Friday, November 21, 2008

The more things change...

Re: attention paid to obstetrics:

"Learned societies have invited lectures and discussions upon its practice and teaching, and committees have been set up by the government for the purpose of investigating maternal and infant mortality. Medical journals have published a vast amount of literature concerning the abnormalities and complications of childbirth, while the lay press rarely misses an opportunity to bring before the public any information upon the subject that can be gleaned from the transactions of the societies and associations of the medical profession. Vast improvement has resulted in both knowledge and technique, but, unhappily statistics have not shown a relatively pronounced advance upon those of 10 or 15 years ago...But it is generally agreed upon that one of the most important factors in the production of a complicated labor, and therefore of maternal and infant mortality, is the inability of obstetricians to stand by and allow the natural and uninterrupted course of labor. It may be an excess of zeal, or anxiety born of ignorance, but it is an unquestionable fact that interference is still one of the greatest dangers with which both mother and child have to contend."

While the above could have been written today, it is actually from the preface to the classic Childbirth Without Fear by natural birth pioneer Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, penned in 1933! Though I'm familiar with his work, I've just begun reading the book for the first time.

In the introduction, the OB who edited the newer edition of the book says that from Dick-Read he learned the dictum, "Tense doctor = tense patient = tense cervix." Timeless wisdom!

Also in the preface, Dick-Read says, "Thousands of women today have had their babies born under modern humanitarian conditions--they are the first to disclaim any knowledge of the beauties of childbirth..."

On the heels of reading this, I read a birth story in which the mother rested comfortably after the second attempt at an epidural. She was playing solitaire on her cell phone while contracting away and then was surprised and be happy to be told she was complete and could push. Besides the obvious irony of the game she was playing, I know very well that this story is repeated countless times around the country every day and I feel a sense of grief over what has been lost :(

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