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Are we in the Zoo?

posted Nov 5, 2010, 12:59 PM by Lisa Baracker   [ updated Jul 26, 2017, 11:11 AM ]
When I was in college I took an An

Birth As We Know It

imal Ecology class during my senior summer that was fascinating. We discussed several topics, but the one that always stood out in my mind was Stereotypic Movements in Zoo Animals. These movements are the manifestation of animals being kept in habitats that are not natural to them.  You would never find a tiger pacing at a fence in the wild, because there is no fence in the wild.  You would not find a bear circulating in figure eights in the wild because they would have further to walk then the confines of there zoo habitat.  In fact, the animals in the zoo can rarely be released to the wild because they have all but lost their abilities to be wild animals.  You might be wondering how does this related to birth?  Well, how does it not?

In the US 98% of all pregnant women give birth in hospitals, most of them under the care of an Obstetrician.  These woman are routinely hooked up to an ultrasound device to monitor her baby throughout her labor.  The practice of doing this restricts the woman's movements thus lessening her ability to tolerate pain in most cases.  Can you imagine being trapped within a 6 foot range of a baby monitoring device throughout 12-48 hours in a hospital?  It's not a pretty picture.  A lot of women who I have worked with find that the practice of continuous monitoring is more annoying then anything that they have to deal with during labor.  They ask why are they doing this to me? When can I get off this monitor and get in the bathtub?  These women are listening to their bodies but in most cases are not allowed to listen to their inner voice for more than 45 minutes because they have to be monitored once very hour.  Thus a routine begins; getting a woman in and out of

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the bath tub for monitoring because the hospital is not properly equipt to monitor her in the tub (like most home-birth midwives are). 

Now I'm rambling a bit, but here is what I am getting to:  Our system has taken away a woman's ability to be wild and birth her baby intuitively.  Physiologic birth is just not the norm in the hospital.  What do hospital staff do when a woman is in pain during labor?  They offer her pain medicine and epidurals, they tell her that they can make it better and help her.  Why don't they encourage her to feel the labor and listen to her body?  It's almost an impossible task when you think about it because pop culture has been representing hospital birth as the norm for many decades.  This norm needs to be demystified.  Hospitals need to develop evidence based practice and stop using interventions just to keep things moving.  Society is squelching our mother's primal instincts.

If you want to see birth in it's primal form, watch a cat give birth to kittens at home.  If you don't have access to that, watch the Business of Being Born and educate your self about birth in the hospital OR watch Birth As We Know It and see what birth is like when it is given the space to happen without intervention.  And remember, Dr. Huxtable was a doctor on TV played by a comedian Bill Cosby; so just to keep it light, here is what Bill has to say about Natural Childbirth now let's get our woman back in touch with their wild intuition and give birth to their little color changing beings.