When it comes to having a baby there are two views of what is right: the naturalistic view and the pharmaceutical view. Proponents of each are equally passionate about their beliefs, and both use similar tactics to push their ideals on mothers-to-be. Both are fear-mongers.
Naturalists encourage the most natural birthing experience possible. To press their opinions onto expecting mothers, they spout statistics of the possible harms medications can cause your child. I’ve heard it all. For example, using Pitocin to initiate labor causes extremely painful contractions, more painful that those your body would naturally cause during labor. I don’t have a problem with this statement. Pitocin does cause contractions that are much more intense than natural contractions. What I do have a problem with is what cycle naturalists say will happen if you use Pitocin.
According to the naturalists, if you use Pitocin to initiate labor you will have an epidural. The epidural slows the labor process, and forces the physicians to up your levels of Pitocin; then you need a higher dose of the epidural. According to the naturalists this puts a lot of undue stress on the baby, and usually leads to a C-section. This is a horrible fear for most mothers-to-be. C-sections take much longer to recover from than vaginal births. Most hospitals require at least a three-day stay after a C-section, versus anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for a normal vaginal delivery.
The naturalists continue to use fear to influence mothers’ decisions after birth. One of the biggest issues is whether or not to vaccinate. According to the naturalists, vaccinations are the leading cause of autism in children, and may even cause S.I.D.S. When you read the books bashing vaccinations, they mention studies they have done to prove that vaccinations only cause problems. They also mention that there is no proof that vaccinations help people. But, after looking closely at the studies quoted in the books, it is evident that many of these studies are performed by the books’ authors, and that they can be discredited by other studies published in scientific magazines.
The naturalists use the fear of death or extreme harm to the baby to coax an expectant mother into making decisions. Unfortunately, proponents of the pharmaceutical view use very similar tactics. Those who encourage drugs and medical intervention are often the ones who have the most sway with pregnant women. These are often their obstetricians and the media itself.
These people are possibly more harmful because they are heavily influenced by a paycheck. The pharmaceutical companies pay physicians to prescribe their products. If you’ve ever seen the samples being dropped off at your physician’s office then you’ve most definitely seen the schmoozing that happens at the same time. Also, the more women physicians can get in and out of a delivery room the more money they can get paid.
Because of the temptations of bigger paychecks from intervening in natural birth, either from the pharmaceutical companies or from the ability to see more women in a day, physicians are much more likely to prescribe Pitocin and even C-sections to make their lives more convenient. It is sad, and slightly frightening, that physicians may be more interested in their paycheck (or the hospital’s) than in giving a woman the absolute best care possible.
These same physicians hand out the vaccination schedules. While some vaccinations make sense for a baby, it is slightly ridiculous to see a newborn get a hepatitis vaccine, unless they will certainly be exposed to it. Until recently, this vaccine was not recommended until a child entered the sixth grade.
The hardest critic I will have to silence is the media. My husband is convinced that childbirth is going to be a horrible, frantic experience that cannot be calmed without an epidural. All the information he has are the images of screaming women supposedly going into labor and about to die from pain.
Labor is undeniably one of the most painful experiences a woman can have, but it is not necessarily as painful as it is painted on television (which typically portrays a woman beginning labor to be in the same pain as they would be in during the transitional stage). It can be managed without screaming, cursing, and bad attitudes. I will have an epidural to ease the pain, but my husband does not understand why I don’t want it immediately after going into labor. Eventually I will have to get him to stop watching the dramatized Hollywood portrayals of childbirth, and show him how it can really be.