Friday, July 04, 2008

Water Birth

I was listening to Dr. Laura Slessinger yesterday on the radio. She advised a pregnant woman to not give birth at a water birth center for fear that something terrible would happen. I felt that her response was clouded by her own traumatic birth, and that she lacked the facts.

The activist in me would not calm down until I wrote a letter and sent it off. I thought I would share it with you since God knows that it will not make it onto her program.

Hello Dr. Laura,

I listen to your show often, and I respect and appreciate your opinion. I feel that the work you do strengthens families everywhere, and I know for a fact that it has strengthened my own.

Yesterday, you were talking to a caller who said that she wanted to have a water birth at her local water birth center. Her insurance wouldn’t cover it, and she was unsure if she could afford it. Your advice to her was that she should just birth in the hospital for fear that something would go wrong and that she should not desire to buy things that she cannot afford.

I must say, that I differ in opinion with you on this. The staff at a water birth center are well trained in the business of pregnancy and birth. Under many state laws (and common sense), they are only able to accept low-risk pregnancies, and if at any time something comes up that puts that client in the high risk category, their care is transferred. That includes while the mama is in labor. If there are signs that show that something is trending in a bad direction, a transport happens before anything negative can occur. It is actually statistically safer to give birth at a birth center than at a hospital.

I did all of my prenatal care at a water birth center with midwives. I went there when I was in labor, and after many hours of hard labor, I was transported to the hospital where I eventually had an emergency c-section. The midwives I worked with were competent enough that I never felt unsafe, and no negative result occurred.

Even though it was necessary for me to transport, I will have my next child at a water birth center. Did you know that Jimmy Carter was the first president to be born in a hospital? Yes, it was that recently that we gave up having our children at home in favor of a hospital. I am not saying that a hospital does not have its place, I am very glad it is there for the true emergencies, but the method of birthing in American hospitals is less than ideal.

In fact, the C-section rate in America hovers around 30%, which is 1 in 3 moms. The World Health Organization standard for c-sections is 15% and some countries have gotten it down below 8%. This has been done, in Holland for example, by taking birth out of the hospitals and having it managed at home or at birth centers by trained midwives. As the c-section rate climbs in America, so does the maternal death rate, which makes it increasingly more dangerous to birth in a hospital.

It sounds like you had a traumatic birth where medical intervention was necessary. I am sorry that it turned out that way for you, and I assure you that all births are different. I know many, many women who have had safe births outside of the hospital without complication.

It does matter the method of birthing. If a mom ends up having to have a c-section, as I did, she has to undergo a recovery from a major surgery in addition to dealing with all the hormones and the stress of a newborn baby. It did not facilitate bonding with my baby, and I had to overcome some incredible obstacles. I feel sad for America that 1 in 3 new moms have the same outcome. I think that you would be pleasantly surprised if you were to go to a water birth and watch the immediate bonding that is able to take place, I think it does matter that a mom is in a quiet and supportive environment that allows her to get her bearings after such hard work.

The cost of birthing at a water birth center can be equivalent to what the out of pocket at a hospital would cost. They are very reasonable to work with people on payment because they are passionate about what they do, and they understand that the process of care in birthing is an important factor in the mother-baby relationship. This point can easily be solved by the persistent and determined.

I hope that in the future that you can encourage other callers to seek to have a sane birth wherever they feel safe and comfortable.


Christine Anderson

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Very good letter. I approve. :)