martes, 17 de noviembre de 2009

Deliver me from Pain

This is a MUST READ for anyone interested in Birthwork and the history of obstetrics. The book is broken down into questions, which I thought was a brilliant way of indulging into the issue of anesthesia in obstetrics. The first chapter is called: The Question of Necessity. This chapter maps out how anesthesia became an issue within obstetrics to begin with. What is most fascinating about this story is that although women have always stated that first stage (dilation), particularly late first stage (8 to 10 cms) as being the most painful, because of the vocal and physical intensity of second stage (pushing) the medical community (new to birth!) got the impression that second stage was the moment of worst pain. So doctors started to anesthetize during pushing. Now thats going to make those forceps pretty handy!

What is fascinating about this chapter is how anesthesia became necessary and considered liberating, necessary or appropriate (depending on the historical times and jargon). From then on, pain became inappropriate in labor and unnecessary for birth; which brings us to where we are now- grand-daughters of women who were delivered under twilight sleep, daughters of women who "can't remember" how it was because they were over-dosed with scopolamine interlaced with their spinal and ourselves discussing with our obstetrician at what point in labor should we get our epidural.

What is interesting for me, as someone who listens and tries to answer women's questions, is: how do we talk about birth after not feeling it for 150 years? How do we tell women that natural birth at home, where we are free to FEEL ALL the pain and "become empowered" by it is better?? Please!!! I almost feel absurd.

What this book illuminated for me is that, after 150 years of first explaining to women to labor pain is SO unbearable that high doses of dangerous drugs, limp, breathless babies, detached families are not only necessary, but beneficial, and secondly eliminating therefore the collective memory of what labor pain feels like, but also our collective capacity to deal with labor pain. It is no wonder that grandmothers look at me and say- "I can't bear to see her in all this pain".

Funny thing is, I can. And so can she.

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