You all know how I love research, right? I've been researching the crap out of cloth diapering (separate post to follow) and therefore have entered the world of all things green, or otherwise known as being 'crunchy granola'. I mean, there are all sorts of people in this giant world of ours and I have always tried to keep an open mind, not to be judgmental, or disrespectful about folks who are different than myself. I just find it fascinating to see how other people live their lives and how extreme some choose to go.
For instance, I discovered this quiz which rates how crunchy you are. I got a 39 which means I'm 'sprinkled with granola' and basically a wannabe green person (I'll wait here while you take it yourself). And I'm totally okay with that. On the spectrum of crunchiness I think you have two extremes: one side that will birth their child at home in a tub, then breastfeed until the child 'wants to stop', and apparently breastfeed other people's children as well, homeschooling until college, following a strict vegan diet, refusing all vaccines, wearing Birkenstock sandals and dreadlocks without makeup but with hairy legs, living in a self-sustained green home with only a bicycle as a mode of transportation, all while using re-usable feminine products, cloth diapers, and homemade cleaning products. The other extreme would be someone who schedules a c-section for convenience, doesn't even consider breastfeeding, returns to work immediately after baby and hires a full time nanny to rear the child who wears disposable diapers, expensive name brand clothes, running around in a huge energy sucking house and takes rides in a giant gas-guzzling SUV, who is then shipped off to a competitive top-notch boarding school after being fully vaccinated on schedule. Can you see these two stereotypes in your head? I'm sure I've seen both characters on TV but in real life (or at least in my Midwestern life) I see far more people who fall somewhere in between the two extremes on the continuum of being crunchy.
For me, I have some solid opinions on some choices we will make as new parents but some 'eh--I don't know yet' feelings as well. I know I want to cloth diaper, which makes me fairly 'green', I'd love to breastfeed for six months as I'm able, I'd be ecstatic to have a natural vaginal birth, and I'm pretty low maintenance when it comes to makeup/hair/clothes. But I am definitely having a hospital birth and refuse to feel like a failure if I need interventions during the process, will return to work full time driving my gas-guzzling SUV, will vaccinate my child on schedule, and will have nothing to do with re-usable feminine products. No way, Jose. But that's just me. To each her own and everyone has to make choices that are right for their situation.
Which brings me to my next point: I rented the DVD The Business of Being Born just because I was curious about Ricki Lake's documentary, knowing that as a health care provider who works in the same hospital in which I will deliver my baby, I'd probably have some strong opinions about the movie. I'm still trying to absorb all of the very interesting facts the documentary presented and I absolutely disagree with some of it, just as I expected. But some of the points made definitely got me thinking and some of the footage of women giving birth (albeit with their nipples and vags hanging out for public display) made me get a little bit teary. Probably because I believe that weather you are squatting in your house or laying on your back numbed from the waist down, giving birth is an absolutely amazing miracle not to be taken lightly. Oh, and I cannot WAIT to meet my little baby boy so just thinking about that day gets me all hot and bothered with excitement.
I was not a fan of how one-sided and biased this documentary was towards home births. It definitely seemed a little 'holier than thou' at times, as if anyone who has a hospital and/or medicated birth is a misinformed, unfortunate soul. They talked a lot about how midwives and home births used to be the only way of doing things but then all of a sudden the big bad doctors and hospitals took over and now the c-section rates have sky-rocketed. But they didn't mention childbirth-related death statistics in the 1900s when home births were the norm compared to now. I'm pretty sure more babies and mothers died back in the 1900s compared to now and a lot of that has to do with the medical advances made in the last 100 years.
And apparently America ranks with some of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, compared to other large industrial countries. But how many of those cases involve 'normal', low-risk pregnancies? What about our very unhealthy, underprivileged, or incredibly young population of pregnant women in this country? Don't you think those cases have more to do with poor outcomes in childbirth in this country?
In order to even qualify for a home birth you have to have a low-risk, complication-free pregnancy which, thankfully, most women have. But of course most of those 'normal' women will go on to have good outcomes in childbirth. The ones who are high-risk HAVE to give birth in hospitals and therefore, the hospital statistics will look have more negative statistics averaged into the overall picture.
I definitely agree that c-section rates are pretty freaking scary right now, with one in three women having to go that route. But I also believe that in this country where 'Just Sue 'Em' still reigns as a motto, doctors have to protect their own rear-ends. If there are any signs of fetal distress or another aspect that strays from the normal delivery protocol, you better believe that doctor is going to choose a more controlled setting in which to bring the baby into the world. If they allowed everyone to try for a vaginal delivery 'at all costs' and something happened to either the baby or the mother, they'd face litigation and insurance companies asking, 'Did you do everything you could to deliver the baby safely into the world?' I don't know about you, but I want my doctor to say 'yes' to that question.
Now don't get me wrong, I do NOT want a c-section if I can avoid it. I want to experience labor and delivery to it's fullest and hope to postpone medication as long as I can. I am sure there are doctors out there who are the 'slice and dice' type, ready to do a c-section just to save time (although I don't think that always saves time, but whatever). I definitely think that back in the 1920s through the 1960s there were some MAJORLY screwed up OB-GYN practices out there. I mean, Memaw told me she was knocked out for all three of her births but when I saw some of the pictures of how they actually did it back then it angered me for all of womankind.
I just think it was totally ironic that the documentary spent the entire time bashing hospitals and doctors because it's so 'unnecessary' for most people but then at the end, the actual film-maker had an emergency c-section for her premature baby. She was all ready to have a home birth but the baby was breech, 4-5 weeks early, and had the cord wrapped tightly around his neck. She got her butt to the hospital as soon as possible, only after her water broke in a taxi cab (gotta love New York!), and luckily her baby boy ended up safely in her arms. But the show didn't exactly commend the doctors and hospital after this experience, which ultimately saved her baby. That is exactly why I feel most comfortable in a hospital setting, in case the unexpected happens, where my MD has endured numerous years of medical schooling, grueling board exams, and training in emergency situations. I'm not saying that midwives are under qualified, but I personally feel safer in the hands of an OB-GYN in case I have that very rare circumstance that something goes wrong during labor and delivery.
Now, I do plan on talking to my doctor at length about her views on c-sections, how long she will let me be in labor before she pushes for interventions, and this Saturday we have our childbirth and newborn parenting class at the hospital--so I can ask as many tough questions as I want about their practices, too (they will just love me, I'm sure!).
Ultimately, I still think that delivering your child into the world involves deeply personal decisions and everyone is going to have a different experience. You cannot generalize that all home births are 'better' than hospital births. But I guess the point of the documentary is to get you thinking about options and it attempts to put women back in charge of their birth experience---which can only be a good thing, right? I just think it helps to be realistic and level-headed before you enter into the intense birthing situation because not everything will go according to plan, but it does not mean you've failed as a woman if your 'birth plan' goes awry. I really dislike the idea of women feeling depressed and negative about their birth experience because I am one of those people that thinks if you come out of it with a healthy baby, you've succeeded.
I have no idea why this post got so long on me. I guess there is a lot of food for thought when it comes to 'crunchy granola' decisions out there. Where do you fall on the continuum of being green?