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Amazing Birth
January 20, 2008 8:50 PM   Subscribe

Amazing Birth (NSFW). One link youtube post, requires login for age verification, but it's worth it.
posted by alms (136 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
wow.

It's not always that easy, that's for sure.
posted by damclean2 at 8:57 PM on January 20, 2008


"Eyes down for a full house!"
posted by SansPoint at 8:58 PM on January 20, 2008


Holy shite. I admire that woman.
posted by kristin at 8:58 PM on January 20, 2008


Thanks for this. I witnessed my wife giving birth on the 17th at 6:51 PM. She had no pain relief, and the baby was 4.52Kg.

She was in a lot of pain and I felt so terrible.
posted by mattoxic at 9:00 PM on January 20, 2008


Hmm, wonder if this is one of them Orgasmic births I hear mentioned occasionally. Even if not, it's nice to see any birth that's not portrayed as a near-death experience.

Still, there are many birth videos on youtube...
posted by emjaybee at 9:01 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


That blew away any notions of what I thought I was going to see. What I thought was amazing is that I've never seen a woman actually that happy and ecstatic after giving birth.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:08 PM on January 20, 2008


Having missed parts 1 - 7 I was a little confused during the first act but after that it was aces!
posted by dobbs at 9:10 PM on January 20, 2008


That looked like the 60s. Everyone was high back then, yeah?
posted by mrnutty at 9:10 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


that is pretty amazing. you have to have given birth or watched someone give birth to really understand how effortless that seemed.
posted by geos at 9:12 PM on January 20, 2008


I'm still glad I can't get pregnant.
posted by desjardins at 9:12 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd rather have watched the conception.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:13 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Worse than tubgirl.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 9:14 PM on January 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have my second baby's birth on video, but I'm forbidden from putting it on YouTube.

It was not as happy as this, but a whole hell of a lot funnier. To me, at least. Especially when my wife screamed "Mother FUCKER!".
posted by ColdChef at 9:15 PM on January 20, 2008 [13 favorites]


I have never seen childbirth before. I just... I don't know what to say. I... I think I need a hug. I don't know why, I just do.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:23 PM on January 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I can't watch this, my gal is getting induced in the morning so I'll see all the birthing I believe I can handle. Maybe I'll watch it later I don't know. I'm freaking out right now, I doubt I'll get much sleep.
posted by nola at 9:26 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


HOLY CRAP

Seriously, she was high like fuck, right? Or had previously given birth to eleventy-something kids?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:28 PM on January 20, 2008


A former girlfriend of mine was a mid-wife and I attended a number of home births; but this one was an especially remarkable birth. The mother so beautiful and happy and I loved the music! Thanks for this post.
posted by rmmcclay at 9:31 PM on January 20, 2008


All the best to you and her, nola. Hope everything goes perfectly.
posted by Stunt at 9:31 PM on January 20, 2008


And you people thought bot flies were freaky....
posted by rhizome23 at 9:36 PM on January 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


There was a movement once to have psychedelic births. Maybe this is one.

{~_~}
posted by Brian B. at 9:38 PM on January 20, 2008


That was awesome. She looked so happy, and was obviously tough as nails, prepared, and ready for the whole thing. And also lucky. But still, yeah, very refreshing to see anything other than sheer abject misery.
posted by Miko at 9:40 PM on January 20, 2008


Also, that same poster has a few other videos posted. In one of them there's a fair amount of conversation, and people aren't speaking English. I wouldn't hazard a guess as to what they are speaking. But it caused me to wonder - we know childbirth protocols and indeed the whole atmopshere surrounding pregnancy and childbirth can vary country to country. In the US/UK/AU/CA countries, it's highly medicalized, and definitely infused with a fair amount of fear and intimidation. I'm wondering if there's any reason to think that there might be cultural reasons and prenatal-care reasons why childbirth might be less physically traumatic elsewhere? Or am I going out on a limb, and we're just seeing lucky gals?
posted by Miko at 9:47 PM on January 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


For anyone looking for follow up reading, including a chapter on orgasms induced during labor, check out Birth as an American Right of Passage, it is a very good book, and should not be taken as gospel, but as a perspective on the medicalization of the birthing process in the US.

