To Continue.... - Livin' the Good Life
Feb. 9th, 2008
03:40 pm - To Continue....
Imagine with me for a moment an animal in labor. How about a cat? Now, the first thing that cat wants to do is find a place to labor all by herself. She will find a dark closet or a remote corner of the garage or barn, away from people. Safe from other animals. Then she will most likely lie there on her side and purr during her early labor. She'll appear to be asleep. Very relaxed. Or she may pace around. Finally, she responds, without fanfare, to the urge to push her babies out one by one. It all appears rather effortless and peaceful. Quiet. She'll lick and care for her babies all by herself and make herself available for nursing. This is nature's perfect way. And, most of the time, the whole process goes off without a hitch.
Now, imagine with me a woman in labor today in a modern hospital. When she walks in, the first thing that happens is that she gets a "cervical exam" to see if she's really in labor. An intrusive and uncomfortable experience for her. She is in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people, that is anything but dark and private. She will then have a needle poked in her wrist and strapped to her so she can have a glucose drip, since she is not allowed to drink water, and they don't want her to become dehydrated. She has a strap placed around her belly that will electronically monitor her baby's heartbeat. Now that she is all hooked up with wires, she can't get up to go to the bathroom, so she has a catheter inserted. Strangers will come in and out of the room to check her progress regularly, with that same invasive and uncomfortable procedure. They prefer that she lies on her back so they can get a good reading on the monitor. This position causes her great discomfort and adds to her pain. And because she can't move around at will to find the most comfortable positions to labor in, she has additional pain. This causes tension, which in turn causes more pain. Her tension makes her contractions erratic and not very effective. This means that her labor will dawdle along. The doctor calls in to see how the mom is progressing, and they say "very slowly". It's Saturday, and the doc has a golf date that he doesn't want to miss that afternoon. He orders a pitocin drip through the mom's IV to speed things up. This drip causes much stronger contractions that are excruciatingly painful. The mother asks for some pain medication to deal with these unnaturally intense contractions. She gets an epidural, an injection inserted next to the spinal canal of the low back. This takes the edge off the pain, as the mom is now numb from the waist down. But, now her contractions slow down due to the medication. The doc orders more pitocin to speed things up. The contractions get stronger than ever. Though she can barely feel her incredibly strong contractions now, her BABY SURE CAN! These contractions are stressing this poor little guy out. TOO STRONG! The fetal moniter picks up signals of distress from the baby. Baby's not handling it well! Call the doctor! The doctor orders the nurses to prepare the operating room for a C-section. The surgery takes about 20 minutes. Looks like doc will make his golf game after all. While he rushes off, the mother is shakily dealing with the after-effects of major surgery. She can't nurse the baby immediately, like she had planned, because the baby is whisked away to intensive care to be monitored for the stress he underwent due to the pitocin. The baby is sleepy and unresponsive due to the effects of the epidural his mother received in labor. This requires even more vigilant monitoring. In the meantime, they prick the baby's heel to draw blood for "mandatory" tests, vaccinate the baby for Hepititus B, put blinding drops in his eyes to ward off his mother's potential venereal disease, scrubbed thoroughly (and often roughly), swaddled and put in a warmer for observation. Back in labor and recovery, mom wants her baby, but feels helpless to do anything about it. Separated at birth. A sad and unnecessary state of affairs. In the animal world, if you take a baby from it's mother at birth, there is a good chance that the mother will reject her baby when reunited. In nature, separation just doesn't happen if the baby is going to survive. And THIS is the reason that I said in my last post that hospitals are UNSAFE places to have babies. Ever heard the word "iatrogenic"? It means "caused by medical treatment". The labor and delivery wards are full of unwitting victims of iatrogenic disasters. Give me a nice, dark closet ANY DAY.