Saturday, June 27, 2009
Ina May Gaskin, the most influential American midwife of the past 50 years, and author of "Guide to Childbirth" and "Spiritual Midwifery" visited our little corner of the world today, and I got to witness it!
Her workshop took place at the Goleta Valley Community Center. I was only 1 minute late and hustled to find a seat, say hi to some friends, and grab a decaf before turning my attention to the front, where the object of my great admiration was, in all her wisdom and beauty. and fame! i can't deny i was a little star struck.
The lecture, over 4 hours long, seemed more like 1 1/2, and she told so many great anecdotes while covering amazing ground on multiple topics. I took copious volumes of notes. Blurbs:
-Ina May is a self-taught midwife! she learned by doing, learned by watching, & a few people informally giving her workshops here and there. the first few births she assisted took place on busses during the "caravan" she & her husband were a part of in the '70s.
-Did you know that the US maternal death rate (from childbirth complications) could be as much as 3 times higher than the reported numbers?
-"Pit to distress" is the unwritten policy in many hospitals in this country. (They will rev up the pitocin until the baby starts to go into distress, then back it off a little. baby now in distress, needs to come out soon, c-section ensues, hospital gets more money...)
- The WHO recommends that c-section rates stay below 15%. the US c-section rate is 30%. in 1965 it was 4.5%. Have women's bodies REALLY changed THAT much in 44 years?
-Maternal morbidity rate goes up 4x with a c-section compared to a vaginal birth.
-Ina May uses bodily function jokes to encourage mothers to laugh during labor. laughing produces oxytocin and relaxes the sphincter! (she uses a hilarious german poop book as a tool sometimes. this is the video version.)
-Prolonged labor usually happens when the woman is not allowed to eat/drink, when she is kept at the hospital instead of being allowed to labor at home.
-Prolonged labor is frequently due to psychological reasons/ hangups. (in one instance a lady was stuck at 7cm for 2 days before i.m. discovered that what was bothering her was a lack of commitment from her husband! they repeated their vows then and there in a more "acceptable" way, & baby born an hour and a half later. another lady was stuck at 7 for 12 hours & it was found out she had always been afraid of dying in labor but once it was vocalized, she progressed.) so: slow labor? try a DTR or a heart-to-heart!
-the "classic" upside-down beetle position of a woman giving birth in a hospital began because one of the old kings of france decided he wanted to see his mistress give birth, and decreed that she should lie that way because it was most convenient for him to see like that! and the position is still favored by male OBs (and insensitive women OBs) who prefer a convenient view rather than the employment of gravity and common sense.
-i.m. has a theory that the no eating/drinking rule in hospitals for labor came about cause the staff can't be bothered to clean up the potential vomit. (they SAY it's because in case you have a c-section and need general anesthesia, you can get aspiration pneumonia if you have food in your tummy and happen to vomit. there is NO recorded instance of this actually happening during a c-section, and--hello!! could someone not be standing by to just WATCH and see if she vomits, then turn her head, suction, etc.?) these things are NOT about what's best for the woman, obviously.
-Vomiting is actually good in labor. (to a point!) it makes you dilate.
-Sphincter law! Ina May has so much good common sense. sphincter law is about comparing the cervix to other sphincters in the body, studying what makes them tick, and applying the knowledge to help a smooth dilation and easier labor. (they are involuntary muscles, they are shy, they don't obey orders, they respond well to praise, they open better when the jaw is relaxed, open better with a laugh or a smile...)
-thankfulness increases oxytocin! i was happy that i.m. admitted that a thankful prayer could help a labor progress. and it's a true Biblical principle, too: be thankful, and the joy will come. not the other way around.
....................as you can see, i learned and learned. drank it in. i was happy i remembered to take my camera, too.
after the workshop, there was a most amazingly delicious vegetarian, organic lunch catered by kim schiffer/fresh food catering (?) i can't find a website, but if you ever get a chance to eat their food, DO it. BEST pita bread ever. and i don't even like pita bread.
thankfulness still following me for the whole gorgeous uniqueness of this experience.