The Other Side of the Glass

Part One was officially released June 2013 in digital distribution format. To purchase to to If you were a donor and want to download your copy send an email to

The trailer

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Comparing Apples to Oranges

NCB "advocates" don't say childbirth is completely safe. I've never heard anyone say that. We just prefer to let things happen naturally until (and only if) we need "saving". More chances than not women will be fine during childbirth. That doesn't mean we're denying that things can and do go wrong. We're just saying that we have a greater chance of surviving than dying.

--- Tricia, Child Development Professor, Homebirth mother

A poster on a blog replies to Tricia's comment:

Are you talking about NCH or home birth? Apples and oranges.

NCB in the hospital is safe. A section is available if, as you put it, you "need saving." Home birth doesn't have that.

I have to comment, though, on this: That doesn't mean we're denying that things can and do go wrong. We're just saying that we have a greater chance of surviving than dying.

Yeah... BUT.

Do you wear a seat belt?

Do you look both ways before you cross?

The risks are pretty high.

Huh? Isn't comparing seat belts (and airbags) to obstetric interventions used on all women whether necessary or not like comparing apples to oranges, dude? Or maybe it is actually more like comparing apples to brussel sprouts? Or maybe the unregulated misuse of medical technology including non-medically necessary inducation and planned surgical birth on an "in case" basis, is like expecting all Americans to be in full protective gear in case of a terrorist attack.

The seat belt analogy is very inadequate.

99.99% of the time one is safe in the car and traveling --- EVEN while it is one of the most dangerous things one can do.

Sure, when you're not safe not, you're not. But most car accidents are not life threatening and the range from scraps to fender benders to serious accidents to fatal is very broad, just like the range of degrees of danger in childbirth. It's not necessary for everyone who drives or rides in a vehicle to have rollbars and wear helmets. A seat belt is pretty efficient.

That's why we have precautions, protections, and government safety oversight and laws that car makers have to follow, as do drivers to know to drive, to be aware of the dangers, to know the precautions, and when to increase their safety measures (ie., driving in fog, snow, on freeways, gravel, etc.)

If I drive down the end of the cul de sac to pick up my kid at a friend's or go a short distance to the grocery store, do I use a seat belt? Yes, but in the end, did I really need it? Nope. YEARS of driving and accident free. Or could we liken average, everyday seatbelt wearing to good prenatal and nutritional care and preparation, training, and experience? Prenatal care improves outcomes and prevents problems --and, prenatal care does NOT case MORE damage as seat belts and airbags sometimes do, and as induction, drugs, AROM, and surgical birth do. Seat belts are mandated for "in case" and don't often, but do rarely cause death. My friend's husband died after a accident in an intersection in town. Days later he collapsed and was hospitalized because his lung had collapsed. He lingered for three months before dying -- a very healthy man just retiring. What makes obstetrics safe for a minority of women in danger actually harms far more who do not need the precautions and interventions. We would not allow the use of seatbelts if it created as many problems are interventions purported to make birth "safe."

What are the chances of being saved by the seatbelt when one actually has a wreck? Pretty good, but it also causes its own damage. Car seats can only be compared to birth if we look at the impact on the woman who is carrying the child, and how she generally, like a car, protects her passenger. It is not THE CAR that harms or kills the passenger - it is the misuse, mistakes, and accidents from other's. Very often, it is another driver who causes the accident. And, we must look at the many, many, many conditions and locations for driving cars. Am I am more aware of my need for the seat belt when I drive on I95 and I495 in NY going into the city? You betcha.

I have evolved from early days as a child NEVER wearing a seat belt (there weren't any in the back seat!) to be an adult who ALWAYS wears a seatbelt. In using the seat belt, do I hope and believe that seat belts -- and air bags -- will save my life IF I were to be in an accident? Sure. But I have driven 30-40,000 miles in one year and I never needed to be saved by the seat belt or the safety features of my Volvo. Do I feel EVEN safer in my Volvo and with the air bags? Of course. Have children been decapitated before they were banned from the front seat? Yep. Have people died in Volvos. Yep. Have a lot more people died in little inexpensive American cars? Absolutely. Do we outlaw the little cars known as "death traps?" NO. Do we insist that every car have the KNOWN safety features? NO. It's left up to INDIVIDUALS, based on their preferences and INCOME, to buy the car they want. Safety belts are the basic safety feature. Why don't we, as a society and a nation, equalize the risk and safety in car driving? Eliminate SUV's and small cars. If we really cared about saving lives we would require one kind of car for everyone -- totally equipped with every safety feature and economically available to every driver -- just like in obstetrics.

