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Looks like the Today Show has gone and done it again

September 12, 2009

They’ve warned their viewers to be cautious of birth doulas, who run the risk of “getting in the way” of the hospital staff during labor and delivery. 

They’ve given ample air-time–and little fact-checking–to Hanna Rosin’s inane comments about the “weak” science regarding the “supposed” benefits of breastfeeding.  (My comments–and citations of the relevant research–on that inanity are here.)

And just yesterday, The Today Show aired a segment entitled “The Perils of Midwifery” in which they not only exploited the pain and grief of a couple and their tragic experience with stillbirth during a homebirth but also had the audacity to describe homebirth and those who choose homebirth as “extreme,” “hedonistic,” and part of a celebrity culture in which women seek a birth akin to a “spa-like experience.”

Many of my favorite birth bloggers have already written incisive, pointed, and even witty critiques of this piece (of bullshit):

I must say that the sensationalism of this story–its doomsday rhetoric, its exploitation of a grieving couple’s tragedy, its blatant avoidance of any relevant research on homebirth and midwifery–has once and for all revealed The Today Show’s to have an utter lack of respect of responsible journalism.

But–for the sake of argument, let’s just assume that they have some strange attachment to consistency–perhaps they should commit themselves wholeheartedly to sensationalist and irresponsible journalism on birth.  Across the board.  On all fronts.

Perhaps they should air an equally doomsday, exploitative, and under-researched segment on “The Perils of Epidurals” in which they look at the recent death of an Ohio mother who died after allegedly contracting meningitis from the anesthesiologist who was present her child’s birth.  (This physician allegedly infected an another mother as well.  And while the stories I have read have not elaborated on the circumstances much, I am assuming that the anesthesiologist must have come in contact with this mother in order to administer an epidural or spinal for labor or for a cesarean section.) 

Matt Lauer could refer to epidurals (which, admittedly, do have rare but serious risks) as EXTREME DRUGS that mothers should only take when they want to FLIRT WITH DANGER just so that they can have a SPA-LIKE EXPERIENCE DURING THEIR LABOR!  Really, women who get epidurals must have some sort of DEATH WISH!!!  And the only reason that they are signing up for epidurals in record numbers is that KATIE HOLMES HAD ONE!!!  And don’t all the women of the world make their birthing choices based on what celebrities do?!?!?!?!

Sheesh.

As I’ve said before (and I’ll say again), PLEASE.  A little more respect!

I laughed so hard I think I got a hernia

September 11, 2009

Let me state for the record that I think my husband is a very handsome man.

And I feel the need to say this right here because I’m about to post a picture of him that  does not, shall we say, showcase one of the many reasons that it has been very, very easy for me to make two babies with him.

This picture was taken a few months ago when Tim came downstairs from putting M (our 3-year-old) to bed and asked me if I noticed anything different about his lip.

I was probably nursing A (just a few months old at the time) and finishing up my dinner and reading a book–the sort of multi-tasking that is required of parents of small children–and so I hadn’t yet gotten a good look at Tim’s face before he asked me to examine his lip.  In fact, I’m guessing I hadn’t even looked at his face at all because if I had, I would certainly have noticed that something was…different.

tim's liip

Oh my god, the insensitive laughter and hilarity that ensued.

Of course, we were sufficiently worried about his “condition.”  And yes, my shallower side was also worried that we would never even get to practice making any more babies unless Tim wore a bag over his head.  (For what it’s worth, I don’t think that his hot dog lip detracted all that much from his handsomeness.  I just don’t think that I could have stopped my side-cramping laughter enough in order to have sex with him.)

Responding, I presume, to both sets of worries (the humane and the shallow ones), Tim did go directly to the ER, where the physician marvelled at how he had “never seen anything like this before.”  So he loaded Tim up with some antibiotics and Benadryl, recommended that he also hold an ice pack over his lip, and then hoped that the frankfurter on Tim’s mouth would either turn out to be an infection, an allergic reaction, or some sort of injury or swelling.

