Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pregnant In America

I had a great time this past weekend. I was finally able to get out to Southern Utah, to visit a very dear friend of mine. I was supposed to go this past October, and then had to cancel. It was a wonderful weekend, and a total adventure. ;)

While there, we sat and watched the new documentary, Pregnant In America ( I'll put the trailer at the end of this post )

Over all, it was a great film. It was a bit more in depth than The Business of Being Born, covering more topics, and even traveling to other countries to see how babies are born there. It covered the topic of Cyotec, and the unwillingness of the FDA to offer more help to stop the use of Cytotec in labor, which has caused multiple maternal and fetal deaths. It covered a small bit on breech births, and how Obstetricians are not being trained in this art anymore. It covered VBAC bans, insurance problems, and Obstetricians pushing for more cesarean sections.

Steve ( the producer and husband of the wife being followed in pregnancy ) randomly interviewed both men and women on the streets of California and New York, to see where there beliefs were in childbirth. Many of the men said, hands down, that the hospital was certainly the safest place to be, but couldn't pinpoint why. Women said that they couldn't have done labor without an epidural, even though a few admitted that the epidural was likely to have caused some of the problems that either they faced, or friends had faced. It was all very interesting, and yet I found myself saddened, and even outraged at the utter lack of education by women in childbirth. The utter lack of power that they had, by statements like "I don't have any choice". I hear this all the time, but this struck more with me in this film for some reason.

It stated, and kept reiterating, that pregnancy, labor, and childbirth are natural processes. What was said a few times was "Mother Nature knows best". I was SO happy to hear this being said over and over...hoping that any viewers would have this sink in.

To my utter frustration, anger, sadness, and confusion....the producers wife had her membranes stripped by her midwife at a mere 3 days past her due date.

Wait, what? Didn't we just spend over an hour speaking about leaving labor and birth alone? Allowing it to continue naturally? Speaking of "Guess Date" instead of "DUE Date", and saying that pregnancy was normal two weeks before AND two weeks AFTER said guess date?

They researched everything else mentioned in the film, and yet failed to speak of the risks of stripping membranes. Or did they not research that? Granted, the risks are small. But it's highly confusing seeing this, when they spoke over and over again about NATURAL labor being best, sans intervention. Did they NOT understand that stripping membranes is not only an intervention, but a form of induction?

Risks, albeit small, of membrane stripping are:

Risk of infection
Risk of weakening Amniotic Sac, leading to PROM
Risk of PROM
Risk of beginning false labor that will exhaust mom, only to stop when she's now emotionally ready to have baby
Risk of causing a longer labor, because the body wasn't in labor on it's own before this induction technique

And sadly, her labor was pretty long, and she sounded to be in more pain than what is typical for most home births that I see.

What angered me about this, was wondering if they understood / understand what message this may send to women. "Pregnancy and labor is natural, and should be left alone....unless you get past your due date.", despite the admittance that pregnancy is normal two weeks before AND two weeks AFTER a given "Guess Date". She was 3 *days* past, and allowed intervention.

Is this "Homebirth Lite", or "Mainstream Homebirth"?

It was said at the end of the film that she is pregnant again, and that they will be using the same midwife. I only hope that this time they will follow their own words of wisdom, and let this baby come when he/she is absolutely ready, and not add any interventions or "natural" ( don't get me started on this! ) induction techniques.


Gombojav Tribe said...

That looks like a great film! I'm going to see if Netflix is going to have it.

Sheridan said...

Interesting. I really want to see this film too! The whole stripping of membranes I think is seen as non-intervention by too many, when it IS an intervention.

I did choose to have my membranes stripped, but each time I was past 41 weeks with an induction date set for later in the week. It was a choice I made and I felt I was informed about it. But with an induction set for 42 weeks I felt it was a risk I was willing to take.

But I know moms getting their membranes stripped at 38 weeks. Why???

Birthkeeper said...

There's always a choice though. Sheridan, even though you say you were informed, stripping membranes could have had serious consequences on your VBAC plans. It could have caused PROM, and if your body and baby weren't ready, another cesarean. It's an unnecessary intervention, no matter if you are 38 weeks, or 41.

There isn't just one choice or two in childbirth. You didn't HAVE to be induced at 42 weeks.

Women need to understand that they have more choices, and they need to start standing up for themselves and their babies, and not worry so darn much about what their doctor will say or do.

This again, goes back to the very valid point of knowing what beliefs about childbirth your care provider holds. Whether OB or Midwife.

Mandi said...

I know this reply comes really late, but THANK YOU for your sentiment. I just now watched Pregnant In America, and cross referenced the movie title with "stripping membranes" to find your blog.

I see so many parallels between my first birth and Mandy's. I had intended to deliver at a birthing center. I had been having very regular (3-5 minutes apart) Braxton-Hix contractions since 37 weeks. Frankly, the midwife should have told us to go home--and her supervisor had once--but I had one sharp pain earlier that morning and thought it was the beginning. Instead, she decided to strip my membranes without my consent at 38 weeks. I didn't realize what she was doing at the time. She simply said she was "stretching me a little" after she began doing it. As she said it might, my water broke that evening. Unlike Mandy's, my labor never got going.

I don't know if it being Memorial Day weekend had anything to do with it, but after 24 hours I was transferred to the hospital for induction. I ended up suffering a postpartum hemorrhage (fortunately not quite bad enough to need a blood transfusion). My son was relatively healthy, but does struggle with some emotional and social issues. I always wonder what would have been different if I had known better and spoken up.

Oh, and we never went back to that midwife. For #4, we are finally planning our homebirth with someone I trust.