rate is 3x worse than the best rate in Europe, but is better than new European MS
-- Low Birthweight: US rate is nearly 2x worse than Europe’s best rate, and similar to its worst rate
-- Preterm Birth: US rate is worse than all European member states and 2x worse than the best rate
"
(from: www.ilmaternal.org/MIMS/MegZimbeck.ppt)

Those differences are striking, and well above what one would consider normal statistical variations. Notice that all of these numbers are still much, much lower than the relative numbers in third world countries around the world.

I do believe that any hero journey comes with a risk. That's what makes it a hero journey. However, it is of course an interesting and legitimate question, if it is legitimate to allow ourselves to put another (in this case the baby, in the case of dragon slaying the dragon) at risk of suffering and/or injury just for our own personal growth.

Opinions?

Love.
:) Julia
Evinnra
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Post by Evinnra » Sun Apr 20, 2008 3:33 am

Julia,

I’m so glad we’ve met here!!!! :P Indeed, we have a common stance that is word to word the same:

“ I've been finding a somewhat dismissive attitude about stay-at-home-mothering even amongst non-militant feminists. Many otherwise admirable fighters for female rights tend to look at the conscious choice to give up a career or shift a career focus in order to work part-time or from home, so one can be there for the children, as a form of defeat or betrayal of the cause.”

Somehow we feminists managed to divide our potential force to bring positive changes into the world by getting a bit too excited that we can work in any previously male dominated fields. Perhaps many of us became much less excited about traditional feminine roles. I still remember the identity crisis I felt when I was asked to stay home as a full time mother. But perhaps any person who learns to be independent and self-reliant – male or female – must experience a kind of identity crisis when suddenly their role becomes irrelevant, no? Perhaps if motherhood is a choice one can feel more confident, but even then this kind of change must cause serious self-doubts and requires conscious adaptation to the new role. Indeed, it doesn’t help if one is made to feel like a traitor to the right cause. (Not to mention that as a new mother – I 'd bet – none of us feel very confident that we are good at what we do. I remember boiling and ironing pure cotton cloth nappies and timing all my activities with ‘by the minute’ precision, so as not to accidentally neglect anything that is expected of me. LOL :roll: :lol: :lol: … what a ‘pain in the …’ I must have been to those around me :oops: :wink: … does my sun-sign show?)

You write: “ I do feel we are on the same side in regards to this issue and that our respective perspectives very much align and resonate with each other.”

Precisely, even as I was writing the previous post I knew that we were on the very same page, but I feared my meaning did not come across the way it was intended… I don’t believe in stereotypes either … we just make those up for the sake of (epistemological?) convenience … .

Taking up the journey of being a Mother is indeed a choice made later and later in western women’s life and it seems the idea that motherhood should start in our twenties is fast becoming ‘passé’. Yet, it is still the case that - biologically speaking - the best time to start having children is in our twenties – even though science made it quite safe to delay starting a family until our late thirties, early forties.

Julia, your question - regarding the moral dilemma whether a mother has the right to 'risk' her child’s well being by opting for home birth - is quite difficult to answer. But – just a thought – is it not common medical practice that when during the birth a choice must be made by the doctor to save either the mother or the child, it is the mother they must save according current ethical guidelines? On what premises this guideline became accepted? (The interesting point here is that if women were asked who to save, they would frequently opt for saving the child instead, but it would be against the law.) So, if the mother’s well being is already more important in current medical practice than the child’s, would it not meant that the mother’s choice of home birth is perfectly acceptable on ethical grounds? (What I’m thinking about here is that we can assume that the mother does have the child’s best interest in sight, but we can not assume that hospitals are prepared to assist un-medicated birthing. Just think about all the doctors who are in fear of the ever increasing cost of their insurance or losing their good reputation, etc. etc.)

So, whereas I agree with Robert and your self that modern science can reduce infant mortality, unfortunately the insurance companies and hospital administrations took quite a chunk out of our confidence regarding delivering babies in hospitals. Now I am too old to have children, but if I were ten years younger and pregnant, I would do as you did. I would find a good midwife to look after me during pregnancy and have her as my birthing coach when labor begins. Midwifes in Australia are very highly trained professionals and perfectly capable of raising the alarm if things begin to go wrong.

Cheers, :P
Evinnra
Last edited by Evinnra on Sun Apr 20, 2008 1:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.
'A fish popped out of the water only to be recaptured again. It is as I, a slave to all yet free of everything.'
http://evinnra-evinnra.blogspot.com
somehopesnoregrets
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Post by somehopesnoregrets » Sun Apr 20, 2008 1:19 pm

There are moments that I wish I had the physical energy that I had in my 20s, but emotionally I just wasn't ready at the time. I know I'm lucky that there was an overlap between my declining fertility and rising emotional stability. I know women my age who try to conceive and find themselves unable to. And, I of course also know women who are much, much younger than I am and are wonderful, wonderful, wise, conscientious, and caring moms... Just want to emphasize that I'm not saying everybody should wait, just that it was the right choice for me and my family... As in so many other situations, "right" is not absolute here but situational...
I’m so glad we’ve met here!!!!
:D So am I!

With much, much love.
:) Julia

(edited for spelling)
Last edited by somehopesnoregrets on Sun Apr 20, 2008 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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