And thankfully, one of those remedies worked because the hot dog shrunk down to a more respectable cocktail-wiener size within days.

Now, for those of you who think that Tim has one hell of a cold-hearted partner who continually laughs at his pain and indignities and never has any hilarious physical malfunctions of her own, think again.  Because I got my comeuppance just last week when I was out to dinner with my mom and one of my sisters.

We were actually in the midst of our own bout of side-splitting laughter.  What’s even better is that our laughter was the result of our reminiscing about Tim’s now infamous hot dog lip.  (Really, once you’ve seen the picture, it becomes seared into your memory and is very easily culled up if you ever need a good chuckle.) 

And I was laughing so hard that God must have looked down upon me and said, “Kristen enough is enough!  You’ve giggled over Tim’s misfortunes ONE TOO MANY TIMES NOW!”

And then POOF I was in breathtaking pain and a little alien head was popping out of my side.  (Just like in Spaceballs, I tell you.)

Oh my god, guys, this HURTS!” I moaned to my mom and sisters.  “Mooooommmmm, you’ve gotta feel this.

I directed my mother’s hand to the little mass that was poking out of my belly, and all of her efforts to shape her face into an expression of concern couldn’t hide the disgust and shock that was looming underneath.

And just as I was getting ready to shout, “A LITTLE GREEN SLIMY THING IS ABOUT TO DANCE THE CAN-CAN ACROSS THIS TABLE, SO YOU BETTER WATCH OUT, BITCHES!” I pushed that sucker back in and s/he hasn’t been seen since.

My medically-trained parents have told me that I probably have a ventral hernia, one that shouldn’t need any specific treatment…at least for now.  But I’ve been worried enough about its return that I have ceased thinking about and looking at pictures of Tim’s hot dog lip…at least for too long.

VBAC scare tactics (7): Playing the epidural card

September 9, 2009

Many women who want to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (or VBAC, pronounced “vee-back”) in the U.S. have faced some sort of opposition from their care providers when they have expressed their desire to VBAC.  Oftentimes, this opposition comes in the form of ” VBAC scare tactics.”

The (outrageous) statements are often misleading, exaggerated efforts by OBs (and yes, even midwives) to discourage women from VBAC and to encourage them to “choose” a repeat cesarean.  (Of course, it’s not really a choice if your provider won’t even “let” you VBAC, is it?)

And if you find yourself up against a barrage of scare tactics–as I once did–it can be exceedingly difficult to stake your claim and argue against the doctor (again, or midwife) who may or may not have your and your baby’s health prioritized higher than medico-legal concerns and who may or may not be hurling phrases like “catastrophic uterine rupture” and “dead baby” your way.

If you do find yourself facing such scare tactics, and if you do want to have a VBAC, there are some questions that your care provider should be able to answer when s/he hurls those scary and/or outrageous comments and standards your way.  And if s/he refuses to or even cannot answer these questions, then you might want to consider finding an alternative care provider–one who is making medical decisions based on research, evidence, and even respect for your patient autonomy and not on fear, willful ignorance, or even convenience.

I encourage all mothers who read this post (and others in my “VBAC Scare Tactics Series”) to  take the information contained herein as a springboard from which they can 1) continue their research on VBAC, 2) maintain a communicative relationship with their care providers, and 3) find a care provider who best supports the mother’s interests and plans for the birth of her child.

(To read my disclaimers about “why I am not anti-OB” and “why I take the gravity of uterine rupture seriously,” please see my posts on VBAC scare tactics (1) and (2).)

 

Scare tactic #7a: An epidural can mask the signs of uterine rupture, so I do not permit my VBAC patients to have an epidural during their labors.

Scare tactic #7b: In case of an emergency cesarean, I require all of my VBAC patients to have an epidural in place in early labor.  That way, we will not have to wait for the anesthesiologist to get the epidural in place if a uterine rupture occurs.

