Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Dangers of Narrowmindedness

A recent letter to Mishpacha from an anesthesiologist reminded me that I really wanted to post about the whole epidural meshugass. The doctor has the good sense to admit that there is room for both natural and pain-relieved childbirths. It is astonishing to read and listen to the opinions from some advocates of natural childbirth.

Don't get me wrong. I am strongly against unnecessary interventions - "unnecessary" being the keyword. But to say that "Childbirth is a natural phenomenon, it's been happening for thousands of years," while ignoring infant and maternal mortality rates in those thousands of years, is the height of senselessness.

The fact is that many women enjoy a labor that occurs without interventions, and doctors should be supportive of this. Natural childbirth advocates have helped (re-)introduce many things for which I am grateful (not the least of which is the doula). Yet many women during childbirth require interventions, and feel let down by the betrayal of their bodies, and by the notion that they will not have a "perfect birth experience". Childbirth educators should seek to promote a natural experience, but not at the expense of causing mothers to recklessly defy sound medical advice.

There is no one perfect way of having a baby, but G-d's help, a little respect, and knowledge make every childbirth perfect.