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Monday, November 26, 2012

Breathe Together



I have had some feedback about the title of my book. Several reviewers have given it "five stars", but have had doubts about reading it because they thought it would be an angry, polemical work about the horror of hospitals and the saintliness of doulas.

And it isn't.

I have a holistic world view, which means that I believe that there is a place for most types of activities and interventions, within very strict limitations. A 90% epidural rate for first-time mothers is just plain wrong. 90% of all first time mothers do not want an epidural, although certainly some do. And very few first-time mothers actually need pain medication. If and when they do, an epidural is a very effective tool that can provide exactly what the doctor ordered.

Cesarean sections are also very, very useful tools. Surgery can save a baby's or a mother's life. But one quarter of mothers and babies in North America are not in danger of dying during childbirth, adn so we see that this tool as well is overused.

We have come to believe that the overuse of these tools is necessary. Women are afraid of pain, men are afraid of birth, and children are being born into bright lights, machines, masked humans, and a mother nowhere in sight.

Here is a little explanation of my use of the word "conspiracy":

The root of “conspiracy” comes from the Latin conspirare, from con- “together with” and -spirare “breathe.” My hope is that just as women instinctively know how to breathe through their contractions, we will realize that we all know how to breathe together. Whether we are in a hospital, a birthing center, or at home, when all of us: physicians, nurses, midwives, obstetricians, doulas, birthing women, partners and, of course, the baby, are working as one in the birthing room, then the birth experience will provide a better start for the new family. When the birthing woman and her child, and not a machine or a chart, or a schedule or an agenda, are the center of our attention, then no matter what the outcome, the new mother will feel better about her experience and will be better able to care for her child. When we simplify our approach to birth, we will see that birth is simple.

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