Friday, August 28, 2009

Pit to Distress

Here's the lowdown on how obstetrician's use Pitocin to force cesarean sections.

In some states it is extremely difficult to find a doctor who will do a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), so once you have one, your choices can become drastically narrowed. Cesarean rates are as high as 39.4 percent in New Jersey and average around 30 percent nationally. After my cesarean, I drove to another town for a doctor who would let me go VBAC and forego the standard interventions/monitoring.


Midwives Alliance of North America

Citizens for Midwifery

BIRTH Bringing Information and Resources to Houston

This is what I said about my own experience with Pitocin and c-section in my post "On Hatching Chicks and Birthing Baby Humans":

I had a midwife and was planning a beautiful, relaxed home birth. My water broke, and nothing happened for 24 hours. At that point my midwife informed me that I had to go to the hospital, not because the baby was endangered but because her relationship with obstetricians required it. They would not provide back-up for her if she didn't follow this rule. Actually, I think their rule was 12 hours, and she fudged it for me. So off I went, crying, to the hospital where they immediately intervened with an IV of Pitocin to get my labor started. They set it on the maximum dose, because in the doctor's eyes, I was already "behind schedule". I refused any painkillers, so basically I was unaware of anything other than my own body. This went on for hours with little progress. The doctor, who was a really nice person, finally told me that he thought my refusal of anesthesia was preventing my labor from progressing, that I was fighting the labor because of the pain, which is much more intense with Pitocin. So finally I gave in and allowed the epidural.

Suddenly, I was aware of everything and everybody in the room and had an overwhelming desire to read a ladies magazine and plan home decorating projects. The Pitocin still dripped away, but it caused me no discomfort. However, I made minimal progress in my labor. Finally, the doctor told me that he was sorry, but I had run out of time. The hospital had rules, and I was now confronted with having to have a c-section, which was speedily performed. The doctors could not understand why I cried through the whole thing. Nathaniel was thus brought into the world exactly on his due date. I was released three days later, an emotional and physical wreck.


Marie said...

I've had three C-Sections. First was for a breech baby, and I tried to do a VBAC on the second. Was very grateful to find a doctor who would back up my midwife on it, but then I had the same 24 hour thing going and they wanted me to try pitocin -- pitocin and VBAC don't go together well.

In the big picture, I don't care how my kids found their way into the light of day. Nothing is ideal. But I do resent that the way the medical system works it is very difficult for women to get good info and make clear decisions on these things -- there is so much disinformation, bullying, and "policy-based" and "population-based" decision making in hospitals. But then, this applies to many areas of care, not just childbirth. It's a shame, because it doesn't have to be that way.
Thanks for the post.

Wendy Haught said...

Dear Marie,

Thanks for commenting and congratulations on your three children!

Yes, I agree with you that the "disinformation, bullying," etc., apply to many areas of care. I believe that if we had abundant access to raw milk products, locally-grown whole foods, and midwives, we wouldn't be facing a healthcare crisis.

None of these things seems to be part of the national discussion. As a nation, we tend to look for the band aids, never the causes of our problems.

Marie said...

You know, that's a good point.
I have a relative who has always eaten "right" and exercises ritualistically. He is 63 and just had a quadruple bypass. He considers the processed foods, etc. to be at the best a benefit of modern life and at worst just a little thing we have to put up with. He figures his heart problems for genetics.
But I'm thinking that living as a "modern man" he'll survive to 80, with major medication and surgeries for the last 20 years of his life. If he'd lived 200 years ago, he might have died of the plague at 30. But probably, he's have lived to 70 or 80 without the medical interventions. That's a big deal.
I wish we'd talk out loud about this choice we're making more often.