Sunday, February 19, 2012

30 Days of Book Discussion: Day 26

A book that changed your opinion about something

So I have this sister that's into natural birthing and midwives and such, and I always thought that stuff sounded a bit crazy.  There's an episode of Frasier where Niles and Daphne hire a freaky doula who bangs on bongo drums and chants things and is basically insane.  After being pushed over the edge, Daphne ejects her from the apartment saying, "I'm going to have my baby the way God intended: in a hospital, numb from the waist down."

Anyway, I didn't have a great outlook on "alternative" birthing methods - that is, alternative from what I was expecting to do myself.  So when I was pregnant with Jane I started reading this fascinating book called Birth Day by Mark Sloan, a pediatrician.  It was a great book to help me understand more about the birthing process, which it describes in detail, and it also discusses the history of childbirth (did you know that women used to have their babies crouching down, but when Louis XIV made his wife have a baby up on a bed so everyone could watch, doctors started making their patients do the same because it made it easier for the doctor to have access to the whole... situation.  Stupid Louis XIV).

There really were a number a fascinating stories in the history of how we got to hospitalized, medicated childbirth, which he doesn't endorse one way or another.  But he does discuss some interesting studies being done in the birthing world at the moment  (one of my favorites talked about how men's hormones are altered permanently when they care for a pregnant partner during the entirety of her pregnancy).  But the thing that really struck me the most while I was reading this book were the studies done on female companionship during birth.  I ended up scanning the pages and now I email them to my friends whenever they become pregnant.  Basically they had two groups of women: one group who labored alone, and a second group who had an unfamiliar, untrained woman in the room with her who basically held her hand and chatted with her.  The women who were accompanied had drastically shorter labors: 8.7 hours compared with the 19.3 hours in the control group.  Fewer of them also ended up needing cesarian sections: 7% compared with 17% of those who labored alone.

He goes on to talk about how further studies were done with professionally trained doulas doing continuous labor support through the entire process, and how those numbers were even better.  So I finally asked, "So who are these doulas anyway?"  I also asked my sister more about her natural birthing methods and started reading some materials that she gave me.  My initial reactions to it all were resistant: this is crazy, I'm not into this mumbo jumbo.  I even got angry at how silly it seemed at first.  But as I kept investigating, I became more impressed by the methods and psychology of it all.  The results from the studies I read about in Birth Day were so motivating, in fact, that I decided that I wanted a doula.  10 hours less of labor?  Yes, please.

So basically, that's how the book changed my mind about something.  It opened me up to a new way of thinking, and I found a wonderful doula.  The concept of doula changed from a chanting, drum-banging hippie to basically a very nice registered nurse that I paid to stay with me during my entire labor and delivery, who rubbed my feet and answered medical questions in the very moment that I had them.  She also coached me through Jane's birth, and stayed with me afterward when Michael and Jane went to the nursery for her bath and I would have otherwise been alone.  The whole experience I've described, sincerely, as being like "unicorns jumping over rainbows," and I attribute 90% of that to my doula, Katherine.

How about you?  Have you read any books that ended up changing your mind about something?

1 comment:

Sharon said...

I just like reading your blog. Unicorns jumping over rainbows, men caring for pregnant women not so much my experience. You rock.