Letters from the Issue of March 25, 2004
My Bundle of Joy
When I announced I wanted natural childbirth, they freaked: I am eight months pregnant. Like the women in Celeste Fraser Delgado's article "Cuts You Up" (March 18), I have been greatly troubled by how many of my friends and co-workers in this area have had cesarean section births. Early in my pregnancy I was keeping a list of everyone who told me their birth story, and 75 percent of the women had had at least one cesarean birth, usually for "failure to progress." I became terrified this would happen to me -- even though I am perfectly healthy.
I made a difficult decision early in my pregnancy to leave my well-known and well-respected ob/gyn. I searched for different options, for a caregiver who would relate to my pregnancy as I did -- a natural, normal event for which my body was designed, not as an illness to be managed. I had a hard time finding women who could knowledgeably discuss alternatives with me.
Alternatives exist, however. I spoke to midwives who birth at home. I visited birth centers run by midwives who are backed up by sympathetic doctors if hospital transport is required. I spoke to certified nurse midwives, some of whom have hospital rights and who are also backed up by obstetricians. And finally there are a few obstetricians who will allow a doula to assist a woman in delivery and who are willing to discuss a birth plan with a new mother. Because I was a little too apprehensive about a home or a birth center for my first delivery, I decided on a well-respected nurse midwife who delivers at Kendall Hospital.
I began reading voraciously about natural childbirth and learned that other industrialized countries do things differently, and with greater success rates for mothers and babies. I learned that in the U.S. there are two schools of thought: one in favor of frequent birth interventions and one against, and that they have become so radicalized that neither side listens to the other. Because of this lack of dialogue and cooperation between midwives and obstetricians, mothers and hospitals, and researchers in the field, common sense is lost, respect for the mother's body is lost, as is good information about how birth interventions affect the baby or cause complications in delivery that can lead to a cesarean section birth.
I have spent eight months listening to well-meaning people question my every move: Should you use the stairs? Can you take that Tylenol for your headache? You aren't in your house while your husband is painting the nursery, are you? But these same people look at me like I've grown two heads when I state that I am going to birth with a midwife, that my husband and I are taking the Bradley class series on husband-coached natural childbirth (there is only one teacher in the region), and that it is our goal to give birth without drugs. You would think women who look askance at one Tylenol would be also against opiates, sedatives, tranquilizers, and anesthetics -- the different cocktails that are used in systemic analgesia, epidurals, and general anesthesia. You would think they'd oppose the use of such drugs but they don't, despite the fact that those substances enter the baby's bloodstream and affect it. I even have been discouraged from trying natural childbirth by friends who have never given birth.
I commend Ms. Delgado for such a great article. More women need to know about alternatives to the unfortunate norm of high birth interventions in South Florida. And more of us need to hold the hospitals accountable for policies that tie doctors' hands, prevent them from treating each woman and birth individually, and from practicing medicine caringly and responsibly.
Move along now, you little heifers -- delivery room's thataway: Celeste Fraser Delgado's article about midwives and home birth couldn't have come at a better time. With the cesarean rate rising to alarming heights, it's important that women be informed about all childbirth options. The article brought to light an urgent healthcare issue that affects women, babies, and ultimately society at large.
One comment in the article needs clarification. Ms. Delgado wrote that Janessa Wasserman was "wary of depending exclusively on a midwife to deliver her second child." She was not wary of the midwife's expertise but rather her own ability to give birth vaginally because of her first birth experience. The comment reinforces the stereotypical idea that women need doctors in order to give birth safely, exactly the kind of thinking the article was working to change.
There are many reasons women are beginning to seek out the midwifery model of care. They are sick of being treated like cattle being herded through the hospital system, sick of being viewed as a commodity rather than a living being capable of making her own healthcare choices. Women are seeking midwives because their care is more personalized, holistic, and often safer than conventional care. Midwives spend more time with their clients and empower them to be involved in their own healthcare. I hope the article inspires women to educate themselves and choose what feels right to them.
Here are the reasons you should consider a midwife: I wanted to take this opportunity to thank New Times for the insightful article "Cuts You Up." I feel it will help pregnant women throughout our area realize their full range of birthing options and their very life-giving power. Women of this country need to reexamine our birthing practices. I encourage New Times to investigate our health statistics with reference to maternal and neonatal mortality. We do not rank even in the top twenty nations for these statistics, even though we spend more money per capita on birthing than any other nation in the world. Those who lead in these statistics, those nations with the healthiest outcomes for mothers and babies, have midwives at the center of their obstetrical care.
As a licensed midwife myself, I am enthusiastic about a positive portrayal of our profession. I would like to further point out that we are not just politically militant or spiritually in tune. We are also highly trained medical professionals. Each and every midwife is trained in handling routine prenatal, labor, delivery, postpartum, and newborn care. We are trained to recognize potential complications that would require the intervention of a physician or hospital. We are trained to handle variations of normal situations such as nuchal cords. We are trained in life-saving techniques for managing postpartum hemorrhage and neonatal resuscitation. We work with an interdisciplinary team that often includes an obstetrician and pediatrician as well as lactation consultants and neonatologists when indicated. We carry emergency equipment and medications. We work in conjunction with local fire-rescue when necessary, more often putting them on standby at the scene and later sending them on their way as our experienced teams handle the emergent situation and bring mother and baby to a stable condition.
For those of you out there who still may have reservations about home birth, I would like to assure you that home birth is a safe choice for healthy women expecting a normal pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum, and newborn. Seek out a licensed midwife or one of our myriad satisfied clients and ask about our experiences.
And as the photographs showed, it was a great moment: I just finished rereading Celeste Delgado's article on licensed midwifery and home birth. I assisted Corina Fitch at the birth of Haile Durham, Cher and Johnnie's daughter, and I am grateful to Delgado for writing a comprehensive, well-researched piece. It helps get the word out that home birth is a choice for women in South Florida.
I'm glad we decided to let New Times photographer Jonathan Postal into the birthing room. His pictures are exceptional.
I had both my children at home, with midwives, on the Farm in Tennessee. Those births, 28 and 23 years later, remain the high points of my life.
I Made Andy Warhol Famous
No regrets, but people should know the truth: Thanks to John Anderson for the great article on Paul Morrissey and for getting right to the point ("I Met Andy Warhol at a Really Chic Party," March 11). Paul got a kick out of the story and appreciates journalists who listen and report with, as he puts it, the most important thing of all: humor.
Thanks for helping to set the record straight after 30 years of misconceptions.
Dana Keith, director
Miami Beach Cinematheque
Norah to Humberto:
Try a New Line of Work
And ease up on the Chupa Chups, okay? It's a shame that Humberto Guida, who writes the "BuzzIn" column, can't seem to find a proper way of expressing himself. (Maybe he should consider quitting his "BuzzIn" job!) For the past several weeks, whether it's the Winter Music Conference or anything related to dance music, Guida's rants on ravers, Chupa Chups lollipops, drugs of choice, local clubs, and DJs are boring. Does he even know anything about dance music? Does he realize the amount of work that's put into a production such as the DanceStar Awards? He sure likes to drop names, but then he calls things "sloppy" for no apparent reason.
One more thing: The BBC Radio 1 and Cooljunkie party isn't a "techno" affair. This annual event brings together stellar international talent from across the board: live acts and performances in several dance-music subgenres such as house, trance, and progressive house, to name a few. That is hardly techno.
Now I understand why people like Louis Puig (Club Space owner) detest local media. It's because of people like Humberto Guida. I'll give Guida one piece of advice: Appreciate your local industry people instead of "whoring yourself out to dance music." He might learn a thing or two while he's at it.
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