MOONDRAGON'S ARTICLES




BIRTH COMPARISONS
WOMAN'S WAY VS OBSTETRIC WAY


From The Homebirth Information Page




WOMAN'S WAY OF BIRTH OBSTETRIC WAY OF BIRTH
CULTURAL DEFINITION OF BIRTH
  • Social event.
  • Normal part of women's lives.
  • Birth is work by the woman and her family and kin.
  • The woman is a person passing through a major life transition.

  • Potentially pathological process.
  • Illness.
  • Birth is work of doctors/nurses/midwives and other experts.
  • The woman is a patient.
  • THE SETTING FOR BIRTH
  • Home or other familiar surroundings.
  • Informal system of care.
  • In a woman's home or nearby.
  • With other women of neighborhood and family.
  • Continuity of care.
  • Woman free to change position and move about.

  • Hospital, territory alien to the woman.
  • Bureaucratic, hierarchical system of care.
  • May be distant from woman's home.
  • Woman is separated from those close to her.
  • Discontinuity of care, e.g. shift changes/woman is moved from one room or one ward to another.
  • Woman may not be free to change position and move about.
  • CAREGIVERS: THE SUPPORT THEY GIVE & THE CONDUCT OF LABOR
  • Older and more experienced women who are themselves mothers.
  • See birth as holistic process.
  • Shared decision-making between caregivers and woman giving birth.
  • No class distinction between caregivers and woman giving birth.
  • Equal relationship
  • Information shared.
  • Personal caring - longer, more frequent, and in-depth prenatal visits.
  • Often strong emotional support.
  • Verbal and non-verbal encouragement.
  • Familiar language and imagery used.
  • Empathy.
  • Cultural awareness because they are part of the same culture.
  • Awareness of spiritual significance of birth.
  • Believes in integrity of birth, uses technology if appropriate and proven.

  • Young and older women who have often not themselves had babies, under direction of male obstetricians.
  • Trained to focus on medical aspects of birth.
  • Professional care that is authoritarian.
  • Often class distinction between obstetricians and patients.
  • Dominant-subordinate relationship.
  • Information about health, disease, and degree of risk kept secret.
  • Care depersonalized.
  • Little emotional support.
  • Lack of communication.
  • Use of medical language.
  • Threatening and often punitive behaviour, e.g. commanding, scolding, warning.
  • Little cultural awareness of rituals, beliefs, social behavior, values.
  • Spiritual aspects of birth ignored or treated as embarrassing.
  • Values technology, often without proof that it improves birth outcomes.
  • TECHNIQUES USED
  • Skills to preserve the physiological progress of labor.
  • Usually intervention-free.
  • Comfort skill, e.g. massage, hot and cold compresses, holding.
  • Few resources to handle complicated obstructed labor.

  • No skills to preserve the physiological progress of labor.
  • Obstetric intervention.
  • Drugs for pain relief.
  • Skills and resources to handle complicated and obstructed labor, e.g. intravenous fluids, oxytocin stimulation, surgery.







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