As my professor who introduced me to the book before she had her child, but still taught the book afterwards with the addendum: it gets some things right, and provides one with a lot of questions to ask before you go into a hospital, but it isn't some radical call to arms against the medical systems.

Also, it was great to be the only male in the room while we were discussing the orgasmic birth chapter. Apparently I was one of the few students who wasn't disgusted by it. The other was my friend who is a mother of two.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:58 PM on January 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Miko, here's some extended commentary from a former L&D (labor and delivery) nurse who agrees with you. She says, among many other cogent things: After just a few years in a high-volume L&D I began to see the connection between obstetrical interventions routinely applied to healthy laboring woman (70% of all pregnancies) and a steep increase in the need for additional interventions, unexpected complications, operative deliveries and breathing difficulties for the baby.

(If that link doesn't take you directly to her comment, search for "faith gibson". It's about halfway down the very long page.)
posted by alms at 10:03 PM on January 20, 2008


I'll have what she's having.
posted by not_on_display at 10:03 PM on January 20, 2008


Worse than tubgirl.

I thought this post required age verification?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:04 PM on January 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh, Miko, yes. Giving birth hurts in America because the doctors and hospitals are medicalizing things such that it causes pain. The whole "curse of eve" in the beginning of genesis? That's not because childbirth is universally painful, even thousands of years ago... no, it's just a coincidence. Done naturally, as they do in the European Hospital you just saw, childbirth is always super fun. Science makes it hurt.
posted by moxiedoll at 10:06 PM on January 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


Exquisite! So joyous and uplifting. What a wonderful video. She was so utterly joyous. Really marvelous.

emjaybee, a dear friend, Annette, said she was orgasmic during both of the births of her children. It makes total sense once I learned about the g-spot.
posted by nickyskye at 10:11 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Moxiedoll, "less physically traumatic" /= "super fun" (at least not always -- in the case of the mom in this video it apparently did).
posted by alms at 10:13 PM on January 20, 2008


Fucking disgusting...yet, another reason why I'm never having kids. I see nothing beautiful about childbirth.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:22 PM on January 20, 2008


Science makes it hurt.

I'm actually interested in learning something about this, not in arguing from ridiculous extremes that suggest I took a position which I never did.
posted by Miko at 10:25 PM on January 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


When the baby comes out and she lifts it up, I swear to got I thought she was going to eat it. The look on her face. Scary stuff.
posted by hanoixan at 10:28 PM on January 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


This video shouldn't be allowed on YouTube because kids will see it and it glamorizes vaginas and makes people think they're OK.

Oh nooooooo! Now everyone will want one!
posted by miss lynnster at 10:42 PM on January 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


I was reading something that explained why it is that science makes it hurt.

The person was comparing it to cats. We all know that cats give birth in quiet, dark corners all alone and only emerge if they have a big problem and need immediate help. For the most part, though, cats give birth in the dark and come out only when the process is completed.

But if we were really interested in watching cats give birth, we couldn't just let them labor alone. We'd put them in a nice shiny clean laboratory in a bright room so that we could see all the details of cat birth. We'd have several people in the room and they'd all be taking notes and petting the cat to comfort it and scratching it under the chin because maybe that would lessen the pain of birth, right?

And we'd see cats yowling and upset and looking for the nearest place to hide. They would be stressed, their bodies would believe they weren't in an optimum place to give birth, and they'd undoubtedly have more complications because of this stress.

And the scientists would see how much stress these cats were under, and they would say: "cat birth is a very painful, slow to progress effort." They would develop painkillers that made it so that the cat couldn't feel what was going on in its own body and so that it couldn't feel when to push. Some of the cats would fail to progress at all during labor, drugged up and stressed beyond their limits. Cat birth, the professionals would say, is a medical emergency requiring constant medical monitoring and management.

