Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dr. Phil, Midwifery and Home Births

Today I received an email that has been circulating amongst the midwifery community, that I found quite disturbing. Apparently Dr. Phil is collecting information to do a show on Midwifery and Home Births, this is not the disturbing part, what I find frustrating is how he is asking the questions.

In order to properly address this issue I feel that I need to give a little background history. My three oldest children were born in the hospital, very typical hospital births with no major complications. My last two children were born at home, absolutely amazing, empowering experiences for myself and my family.

Thirteen years ago when I was first pregnant I did not even think twice about finding an OBGYN to administer every test in the book to prepare me for the birth of my child. This was something that occurred in the hospital because that was the safest and why would I want anything else for my precious child?

After three hospital deliveries (no real horror stories) but made to feel that the staff knew what my body was doing more than I did, I realized that I needed to find something different. I did a lot of reading and found a wonderful team (Midwife and her Assistant). It is funny how just these two people guided myself and my family to a new perspective, a place where WE were in control.

Child Birth is not an illness or disease and should not be treated as one. For thousands of years women have been giving birth, it is amazing how our bodies really do know what to do. We need to allow our bodies to do this. I strongly believe that a women who is empowered throughout her pregnancy, labor and delivery has an easier time adjusting to the role of parent. I have not studied this but I would suspect that post pardom depression is much lower with home births versus hospital births (when I have more time I will see if there are any studies on this, if anyone out there knows, please inform us).

Okay so back to Dr. Phil ... the questions being asked seems much like a 'witch hunt' to me." The following list was taken from: Dr.
  • Did you have a child at your home?
  • Did you want to have a soothing experience where you were in control and could bond with your child?
  • Did it not go the way you planned?
  • Do you regret having a home birth?
  • Do you regret using a midwife instead of going to a hospital?
  • Did you have your second child the traditional way in a hospital?
I guess my frustration is because although I do not always agree with Dr. Phil, I usually find him to be fair and present both sides of the story. And giving him the benefit of the doubt maybe he would on the show BUT I just feel like these questions are setting midwifery and home birth up for the fall!

I also would like to note that I find it annoying when people speak of "traditional way in a hospital" because if we really look up the word traditional, taken from ARDictionary:

"Traditional: Definition: Of or pertaining to tradition; derived from tradition; communicated from ancestor to descendants by word only; transmitted from age to age without writing; observant of tradition, attached to old customs; old-fashioned."

Now honestly, it has been less than 100 years and mostly in the United States where births happened in the hospital, so looking at the big picture I would not call that 'traditional'.

I would like to include that I do believe that there are times when the hospital facilities provide great service to birthing mothers and babies. I just think we should look to them more as an 'as needed basis' not an only option. From my experience hospitals run as factories ... there are rules, regulations and procedures and none of these take into consideration the special needs of the individual. This is not to say that some facilities are more sensitive to individual needs but like I said from my experience it can be very NOT personal!!

So I have said my piece and you may agree or disagree. I just really felt like I needed to say something. I also went to the Dr. Phil website and expressed my opinion and if you feel so inclined, please do so yourself!


Tricia said...

It's true that the results or any survey can be skewed by the type or tone of questions. I wonder why the show is obviously trying to portray home births in a negative light.

I've certainly heard horror stories and stories of joy related to both hospitals births and home births, and I think in the end it has to be what works for the family. The Dr. Phil show will inevitably scare people if all they do is show negative stories about home birth, and that's very unfortunate.

Cate said...

Great blog, Amy!
I love that you took control of your labor and births. While I feel like I had awesome births, my second pregnancy was certainly "over-medicated" as in, way too many tests. I argued and fought them, and was made to feel "difficult" which then gave me the very real fear that they'd drop me from their practice. Only through my own and my partner's strength were we able to have a very quick (2.5 hours) natural labor. Actually, in the 20 minutes I was in the hospital for the second birth, I was actually STOPPED from pushing so they could get baby's heartbeat, though it was only measured once and so they had nothing to measure it against!
Honestly, I wish insurance would have covered a home birth for me, or that I would have acted upon my threat to "give birth at home in a closet like a cat." :)
I also annoyed Dr. Phil with my story of the hospital births, and encourage women to continue to do so: either all those awesome home birth/midwife stories, or the struggle of giving birth in a hospital.
Thanks for passing this on!

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