Friday, April 30, 2010

Get Me Out

I'm reading this new book called Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth. It's exactly what the title says it is, a history. And sweet mothernuts, is it full of some scary, scary shite. Like, holy crap. People think giving birth NOW is scary and gross? Even 200, 100 years ago it was worse. It doesn't make for good bedtime reading, because this book is full of things that would keep a sane person up at night.

And I'm fascinated and eager for more! Not that I enjoy cryptic tales about what happened to women after doctors used to do autopsies and then deliver babies without washing their hands, but the fact that it actually happened is what stuns me and propels me into reading more. The vast amount of ignorance and misinformation that people were basing their lives around only makes me cringe to think of what future generations will say about our medical care.

Like when they finally find a cure for cancer, people will say, "WHAT?! They used chemotherapy on actual people!? That stuff is poison! How barbaric!"

I mean, you don't know what you haven't learned yet, right? Washing hands after touching dead bodies sounds like common sense today, but like I was saying, we could be doing all kinds of deadly stupid shit we don't even think about because it's common contemporary behaviour. Frankly, we probably are. Think about the mass disinfectants that are found in so many homes, either babying and weakening people's immune systems or creating superbugs.

One of these days I bet someone's going to link the massive wave of ADD children seem to have now to all the pitocin women are getting now to induce and then speed along labour. I mean, strangers will glare down a pregnant woman drinking a coffee or taking an aspirin and heaven forbid a sip of red wine, but yet hours before delivery a mother can get injected with an epidural into the spine and then IV dripped pitocin, all of which is obviously going to make its way to the fetus. I don't get it.

Oh, I get the desire to end pain and speed things up. Yes, that part makes sense. In the throes of labour, I can totally see wanting anything, anything at all to just get the damn thing out and make the pain end. But what I don't get is why injecting and dripping these drugs into a labouring mother is A-Ok when these same pregnant women are warned not to eat tuna. Tuna no, drugs yes? And since there's no long-term studies following up on the children to see whether or not epidurals are in fact healthy, who knows?

Another thing from the book is that DES was in use by pregnant women for 30 years before it was discovered that it caused some of their daughters to grow up and develop a rare deadly vaginal cancer. Total crap shoot who would get it, but they all linked back to DES. These poor mothers were only doing what they thought was best based on the advice of their doctors. How could they have known?

So it makes me nervous to think about our own contemporary norms, like the epidural. I don't blame women wanting relief or trusting medical professionals to help them. I do worry about doctors examining an apparently healthy baby and then thinking that the epidural must have had no effect and then moving on. I mean, the DES babies looked fine at first and second glance, too.


Shanen said...

That book sounds way more terrifying than anything I read!

Jendra Berri said...

*snort* You go back to reading about zombies and psychos!

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