Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book review and a Fascinating Finding

  So I finally finished reading "Home Birth an Invitation and a Guide". It's so sad that it took me almost three weeks and it's this skinny little book. Oh well, it's life while being pregnant and having a two year old as well. I have to say that it was okay. She offers good advice in it and there are some fantastic quotes here and there, but overall I don't think I would recommend it as a need to read. It might be a good starter book for those who aren't sure if home birth is for them. Alice Gilgoff does have some good stories in there as well as her own birth stories. I don't know if the book has been updated by her to add in birthing pools for home births. The one I read was an older one and it was about birthing in your own home. No mention of pools. Though for those who don't like the idea of a water birth, that might be fine. So like I said above, good book, but not great.
I recently started reading Ina May Gaskin's book "A Guide to Child Birth" and I have to say so far I love it. It was one of the recommend readings by my midwives and I can see why. The amount of love that she puts out in the forward of the book was beautiful. The book is done in two parts. Part One is dedicated to birth stories (which really you can't get enough of sometimes). Not horror ones either, they are just honest birth stories written by women who had natural births and just point blank how it was emotionally and physically. There are some in there that have more than one birth story as to create a comparison. They all take place on "The Farm Midwifery Center" where Gaskin worked as a midwife. 
Part two is the book part, where she talks about birth and gives advice. I haven't finished it yet, but I have to say that the topic she picked for her first chapter blew me away. It created a train of thoughts that have left me wondering about my sons birth and many many other things. She talks about the importance of relaxation, having people, and being in a place that you are completely comfortable with. The reason why she brings this up, is that it plays a major part in labor and delivery. You wouldn't think it would, but it does. She goes on to talk about something that I have heard of before, but never given any real thought to: Halted Labors and Undilation. Both are caused by the mother not being comfortable in the situation she is in while in labor. Gaskin goes on to say that when she was checking a mother she felt the mother undilate from an 8 to a 6. I know this sounds crazy, but think about it. When you are uncomfortable or tense, your muscles tense up and become rigid. The Uterus and Cervix are muscles, so it only makes sense that when you are uncomfortable and tense that they would tense up as well.
This blew me away and created streaming questions through my mind. Gaskin had to do a lot of research on this, since most Doctors and OB's have never heard or recognized this happening. She found evidence of it that predated hospitals, back when women were delivering at home with midwifes or the family Doctor. She also found that in modern hospitals, despite what the nurse who checks you may say, what the doctor finds when he/she checks is written down and is fact. Now, here is my stream of thoughts on this matter.
A women goes into labor not knowing how far she is dilated, they drive to the hospital, have to be checked, she has to change into her gown, be hooked up to all the monitors, and then checked. All of that can be an uncomfortable, adrenaline filled, tense situation. She is now in a place that is unfamiliar, despite how pretty the room is. The machines are beeping, the smells are different, and there is a nurse coming in about every hour to check her progress. It might take her a while to relax fully, if at all. Then we come to where what adds stress to the labor. The mother is told by the nurses she is not dilating quick enough and that they are going to start pitocin. Pitocin makes the contractions harder and more painful, she then feels frightened by the pain that she may of been able to handle beforehand. She is then given an epidural to block the pain. This relaxes her a little, but like it did me, she might feel like a failure at being able to handle such a natural thing. When she is fully dilated, the doctors and nurses come in and the pushing begins. People she is not used to having around her, that she may never see again. She is told to push push push push push. After an hour, she is told she is not pushing efficiently and will have to have a C-section or she pushes and the baby is born.
This is on average what birth is like in hospitals. After reading it,  knowing how high the C-section rate is in this country and now having been introduced to the idea of undilation and halted labors. You wonder, how many of those C-sections were a result of stress on the mothers part? How many of them were really necessary? The more you fear labor, the more it hurts, the more it hurts, the more afraid you let yourself get, the more stress you have, the more tense you get, etc. 
This all snowballed in my mind and then I thought of my sons birth. I knew I was in labor because my water had broken. We had to drive to the hospital, after chipping at the ice on our frozen car. I remember not feeling any contractions while we were driving there and then not really until we were in our room. So now I am wondering "Did my labor halt? Did I undilate due to the conditions and stress of having to get to the hospital?" Because when they checked me I was only a 3. Curiouser and Curiouser.

I don't want to harp on and on about it, but it is something that now fascinates me and I really cannot wait to finish reading this book.  If you want to read more about Gaskin and her works, I've included a link below.
Ina May Gaskin


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