So, I have driven and driven year after year with my basic safety features -- whatever the government demands of the car makers at the time, and sometimes I have driven a safer than other vehicle, like my Volvo. Ironically, falling asleep with the cruise on 75 and driving off the freeway, and riding the median up on two wheels twice in the middle of Nebraska in my Toyota SUV encouraged me to buy my Volvo. My other car was a sports car and I didn't feel safe anymore. The oncoming semi during my ride made riding along side the big semi duals in my little car too terrifying. I sold 'er and got a Volvo. It was fear -- just like my first doctor-induced traumatic birth took me to the hospital three more times because I believed that birth was dangerous. Not very many people give up driving after a life-threatening or traumatic accident, but they don't easily get over it either.

(I didn't wreck that day, by the way. I stopped upright in the median and the vehicle had only a dent in the front fender where I ran over a lone little reflector when I "missed the only curve in Nebraska" as GI Joe -- who was the only one awake in the car as Baby Girl was also asleep -- then twelve recounted later. That reminds me, in the discussion about how women who birth at home risk their children's lives, do you think we women ought to EVER take our children in our cars. I mean, maybe we ought to fly -- it's statistically safer. And, truly, if our children's safety was our main consideration, we would not allow teenagers to drive alone until they are twenty. We would have four years of licensed-driver in the car. Imagine all the other things that would minimize and eliminate while enhancing parent-child relationships.)

BUT here is the key point. HOWEVER, I don't have lifelong health issues as a RESULT of wearing my seat belt, or the airbags or other features of the Volvo. My friend's husband would have lifelong health issues had he survived the seat belt. Would I be so likely to use these if I my chances for MUCH more serious consequences from using them on the remote chance I'll have an accident. No, that would be nuts. If using the safety features caused me physical damage than the actual accident, why would I do that?
This is the case with the technology and tools that make obstetric medicine "safer". They cause more damage to the baby and mother than they help -- when used unnecessarily or "in case" or for doctor and mother convenience and to minimize the DOCTOR'S RISK OF MALPRACTICE SUIT. And, in doing so, they cause the accident.

Why don't we as a society take the same precautions with c-sections? Why doesn't OB medicine have to shape up like the car makers? Why are women not expected and demanded to use the technology and drugs of obstetrics ONLY when necessary?

What if WOMEN had to pay for and carry the insurance to recover losses from pregnancy? What if the more convenience and or choosing of medically damaging NON-medically necessary interventions meant SHE paid more insurance?

You can see, I am sure, that we just can't use the simple analogy of the seat belt to compare multiple, cascading, dangerous interventions during labor and birth.

To really use the "car seat is to obstetric safety" analogy intelligently we'd have to look at adding roll bars and helmets to drive every where just in case we had an accident, or in case we might end up on the Eisenhower in Chicago during rush hour.

That's stupid.

Maybe all of us Americans should begin to wear full length camouflage gear, helmets, and bullet proof vests, hard toed boots, and carry M16's just in case we are struck by terrorists. It's just as likely to happen as birth is a a life-threatening event.

Even GI Joe gets a break from the life-saving gear and interventions and gets to rest -- even in a life-threatening situation. War.


Mary Sowerby said...

That is so true. Great debunking of such a simple analogy.

Melissa said...

If my car were like modern maternity ward, my airbag would deploy and break my neck every third time I hit the brake.

"Soft is the heart of a child. Do not harden it."

A public awareness reminder that things that happen behind the scenes, out of our sight, aren't always as rosy as we might think them to be. Perhaps its a restaurant cook who accidentally drops your burger on the floor before placing it on the bun and serving it to you. Here it's an overworked apathetic (pathetic) nurse giving my newborn daughter her first bath. Please comment and rate this video, so as to insure that it is viewed as widely as possible, perhaps to prevent other such abuse. -- The mother who posted this YouTube. How NOT to wash a baby on YouTube Are you going to try to tell me that "babies don't remember?" There is no difference to this baby's experience and the imprinting of her nervous system/brain and one that is held and cleaned by the mother or father either at the hospital or at home? By the way, this is probably NOT the baby's first bath. The nurse is ungloved. Medical staff protocol is that they can't handle a baby ungloved until is has been bathed (scrubbed if you've seen it) because the baby is a BIO-HAZARD -- for them. Never mind that the bio-hazard IS the baby's first line of defense against hospital germs.

Missouri Senator Louden Speaks

Finally, A Birth Film for Fathers

Part One of the "The Other Side of the Glass: Finally, A Birth Film for and about Men" was released June, 2013.

Through presentation of the current research and stories of fathers, the routine use of interventions are questioned. How we protect and support the physiological need of the human newborn attachment sequence is the foundation for creating safe birth wherever birth happens.

Based on knowing that babies are sentient beings and the experience of birth is remembered in the body, mind, and soul, fathers are asked to research for themselves what is best for their partner and baby and to prepare to protect their baby.

