Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

I was working on a client yesterday who asked me if it's true that if you massage a pregnant woman's feet you can put her into labor.  "No. Absolutely not." I said.  And she asked why there is so much mis-information about pregnancy and massage--and if it's so dangerous why is there pregnancy massage anyway?  And I replied, "There is pregnancy massage because it is good for mother and baby and there is mis-information because people love to scare pregnant women."  She chuckled at this.  I don't think she believed me.  But I was dead serious.  Let me tell you some things I'm supposed to be afraid of while I'm pregnant:

Eating sushi will give me parasites that will eat my baby.  
Drinking a cup of coffee will give my kid ADD.
A glass of wine is going to land my baby with fetal alcohol syndrome.
If I don't eat organic produce, my child will come out with 3 arms.
Apparently, if my feet are massaged the wrong way, I will be instantly thrown into an uncontrollable labor.
If I don't have my baby in a hospital, I am an irresponsible person who lacks common sense and has no concern for the well-being of my baby.

This last one was pretty much told to me by said woman on the table, though she has no idea of my plans for giving birth to this child.  However, without knowing any of my ideologies or own values, felt free to share hers while I massaged her, gabbering non-stop.  She told me her wrist really hurt and that it was leftover from the epidural she received 15 months ago during the hospital birth of her child.  I was a little confused and asked if it was the IV spot and she told me, "no, it was from nurse Frankenstein who grabbed my wrists so hard, they hurt more than the epidural itself, all in an attempt to not let me move."  Well, that certainly sounds unpleasant.  And then she proceeded to tell me her best friend lost a baby because she was seeing a midwife, "which may as well be a witch doctor...I mean, forget the doctor and his 8 years of medical training when it comes to the well being of your child...let's see a hokey-pokey midwife! Duh!" I believe was the quote.  Essentially, the woman was having some cramping around week 24 and called her midwife, who told her to get some rest...and then never called to get a second opinion on it from her backup doctor.  And went into a labor a few days later, losing the baby.  The friend believes had she called the doctor, he would have admitted her to the hospital, they would have given her drugs to stop the contractions and the baby would be here today.  And that may be true.  But why does one misstep by a midwife make all of them "hokey-pokey?"

I was on anti-depressants for five years and came off of them when I got pregnant.  BUT--my primary care physician, who didn't know me that well, and didn't ask me very many questions, told me it would be best for me to get off them while I was TRYING to get pregnant.  She told me to wean off them and gave me specific instructions.  She had 8 years of medical training, so I trusted her.  The way she had me come off of them made me go nuts and I almost killed myself.  I called her to let her know, and after my 3rd message to her office, she called me back.  She all but admitted she didn't know what she was doing with psych drugs and I needed to see a psychiatrist.  It was a reminder to me to use common sense and while doctors are knowledgable, they don't know everything. 

Nobody. Knows. Everything. And everyone, no matter how tragic, makes mistakes sometimes.  I had an intuit that I shouldn't go off the meds right then and in that way, but ignored it.  And paid for it.  So the lesson here is: trust yourself more than you trust anyone else and tap into your common sense.

I want to have my baby in my house, in an environment I can control, not surrounded by beeps, bright lights and craziness.  I am not sick.  My baby is not sick.
"But what about if there's an emergency?? What then!???" is the most frequent question.  We are all programmed to believe any and all births are dangerous and to be afraid.  "Well, we'll call an ambulance if we need to.  Midwives are trained to recognize emergenencies and the woman we're planning on using has only had to call an ambulance once in 30 years. Those are good odds."  People don't want to hear about the odds, though.  They're too invested in the fear.  And I'm a huge feminist, so it doesn't escape me that the fear is all on the woman...the guilt...the worry.  We're supposed to be submissive and do what the good doctor has dictated we do.  "But more women and infants die in hospitals than at home..."  I say.  This is a proven statistic...and people will say "huh. I didn't know that."  But still take no comfort in my idea of a home birth.. "America has one of the highest infant-mother mortality rates in Westernized civilization.  We have the same rate as Cuba."  But still....the safest place for me, is apparently, according to... well, everyone--the hospital.  Why are we so willing, as a nation, to sweep facts under the rug?  Global warming isn't real.  The Polar Bears would be dying whether we were here or not....hospitals are safe....It doesn't matter if cows are injected with hormones...cloning animals for food is a good idea....Money seems to be at the root of all of these ideas that are killing us and I find it utterly tragic.  So I choose to not give my dollar to big businesses I find not in my best interest.  And nothing I do is uninformed.  I have read more books on midwifery, birth, hospitals, than the amount of books I read in college.  More interventions at hospitals cause complications in delivery than help...and I trust my body.  I trust my intuition.  And I am pro-choice for women to make whatever decision they are comfortable with when it comes to their body, their birth, their life.  Plastic surgery...abortion...home birth vs. hospital....I think if we take away these freedoms, we strip women of control over their own bodies.  And if THEY aren't controlling them, I beg the question....who is?

In conclusion, I feel the need to say I know many fears are rooted in things that are true--too much coffee, too much alcohol, too many fries....all bad for me.  But do I deserve that glare at Starbucks when I order one cup of coffee with my baby bump?  I don't think so.  But I get it anyway.  And doctors, hospitals, have their place and I'm glad they exist and I'll be the first one there if it is deemed necessary...but I do I really deserve the lecture because I'm not starting out there?  I don't think so. But I get it anyway.  And am I judging anyone's choice to birth in a hospital because they think it's best for their baby, their body? Hell NO!  I'm just tired of being told how afraid I should be. About everything. 

I choose to walk my life in love and freedom and education and choice.  Fear is for someone else.

(But they got me on the sushi thing.  I haven't eaten any of it since being preg.  Though, FYI....women in Japan eat raw fish while pregnant. And Japan still has people!)