Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Does the end really justify the means?

This has come up quite a bit lately. I always seem to come across someone who touts the old line of "I was/did/had _____ and turned out just fine. My child will too." You can fill this in with "I was formula fed, and turned out just fine.", or "I was delivered by cesarean, and turned out just fine.", or any of the other things that are PROVEN to be less healthy for babies. Why do people justify less healthy choices with completely anecdotal ( and often incorrect ) evidence? Unfortunately, it's much easier to continue with this mindset, than to admit that you could have done better for your child(ren), or yourself.

Science has shown us that breastfeeding is MUCH better for babies. In fact, being mammals, it is the *only* perfect food for our children up to the age of 1. It literally has every single thing that a baby needs to develop a healthy immune system, healthy brain and neurological function, healthy eyesight and coordination, and it reduces the risk of breast cancer for moms. Breastfeeding also deepens the bond between baby and mom, as it allows baby consistent one-on-one time with mom, next to her heart, smelling her skin, feeling her breathe. We are the only mammals who can choose to give our babies formula, filled with preservatives, and second-rate nutrition. And yet we're considered to be the most intelligent. ;) Now, as frustrating as it is to have to give a disclaimer, for those who choose not to read between the lines here ... I am not speaking of the women who are physically UNABLE to breastfeed. Though extremely rare, there are women who are unable to produce milk. However, those are the extreme minority. We have many, many women who simply CHOOSE to give their babies formula, instead of what is best for them. We live in a very selfish society, where it's perfectly permissible to put yourself ahead in priority over what is best for our children. We see this in pregnancy ( I can eat WHATEVER I want ), labor ( I'm tired of being pregnant, just induce me! ), birth ( I'm not trying to be a hero! Give me DRUGS! ), and then feeding ( I don't want to have saggy boobs / be the only one who can feed him / have to deal with breastfeeding in public ).

Why aren't women being held accountable for their second-rate choices? Because it's not PC to do so. Because women have every right to *kill* their baby in utero, who are we to tell them that they should eat healthy, have a natural birth, and breastfeed? In the meantime, it's our children who are getting the short end of the stick.

I wonder if women understand what they put their baby through, when they choose an induction, or allow augmentation? Do they understand what the drug does to their system? Do they understand what the artificial strength of pitocin contractions do to their little body? Do women understand that the drugs in the epidural cocktail *do* indeed cross the placenta? Do they care? Even if baby ends up "just fine", does it negate what women put them through in the name of convenience or choice?

With my first two, the only thing I had right was the breastfeeding. And even then, I didn't try as hard as I could have with my first. She was only breastfed for 3 1/2 months. I went back to work, and didn't have a clue how to keep up my milk supply to pump enough for her. I had a completely intervention-filled birth with her. Pitocin, AROM, Stadol, episiotomy ( which I paid dearly for ), and a vacuum extraction. My poor baby was put through hell because of my ignorant choices. My next baby was put through hell as well. An unnecessary, "elective" ( coerced ) cesarean. He wasn't ready. Because of my ignorant choice, he spent 9 days in the NICU. He was put through so many tests. He had a spinal tap at 30 minutes old, because of 2 seizures. He was given anti-seizure meds, sedation, had tubes running into several parts of his little body. He went through x-rays, ct scans, eegs, and ultrasounds of his head. There was nothing else wrong with him ... he just wasn't ready. I put him through all of that, because I didn't know any better.

Before anyone thinks that this is written in a superior tone ... I want to assure you that it isn't. It is written out of heartbreak for babies who are put through so much more than they ever should be, or for babies who are given second best. Most because their moms don't know any better. I wish that there was a way to get information out there, without being labeled anti-choice or superior. What about the babies?

21 comments:

Kayce Pearson said...

THANK YOU!!

I get so sick of hearing that "all that matters is a healthy baby" and "he is healthy, so my choice wasn't bad."

Again... thank you!!!!

Melanie said...

I am with you and agree with you on every point. I will link to you from my blog. Keep up the good work!
Melanie

Deanna said...

