21st Century Dad
One Dad's Thoughts, Ideas, and Feelings.
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Desperate Midwives – “The Business of Being Born”

October 15th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

The Business of Being BornThere are 5 expectant couples within my social circle right now. It’s an appropriate time to share my thoughts on this film.

My only experience with childbirth was a natural one attended by a midwife. When Renee asked me to go see “The Business of Being Born,” I thought, “I’m already a believer, why do I need to see it?” I’m glad I did. My own personal experience made me a believer. This film strengthened my convictions.

Intrinsically, I knew that a natural childbirth was best, but I wasn’t going to push it. It’s our baby, but her body. Renee would have the final say on this one. She chose a natural childbirth with a midwife and has elected to breastfeed for as long as it’s feasible. I am thrilled at her decision.

Childbirth In the U.S.

I always thought a woman could opt for an un-medicated vaginal birth in the hospital. The OB/GYN was on-hand just in case something went wrong. The film shows you that’s not the case. This is the typical chain of events that will follow after a woman in labor is admitted:

  1. An expectant mother is sick of being pregnant. She wants to get this baby out.
  2. She asks for an epidural.
  3. She’s so zonked out, she can’t push properly
  4. Pitocin is administered via IV to induce contractions.
  5. The baby isn’t coming out. More pitocin is administered.
  6. The contractions are so strong, the baby goes into distress.
  7. An emergency C-section becomes necessary.

The United States is supposed to be the most technologically advanced nation in the world yet it has the second highest newborn mortality rate in the developed world.

It seems like everything we do in the United States is backwards. (Don’t get me started on the metric system) According to the statistics quoted in the film:

  • 70% of births outside the United States is attended by a midwife. It’s less than 8% in the U.S.
  • In 1900, 90% of births in the U.S. were home births.
  • In 1938, the number dropped to 50%.
  • By 1955, it was less than 1%. It remains that number to this day.

When I did a search for Pitocin on Wikipedia, it takes me straight to the page on ocytocin. In all fairness, pitocin is the synthetic version of ocytocin. Rats. I thought I had uncovered a little conspiracy. However:

  • Ocytocin is produced in the brain. Pitocin is administered intravenously.
  • Ocytocin has a chance to act on the brain before it’s released into the bloodstream. Pitocin does not.
  • Ocytocin enters the bloodstream in surges. Pitocin comes in a steady stream via IV.

The C-Section Factory

I remember in school, during a discussion about childbirth, a student piped up and said he was delivered via C-section. The first thought that popped into my head was, “I always knew there was something a little ‘off’ about this kid. I didn’t realize how commonplace it is.

I understand that a C-section is medically necessary in certain situations. In cases where it’s a high-risk pregnancy (diabetes, multiples, other medical conditions) it’s the only option. There was no way Kate Gosselin could deliver the sextuplets vaginally.

Too Posh to Push

We live in a performance and results oriented society. Natural childbirth offers too much of a margin for some schedules. Celebrity moms, career-track moms, and many others are electing for the “scheduled C.” An even more disturbing trend is the c-section and tummy tuck package deal.

The motivation behind an elective c-section is often fear. Much of what we know is from the media we absorb. In movies and on television, 3-month old babies are cast as newborns. A 3 month old baby is significantly larger than a newborn. A woman might see that “newborn” on TV and think, “no way am I going to push something that big out of me!!!”

The Choice is Ultimately Yours

I’m only qualified to speak to you about this from the father’s point of view. I wasn’t the one whose body would be irreversibly altered by this experience. I wasn’t the one doing the pushing. I wasn’t the one who could opt to be medicated. However, I have made decisions in the past while disregarding an entire set of data that in retrospect would have changed the decision I ultimately made. Those decisions are insignificant next to the birth of my child.

The birth of a child is the most profound experience you will ever have. All of the options available to you are worthy of your due consideration.

Buy “The Business of Being Born” on DVD.

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A New Father and a New Man

March 6th, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Every expectant father is told that it’s a profound, life-changing experience. I thought, “well, duh! Isn’t it obvious?” No matter how much you know and how forthcoming all your male friends are, there are still surprises. You can read The Expectant Father, scour the internet, and talk to every man you know with a child. Fatherhood is definitely one of those things you learn on the job.

Everyone knows you change. Some of those changes happen right away, as if switch was flipped. Other changes take longer.

Some changes happen immediately. This is the revolution.

  • You pay closer attention while driving. South Florida drivers are among the worst in the US!
  • Your routine is shattered. Everything you’re used to doing is suddenly different.
  • You feel this incredible rush of unconditional love for your child.

Other changes come gradually. This is evolution.

  • I’m becoming much more interested in health and wellness.
  • Making healthier choices when eating is much more important.
  • I’ve lost interest in caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
  • Anything risky (financial, personal, physical) is evaluated more carefully before engaging in it.
  • I’ve always had a passing interest in ecologically sound practices. That level of interest has increased.

There is an overall shift in your thinking, your attitude toward life, toward people, and toward the world. There are some choices that I never thought I would make:

  • We followed our friend Caroline’s advice to use a midwife. I always imagined a hospital birth. I’m so glad we chose natural childbirth instead. If you are expecting, I urge you to consider using a midwife.
  • Renee and I weren’t even aware of infant potty training until she stumbled across the concept after Twilli was born. Now we are semi-successful practitioners. We’re using about half as many diapers now.
  • Renee remembers when her brother was in cloth diapers. Those memories aren’t pleasant. Now that we are doing infant potty training (or elimination communication), it’s apparent why cloth diapers and IPT/EC go hand-in-hand.

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