Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Where's MY Gold Star?

I wish I could link this video directly to my blog, unfortunately I have been unable to find it on YouTube... so have a quick view and come back to view my take on this lovely tidbit...

What to Know Before: An Epidural

 
So, are you back?  What did you think? 

Suppose for a minute that you're me, can you guess my gut reaction to that segment?

Okay, allow me to start with the penis/bowling ball versus a vagina comparison.  This is almost so ridiculous that it doesn't even deserve me wasting words on it, but since I'm in a mood... I'm going to.  The average circumference for a newborns head is 14" (35cm).  The average circumference for 5 pin bowling ball is 15" (39.5cm).  If you are not familiar with the difference between a vagina and a penis, let's just say a vagina is an entirely different organ (no, the vagina is not the female version of a penis)... and having been biologically engineered to facilitate the birth of human offspring, the vagina is pretty damn stretchy.  One might say the need to stretch is kind of in its job description.  Do you see how this is not a fair comparison?  When was the last time a man required their penis to routinely expel something with a diameter of 15"? 

You don't get any gold stars for being in pain.  Obviously, any & every woman looking at having a natural, non-medicated child birth is a) a masochist or b) an overachiever looking for a gold star.  Seriously, could this broad be more condescending?  Having the desire for a non-medicated, natural birth has nothing to do with being praised for being an effing rockstar and everything to do with trusting your body, with wanting to be able to listen intuitively to your body... to push when your body tells you to push, to instinctively labour in positions that are best for that particular moment of your birth (because it is more comfortable, because it facilitates the movement of babe down the birth canal... because, because, because), to move around and keep labour active (hopefully without any interventions required).  This is not even taking into account the hormones (oxytocin, endorphins, and adrenaline) that are secreted during a non-medicated, natural birth... these hormones all play a special part in birth (oxytocin - stimulates contractions, endorphins - aka 'feel good hormones' calm & have a pain-relieving affect during labour, while after they facilitate mom in being alert & attentive with babe, and adrenaline - can provide mom with a rush of energy, stimulating the contractions and activating the fetal ejection reflex).

Drugs don't cross over to the placenta.  This is a nice bit of subterfuge - while the amount may (or may not) be significant, the drugs can indeed cross over to the placenta (Do epidural medications reach the baby?  Small amounts of medication can be detected in the baby since most medications do cross the placenta. These amounts are rarely sufficient to affect the baby.  Emphasis mine).  "Rarely sufficient to affect the baby... ", it cannot be known with 100% certainty whether your babe will be affected, or not.  If it is such an insignificant amount that mother need not be worried - why not just honestly say "the amount is negligible"?

[Epidural] Help with pushing - this goes against modern convention.  In fact, most hospitals have now implemented non-coached pushing because they are finding that coached pushing may cause more harm than good; "research has suggested that coached pushing may be harmful to the woman's pelvic-floor muscles and may be associated with adverse neonatal outcomes."  As a mother who had two intervention-free hospital births that resulted in two healthy boys - I cannot even fathom being told when I could push, for how long, etc.  Honestly, my body knew when it needed to push and I just let it do it's thing (and I had no tearing... none).

Epidural is actually good for the baby - Dr. Edna Ma states that "If you didn't have an epidural the stress hormones called catecholamines get into your body, those cross the placenta and make the baby stressed before the baby is born.", which makes the expectant mother come to the conclusion that a + b = epidural is good for the baby.  For the record, adrenaline is a catecholamine (see above for two benefits of the natural release/surge of adrenaline during childbirth).  What Dr. Ma fails to mention are other methods of soothing/relaxing the mother (catecholamines can be released when mom is fearful or stressed... ), simply explaining to the expectant mother what is happening may reduce stress.  Actively working with her, having her lower her pitch (so moaning/groaning instead of screaming... ), telling her to open/relax into her contractions... help her visualize what her contractions are doing (for the record, these are not tools just implemented by hippies... with the birth of both my boys, the nurses talked me through some pretty fierce contractions by getting me to visualize... reminding me to relax into the contraction and not to fight it). 

All of this to say, that was the biggest load of hogwash that I've seen on national television...

Epidurals.  Interventions.  C-sections. They all have a place

Not all births are equal.  Not all babes can be born vaginally.  Not all labours are the same. 

But for the love of god, give the mother a freaking chance!  Allow her to make an educated birth decision based on actual facts and not a pile lies and misconceptions.

And seriously... where the hell is my Gold Star?

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