Data and anecdote

8 June 2009 at 8:31 am 1 comment

I have a grand total of eight friends in the Boston area who have had babies. Below is a brief run-down of their births.

Friend 1: baby 1: planned natural birth with OB, spontaneous labor, surprise breech, emergency c-section; baby 2: planned c-section at 39 weeks for once-a-c-sec-always-a-c-sec

Friend 2: planned natural birth with OB and doula, spontaneous labor, natural birth in hospital (no pit, no epi) 

Friend 3: planned natural birth with OB, spontaneous labor, pit to augment, epi, vaginal birth in hospital

Friend 4: planned natural birth with midwife and doula at birth center, spontaneous ROM but no contractions, transfer to hospital per birth center policy, pit, epi, c-section for “failure to progress”

Friend 5: planned natural birth with OB, c-section when 7 days “overdue” because OB said her body would never start labor spontaneously

Friend 6: planned natural birth with OB and doula, spontaneous labor, c-section for heartrate decels (no chance to try change of positions, etc.)

Friend 7: had no particular birthplan/desires, planned c-section for breech baby at 39 weeks

Friend 8: planned natural birth with OB, c-section for elevated BP at 39 weeks

Yes, my sample size is small–tiny, in fact–at only eight women. But really, let’s look at this more closely: eight women, nine births, SEVEN C-SECTIONS! That’s a c-section rate of more than 75%  among this group of 30-something educated women in the Boston area. Something’s wrong here. 

Say what you will about data and anecdote, but people can read statistics about the high c-section rates and the overall point still too often passes them by. The point is that birth in our society today has become a medicalized, highly-managed event seen as fraught with complications and dangers; it is too rarely seen as a normal, natural part of life. For some people, reading Henci Goer and others (Wagner, Gaskin, Arms, etc. come immediately to mind) will convince them that there is a problem and that something must be done (arise, midwifery!) to reshape the trends in women’s birth experiences in this country. For others, personal stories–i.e., anecdote–are the more powerful eye-openers.


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YAY for doulas! Help the Big Push for Midwives!

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ruth  |  30 June 2009 at 10:15 am

    I had 7 babies in Israel, all of them in hospital with midwife, no doctor, (except to deliver the placenta) no epidural, with my first and second i was given something to get the contractions going. Almost all of them were born two weeks into the ’10th month’. No delivery was monitored except the sixth, and she had her umbilcal cord wrapped around her neck! so it was a good thing, but she changed positions and was born naturally in the end. I consider myself as lucky, since there were no complications except with the sixth, and i gave birth naturally, even though in a hospital setting.


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