 

Questions to ask your care provider in regard to 7a:

  • How often is severe abdominal pain an indication of uterine rupture?  Is this the only or even the primary indication of uterine rupture?
  • Does an epidural always obscure the pain of uterine rupture?
  • Do I have any other pain relief or medication options during labor?
  • Would I still have the right to request an epidural if I absolutely wanted it during labor?

Questions to ask your care provider in regard to 7b:

  • How long does it generally take for an anesthesiologist to get an epidural or spinal in place?
  • Are there any other anesthetic options besides an epidural or spinal if a uterine rupture (or other birth emergency) were to occur?
  • What are the risks associated with epidural analgesia?
  • What would happen if I were to refuse an epidural during labor?

 

A more nuanced analysis:

It should be noted that these limitations will not seem coercive to every mom who hears them.

For the mother who has planned and prepared for a drug-free childbirth, it will be highly unlikely that she will be deterred from seeking a VBAC upon hearing that she will not be “allowed” to have an epidural.  On the other hand, for the mother who has every intention of requesting epidural analgesia during her labor, it will be highly unlikely that she will be deterred from seeking a VBAC upon hearing that this medication will be required during her VBAC attempt.

But (and you can see where this is going), the mother planning and preparing for a drug-free childbirth who hears that she must have an epidural AND the mother who wants an epidural yet hears that she cannot have one might very well be scared away from attempting a VBAC.

And this is particularly disconcerting since neither requirement regarding epidurals has much basis in fact or necessity.

In fact, as reported on eMedicine’s overview of the research on uterine rupture (“Uterine Rupture in Pregnancy”), in cases of uterine rupture:

…sudden or atypical maternal abdominal pain occurs more rarely than do decelerations or bradycardia. In 9 studies from 1980-2002, abdominal pain occurred in 13-60% of cases of uterine rupture. In a review of 10,967 patients undergoing a TOL, only 22% of complete uterine ruptures presented with abdominal pain and 76% presented with signs of fetal distress diagnosed by continuous electronic fetal monitoring. (Johnson C, Oriol N. The role of epidural anesthesia in trial of labor. Reg Anesth. Nov-Dec 1990;15(6):304-8.)

Moreover, in a study by Bujold and Gauthier, abdominal pain was the first sign of rupture in only 5% of patients and occurred in women who developed uterine rupture without epidural analgesia but not in women who received an epidural block.  (Bujold E, Gauthier RJ. Neonatal morbidity associated with uterine rupture: what are the risk factors?. Am J Obstet Gynecol. Feb 2002;186(2):311-4).  Thus, abdominal pain is an unreliable and uncommon sign of uterine rupture. Initial concerns that epidural anesthesia might mask the pain caused by uterine rupture have not been verified and there have been no reports of epidural anesthesia delaying the diagnosis of uterine rupture. A guideline from the ACOG from 2004 suggests there is no absolute contraindication to epidural anesthesia for a TOL because epidurals rarely mask the signs and symptoms of uterine rupture.  (ACOG. Vaginal birth after previous cesarean delivery. ACOG practice bulletin no. 54. Washington, DC: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists;2004).

In this respect, it seems unwise–if not cruel and in stark contrast to the evidence–to forbid a mother from requesting epidural medication during a VBAC labor simply because an epidural may “mask the signs of uterine rupture.”  (Notably, some women with epidurals in place even report experiencing the pain of uterine rupture when it occurs.)

What’s more, the studies on uterine rupture from the eMedicine overview also conclude that “prolonged, late, or recurrent variable decelerations or fetal bradycardias are often the first and only signs of uterine rupture” and occur in roughly 80% of uterine ruptures.  Accordingly, if any fear-based requirement were to be made of moms attempting VBAC, it should be continuous fetal monitoring and not epidural restriction–and even this requirement should be left up to the informed discretion of the mother, in my opinion!

