Monday, April 04, 2005

Childbirth Class

Or How to have a nice baby the approved corporate way.

It was interesting. Our teacher is a very experienced nurse and I am impressed by the scope of her knowledge. Not a single question stumped her. There are about nine couples in the class; all of us are kind of classical couples: male and female pairs, same race, both male and female approximate same age as each other. The span of ages for the couples varies widely; I would put the youngest at early twenties and the oldest at early forties. For some odd reason, I was the only one in a kilt.

What was amazing and distressing was that the we were the only couple planning to NOT have an epidural or an episiotomy. Laura is not opposed to those measures if necessary, but she does not feel she should enter the hospital determined to have them. My wife has almost a decade of experience working on postpartum nursing floors. She has seen what can go wrong with anasthetics and analgesics. She has also seen drug free labor go right.

When I asked her why she was so sure she wanted to do this without drugs she explained without hesitation that her first concern was safety of the baby. The second concern is her safety. Lastly, she knows from experience that the pain will pass; it is not endless. So, if she can, she will do it without drugs.

Dad (me), is all in favor of drugs. For me. But that is true whether or not we're having a baby and why I work a Twelve Step Program.

The sad thing is that the reason for the drugs, especially ptosin(sp?) to speed labor, is purely monetary. It is not cost effective for the hospital to have you in the delivery room for 24 hours grunting and moaning. It is much better for the hospital if you can squeaze the little rugrat out in eight hours. Then they can use that room three times in one day which triples the monetary intake of that square footage.

You can no longer videotape or photograph the delivery process. This is purely for liability reasons; one less bit of evidence that can be used against the hospital. Now, if something goes wrong, it is the word of trained medical personel versus a woman who in in pain and not all there and a very distracted father. It is an effective way to stack the deck against the parents in case of a lawsuit.

Most of the women go along with all of this. I believe that because my wife works in the hospital she feel compelled to do so to a large extent. As things stand now, it will be me alone with her. No doula, or childbirth coach to help. No advocate, because the message is clear: a doula is "welcome" in the room, but nobody does it.

That frightens me because I think it would be helpful to have someone in our corner, working for us.

I don't think any medical person would ever work to harm my wife. But I do believe that when things go wrong, there is a strong instinct to cover your ass. I want one person there who is not emotionally tied to the event who can speak for us, and we will not have that.

The mother must give birth in the bed, which makes great sense for the medical team and completely ignores four hundred millenia of women giving birth squatting, where gravity acts as a natural aid to childbirth. The mother must also have an IV, because we all know that throughout history every single woman who tried to give birth to a child without and IV died in childbirth. Okay, that is pure hyperbole, but I think you see where I am coming from. I am feeling very railroaded into a process that I am not very comfortable with without much say at all.

On the other hand, Laura is comfortable with it. She is a nurse, she knows hospitals. She'll know the nurses and doctors. So maybe I should just have a nice cup of Shut The Fuck Up because when it comes to childbirth, my opinion, and rightly so, counts for zero.