From a very interesting blog, Feminist Mormon Housewives at http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=1462#comment-291738
The poster wondered about how common the Hollywood birth images are actually are in real life. That is one topic that neither Heather nor I have written on. One hundred forty some people responded. Here's mine:
The images we see of childbirth on television, Hollywood style, are like everything else on television …. designed to numb us, entertain us, and sell us. Rarely, does a woman go from not much happening to full transition, at the worst possible time … or most timely for entertainment. Like other forms of violence that humans watch mindlessly for hours every day, modern birth in the hospital is crammed into brains as the “normal” way, the safe way … they are selling epidural and the control of women’s bodies, minds, and souls just like they are selling the newest car, line of clothes, improved mop, and sexy shampoo. Like violence, like the sexual images our children are exposed to, the message of the horrible pain, the need for a crew of medical people pushing, probing, and coaching … all keeps us hyper aroused, over-stimulated and numbed — all at the same time. Our children hear shampoo commercials of orgasmic sounds, see women sprawled and wiggling in bras .. selling everything from cars to microwavable rice. And, they are expected to abstain — with images of sexual relationships everywhere … and, since society doesn’t question or confront this, it’s zero surprising that the images of birth — meant to draw women to the hospital where it is very lucrative — are indoctrinating our society. The walking wounded and numb make good, compliant women, consumers.
Thanks for this topic … it is one I haven’t written about on my blog … but will.
Comment by janel — November 29, 2007 @ 12:43 am
I couldn’t read all of the messages, but I did pick up on one vein of thought and posted a summary of what I wrote so extensively on last year ….
With all due respect to Janet’s husband, an anesthesiologist, apparently, I would like to ask him if he might be someone who could answer my challenge —
Throughout the history of modern birth, starting with morphine, twightlight sleep, ether and including Scopalamine, Demerol, Cytotec, and now epidural, these drugs have all been used on laboring babies and women with ZERO research to show their safety. ALL of them have been shown to be damaging and dangerous and were stopped because of the consequences … after use on millions of babies and women. Twenty years ago the choice drug was Demerol … and it is rarely used because of the impact on the baby. Since then epidural has increased in spite of the research in the late 80’s and early 90’s that shows it is dangerous. The drug, bupuvicaine that made it dangerous was counteracted by using fentanyl, an opiod … ALSO NEVER shown safe for laboring babies, but known to be extremely dangerous for adults. Mothers are encouraged and supported to give birth UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF NARCOTICS?? What a horrible contradiction. Yes, I have given birth under the influence of epidural. We are not just numb from our waist down — we are altered, drug-impaired while birthing our baby. And, this is considered normal. In the early 2000’s one study took 120 pregnant women and divided them into ten groups and each was given a different dose of fentanyl to see which dosage works best to counter the effects of narcotics. !?!?!? These babies and women are UNinformed and NON consenting subjects in a research study …. animals get better consideration. Women and babies (some who grow up to be men born “under the influence” of drugs) are one long research study. Psychology, medicine, human development, addiction studies. prevention, and treatment, and the myriad of other social and health issues, etc totally ignore the impact of birth on the lifetime of the human and certainly doesn’t consider that drug use and the resulting disruptions so well known, and the trauma form a foundation for life.
For a long time I have been looking for someone in the obstetric or anesthesiology field to give me ONE study that proves that ANY drug used EVER in modern medical birth was shown to be SAFE prior to USING on BABIES and WOMEN.
Doctors, nurses, and women will all … out of their own guilt, not imposed by others … resist the truth that drugs affect the baby ….because when we have chosen that or had it imposed upon us, or learned it was “fine” and “safe”, we face a huge journey.
There is a whole new field of understanding fetal and newborn learning, consciousness, and healing of whatever happens — whether it was truly lifesaving technology or doctor-induced for doctor convenience and malpractice avoidance (my ex is an OB), or by maternal choice. Ultimately, humanity has to begin to see that birth IS THE BABY’S experience of coming from somewhere into this physical life — and that the baby does not go to “OFF” during labor and birth. We know that the fetus is learning, responding in relationship with the mother and the environment … hearing, tasting, sensing, developing. And, we know that the newborn IMMEDIATELY is negotiating with a new environment during major physiological transition, and is interacting … LEARNING … It is clear that something very serious is amiss in medicine about the importance of labor and birth and how babies are also experiencing, responding, learning. All bundled together, that is results in memory. Prenatally, postnatally, and during labor and birth. The baby is experiencing everything. It is his or her birth. We can’t deny it away. Birth can’t just be about the mother’s need for pain relief or convenience, or the doctor’s needs.
