Wednesday, October 11, 2006

How Childbirth Went Industrial

This piece in the New Yorker provides an interesting history of childbirth in America. It begins and ends with the story of Elizabeth Rourke, a mother-to-be who endured 40 hours of labor, and transitioned during that period from being determined to have as little intervention as possible to asking for the epidural and ultimately having a C-section. The article describes the amazing biomechanics and process of uncomplicated birth, and provides a history of of interventions, focusing specifically on forceps and C-sections, how "better" sometimes loses out to "easiest to do or teach," what used to go wrong that usually doesn't now, and the medicalization of birth. The development and influence of the Apgar score is described, as are numerous maneuvers that can be used to extract infants in precarious positions. The author also tells of the conflict between the evidence for practice and what actually happens, from early 20th century doctors with higher maternal mortality rates than that of midwives due to their poor hygiene to 21st century doctors who perform surgeries when forceps might do the job more safely. This piece is an interesting read; thanks to my colleague Julie for passing it along.

Technorati Tags: ; ;
MeSH Tags: Apgar Score; Cesarean Section; Labor, Obstetric; Obstetrical Forceps; Parturition


Blogger Ahri and Tania said...

Hi Rachel,
Thanks for your recommendation. That's the 5th one I've received today. I get The New Yorker delivered, but it's a few days late. I may just read it at the bookstore out of sheer anticipation!

I'd like to share with you and your readers about my current media projects, Birth and The Birth Tour.

The former is a one-hour public radio documentary about the practices and perceptions of birth in America.

The latter is a national event gathering mothers, fathers and families to share birth stories.

Please check it out:

Best wishes to you,
Ahri Golden

11:01 PM  

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