September 1st, 2011

planet

scientists aren't scary

So I probably shouldn't rehash the homebirth debate from my lj a few days ago, but I have some things I want to say. Well, two things. One for each side of the debate.

I still feel like we owe the natural birth community a lot of thanks for the questions they've asked, because it is true in many case that what's good for moms is good for babies, and they have improved birth in the US. We are not in the 1950s. That's good.

You all know, I had a good birth. I had Josie in a hospital-run birth center in its own building. I was not forced to wear a monitor. I got to relax in a warm bath for a long time. Even the anesthesiologist who I asked to come talk to me was encouraging of my ability to have a natural birth. No one even suggested that I lie on my back to push... in fact some awesome nurse hoisted me up to a squat for all 9,432 pushing contractions, because that's what felt right to me. After the birth I got to room in with my baby and husband.

My mother took one look around my suite and said, "You have a lot of women to thank for this." She's totally right. Women who valued the experience of childbirth and loved what nature could accomplish fought for us to give birth in ways that were better for women.

on the other hand...

My awesome hospital center was actually shown in the documentary Pregnant in America... and not in a good way! There was the filmmaker, hanging out at Murdock & Hillside, badgering the receptionist about their c-section rates! It's representative of something I feel like I see all the time in the homebirth movement, a hands-down mistrust of everything medical. Look people... the cesarean rate in most African countries, like Egypt, barely cracks 10%. And the maternal death rate is at least 20 times what it is in the US. It's not a good place to have a baby!

As a scientist, I take it personally when science isn't trusted. How can I sit here and listen to the homebirth movement accuse doctors and insurance companies of wanting to cut us open because it's convenient and they can charge more? I DESIGN AIRPLANES. That's like someone saying to me, "I bet you design them to crash so you can sell somebody a new one."

Those doctors have sisters, mothers and friends having babies, just like I have family, coworkers and neighbors flying my airplanes.

This attitude, that if you make money at something you become a corrupt non-human, is going to hold us back. It's what's driving the anti-vaccine movement. It's what's making us want to sue everyone... we're sure they meant to do us harm. Do people do awful things for money sometimes? Dishonest things? Sure. But it's awful for us to go into every situation thinking that it must be that way.

I'm open to homebirth. But when I read online forums where women are telling each other to ignore their midwife's transfer limits, or that things like group-b strep can be handled "naturally", or that doing your "own" prenatal care by reading web pages is an acceptable idea, I see a problem.

Scientists aren't scary. We are humans like you. That's a valuable idea to me.