I agree, I felt immensely uneducated when it came to my baby.
after having a preterm baby, and an epidural I am definitely considering a different course of action this time around. she couldn't be stopped from coming, so she spent 29 days in the NICU. She is healthy and happy now even though I chose to only breastfeed for 4 months due to her nipple confusion. the epidural left us both exhausted for what seemed like 2 months and my back felt like someone had smacked me with a 2X4. I remember seeing a lady in the NICU who had just delivered an hour previously and seemed perfectly normal, I assumed she went all natural so it looks like the best choice. now all we have to do is hope our son isn't as eager as his sister, though the doctor plans on injecting me weekly with progesterone until he's born:(

Christine Fiscer, Traditional Midwife said...

Deanna, have you considered natural progesterone cream, rather than progesterone injections?? I'd hate to think of you starting more invasive medical intervention from day 1. :(

I hope that you can have a more peaceful birth next time around. Please feel free to email me anytime - I'd love to be able to send you encouragement, and answer any questions if you have some.

Birthkeeper@gmail.com

Christine Fiscer, Traditional Midwife said...

Thanks Melanie!

As a Midwife, it's often hard to keep my opinions to myself with women who have this type of mentality, so this has been my board for venting, articles, etc. :)

Wendy Martijn said...

*love* it

I say that some people get shot in the head and survive and turn out 'fine'...

Cassaundra said...

If the Mom "doesn't know any better" then why is it the Mom's "fault"? The anti-woman attitude of this article really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. In fact, it smacks of hatred to me. I have found VERY few women who have "chosen" badly for their children when given fuller education. I have however seen many women who were duped by the lies/marketing of mega-billion dollar formula corporations, and medical establishments that treat them as if they are cattle. When we live in a misogynist, classist, racist, euro-centric world, why are we blaming individuals for problems that are SYSTEMIC?

Whittney said...

It needs to be noted, especially in the case of augmentation and pitocin, that women are often pushed-HARD (your baby WILL DIE) to get these procedures done!

Christine Fiscer, Traditional Midwife said...

I'm confused. How can this post be anti-woman, when I am a woman myself?

We cannot and SHOULD not blame the system alone. Women certainly DO have responsibility for not educating themselves. Correct me if I'm wrong ( though I assure you that I am not ), but don't most parents research like crazy before purchasing a car seat, stroller, crib, etc ... wanting the safest for their baby?

The fact is, safe childbirth is one of the LEAST researched subjects when a woman is pregnant. I know that I didn't research what was best for baby when I was pregnant with my first or second. I read the horrid "What To Expect..." and listened to my doctor like a good little girl.

Women NEED to be held responsible, so that they will do better and in turn educate their friends, family members, and most importantly - their daughters.

Christine Fiscer, Traditional Midwife said...

Whitney - yes, they are pushed hard. That's why low risk women shouldn't be birthing in a hospital.

However, if women took more time to educate themselves on the things that are most common in labor, they would know what to avoid. They would know what situations would actually CALL for pitocin ( incredibly rare when it is 100% necessary ).

We won't get *anywhere* by blaming doctors. Nothing is going to change until women take responsibility for their actions and choices in birth.

rhahn said...

I too find this midwife's comments to be negative and judgemental. I saw this post on Facebook, because my friend reposted this blog there. I understand that she is just rambling, but this personally hits home to me. I did my research before my delivery and had made the choice to have a natural childbirth, but my first child was born at 32 weeks. I was on medication to stop my labor for 4 days. She was in the NICU for two weeks and received formula because she was too small to breastfeed (at less than 4 lbs.). I did switch to nursing within a month after she was bigger and able to latch on. Although this is something that not all women may be able to do, because pumping for that long effects milk production (during that time I pumped every three hours around the clock and never pumped more than 10 cc's). My second daughter was born at 34 weeks after nearly a month of bed rest. She was delivered emergency c-section because she was breech. Both of my daughters were given medications that bother me and were given formula in the NICU, but I don't feel that I had choices. To have made other choices during childbirth could have cost my child's or children's lives. So did God make child birth a natural process with many of the things that we need for healthy natural childbirth? Yes, but not everyone can always make these choices, and parents should not feel guilty about trying their VERY best to make the right choices for their personal situation. To make a judgment about it based on your experience without understanding other situations is unkind. I personally feel, based on my own experience, that some of your suggestions to "selfish parents," if taken to the letter of the law, could be detrimental to the child.

