Sunday, February 8, 2009

Humanized birth

I attended a lovely birth on Friday, and have been telling people ever since "I went to a great birth on Friday!" They ask why it was so great. I came across this Marsden Wagner essay today, which helped me distill the reason down to three words: it was humanized.

"Humanized birth means putting the woman giving birth in the center and in control so that she and not the doctors or anyone else makes all the decisions about what will happen." Yes! This was exactly what happened. The midwife and nurse present for most of the labor were so respectful, so gentle, so encouraging. They gave her information and respected her choices. She was allowed to push in any position she wanted to.

"Humanized birth means maternity services which are based on good scientific evidence including evidence based use of technology and drugs." Yes! They didn't push anything on her; when they felt that something was truly important for her safety, they explained this to her and then when she consented, they did everything they could to make sure it didn't interfere with her birthing process.

"By medicalizing birth, i.e. separating a woman from her own environment and surrounding her with strange people using strange machines to do strange things to her in an effort to assist her, the woman’s state of mind and body is so altered that her way of carrying through this intimate act must also be altered and the state of the baby born must equally be altered." Everyone involved in the birth was so careful to help the woman have as undisturbed a birth as possible, and to allow her birth to occur without intervention or disruption. The lights were low, everyone spoke quietly when she was deep into her labor, she was able to labor where she wanted for however long she wanted to.

I have so infrequently seen a truly humanized birth in the hospital, but the care providers I worked with on Friday inspired me and made me believe that with the correct alignment of the stars it is possible. I only wish for more women, and more medical professionals, to experience it.

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