Notably, there are other pain management options during labor besides epidurals.  Narcotic pain medication (such as Stadol or Demerol) can provide some relief during labor, but these medications do present serious risks to moms (including drowsiness and vomiting) and to babies (including central nervous system depression and respiratory depression).  But besides pharmacological pain-relief, there are numerous risk-free non-pharmacological pain-relief options during labor that moms can make use of, including but not limited to walking, changing positions, hot and cold packs, aromatherapy, doula support, and vocalizing.  These comfort measures can be helpful to a birthing mother even if she only needs some “tricks” to help in the time that she must wait for pain medication to be administered.

However, for the mother who does not want an epidural (and for the mother who does, for that matter), it is important to note that epidurals also have significant risks and negative side effects.  These risks include itching, nausea and vomiting, spinal headache, fever, and, more rarely, convulsions and cardiac or respiratory distress.  In addition, epidurals present a unique “risk” to VBAC-ing mothers since epidural analgesia can slow a baby’s heartrate, thereby giving off a “false alarm” that a uterine rupture has occurred.  These risks in and of themselves should give mothers solid ground on which to contest their care provider’s declaration that moms attempting VBAC must use an epidural.

Furthermore, it should be noted that while a symptomatic uterine rupture is an emergency and does require immediate intervention, this does not mean that an epidural must be in place “just in case” a uterine rupture were to occur.  For one, uterine ruptures occur in approximately .7% of all VBACs (and the study here cited includes induced VBACs.)  Despite the seriousness of this risk, the relative infrequency with which it occurs does not seem to warrant taking such an extreme measure as requiring a woman to have an epidural during her labor.

In addition, general anesthesia*–which takes effect very rapidly–is usually an option for a cesarean in which the mother and/or the baby are in severe distress (such as in the case of a uterine rupture).  Although not ideal  for the woman who wants to witness her child’s birth, general anesthesia does offer an alternative form of surgical anesthesia “just in case” a uterine rupture were to occur.  (Worth noting too is that a readily available anesthesiologist may be able to insert an epidural anesthesia within minutes so that a mother can still be awake for the surgical birth of her child, even in the event of an emergency.)

It it also worth pointing out, however, that the epidural analgesia that a mother receives during labor is generally not effective enough for a cesarean section.  Thus, the epidural medication must be increased*–a process that does take time–before a cesarean section.  And this means that having an epidural in place during labor will not guarantee that a cesarean surgery will be able to be performed immediately simply because the epidural is already inserted.

And finally, creating any sort of non-evidence-based requirement regarding epidurals for mothers attempting VBAC undermines these mothers’ patient rights and autonomy.  And while this “risk” of epidural-requirements or bans is mostly theoretical, it is a risk that should give every woman (and man) pause…and perhaps enough pause to challenge their care provider and/or seek out a new one.

*While I find ACOG’s educational pamphlet on pain relief during labor to be lacking in many respects (its patronizing descriptions of the side effects of medication and its warnings about eating before or during labor come to mind), I think that it does a decent-enough job of explaining the differences between the various analgesic and anesthetic pain relief options available to mothers in the U.S.

Monday house update: That's handy*woman*, thank you very much

September 8, 2009

When last week began, my “handiest” skills were pretty much limited to hammering nails into walls (sometimes crookedly) and pulling nails out of the walls.  Maybe I’d drill a hole here, tighten a screw there, but I had never really undertaken any serious repair projects.  In fact, I was so tool-and-repair-unsavvy that I accidentally referred to a “saw” as a”sword” just last Monday.

(Is it an indication of irony or sheer stupidity that I nonetheless decided to take on this house rehabbing project?  I dunno.)

But when last week ended, I could proudly–very proudly, and very repeatedly–say that I knew how to repair drywall and how to install a toilet.

Measuring and cutting drywall.  Hammering support boards into the wall.  Patching.  Caulking.  Handsaws, screws, nails, and exacto knives.  Wax rings.  Nasty-ass washers and nuts and bolts from the old toilet.  Hooking up the water line to the new toilet.  Attaching the toilet seat and lid.

REPAIRING DRYWALL AND INSTALLING A TOILET, PEOPLE!!!

Have I already mentioned that I am proud of these newly-acquired skills?

And that I like to repeat my “mastery” of them to anyone within listening range?