Eventually, you'd think it was cruel to let a cat birth in a quiet corner of your home. After all, wouldn't a bright, sterile room with a metal table be the most safe solution? After a while, you'd think all cat birth was accompanied by hisses and yowling and recovery times measuring in weeks.

***

To put it another way, if you were taken into a room with bright lights and seven or eight people, stripped naked, put into the lithotomy position...and then, with all the people looking at you, someone said: OKAY! NOW I WANT YOU TO TAKE A SHIT! PUSH! PUSH HARDER! -- you might think elimination was also a scary and disgusting experience that you wouldn't be able to do on your own. After all, if it was hard to do in front of all those experienced medical people, how could you possibly do it alone?
posted by InnocentBystander at 10:42 PM on January 20, 2008 [24 favorites]


Hey, I don't think I was creating a straw Miko. You said In the US/UK/AU/CA countries, it's highly medicalized, and definitely infused with a fair amount of fear and intimidation. I'm wondering if there's any reason to think that there might be cultural reasons and prenatal-care reasons why childbirth might be less physically traumatic elsewhere? And I pointed out that childbirth is universally considered to be painful, even when it isn't "medicalized". I disagree with your "US/UK/AU/CA" theory that it's somehow commonwealth-specific for women to experience pain in childbirth.
posted by moxiedoll at 10:44 PM on January 20, 2008


Miko, then read Dr. Atul Gawande's New Yorker article on the industrialization of childbirth in the United States.

It's been a while since I've read it, but if I remember correctly, Gawande concludes that although some women and their babies are harmed by hospital births, that harm is outweighed by the great declines in maternal and child mortality rates and the large gains in maternal and child health that have come with having the vast majority of births occur in hospitals.
posted by saslett at 10:45 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


This was amazing to see, and emjaybee's link was enlightening, as well.

When I was a girl, the horrible pain of childbirth was often brought up as a deterrent to premarital sex. Pregnancy is nine months of horror, and childbirth is hell on earth! I was brought up to believe that pregnancy and childbirth were the terrible consequences of premarital sex. Of course, I was also taught that having a baby would ruin my life. We were taught that after the baby comes, the fun stops.

I've worked through all of the anti-sex baggage that was piled onto me as I grew up in Catholic school during the just-say-no eighties, but this is the first time I've even considered that maybe they were exaggerating the horrors of childbirth.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 10:46 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love how the mother is so obviously in control, but the father keeps making those Lamaze little guppy-mouth breathing puffs at her. I swear he looks happier when she puffs back than when she delivers.

And moxiedoll, the US isn't in the Commonwealth, FYI.
posted by Rumple at 10:48 PM on January 20, 2008


I know, Rumple. This is why my as-yet-unwritten novel will never win the booker prize. Still - it was a more natural phrasing than "commonwealth and former colony".
posted by moxiedoll at 10:52 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Obviously,childbirth is painful. However, it's clear there are factors which can vary widely and which can make it more or less painful. I may not have an accurate sense of what cultural groups have most medicalized childbirth, but I'm aware anecdotally of similarities in the nations I mentioned as opposed to nations in which populations are demographically similar but prenatal care and childbirth is noticeably different - other countries of Europe, for starters.

My point is that I suspect cultural factors are important. Americans, at least, generally approach childbirth with fear. The language from early on in pregnancy consultations often revolves around evaluating and minimizing risk. Women are encouraged to expect great pain, and when childbirth is depicted in movies and on TV, the pain is emphasized for both drama and for laughs. The expectation of danger and pain could certainly become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we all know that the anticipation of and fear of pain can amplify it. I've been Googling around and finding that attitudes to childbirth pain do indeed vary culturally - my basic question. Many articles are pay-only.