Jamie said...

I am right there with you! I hate the phrase I did ________ and my child (or I) turned out "just fine". My daughter (2nd child) was born with Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus. She had to have major surgery literally less than a day after she was born and stay in the NICU. I started educating myself and advocating from the beginning, though, and it made all the difference. They wanted me to have a c-section, admittedly only because it is 'standard procedure' and after some discussion, allowed me to have a vaginal birth. Though I had to be induced early (I didn't HAVE to, but with the hydrocephauls, we were risking long-term developmental issues so I chose the less of two evils) and had to be on pitocin, I still had a medication-free birth. I insisted on staying with her that night in the NICU and got discharged the next day so I could go with her to the Chidlren's hospital to spend every second with her. They had to give her one bottle before I could breastfeed, but I made sure it was donor milk. I then got a lactation consultant and worked on breastfeeing her, even though she was early, in the NICU, and had just had surgery. I got to hold her and feed her from just 2 hours after surgery on (well, I also got to hold her when I first delivered her for a few minutes, even though that is also not 'standard' procedure' because of the opening in the back. I had it cleared through the neurosurgeon, though, so no one questioned me about it). Most babies with spina bifida are, literally, not held until about 8 DAYS after surgery. Madi is now a year old and we are still going strong with our breastfeeding. I'm so thankful that I took the time to talk to every professional I could and do what was best for her.

slewcha said...

I really appreciated this article because I feel the same way. My son was induced with petocin and I was goven an epidural. The first was me wanting to get it over with, the second was pushed on me by the nurses. I did deliver vaginally but cut the cord too soon and gave my son Jaundice. I agree that no other wants to hurt their child and tries to do only the best for them. However, to the mothers who are against this blog: Did you ever roll your eyes when some "crazy hippie" was talking about the birth of her child and the alternative birthing methods she used? Did you feel it was unnecessary? Did you research any natural birthing methods for your child? Or did you just trust modern medicine as if women haven't been giving birth for millions of years prior without it? Did you have trouble breast feeding so you just stopped or did you demand help? I don't find this article offensive at all. I think it is a reality check for women. I think it is offensive to say this has an anti-woman overtone. It is an article encouraging women to what they need to do for their children. I applaud the midwife who wrote this. Thank you again.

PhotoMom2Four said...

Absolutely phenomenal! Well written, and so true. You're my "guest blogger" of the day on my own blog. Thank you so much!!

EllenCas1974 said...

I agree with you on some of your points but not all. I think there are some fundamental things you are overlooking. For instance, if we stuck with the "in the wild" mentality than myself and thousands of other women would never have been able to get pregnany and give birth. I needed medical assistance to conceive and due to this my body wasn't able to labor or produce very much milk for very long (I won't go into details). I had an extremely pro-natural birth OB (she has given birth 2x outside of a hospital with no medical intervention) and therefore was not "pushed" in to any of these decisions. I think my OB had a good mindset, part of empowerment is knowing when to make a different choice.

SweetWICK said...

Thanks for posting...great insight. Nice blog.

*mayflower* said...

Well written...
My mother in law would tell me when I was pregnant and wouldn't allow her to smoke around me "Oh I smoked when I was pregnant and my kids were fine" It use to pi$$ me off so bad... never mind all of the scientific proof or the facts that said otherwise! Grrr....

kessa lou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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lynsey said...

i agree with your sentiment, especially given how easy it is to educate oneself these says online etc,(providing one is using factual material and not just opinion) but i think you have to be a bit careful when talking about our *rights* to kill our babies in utero.at the end of the day the point surely is to make sure women are informed...the decision they then make is, will it's exactly that...their decision.

Christine Fiscer, Traditional Midwife said...

Lynsey -

Unfortunately, you are talking to a woman who is very much against abortion. I don't think that any woman should have the right to take the life of her baby. You're moving from personal rights, to murder. It's your personal right to commit suicide, it is murder to kill another human being.

Just as I would never be for a law passing that says I can kill my 4 year old if I feel she is becoming a burden to me ... I am not for a law allowing women to kill the child they carry in their womb.

But, this isn't a debate about abortion ... so that point is moot in this context. ;)