And so when some guy from the local newspaper (we’ll call him “Dick”)  arrived on my front porch on the night of my repair-conquests and tried to sell me a newspaper subscription by dishing up a very hefty serving of paternalism and sexism, my feminist sensibilities–which were now attached to a person who could REPAIR DRYWALL AND INSTALL A TOILET–became a wee bit enraged.

Dick approached me as my mother and I were conversing with my new next-door neighbor, Cynthia.  Upon discovering that it was I (and not my mother or Cynthia) who was the new home-owner, he identified himself as a employee of the paper and then immediately asked if I was married.

Already, this question annoyed me.  Did the fact that I was married make me more likely to be a literate person?  Someone more interested in keeping up on world affairs?  Or was this question an attempt to direct the salesman to the MAN OF THE HOUSE?

And this question was quickly answered for me because no sooner had I responded that I was, in fact, married, that Dick asked what my husband did for a living.

Not what I did for a living.  Not even whether or not I worked.  Or read.  But what THE MAN OF THE HOUSE did to bring home the bacon. 

I cringed and offered up a wry, “He’s an attorney.”

Dick seemed almost giddy at this response and went on to gush about what my husband is interested in reading and what my husband needs with his morning coffee and how my husband needs me to lock in these subscription rates right now.

And then I–I, who was a FEMINIST WHO COULD NOW REPAIR DRYWALL AND INSTALL A TOILET–burst forth with a wave of disgust and frustration and asked (this) Dick, “Who are you to tell me what my husband is and isn’t interested in?!  Or what he needs?!  How do you know that I don’t want to read the paper?!  What about what I’m interested in?!”

(In my perfect outburst that I re-created in my mind, I also went on to shout at Dick about how if he’s going to go and get on with his bad sexist self why doesn’t he at least try and assume that the little wifey wants those Sunday coupons–which I do by the way–and how I do work and I do appreciate the newspaper and how even if I didn’t have additional work besides raising the kids I might still want to read the paper because stay-at-home moms care about the news too, you jackass and how I now might want to read the classified ads for power tools because I CAN REPAIR DRYWALL AND INSTALL TOILETS, DID YOU KNOW THAT?!)

Dick looked stunned for a moment and muttered something about how he used to work for AIG, but then you know how that went, and now he’s working for the Dispatch selling papers. 

Was that supposed to excuse his sexist assumptions???

Even if his sob-story did leave me feeling an iota of sadness for him–but HEY, at least he has a job in a state with a 10%+ unemployment rate!!!–that iota of sadness was soon swept away when Dick asked to see my left ring finger in an apparent attempt to size up the MAN OF THE HOUSE’S salary and/or my wifely sense of materialism.

What could that possibly tell you about my need for a newspaper subscription, Dick?!

I can REPAIR DRYWALL AND INSTALL A TOILET, Dick.

What’s more, I have a brain in addition to having boobs and a vagina.

A little bit more respect.  Please.

Monday house update: That’s handy*woman*, thank you very much

September 8, 2009

When last week began, my “handiest” skills were pretty much limited to hammering nails into walls (sometimes crookedly) and pulling nails out of the walls.  Maybe I’d drill a hole here, tighten a screw there, but I had never really undertaken any serious repair projects.  In fact, I was so tool-and-repair-unsavvy that I accidentally referred to a “saw” as a”sword” just last Monday.

(Is it an indication of irony or sheer stupidity that I nonetheless decided to take on this house rehabbing project?  I dunno.)

But when last week ended, I could proudly–very proudly, and very repeatedly–say that I knew how to repair drywall and how to install a toilet.

Measuring and cutting drywall.  Hammering support boards into the wall.  Patching.  Caulking.  Handsaws, screws, nails, and exacto knives.  Wax rings.  Nasty-ass washers and nuts and bolts from the old toilet.  Hooking up the water line to the new toilet.  Attaching the toilet seat and lid.

REPAIRING DRYWALL AND INSTALLING A TOILET, PEOPLE!!!

