Thursday, November 13, 2008

The U.S. is failing women and babies

The USA received a "D" overall on the March of Dimes' first state-by-state "Premature Birth Report Card," released today.

Hospitals need to review the reasons for labor inductions and cesarean sections performed before 39 weeks' gestation. Studies show that some are scheduled early for the doctor's and/or mother's convenience, not medical reasons.


With 15.6 percent of all babies born early, South Carolina got an F on the March of Dimes' first national prematurity report card released Wednesday.

Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, unnecessary cesarean births and the growing use of fertility treatments resulting in multiple babies also play a role.

Hmm. And....

Wisconsin has the nation’s 12th highest rate of premature births.

The March of Dimes says 11.4 percent of the Badger State’s babies are born prior to their normal term of 37 weeks. The group has given the state a grade of “D” for its prevention efforts.

One of every 12 Wisconsin births are late pre-termers, coming anywhere from 34 to 36 weeks. They’re caused by early labor inductions and Cesarean sections, according to the group.

Anyone notice a common theme?

Oooh, I do I do!! It's the ever-so-trendy and now, accepted, on-demand inductions and cesareans. Well heck, if we have On-Demand TV, why *shouldn't* we have on-demand births?

Oh yeah...the baby.

People are forgetting about the babies in all of this. Nobody remembers what pregnancy is about. Nobody remembers that the baby's health is supposed to come first, not the convenience of the mother or doctor. Not because mom is done being pregnant. Not because the doctor has a vacation planned. The BABY is supposed to be the priority.

Studies show that inductions ( that often lead to cesareans anyway ) and cesareans are HARMFUL for babies. Other people would have you think otherwise. I actually ran across a blog recently where the woman ( a journalist ) is brightening up the idea of elective cesareans, by comparing the risk of things like "Episiotomy risks in Planned Vaginal Delivery, versus Planned Cesarean Delivery."

No kidding? The risk of episiotomy is higher when having a vaginal birth? Well knock me over with a feather.

And things like "Instrumental delivery in PVD, versus PCD." What's hysterical about this one is, a good number of cesarean deliveries are facilitated by a vacuum extractor.

The thing that I noticed about her page was that she only compared two options. Average, United States hospital planned vaginal birth, to a planned cesarean. Last time I checked, there were a few options in between. Like advocating for yourself. Like avoiding interventions such as inductions, epidurals, drugs. Like speaking up and saying NO to an episiotomy, and NO to delivering in a lithotomy position. Or like staying OUT of the hospital to begin with. ;)

But that's not what we're talking about, she said to me. We're talking about the average woman who gives birth. Ah yes, you mean idiots then, right? ( And I am speaking to my former self in that category, before anyone gets their panties in a wad )

The sad part is, women will look at her skewed statistics, her misguided conclusions, and believe that elective cesarean should be a perfectly fine option for all, and is in fact in many cases, safer than a planned vaginal birth.


And yet, there is overwhelming evidence that says exactly the opposite. But what is more accessible? The media showing elective cesareans. The blogs that have incredibly erroneous information. The general attitude towards birth ( when did women become so disempowered? ) in the mainstream? "I could NEVER do it without an epidural, I'm not a hero.", "I'm done being pregnant. I just want to hold my baby."

It's selfishness. And that selfishness is landing more and more babies in the NICU. Is that what you want, ladies? Do you want your baby to end up in the NICU because you couldn't do your research? Because you couldn't hold out another few weeks of pregnancy? Because you couldn't refuse an induction or an epidural?

Is this what you want to wake up out of a cesarean drug haze to?

It's what I woke up to. Noah was "term". He was 8 1/2 lbs. But HE WAS NOT READY. I allowed a very smooth talking OB scare me into a cesarean, after going on and on about shoulder dystocia, broken collar bones, nerve damage, and cerebral palsy. I was not informed. And my decision was NOT with INFORMED consent. I was never told of the risks of an elective cesarean. And I was too brainwashed into believing that doctors have your best interest in mind.

And then he spoke of being able to get back to his office in time for his furniture delivery, and office he stood over my open belly.

Elective cesareans are harmful. They are not safe. They are not okay. And I am NOT for women being able to choose this, and put the life of their baby in danger.

And doctors need to held responsible for coercion, scheduling out of convenience, and scare tactics. Because they're harming women and babies. Whatever happened to the Hippocratic Oath?


Emily said...

Really? Prematurity linked to a rise in inductions and cesareans? You don't say. But what about all this prenatal care? Isn't that supposed to reduce causes of prematurity? Hmmm...maybe our system isn't working...

Gombojav Tribe said...

Where is your source? I would LOVE to see what grade California got! You know, we're so "progressive" and all.

Claire said...

I love your passion. But, if you think this country is going to start doing things for the benefit of the baby, think again. We've elected a President who would have us kill babies who are born alive, just because their mothers didn't want them. Until we get the women of this country to start putting their children first (from conception on), nothing will change.

I had two c-sections, btw. The first one especially was at the doctor's whim. Ticks me off.

Sue said...

Wow! Makes me glad to have given birth in Japan where natural vaginal birth is the norm. I did have to be induced with my fourth because the doctor was worried about how big his head was measuring (he was exceeding the sonogram measuring capability), but it was only a day before his due date. He was only 8 lbs., but his head was indeed huge -- 3.5 cm larger than my other kids! I felt every centimeter, and really felt like I would split in half. So, I was glad for my doctor's caution. It's nice that I could rely on his advice, because I knew that he would never recommend that if he didn't really believe it was necessary.

It is sad how far Americans have gotten away from the natural process. Here the attitude is more like, "it's natural, women have always done it, don't interfere with nature if possible." I like that.
Sorry for the long comment!

Birthkeeper said...

Sue...sadly your induction *was* unnecessary. There is absolutely positively NO reason to induce for size...especially if you had already vaginally birthed babies.

Your son's "big head" would have been birthable a week, two weeks later than you induced.

I'm sure your OB probably didn't tell you that the head size of the baby doesn't really grow in the last few weeks of pregnancy, especially after 40 weeks...or did he? The size of your son's head would not have doubled in a week's time. It likely wouldn't even have gotten a 1/4cm larger, if anything at all.

It sounds as if doctors in Japan practice scare-tactic medicine as well. :(