Your Best Birth, amazon.com
Today, she shares more of her thoughts on childbirth in this country and on how important it is for pregnant women to educate themselves about the process of giving birth.
In working on the documentary "The Business of Being Born" and in researching the book, what was the most surprising thing you learned about the birth process in the United States? What more than anything else really struck you?
There are so many statistics. The fact that we have all this technology — and we spend two times more per birth than any other country in the developed world. And, still, our outcomes are so bad. Our infant mortality rate is as bad as Cuba’s -- that’s shocking to me.
There’s also a statistic that didn’t end up in the film -- 86% percent of obstetricians will be sued at least once during the course of their career. That number really illustrates how we live in this litigious climate where doctors are terrified of being sued if something doesn’t turn out perfectly. You can point a finger until the child is 18 years of age; you can go back and sue these obstetricians. So it’s no wonder they’re scared to death of making a mistake. They have to follow the protocols and rules that the insurance companies are mandating -- protocols that aren’t always in the best interest of mother and baby -- just to avoid lawsuits.
So, the difference between delivering with a doctor and delivering with a midwife -- can you elaborate?
There are different ways in which obstetricians practice. There are OBs that act like midwives and there are midwives that are more on the conservative side. Each doctor or midwife has their own philosophy. Most midwives don’t do home births, and there are doctors that will do home births; it’s not just black and white.
The saying goes, "You wait an hour to spend five minutes with your doctor and you wait five minutes to spend an hour with your midwife." That’s a broad statement, but midwives seem to spend more time with their patients because they don’t have to fill their appointments with so many women to cover their costs for malpractice insurance and premiums.
You've given birth twice -- once in a hospital and once at home. What's the best way for first-time moms who've never experienced labor and delivery before to educate themselves?
My documentary, (shameless plug, here) "The Business of Being Born," is a good place to start because the film is very accessible. It’s non-judgmental -- it’s meant to be a tool for women. I also think it’s important to see images of women giving birth in other ways -- different than how people are used to seeing labor and birth. Standing up, at home, in birth centers. These are images that people don’t get to see very often.
Our book is also a really great tool for women to alleviate the fear and understand that giving birth is a natural process. It's not something to be feared. I want women to be excited about birth as opposed to scared to death about what could go wrong.
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Tell me -- are you delivering with a doctor or midwife? Do you feel the two of you are on the same page when talking about your birth?