Thursday, August 30, 2007

The only thing that matters

I seldom blog much about personal stuff, but this midwife tragedy makes me angry.
One of the most dangerous journeys we will ever take is down the birth canal. But in our recent zeal to make every human event into a kinder, gentler, personal growth experience, many now seem to think that women would have a better time giving birth at home with midwives instead of in hospital -- so cold and clinical and "medical" , you know.
What we cannot forget is this: the goal of childbirth is not that the mother should have a good birth experience. The goal is that the baby should be born alive and healthy.
Nothing else matters.
Nothing else.
Yes, its personal for me -- my first pregnancy was absolutely normal in every way, but when I was in labour, on monitors, the doctors could see that my daughter was in trouble. They weren't sure exactly why her heartbeat kept dropping, but they finally recommended an emergency C-section.
Was I disappointed that I couldn't have a "natural" birth experience like all the books and movies promoted? Didn't matter. At that point, my own feelings were irrelevant. We just wanted our baby to born alive and healthy. And so she was.
When I got home, the first thing my neighbour said was how sorry she was that I had had a C-section. I will never forget how stunned I was by her remark. Sorry? SORRY? -- as if my own "childbirth experience" meant anything at all, compared to my baby. I told her I wasn't sorry in the least.
The various news stories about this midwife case indicate that this mother was in labour for 14 hours, the midwives were exhausted, the birth was breech, and when the unborn baby suffocated on meconium, nobody called for help.
The coroner said that midwives should improve their training, but the president of the Quebec Order of Midwives got pretty defensive about it:
"Nothing will change in the sense that we are already doing our very best to assure the safety of mothers, babies and their families."
See what I mean? Its the safety of the babies that must be their first concern, not the mothers and certainly not the families (and why would the midwives association be dragging the families into it at all?)
If this case is an example of how midwives are already doing their "very best", well, it's just not good enough.

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