Friday, May 22, 2009

Handcrafted Birth

About a month ago, I taught several classes at an annual craft camp in southern Missouri (not birth classes, this is part of my "other life"--so I taught handmade books, doll making, those kinds of things!). However, I relate the experience to birth in the sense that people put a lot of time, energy, passion, and commitment into creating beautiful craft projects and works of art. And, we value the "one of kind" and the "unique." Giving birth is the ultimate creative act! Why is it treated as a medical event? As a one-size-fits all, follow-the-curve-or-else-have-surgery, experience? Each birth IS an extremely unique and "handcrafted" event in the life of a woman and of a family, but many women spend more time picking out the car seat than they do planning for their births.

Of course, these thoughts also reminded me of this section from an article in Midwifery Today:

While shopping [one] day, I noticed hand-dipped chocolates, homegrown vegetables, hand-spun wool, homemade preserves, cottage-industry soaps—all at premium prices, since they were made with care, individually, by hand, at home. I reflected, too, on how "old-fashioned" doctors, famous for house calls and compassion, are remembered fondly as part of the "good old days" and praised for their one-on-one caring. I mused how our society honors unique, special, one-of-a-kind items and services.

Yet when it comes to maternity care, it seems the bigger and busier, the better: high-tech procedures, standardized treatment, massive patient loads, in-and-out, assembly-line-style facilities. We are urged to leave the clean peace and quiet of home and go, instead, to a large, centralized center and entrust ourselves to a system of detached and often distracted institutional workers whom we've never met and may never see again. I find it hard to believe that anyone would consider hospital care preferable, if they really thought about it.

High-tech or hands-on? The choice is not new. In many cases, of course, mechanical and technological advances have been just that: improvements. Other advances, as we all know too well, have resulted in lasting harm.

Judy Edmunds, excerpted from "A Grand Triumph," Midwifery Today Issue 37

(quoted in enews 8:20)

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