Today (and for the weekend) I will be spending my time at my birth doula workshop, a day that I have anticipated for months! I’m so excited to finally be starting this process and I’m eager to soak up everything that my trainer has for me. I thought I would use this post to talk a little bit about why I think doulas are important for laboring women from a feminist perspective and, most importantly, as a woman. However, I waited too long to write that post and I’m a little bit overwhelmed with everything I want to say. So, instead of that, here are some pictures and info that should hold you off until I get around to writing out everything swirling around in my head.
The World Health Organization recommends the optimal rate for the best outcomes occur with cesarean section rates of 5% to 10%. Rates above 15% seem to do more harm than good (Althabe and Belizan 2006).
- The national U.S. cesarean section rate was 4.5% in 1965 (Taffel et al. 1987).
- The 2010 rate is at 32.8% (Hamilton et al. 2011).
Women are basically being told that they are not capable of giving birth in an unmedicated fashion; that their bodies don’t know what they are doing. So, they start off a hospital birth with a little pitocin and from there the interventions fall right into place. Pregnancy is treated as an illness and labor, when a woman is the most vulnerable, is seen as an opportunity to end it quickly. A cesarean section takes 20 minutes and it can happen scheduled. Why would doctors or hospitals want to have laboring woman walking the halls for hours at a time, with the staff “needed” to keep them monitored, when they can be in and out in20 minutes? It helps them get home faster and it helps the beds get emptied. It’s a better business decision. Unfortunately, there is a lot of evidence that shows the effects to be harmful on the mother and the baby.
Outside of the United States, midwives attend 70-80% of all births.
The United States has the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world.
- In 1940, 40 percent of births took place at home. That number is now less than 1% in the US and about 1.5% in the UK.
- Hospital birth babies are twice as likely to be low birth weight as home birth babies.
All of these women had home births:
- Cindy Crawford
- Demi Moore
- Gisele Bündchen
- Gwyneth Paltrow
- Julianne Moore
- Lisa Bonet
- Meryl Streep
- Nelly Furtado
- Pamela Anderson
- Patricia Arquette
- Ricki Lake
- Jennifer Connelly
- Erykah Badu
- Alyson Hannigan
- Evangeline Lilly
- Mayim Bialik
- Alanis Morissette
Doulas are being made a necessity due to the gaps left by our current maternity care system. Hospitals are understaffed, which results in less amount of time per patient as nurses are split up between multiple patients. Doulas provide continuous support.
- The word “doula” has only been added to the Oxford English Dictionary in June of 2011, although the concept is basically as old as time.
If you want to do more reading about doulas and the evidence behind the better birth outcomes, from a skeptical doctor’s perspective. here’s a nice article. There’s even a graphic that shows what evidence continuous support during the laboring process will have on a birth!
All of that to say: if you aren’t confused or worried about the future of our society, our births, and our children, then you are not paying close enough attention.
If I didn’t scare you off, then I’ll see you next week with a big update about how the weekend went and hopefully some pumpkin-carving fun! If I did scare you off, well, you shouldn’t have been here anyway.