As someone that doesn’t talk much, I do a lot of thinking. I’m usually pondering some sort of situation in my mind and often times questioning the ‘establishment.’ Whether it is big government, our health-care system, or even my own divided profession, I often wonder how an original idea, something that was simple and effective, progressed to what is know today as ‘normal,’ yet not even close to the original design. I only question these things because as simplistic ideas progress, the industry usually evolves into a system of more intervention, more interference, poorer outcomes, with an extremely high cost. It’s the American way…spend billions on systems that don’t work, and when they are absolutely broken, throw more money at it. The broken industry that has been crossing my mind of recent is childbirth. A quick disclaimer, “no, my wife and I are not pregnant.”
The buzzword of ‘natural childbirth’ is being thrown around quite a bit. This ‘natural’ description has many different definitions. The most conservative scenario could mean that the woman had the child in a barn, unassisted, because there was no room at the Inn. The more common for today’s ‘natural’ could mean that there were no drugs used but was performed in a hospital with lots of monitors for the fetus, mom’s blood pressure, pulse, oxygen levels, temperature, etc. As a chiropractor, I operate in a paradigm where the less intervention, the better. I operate under the truth that the body was designed and created to perform, function, and heal for 80-120 years. We just have to take care and be good stewards of the body for the time we have here on Earth.
I question how a natural process, in which the body knows exactly what to do, became a ‘disease’ like state that has been delegated to hospitals under the quick supervision of surgeons? Is this model working? The obvious answer is “no it is not.” Our nation ranks 37 by the World Health Organization in infant mortality. That means there are 36 other countries, some third world countries, which have less baby deaths for every 1000 births in their respective countries. Comparing Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and many of the developed European countries, they have a 30% rate of hospital births compared to our 99%+ rate of hospital births. Aren’t hospitals for emergencies? Are American women that deformed and inadequate compared to the women of the world that we need 70% more emergency childbirth intervention? Or is it our system that is deformed and inadequate?
My next random thought is why would I want an OB/GYN delivering my baby? An OB is trained in surgery…birth is not surgery but somehow the rate of surgical births has increased to 33% (1 in 3 babies are born via C-section). If I were to put myself in an OB’s shoes, a regular birth would be boring. An OB is trained in pathology so wouldn’t they have a tendency to look for pathology (or create one, see the next paragraph) for complications that may exist with the childbirth process? It would be like you coming to me, a Chiropractor, and asking for a massage. I can do the massage, but it’s the last thing I want to do. I would send you to a massage therapist. As c-sections have increased, so have infant mortality rates. I’m thankful we have access to that intervention if needed but how often is it really necessary? 99% of the time?
“But Dr. Kurt, I was in labor for over 8 hours, the nurses and doctors were getting worried and making me fear that there was something wrong, it’s all about my baby.” Let’s look at this scenario. Let’s say you decided to have a hospital birth. As a pregnant mom, you were most likely put on your back, with your legs in the air, separated by stir ups and your head/neck was all jacked up with pillows. In this position, physiologically and neurologically, this gives you the least ability to push when needed. Right now in your chair, drop your chin to your chest and try to breath deeply. It’s difficult right? You are cutting of oxygen supply to your body. If you are trying to push as hard as you can, with little oxygen available, do you think you have full capability of delivering a baby? But that’s ok, they can put oxygen on you and charge you thousands of dollars, when all they needed to do was remove the pillows that were jacking up your neck. Secondly, by being on your back with your legs in the air removes gravity from the equation as well as shrinks the pelvis’ ability to open completely. Do you think a wide-open pelvis would be important in childbirth? The only person this position benefits is the doctor pulling the baby out.
Please take what I’m about to say not as offensive but me being a human that possesses an X and a Y chromosome trying to relate the gravity of familiar situation to the gravity of a situation I will never experience. I remember a time when I was running in the woods, on some trails when a wave hit me. That wave was to perform a unique and urgent duty (pun intended). There were no bathrooms around, just trees and forest décor. I was cramping, walking funny, and in pain. I had to get rid of it. Instinctively, do you think I performed this duty on my back with my legs in the air with my head propped up by a tree stump? Or do you think I popped a squat somewhere and let gravity do its work? In childbirth, laying on one’s back with legs in the air, totally takes gravity out of the equation, making the process way harder. No problem, there is Ptosin to help with the contractions that have been as hard as possible by the position of mom. If you’ve had Ptosin, you know the excruciating pain of those contractions, which usually follows begging for an epidural. The epidural then relaxes the muscles, which will call for more Ptosin because the relaxation prevents the contractions. Ptosin gets increased which causes longer, harder contractions, followed by another epidural. By this time, the OB is starting to freak out because now the baby is in ‘distress’ because the baby is feeling the full effect of the ebb and flow between the Ptosin and epidural while mom sleeps through labor. So then, in the name of your baby’s safety, you are rushed to the OR for an emergency C-section. You baby’s life was saved. Thank you modern medicine, you saved my baby’s life.
Honestly, I only bring this topic up because even though I am hopefully a couple years away from having kids, I want to look at both sides of the equation, have a plan, and stick to the plan. I know, I know, I’m not the one that will be in pain, agony, and distress but hopefully I can bring certainty and confidence to the plan of action. Do we have a plan yet? No, but my wife and I will have looked at all scenarios/options prior so we are not making decisions on fear when that amazing time comes. If you are in the planning stages of a family or already have kids but want to do things differently the next time, I encourage you to interview midwives. If you plan on having a hospital birth, make sure you have a plan prior to showing up in labor. Lastly, I recommend a documentary called the Business of Being Born. If you have Netflix, you can watch it right on your computer. Remember health is a choice, a whole choice, and nothing but a choice.