Again, with all due respect and sincere wish for a real dialogue about what is really happening to babies in birth, I share my passion here.
I hope sometime soon, someone who is trained in anesthesiology will respond to my request for ONE research study that shows ANY of the drugs EVER used were studied BEFORE using on babies and women. The question is basically ignored by those promoting banning homebirth, and the wrong promotion of it as safe so that more women than not, now in 2007, will see it as perfectly safe. Drugs at birth is a collective consciousness that allows the cycle of dependency and drug addiction we see to be perpetuated. THAT could be a hypothesis for someone to study -- as it has never been studied. EVEN in addiction studies, with 80% of the present population born under the influence of drugs, IMPAIRED, with impaired mothers, the use of UNRESEARCHED drugs at birth has NEVER been studied as a causal or related factor.
The use of narcotics in labor and birth (while discouraged and even warred against in every other aspect of life) is disguised at giving women freedom from pain in birth … with no regard for her baby’s lifelong consequences of being born while they both are impaired “under the influence” of narcotics. In ANY other situation in life, a woman would be chastised and judged for being impaired while doing something so important, and she’d be seen as harming her child if she is impaired.
In this bi-polar society in seems daunting for anyone, especially medically trained people to see that even when they are using a substance for the right reasons, to facilitate the birth so that either or both mother and baby will survive, it STILL has consequences. Refusal to see that and to engage in ways of supporting the baby afterwards create this growing belief -- a monster that everyone ignores and denies -- that babies are unaffected by what we do, what they experience, what they have circulating in their body, and that their systems must work and struggle to adjust because of drugs and disruptions.
The research in the late eighties and 90’s were very clear about what the physiological response to epidural was for the mother and baby. This does not change just because they added ANOTHER harmful, unresearched drug to counteract (fentanyl). It doesn’t change because we deny it with the belief that women’s rights to pain relief, doctor’s time schedules, and convenience are as important, if not more, than the rights of a human baby to be born free of harmful, addictive chemicals.
It seems to me that the lack of any research and the ongoing research ON babies and mothers to find the right dosages with least complications, and the obstetric shop-talk sharing how to’s is outrageous.Using Cyotec in the first place was done on women and babies without study and it was done between doctors and residents, in online chats, and general “shopt-talk” fashion. Dosages, complications, and responses was figured out like how we teach our young people to prepare, stuff, and cook a turkey. AND, meanwhile, simultaneously, THEN they began to research it …. THOSE who have it in their interest to continue using it. Same with epidural anesthesia …
YEAH, I AM blue in the face ....
I met a local anesthesiologist recently ... our conversation started over the war. It was a week after my son went to Kabul and I was working at being numb. He started giving me all sorts of things to send my son to read ... including something about the Heroin War, or something. I started to share my perspective that our violence and addiction starts in the primal period ... as I shared my oft cited research where 120 babies received different doses of bipuvicaine and fentanyl to determine the best dose combination, this new acquaintance smiled .... I said, "What, you are a doctor?" He, who is as crazed about the war and heroin use as I am about making birth safe for the baby by creating science-based protocols and using drugs and interventions only when needed, was shocked when I suggested that he and his colleagues have created the drug addiction crisis and asked how is it that any of you would be able to consider what it is that you have done to so many humans? I said it would take a spiritual crisis and awakening ... and our society does not support that. Anyone in any sort of emotional, psychological, or spiritual crisis is "diagnosed" and pumped with drugs that cause a myriad of other issues. We see it on television, in the advertisements .... around and around we go.
Progress in the "war on drugs", the "war on crime", the "war on gangs", the "war on violence", the "war on poverty", the "war on cancer" will happen ONLY when we start bringing babies into this world in an aware, safe, gentle, connected, drug-FREE, violence-FREE way. (Medical birth is violent).
We can conceive, gestate, labor and birth, and care for our infants with awareness, protection, gentleness, our time and touch EVEN when or ESPECIALLY when medical intervention ARE necessary. What is wrong with this world of obstetrics that promotes all or nothing ... either their way or no way.... zero compromise so that woman blindly follow, or live their lives damaged in silent rage and illness, unable to connect with their children in the way that both their mind and souls strive for and miss over and over and over.
Oh, my ....