phamos: (ramona)
[personal profile] phamos
Once again, the comments over on Jezebel drive me crazy. Sure, I understand the sentiment about not wanting to hear your neighbors scream for 40 hours during a home birth. But it makes me really sad that so many women my age are under the impression that birth is like that — screaming and pain for days and days. Births can go on a long time, and there can be noisier periods (usually grunting is a more useful sound to make than straight up screaming), but any widwife attending a birth where a woman has been straight up screaming bloody murder long enough to disturb neighbors to any degree beyond “dog barking” or “loud sex” or other standard apartment-dweller’s annoyance noise, needs to GET THAT WOMAN TO A HOSPITAL, because that is not a home birth that is going well. So that’s really a red herring as far as what many of these commenters really have an issue with here.

There’s just so much “placentas, EW!” in these comments, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen it over there. I’m not planning on storing my placenta in the freezer or anything, but I feel like a lot of women in my cohort, as represented on Jezebel, have bought into the idea, as promoted by the medical industry (not to mention just society in general), that the female body is gross and foreign and birth is something that needs to be dealt with like a disease instead of as one of the MAIN FUNCTIONS OUR BODIES ARE BUILT FOR. Seeing that on a supposedly feminist site is very disapointing. But I’m getting used to it. Given the bizarro moderating over there (i.e. how the posters get away with saying incredibly negative stuff about other women all the time, but anyone who says a celebrity looks like shit in a Snap Judgment post gets shamed in those best/worst comments threads), it doesn’t surprise me anymore.

There’s also a definite classist tinge to a lot of the commentary, like the person who wonders why home birthers don’t just go to a birthing center, or have a midwife AND a doctor. Sadly, that combines with the overall Park-Slopey setting of the Times article in question to overlook one of the main problems that arises with medical birth in this country, and especially in places like NYC — if you’re lucky enough to have insurance, you often have to fight to have them cover anything but a hospital birth. And forget about NYC birthing centers if you don’t know about them from the start — they book up 8 months in advance. A woman who works two jobs to support herself and get some shitty insurance doesn’t have the time to spend online researching different birth options, or fighting with her insurance to cover a midwife, LET ALONE both a doctor AND a midwife. The “get a doctor and a midwife” comment was the “let them eat cake” moment in the middle of this trainwreck.

For the record — I am not having a home birth. I am planning a natural birth IN a hospital. But I only feel comfortable doing that because A) I live in the People’s Republic of Madison, and the doctors I’ve dealt with are definitely more enlightened that the people you’ll run into in many of this country’s hospitals (where the priority is to deliver as many babies as quickly as possible to maximize monetary return and diminish the chance of being sued for malpractice by getting those babies OUT OUT OUT CUT ‘EM OUT) and B) I have the incredibly luxury of being able to research my options AND have insurance that will cover many different styles of birth (and if it didn’t, I, again, have the time to argue with them about it — many, many women do not). Oh, and C) I have no qualms about throwing a giant fucking hissyfit at any doctor or nurse who tries to force me into a medical procedure that I do not want. I have a friend (who is probably reading this, but I won't name unless she wants to chip in) who was given an episiotomy without being asked by the on-call doctor, even after having made her choice clear to her regular OB and on her birth plan. Luckily, when I told this story to my doctor, he was obviously horrified, so I know he’s on my side here. But if I show up at that hospital to a doctor I’ve never met before, I don’t care about being polite — you cut me, or break my waters, or fucking do any goddamn thing to my private parts without my express consent, you are facing not just malpractice charges but sexual assault charges, too. I will say this loudly, up front. I don’t play. Too many women come out of birth feeling violated in one way or another by the medical professionals that worked on them. I REFUSE. But if I didn't have the supportive community of friends that I do, I wouldn't even realize that I might have to pipe up and say, "Hey, please don't cut my taint without asking me first." Wouldn't have even OCCURRED to me. And in that sense, I am luckier than most women in this country. The stats are mind-boggling. There is no way that 1 in 3 women in this country have physiological reasons why they can't give birth vaginally. There are many reasons to have a c-section; I personally know many women who have had c-sections and NEEDED c-sections, and I will have one if it is necessary. But most women in the U.S. assume that medical interventions at birth are necessary and in their best interest when they AREN'T ALWAYS. Making people who pursue things like home birth or just natural birth in general out to be either dirty hippies or Park Slope elitists doesn't serve any woman's best interest. The commenters on Jezebel talk a good game about being pro-choice. I think a lot of young women don't really understand the full ramifications of what that phrase should mean. But what it definitely DOESN'T mean is "EW, PLACENTAS! Go to the hospital and shut the fuck up!"

