Just when you think that things may begin taking a turn for the better you come across something that sharply reminds you that we're not quite there yet....It is essential that we women begin to unravel ourselves from our oblivion! it is this alone that motivates me to finish my book. Below is my response to an article in our local newspaper just last week...although it's more like an advertisment rather than an article.
The recent article More Young Women Opting to Schedule C-Section Births by Hilary Waldman was disappointing in its lightness in addressing one of the most serious crimes happening in our country today. There are many rackets here in America but the one I find most repulsive is “Medicalized Birth”. In at time when 1 out of 3 women are having cesareans in this country, we need reporters who are questioning them, not condoning them. Something is wrong with this picture. Hillary, along with her comrades such as Doctor Girard, are irresponsibly condoning the consumer driven ways we live in the US in the realm of birth.
Yet this “my needs first” mentality has hidden costs that go beyond paper money. In April of 2008 , a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documented that the US infant mortality rate is now worse than 28 other countries. The study, “Recent Trends in Infant Mortality in the United States,” found that at least 28 other countries now have lower death rates for infants in the first year of life.
Where are the facts in Hilary’s article?
As pregnancy–related deaths increase in our country so does the c-section rate, up 40 percent since 1996. Almost eighty-two percent of women whose first delivery is a c-section have subsequent cesareans. Readers are being mislead by the information in this article to believe that a cesarean surgery is not only convenient, but safe. In October, a woman at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston died during a cesarean. “Valerie Scythes, 35, and Melissa Farah, 28, were friends who taught at the same grade school in Avon, N.J., and died two weeks apart last spring (2007) after delivering their firstborns, both healthy girls, via planned c-sections at Underwood Memorial Hospital in Woodbury, N.J. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Farah's death certificate said she died of "shock due to bleeding and anemia."
C-sections are not safe as implied! One in 2,500 women are at risk compared to the more than the one in 10,000 risks for vaginal birth. According to the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 36 women per 100,000 die while undergoing a caesarean compared to 9.2 deaths per 100,000 for a vaginal delivery. The risks from having a cesarean include infections, hemorrhage, transfusion, injury to other organs, anesthesia complications, psychological complications, and a maternal mortality two to four times greater than that for a vaginal birth. In addition, premature birth rates are being linked to cesareans which ultimately cause an array of health conditions for the baby as well as increase their risk for death in the first month. And what about the emotional impact of a non-vaginal birth on the baby later on in life?
Vaginal births massage the babies as the move through the birth canal gently preparing them for their entrance in the world. How does a baby being yanked from its mothers womb by a stranger respond to the world around them? Could there perhaps be a connection between the extreme levels of fear and hatred we Americans perpetuate on others around the world and the hardened and disconnected ways we are bringing new life into the world? We do not yet know the impacts of our behaviors, not much different than the now looming realities of global warming that we have conveniently chosen to dismiss in years past.
What about the costs?
In a time when our economy is failing and insurance companies are struggling to survive, how can we afford such a “luxury”? In May 1997 Hilary actually reported that “a c-section cost $12,600 at Danbury. The same labor ending in vaginal delivery costs only $7,000. And that does not account for the physical and emotional toll of major surgery” . Today, vaginal births are still about half the cost of a c-section totaling billions of dollars which in turn burdens health care cost for everyone. Women who plan c-sections are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized again in the first month after birth than the women who had a vaginal delivery. In addition, the average initial hospital cost of a planned c-section for a first-time mother was 76% higher than that for a planned vaginal birth. (Rita Rubin, USA TODAY, Answers prove elusive as C-section rate rises, Jan 08.)
All for the sake of convenience?
In a time when our world is facing more challenges than ever before, it is essential that we take a serious look at how we are living our lives – including the realm of birth. The era of convenience must come to an end. No longer can we justify excessive waste of resources, extreme scientific experiments and harm to both people and planet. Not only do we need to be birthing “green” for the health of our babies, but for the future health of their planet as well.
On a personal note Hilary, how is it possible for someone so detached from the process of living like yourself be a Health Reporter for such a notable publication? Doesn’t health signify freedom from disease without dependence on “medicalized” models? The slant in all of your articles somehow puts modern medicine on a pedestal while providing mis-information in a time when studies show that more holistic treatments are not only safer and more economical, but more effective. Why are you choosing to be a mouthpiece for unnecessary procedures and surgeries? Perhaps you are more interested in merely reporting trends than truth. Who’s paying you to say such nonsense? And I am curious Hilary, how many children do you have?
Imani, mother of 6 (4 of which were born at home naturally without any interventions and whose body does not appear to be “ravaged by multiple deliveries”) and owner of The Green Vibration’s Alchemy Café & Eco-Boutique and founder of The Growing Green Co-op in Hartford.