When push comes to scalpel

From The Australian, 7 March 2009:
When a journalist from The New York Times asked British mountaineer George Mallory why he was planning to scale Mt Everest, the reply was simple: “Because it’s there.” I feel the same way about a drug-free childbirth.
When confronted with the opinion that because modern medicine has developed the pain-free, push-free labour, all women should fall over themselves in gratitude, I can’t help but think of Mallory. Why do I aspire to a drug-free and hopefully intervention-free labour? Because I can.
There’s more to it than the notion that simply because my female ancestors did it this way, I should too. My female ancestors were far likelier to die in childbirth because of a lack of basic sanitation or bleed to death because physicians of the day had limited surgical skills or knowledge. Their babies also were on the wrong side of the survival odds thanks to pathogens and complications.
I am eternally grateful to be pregnant and facing labour in this era, when I am confident my doctors will be able to fend off almost all the threats that in the not-so-distant past may have put my life, and that of my baby, at risk.
But I am a healthy, fit 33-year-old woman who has been lucky enough to have a pretty normal pregnancy so far.
I’m not quite in the right shape to scale Mt Everest, but I’m approaching labour with the same sense of expectation, excitement, trepidation and motivation. Read more.

2 thoughts on “When push comes to scalpel

  1. Bianca,I read your article at The Australian with great interest. In 2007 I published a magazine about breech birth – collecting up wisdom and birth stories that had been lost, or were about to be lost in the fear breech births. I’d love to share it with you.The crazy thing is – knowing women who have had both a breech bith and a ‘head down’ birth – they all say the same thing – give me a breech birth any day. It isn’t as painful or hard so they say.If you are looking for some more informtion and support – New Zealand midwife Maggie Banks has written a book about breech birthing.There are four basic rules to birthing a breech baby, which the hands on interventionist mode of practise can’t deal with:1. The room must be warm – so when the bottom emerges the cold air doesn’t shock the baby into breathing before the head it out.2. Birth upright – kneeling, standing.3. Hands off! Don’t touch the baby as it is emerging – again it may stimulate the baby to breath or to deflex it’s head before the whole baby is born.4. Don’t push until fully dilated – midwives will encourage women to fight the urge to push until it’s absolutely overwhelming, ensuring that the cervix is fully dilatedThe other thing is – if the fear of the medical establishment gets too much – step out. There ARE still homebirth midwives who support women to birth breech babies.Good luck and blessings on your journey

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  2. Hi Jodithanks so much for all that info – very good to know. Unfortunately, the chances are very high that we’ll end up with a caesarean as there’s only one obstetrician at the hospital who does breech deliveries, and he’s only on two days a week. If I go into labour any other time then it’s an emergency caesar. So I’m just crossing my fingers (and legs!) and hoping it all happens when he’s available. In which case your comments will be really useful, so thanks.But whatever the outcome, we’re just looking forward to meeting our stubborn ‘I won’t turn for anyone’ little offspring!b

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