The film is designed for midwives, doulas, and couples, particularly fathers to work with their caregivers. Doctors and nurses in the medical environment are asked to "be kind" to the laboring, birthing baby, and newborn. They are called to be accountable for doing what science has been so clear about for decades. The mother-baby relationship is core for life. Doctors and nurses and hospital caregivers and administrators are asked to create protocols that protect the mother-baby relationship.

Men are asked to join together to address the vagaries of the medical system that harm their partner, baby and self in the process of the most defining moments of their lives. Men are asked to begin to challenge the system BEFORE they even conceive babies as there is no way to be assured of being able to protect his loved ones once they are in the medical machine, the war zone, on the conveyor belt -- some of the ways that men describe their journey into fatherhood in the medicine culture.

Donors can email to get a digital copy.
Buy the film at

The film focuses on the male baby, his journey from the womb to the world and reveals healing and integrating the mother, father, and baby's wounded birth experience. The film is about the restoring of our families, society, and world through birthing loved, protected, and nurtured males (and females, of course). It's about empowering males to support the females to birth humanity safely, lovingly, and consciously.

Finally, a birth film for fathers.

What People Are Saying About the FIlm

Well, I finally had a chance to check out the trailer and .. wow! It's nice that they're acknowledging the father has more than just cursory rights (of course mom's rights are rarely acknowledged either) and it's great that they're bringing out the impact of the experience on the newborn, but I'm really impressed that they're not shying away from the political side.

They are rightly calling what happens in every American maternity unit, every day, by its rightful name - abuse. Abuse of the newborn, abuse of the parents and their rights, abuse of the supposedly sacrosanct ethical principal of patient autonomy and the medico-legal doctrine of informed consent, which has been long ago discarded in all but name. I love it!

In the immortal words of the "shrub", "bring it on!" This film needs to be shown and if I can help facilitate or promote it, let me know.

Father in Asheville, NC

OMG'ess, I just saw the trailer and am in tears. This is so needed. I watch over and over and over as fathers get swallowed in the fear of hospitals birth practice. I need a tool like this to help fathers see how very vital it is for them to protect their partner and baby. I am torn apart every time I see a father stand back and chew his knuckle while his wife is essentially assaulted or his baby is left to lie there screaming.
Please send me more info!!!!
Carrie Hankins
CD(DONA), CCCE, Aspiring Midwife

Thanks for sharing this. It was very touching to me. I thought of my brother-in-law standing on the other side of the glass when my sister had to have a C-section with her first child because the doctor was missing his golf date. I'll never forget his pacing back and forth and my realizing that he was already a father, even though he hadn't been allowed to be with his son yet.

Margaret, Columbia, MO

In case you don't find me here

Soon, I'll be back to heavy-duty editing and it will be quiet here again. I keep thinking this blog is winding down, and then it revives. It is so important to me.

I wish I'd kept a blog of my journey with this film this past 10 months. It's been amazing.

I have a new blog address for the film, and will keep a journal of simple reporting of the journey for the rest of the film.

I'll be heading east this week to meet with a group of men. I plan to post pictures and clips on the film blog.

I'll keep up here when I can -- when I learn something juicy, outrageous, or inspiring related to making birth safer for the birthing baby.

Review of the film

Most of us were born surrounded by people who had no clue about how aware and feeling we were. This trailer triggers a lot of emotions for people if they have not considered the baby's needs and were not considered as a baby. Most of us born in the US were not. The final film will include detailed and profound information about the science-based, cutting-edge therapies for healing birth trauma.

The full film will have the interviews of a wider spectrum of professionals and fathers, and will include a third birth, at home, where the caregivers do a necessary intervention, suctioning, while being conscious of the baby.

The final version will feature OBs, RNs, CNMs, LM, CPM, Doulas, childbirth educators, pre and perinatal psychologists and trauma healing therapists, physiologists, neurologists, speech therapists and lots and lots of fathers -- will hopefully be done in early 2009.

The final version will include the science needed to advocated for delayed cord clamping, and the science that shows when a baby needs to be suctioned and addresses other interventions. Experts in conscious parenting will teach how to be present with a sentient newborn in a conscious, gentle way -- especially when administering life-saving techniques.

The goal is to keep the baby in the mother's arms so that the baby gets all of his or her placental blood and to avoid unnecessary, violating, and abusive touch and interactions. When we do that, whether at home or hospital, with doctor or midwife, the birth is safe for the father. The "trick" for birthing men and women is how to make it happen in the hospital.

Birth Trauma Healing

Ani DeFranco Speaks About Her Homebirth

"Self-Evident" by Ani DeFranco

Patrick Houser at

Colin speaks out about interventions at birth