*sigh* Just in general another occasion for Jezebel to make my blood boil.

Date: 2008-11-15 03:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good luck on Natural Birth. I was a birth partner about 4 years ago, and the experience was beautiful and enlightening. I could never imagine anything so beautiful as that experience. My friend had her baby vaginally, and I saw the baby come out. It was just (scarry!, but) mind blowing.

I think the entire birth experience is beautiful. My friend had her baby last April and was in labor for 16 hours, the last four without medicine. However, she said once her daughter was in her arms everything was heaven.

Date: 2008-11-15 05:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good god, there is so much wrong with that post and the comments.

People have no idea what child birth is really like though, unless they've gone through it or seen someone else go through it. TV and movies always portray women in labor as foul mouth screaming harpies.

Not that it excuses the ignorance and birth-phobic crap in that post.

Er...most people I should say. I mean, you never really know what it is like until you go through it but you can educate yourself a bit so that you know the basics. I mean that comment about being in labor for 40 hours must be like trying to push out a turd for 40 hours? That is fucking ignorant right there. If you are pushing for 40 hours...ok that's just retarded because there isn't a woman on this planet who could do that.

Date: 2008-11-18 01:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm glad you are going into this so educated. it's pretty rare. people just trust what the doctor tells them, which SHOULD be what is best for them but...well you know.
and..YAY placentas. they are so amazing. we have one doctor who always does a demonstration with the placenta after it's delivered "this is the sac, this part was attached to you, this part blah blah blah" I love her. I still wouldn't eat one. hahaha.

Date: 2008-11-18 02:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm trying to be educated. It's just frustrating to think that women are being misled, for whatever reason. Like, over on the pregnancy group, I was reading back through the natural birth tag, and I saw this one woman who was like, "Oh, my doctor is going to induce me, he doesn't want the baby to be too big since I'm going natural." And everyone was like, "uhhhhhh...if he induces you, that's NOT NATURAL," and she said, "Oh, no, by natural I mean vaginal." How sad is it that the bar is now that low for "natural" childbirth? And of course, I'm thinking to myself, "This woman is about to get totally run around during labor." So I went to her journal, and sure enough, she got induced for basically no real reason, talked into getting an epidural because the pitocin contractions were so awful, and "ended up needing a midline episiotomy, but that's OK!" No real reason given for why she NEEDED said episiotomy. I dunno. She sounds fine with her birth experience, and really that's what matters. It just makes me sad that doctors do things for convenience or for insurance reasons but couch them in a way that makes women think they NEED all these interventions. If they WANT the interventions, fine -- I'm all for that. Get your epidural on. Section the shit out of yourself. Whatever! But it skeeves me that people aren't given info up front. I mean, WHY, in this day and age, am I still having to explain to people both older and younger than me that episiotomies DO NOT make it less likely that you'll get a bad tear? Or that C-section is NOT safer than a vaginal birth? Or that 40 weeks is an AVERAGE, and that 40 weeks and 1 day does not automatically merit an induction??

Like I said, I'm quite confident that I'm going to a good hospital, with people who will listen to my birth plan. They actually have a "make your birth plan!' link first thing on the webpage, which is reassuring, and it includes lots of options about wanting to try different laboring positions, alternative pain management, no continuous monitoring or episiotomy, birth balls and squat bars and tubs and all sorts of stuff. They're also a WHO "baby-friendly" hospital, and have a much lower first-time cesarean rate than the national average. But I also have this fear that I'm going to spend all the time between contractions shouting at people to step away from my poontang cuz they're doing shit without asking me, and that scares the hell out of me.

I dunno. Wanna come be my L&D nurse?


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