Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Challenge to Hollywood

Kate Kelland’s article about unassisted childbirth (also known as freebirth) was published last night - Freebirthers dismiss fear and bring babies home. I thought Kate did a nice job! The article has been picked up by quite a few newspapers and web sites around the world – ABC News, CNN, Scientific American, China Daily and others. It’s exciting to think that many people are being exposed to UC (unassisted childbirth) probably for the first time.

But here is my concern – and it really isn’t as much of a concern as it is a prediction. Knowing Hollywood, it is only a matter of time before some character in a television drama, sitcom, or feature film intentionally has an unassisted birth. Will they show a woman blissfully catching her own baby? Perhaps even with a smile on her face? Or better yet, as she sighs with pleasure rather than pain? Is there anyone in Hollywood who will dare to present intentional unassisted childbirth in a positive light? Or will they continue to perpetuate the idea that childbirth, left to its own devices, will naturally go wrong? This, of course, is the prevailing view held by medical professionals around the world.

“Dr. Crippen” a British National Health Service doctor who was quoted in the article claims that "giving birth is the most dangerous thing that most women will do during their life....Does a mother not owe a duty of care to her baby? Should a mother not take reasonable care to protect the baby when she gives birth?”

Actually doctor, a mother should take reasonable care to protect the baby – which is why I chose to have all of my children at home, unassisted. Not only does research prove that childbirth is not inherently dangerous, it also proves that hospitals are NOT the safest place to give birth. According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 284, July 26, 2000), 250,000 people die each year due to iatrogenic causes (iatrogenic is defined as "induced in a patient by a physician's activity, manner, or therapy").

While the study does not say how many of those deaths are birth related, the fact that childbirth is the most common reason for hospital admissions leads me to believe that thousands of mothers and babies are dying as a result of a physician's treatment. In his book, The Five Standards for Safe Childbearing, David Stewart, PhD, asserts that every 29 minutes a baby dies unnecessarily in a US hospital. Anyone who claims it is safer to give birth in the hospital than it is at home simply hasn't done their research. There is something very wrong with our medical system today - both here and abroad - and women around the world are starting to take notice.

Certainly a homebirth with a midwife is a step in the right direction. But few midwives can legally allow a woman to give birth in her own way and in her own time. In most countries, midwives are required to intervene throughout labor, despite the fact that research shows that intervening in birth causes problems.

And so the question remains, will anyone in Hollywood have the courage to tell the truth about birth?


Lisa said...

I am a health reporter looking to do a story on freebirthing. No Hollywood stunts here! There are obviously people who disagree with this approach but I feel it's something more women should learn about. As a reporter I try to tell all sides of a story. I recently had a baby and found I enjoyed it despite the many horror stories. I also delivered in a hospital but with a limited number of unwanted people surrounding me. I don't do advertising for any one side of a story. I want to show my viewers the beauty of freebirth that you're talking about. If you're willing to help me, please give me a yell. I don't believe ignorance is bliss. I think it leads to free and judgement.
Lisa Manzo
St. Louis, MO 63102

TisGlorious! said...

Laura, I think you're absolutley right and astute to pick up on how powerful a medium Hollywood movies/shows can be. It's almost sad when you go onto You Tube and hear comments like: Whoa! I didn't know babies could move like that in the womb. I thought that only happened on the "Alien" movies. It just shows (1) How little we people of the modern age know about something as natural as childbirth and pregnancy (2) How much of our social influence comes from TV.

Additionally, I saw another clip on You Tube supporting Homebirths versus hospital births, and it was interesting to hear that from the mouths of certain doctors themselves, birthing in hospitals was about "money", that over 20% of hospital revenues come from births. That's quite staggering. No wonder physicians are pushing hopspital births.

Thirdly, I think you're absolutely right about natural childbirth away from hospitals is very safe. How else do you explain the millions of people in the ancient world who were able to multipy seemingly without all that medical technology--long before we learned to pastuerise milk?

I'm a person who values my privacy and intimacy. I'm very sensitive. Annual women's exams are traumatic enough for me as it is. One day when I start a family, I only want the most trusted people with me when I give birth to my children.

Thanks for educating us and bringing back our consciousness and confidence to the natural workings of our bodies.