Thursday, February 25, 2010

To intervene or not?

A friend of mine gave birth today. She planned to be induced, so she was at the hospital before the brunt of the winter storm and knowing the time and date meant she had care ready for her two year old. I believe she got the epidural shortly after being induced. And seven hours later, she had her baby, and looked a lot less stressed than I did after birth.

Part of me says, why intervene? Why not let the baby come naturally? In her case, the answer is that this was her second nine-plus pounder and the doctors didn’t want to go past her due date knowing how big the first one was.

But another part says, man, that’s convenient to know exactly when it’s coming and to get pain relief before it’s overwhelming. Imagine labor pains coming on in the midst of the storm, trying to find care for her toddler, trying to get to the hospital, and dealing with pain. Neither she nor her baby seem any worse off for avoiding all that trouble.

I want women to have choices and I believe a birth should be done in exactly the way the woman wants it done. But I’m doing a lot of reading about maternal health overseas and I think the natural birth people in the U.S. have romanticized the concept too much. There are a lot of women in other countries who die, whose babies die or who suffer serious complications for lack of medical interventions, including c-sections.

I don’t want unnecessary interventions used on me for the sake of the hospital’s or doctor’s convenience, which I think is the risk in the U.S. But boy, am I glad they are available if needed.

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