Have I already mentioned that I am proud of these newly-acquired skills?

And that I like to repeat my “mastery” of them to anyone within listening range?

And so when some guy from the local newspaper (we’ll call him “Dick”)  arrived on my front porch on the night of my repair-conquests and tried to sell me a newspaper subscription by dishing up a very hefty serving of paternalism and sexism, my feminist sensibilities–which were now attached to a person who could REPAIR DRYWALL AND INSTALL A TOILET–became a wee bit enraged.

Dick approached me as my mother and I were conversing with my new next-door neighbor, Cynthia.  Upon discovering that it was I (and not my mother or Cynthia) who was the new home-owner, he identified himself as a employee of the paper and then immediately asked if I was married.

Already, this question annoyed me.  Did the fact that I was married make me more likely to be a literate person?  Someone more interested in keeping up on world affairs?  Or was this question an attempt to direct the salesman to the MAN OF THE HOUSE?

And this question was quickly answered for me because no sooner had I responded that I was, in fact, married, that Dick asked what my husband did for a living.

Not what I did for a living.  Not even whether or not I worked.  Or read.  But what THE MAN OF THE HOUSE did to bring home the bacon. 

I cringed and offered up a wry, “He’s an attorney.”

Dick seemed almost giddy at this response and went on to gush about what my husband is interested in reading and what my husband needs with his morning coffee and how my husband needs me to lock in these subscription rates right now.

And then I–I, who was a FEMINIST WHO COULD NOW REPAIR DRYWALL AND INSTALL A TOILET–burst forth with a wave of disgust and frustration and asked (this) Dick, “Who are you to tell me what my husband is and isn’t interested in?!  Or what he needs?!  How do you know that I don’t want to read the paper?!  What about what I’m interested in?!”

(In my perfect outburst that I re-created in my mind, I also went on to shout at Dick about how if he’s going to go and get on with his bad sexist self why doesn’t he at least try and assume that the little wifey wants those Sunday coupons–which I do by the way–and how I do work and I do appreciate the newspaper and how even if I didn’t have additional work besides raising the kids I might still want to read the paper because stay-at-home moms care about the news too, you jackass and how I now might want to read the classified ads for power tools because I CAN REPAIR DRYWALL AND INSTALL TOILETS, DID YOU KNOW THAT?!)

Dick looked stunned for a moment and muttered something about how he used to work for AIG, but then you know how that went, and now he’s working for the Dispatch selling papers. 

Was that supposed to excuse his sexist assumptions???

Even if his sob-story did leave me feeling an iota of sadness for him–but HEY, at least he has a job in a state with a 10%+ unemployment rate!!!–that iota of sadness was soon swept away when Dick asked to see my left ring finger in an apparent attempt to size up the MAN OF THE HOUSE’S salary and/or my wifely sense of materialism.

What could that possibly tell you about my need for a newspaper subscription, Dick?!

I can REPAIR DRYWALL AND INSTALL A TOILET, Dick.

What’s more, I have a brain in addition to having boobs and a vagina.

A little bit more respect.  Please.

Chicago nurse-in gets front page coverage!

September 5, 2009

Those close to me have gotten an earful recently about the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision to affirm that totes/Isotoner’s termination of LaNisa Allen’s employment was not a matter of gender discrimination and was not in violation of Ohio’s Pregnancy Discrimination Act. 

For those not familiar with the story, Allen is a breastfeeding mother who took breaks “without permission” during her workday to pump breastmilk for her child.  Noteworthy, however, is that Allen did have permission to take pumping breaks.  She simply needed to take additional breaks in order to meet the “needs” of her milk supply–and the needs of her child, for that matter!

What make the Court’s majority opinion especially contentious is its concurrence with the trial court’s asinine statement that

Pregnant [women] who give birth and choose not to breastfeed or pump their breasts do not continue to lactate for five months. Thus, Allen’s condition of lactating was not a condition relating to pregnancy but rather a condition related to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding discrimination does not constitute gender discrimination. See Derungs v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 374 F.3d 428, 439 (6th Cir. 2004).