A pay-access article:"The pain of childbirth: perceptions of culturally diverse women," Pain Management Nursing, Volume 4, Issue 4, L. Callister. Abstract: "The pain experiences of culturally diverse childbearing women are described based on a secondary analysis of narrative data from phenomenologic studies of the meaning of childbirth. Study participants were interviewed in the hospital after giving birth or in their homes within the first weeks after having a baby. Transcripts of interviews with childbearing women who lived in North and Central America, Scandinavia, the Middle East, the People's Republic of China, and Tonga were analyzed. Participants described their attitudes toward, perceptions of, and the meaning of childbirth pain. Culturally bound behavior in response to childbirth pain was also articulated. A variety of coping mechanisms were used by women to deal with the pain. Understanding the meaning of pain, women's perceptions of pain, and culturally bound pain behaviors is fundamental in order for nurses to facilitate satisfying birth experiences for culturally diverse women."

MedScape article, "Race, Ethnicity, and Insurance as Determinants of Epidural Use:"Culture has been a known influence in the expression and perception of pain and a mediator in the inference of pain to others (Edwards & Fillingim, 1999). Because pain is a subjective experience, social scientists and clinical researchers have reported relationships of culture with a variety of pain responses and behaviors (Weber, 1996)."

So I don't think my suggestion that culture might play a part was off the mark.
posted by Miko at 10:55 PM on January 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


saslett: I read that article when it came out, and it stayed in my mind. A very good investigation that caused me to question some of the received wisdom about pregnancy and childbirth. It's sobering to realize that reimbursment models and scheduling and speedier training of young doctors and other decidedly non-patient-centered concerns play such an mportant part in the decision-making about childbirth.
posted by Miko at 10:59 PM on January 20, 2008


Wow. One of my best friends had a baby recently (she was the last person I'd ever expect to have kids), and she had a super tough pregnancy as well as a draining Caesarean. I only wish she was half as joyful as the woman in the video - it was hard to see her in pain.

but wow. so much respect.
posted by divabat at 11:02 PM on January 20, 2008


I literally had an involuntary smile at the end of that video, no help of controlling it. Amazing.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:02 PM on January 20, 2008


And I'm just saying that this story is between two and three thousand years old, well prior to medicine, and it essentially equates the pain of childbirth to the pain of working all day, every day, for the entirety of your life, curse-wise.
posted by moxiedoll at 11:04 PM on January 20, 2008


MeTa.
posted by tkolar at 11:05 PM on January 20, 2008


That makes it very clear where you're coming from.
posted by Miko at 11:06 PM on January 20, 2008


Um, I don't *think* it makes it clear where I'm coming from. I don't believe that God wrote the old testament - what I'm saying is that it's an old enough idea that it's not reasonable to conclude that the idea of childbirth being painful is a result of modern, western obstetrics.
posted by moxiedoll at 11:09 PM on January 20, 2008


Hmm, bad link on the first one and my post isn't showing up on the front page of MetaTalk. Weirdness.

Anyways, here's the real link to the MeTa.
posted by tkolar at 11:11 PM on January 20, 2008


Again, where did I say that childbirth was not painful?

What I have been doing is posing the serious question "Could cultural factors make childbirth more or less painful?," and seeking to learn more about whether that's been studied. And finding that it has.

Also, medicine is much older than the stories of the Bible.
posted by Miko at 11:13 PM on January 20, 2008


Miko... What?

I'm an atheist, and the first thing that popped into my mind when people started talking about pain during pregnancy as if it were caused by doctors was the book of Genesis.
posted by empath at 11:19 PM on January 20, 2008


I've seen that video before. It's lovely to see a birth that joyful.

But it's appalling to me that adults are okay saying things like OMG DISGUSTING/HORRIFYING/SO GROSS about the process of birth.
Come on, guys. How do you think you got here? Either your mom pushed you out of her vagina, or you were cut out of her uterus. Those are the only two ways.


