Friday, January 8, 2010

Are You a Disaster Waiting to Happen?

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a blog post that combines two of my main interests: Teaching group ex and birthin' babies. The analogy quoted from Mother's Intention: How Belief Shapes Birth by Kim Wildner is great:

"Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. 873 per 100,000 die of heart disease (CDC). (Remember, natural birth is between 6 and 14 per 100,000 in the US, depending on the population.)... Using the logic of obstetrics, all health clubs should be in hospitals and all fitness trainers should be cardiac surgeons. Any independent health club with 'lay' trainers would be 'practicing medicine without a license,' subject to prosecution. It's for your own good."

Exercise is dangerous business! Go for a workout and it could end in catastrophe! Let's not forget that Pheidippides DIED running the first marathon. But don't worry, Wildner has the solution for all of us exercisers out there:

" order to know if a problem is developing, close monitoring and 'management' is required. We will need to place straps on the muscles to measure the intensity of the workout. of course, it will be restrictive, but we need to know how hard the muscles are working to know if the heart can take it. We'll need to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, fluid output. We'll need to give an IV because with sweat excreted, you could dehydrate, and of course, we simply can't take the risk of letting you drink anything lest you need emergency surgery..."

Does any of this sound faintly ridiculous? Is your health, your life, so precarious that a workout could kill you? Is your body so defective it can't handle a natural function like physical exertion? Unless you're in a risk category- such as a heart problem, an autoimmune disease, or chronic illness- the answer is no.

So why are we so quick to believe that a mother's body can't birth her baby without all the monitoring and the technology and the machine that goes ping? Why do I keep meeting women who were told their baby was too big, their pelvis too small, their bodies just "not able to do it on its own"? I think that's just sad. It can't be true that so many women's bodies function normally in every other way... except this one. Having a baby is not an emergency or a condition from which women need to be rescued. Pregnancy and birth are not a disaster waiting to happen. But unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the prevailing attitude, least of all among most obstetricians.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes, from midwife Ina May Gaskin:

"Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic... Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body."

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