Lactating is not a condition related to pregnancy?!

I. Don’t. Even. Know. Where. To. Begin.  (Seventh grade health class, perhaps?)

For those interested, you can read some great analysis of the Court’s decision on Danielle Friedland’s blog and on Writes Like She Talks.  (Whenever I try analyzing this decision, my head begins to explose.)

But while Ohio (my new homestate) may have let me down in the world of breastfeeding, Chicago (one of my former homes) built up my spirits when the Chicago Sun-Times featured a front page story about a “nurse-in” on Friday. 

Organized by Lauren Trost, the nurse-in was in part a response to another mother who recently chastised Trost for “illegally and indecently” breastfeeding her baby in public.  (Notably, public breastfeeding is not only not illegal in Illinois, it is also protected by Illinois law, as The Feminist Breeder has so helpfully pointed to her readers and to local Chicago media.)

And while I’m sure that the Sun-Times was looking for shock value when they featured this story on the front page, and although some information about the legal protections afforded to nursing moms in Illinois would have been helpful for Sun-Times readers, I still applaud the newspaper for giving breastfeeding and breastfeeding moms the “exposure” that they deserve!

ETA: I should note that I find it troubling that LaNisa Allen’s attorney(s) argued that pregnancy and lactation could and should be interpreted as “disabilities” according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  While this may constitute a creative legal maneuver to establish the basis of Allen’s discrimination, it seems imprudent to characterize pregnancy and/or lactation as “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”

Righteous anger from some righteous babes*

September 1, 2009

*Please take this descriptor as what it is: a reference to Ani DiFranco and not a sexist objectification of women.

Some must-read blog posts for your viewing pleasure (and anger-incitement) this week:

 

Kids, boobs, and breastpumps are not the enemy.

From The Feminist Breeder, a look at the negative comments that women make about other women’s choices to have children, breastfeed their babies, and use a breastpump in the workplace–and oftentimes, these comments are made all in the name of “feminism.” 

For what it’s worth, I’ve often wondered if these comments are the the warped by-products of justified anger over the heteronormative aspects of our culture and society and its obvious privileging of those who choose heterosexual marriage and reproduction.  But it makes no sense to attack individual women who make the choice to enter heterosexual relationships and/or to have children when the problem with heteronormativity is social and cultural–not necessarily individual. 

In other words, it’s perfectly fine and reasonable to be angry–and downright pissed–about the fact that our society shows contempt toward gay and lesbian families, pity toward single people, and mistrust toward couples who choose not to have children.  But it’s not okay to be angry about the fact that the hard-working mother in the cubicle next to you wants to take a few breaks during the day to pump some breastmilk for her baby. 

PUH-LEASE. 

 

ACOG, what has homebirth done to you?

In two separate posts, The Unnecesarean and Louise Marie Roth have offered compelling and incisive critiques of ACOG’s recent (and recently password-protected) survey that called for its members to share their homebirth horror stories.  ACOG’s decision to request this information from its members is especially worrisome since they will most likely use their unscientific and poorly-collected data to lobby against legislation or health care reforms or health insurance reforms or even discussions in the media that support and/or protect midwives and homebirth.

My first question: where is the survey asking labor and delivery nurses and doulas and midwives and MOMS to share their hospital birth horror stories?!

And my second question: where is the survey asking ACOG’s members to report the ways in which the 31.8% cesarean-section rate in the United States has contributed to  thirty-fold increased the risk of placenta accreta–a life-threatening birth complication?!

(To be fair, it seems like ACOG is concerned about some of its members who have been included in lawsuits related to homebirth transfer patients.  But if they want to probe this concern in a way that represents the data factually and accurately, they need to stray away from anecdotal horror stories and turn toward facts and research.)

Update: A very funny and witty attorney has composed a tongue-in-cheek survey asking doulas to report their experiences with hospital-birth complications.  Check it out here on the Enjoy Birth Blog!

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