I grew up in the US counter-culture, and then overseas in a culture that does not routinely medicalize pregnancy and birth: the women I knew in both environments usually received their care from midwives unless there were serious reasons to seek a hospital birth. The rates of c-sections in environments like that are very, very low. People don't have the same terror of birth most Americans have. It's not my business how some woman wants to have her birth experience go, but I don't think it's right how USians are obsessed with telling each other that birth is terrifying, painful and dangerous. That's not how it is everywhere. In cultures that tell women that birth is woman's work, intense but doable, women safely have their babies with low c-section rates and low maternal death rates.

This isn't just some hippie positive-thinking trip - the usual American comeback. I'm talking about Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden. Do you really think that American women are somehow more defective than Japanese women?

Yes, childbirth is a physically intense experience. I've seen a number of women give birth (lots of midwives in my environment), and some women fight that unstoppable intensity and experience it as pain. I've also seen women go with it and experience it as something spiritual and amazing, one of the peak experiences they will ever have.

It is a privilege to be present at a joyous birth. It's very sad to me that so many Americans refuse to entertain the idea that it's possible for a birth to be anything but hard, painful, and dangerous.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:19 PM on January 20, 2008 [10 favorites]


thehmsbeagle wrote...
But it's appalling to me that adults are okay saying things like OMG DISGUSTING/HORRIFYING/SO GROSS about the process of birth.

The human body does a lot of disgusting things. Just because it's important doesn't make it something that you want to watch while you eat.

My grandfather was known to pass out at the sight of human blood -- and he regularly attended the births of farm animals with no problems.

Basically if people are squicked out by something, they're squicked out by it. You can be appalled if it makes you happy, but I think it's just people being honest about how they feel.
posted by tkolar at 11:31 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


As an athiest, surely you accept the idea that the book of Genesis was written by humans in an attempt to explain creation through narrative. Childbirth hurts, of course, and that part of human experience really has to be explained in order to continue to posit a loving God. The goal of Genesis itself is, of course, to justify the existence of suffering in the world. But there are stories about childbirth in the tales of cultures worldwide, not just Judeo-Christian cultures. And to hold the character Eve up as some sort of example of pure ancient femininity (if it hurt for her, didn't it hurt for everyone?) doesn't seem terribly logical; the society that created the story of Eve was a rather extreme patriarchy. Anyway, I don't get how the Eve story is relevant to this discussion.

Although I feel like I now have to start writing in large capital letters to make this point, I have never once suggested in this thread that childbirth was comfortable, fun, and easy until Western medicine came along. I agree with all who say it is challenging and painful. I am suggesting instead that the particular experience of childbirth in America overemphasizes and perhaps contributes to a greater experience of pain, which is, after all, a complicated phenomenon that is at least in part psychological. What hmsbeagle says is good anecdotal evidence. If you spend a bit of time, as I have, Googling about obstetrics research, pain, and culture, you'll find that there is a current, ongoing discussion about how intensely and negatively childbirth and its associated pain is experienced by women in different cultures, and that consensus is that it varies.
posted by Miko at 11:32 PM on January 20, 2008


Just a statistic: in 1907, 1% of childbirth's ended in the death of the mother, which I believe is also the historical average at least going back to 1800. In 2004, that number was 13 out of 100,000.

I think having a 'natural' childbirth is great, and I think hospitals would do well to provide a less clinical environment to have children in, but hospital birth saves [back of the envelope calculation] about 40,000 lives every year in the US alone.
posted by empath at 11:35 PM on January 20, 2008


Basically if people are squicked out by something, they're squicked out by it. You can be appalled if it makes you happy, but I think it's just people being honest about how they feel.

If childbirth creeps you out, surely it's more pleasant to just not click on youtube links labeled AMAZING BIRTH?

