First Do No Harm

Why do I feel I have to justify myself when I say that doctors and hospitals are damaging women and babies? I have a little bird on my shoulder that says "Oh, but you don't want to seem like you are against saving lives".

We have some fantastic tools at our disposal now in the field of medical care. We have antibiotics. We have surgery. We have anaesthetics. We have ultrasound. But these tools are being overused and mismanaged.  Women are being hurt and babies are suffering because of our indiscriminate and irresponsible use of methods and materials that should be reserved for special situations.

What are the effects on mothers who want a vaginal birth and come out of the hospital with a scarred uterus? What are the long term effects on her mothering instincts and choices? What are the long term effects of cesarean section birth on newborns? What are the long term effects of epidural medication on newborns? Artificial oxytocin?

What happens when a mother in full labor suddenly becomes quiet and calm because of the pharmaceuticals coursing through her system? How does the baby feel when that happens? Is there a correlation between epidural medication and later drug use? What happens to the part of the brain that responds to addictive substances and behaviours, when the birth process is augmented with artificial oxytocin and opiates?

What happens to a marriage when a man witnesses his wife being treated like an animal? How does that compare to the bonding that takes place when a man sees his wife in full triumphant labor and birth?

What happens to little girls who are born by cesarean section? Are they more likely to birth that way? Is there a cellular memory of the movement through the birth tunnel? What are the long term effects of cesarean section on sexuality throughout a woman's life? Is she more or less likely to be fully orgasmic later into menopause?

Is there a correlation between asthma in children and induction of labor? Is there a correlation between autism and epidurals? What health problems are we seeing that may be connected to our new way of giving birth?

The average cesarean section rate in Canada is conservatively reckoned to be about 20%; higher in some places and lower in others. One in five children are now born surgically. This is a huge scientific experiment that is not controlled, or monitored, or even admitted.

Over 90% of first time mothers in hospitals in Montreal are taking epidural medication.

In spite of recent studies that show the contrary, the majority of women carrying breech babies are delivering by cesarean section.

Forty one weeks is considered standard for induction, Bishop's Score be damned! And if a woman is over forty, she is likely to be induced at 39 weeks.

We need to get these figures down and we need to start examining the effects of our modern tools, methods and materials on the mothers and babies who place their trust in us.


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