Miko, you may really enjoy Spiritual Childbirth (more wacky-hippie) and Ina May's Guide To Childbirth (much more mainstream, but both are backed up by Actual Science) by Ina May Gaskin, a longtime midwife and birth advocate. She takes a very non-woo-woo and sensible approach to childbirth and the pain associated with it.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:36 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Childbirth hurts because of an accident of evolution -- we evolved huge heads and we evolved to be bipedal. Evolution doesn't care about how that makes women feel during childbirth. We socialized birth as a side effect of that evolutionary process, and if we hadn't socialized birth, we'd likely have gone extinct (or we would have evolved back away from bipedalism and huge heads)
posted by empath at 11:40 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


The goal of Genesis itself is, of course, to justify the existence of suffering in the world. But there are stories about childbirth in the tales of cultures worldwide, not just Judeo-Christian cultures. And to hold the character Eve up as some sort of example of pure ancient femininity (if it hurt for her, didn't it hurt for everyone?) doesn't seem terribly logical; the society that created the story of Eve was a rather extreme patriarchy.

Yes, and keep in mind that one of the largest groups of folks pushing for natural childbirth are the very patriarchal christian conservative home-schooling crowd. Modern medicine gave women a chance to not have pain during birth, and to not have a significant chance of either themselves or their baby dying.
posted by empath at 11:44 PM on January 20, 2008


By the way, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 16 women die giving birth. In some countries it's as high as 1 in 6. In those same countries The infant mortality averages 10%, but runs as high as 18%.

While over-medicalizing pregnancy is definitely a problem, I hate to see anyone holding up truly natural childbirth as an alternative. The midwife approach with the hospital on speed-dial seems like a workable middle ground.
posted by tkolar at 11:45 PM on January 20, 2008


Maybe I'm stupid, or maybe all the births I've ever seen have occurred on television where the reason for this is obvious, but do most women give birth in the altogether?
posted by kindall at 11:47 PM on January 20, 2008


Fucking disgusting...yet, another reason why I'm never having kids. I see nothing beautiful about childbirth.

On the upside, this eliminates the risk of your descendants not seeing what's special about species procreation, either.
posted by Mikey-San at 11:48 PM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


empath: there are a lot of factors besides hospitals which resulted in the reduction of maternal mortality. The arrival of antibiotics; improved home hygeine; improved maternal nutrition; improvements in public health (such as cleaner water and more legislation against environmental hazards); legal abortion; reduced incidence of infectious diseases such as influenza and tB; and improvements in sanitation during medical procedures. Though obviously hospitals have served as centers of research and treatment, it's not hospitals specifically, but the availability of good, safe medical care in general, that has reduced risk of life to the mother.

Not that I'm anti-hospital. It's frustrating to see that by questioning whether childbirth pain could be culturally influenced, I was somehow instantly cast into the position of being a hospital-hating, Western-medicine-doubting, pain-denying crazy person. Absolutely not; I work in history, and know too much to have any visions of a utopian past, and am also too skeptical to look at alternative medicine unsupported by research performed with the same degree of rigor that conventional medicine gets. The past was not halcyon.

My questions arise from simply wondering whether we can do better than we presently do. My conversations with women about their birth experiences are kind of bearing out the idea that there is a great deal of inherent stress and frustration in the American medical childbirth experience, and a general atmosphere of fear surrounding childbirth itself. Do those factors make it hurt worse? Seems like maybe they could.
posted by Miko at 11:51 PM on January 20, 2008


Just a statistic: in 1907, 1% of childbirth's ended in the death of the mother, which I believe is also the historical average at least going back to 1800. In 2004, that number was 13 out of 100,000.

I think having a 'natural' childbirth is great, and I think hospitals would do well to provide a less clinical environment to have children in, but hospital birth saves [back of the envelope calculation] about 40,000 lives every year in the US alone.


Because midwives in 2007 still practice in 1907 conditions? Seriously, get a grip - how many of these lives saved are due to antibiotics, or better sterility, or better education? Hospitals are great IF you have a problem giving birth at home or IF you have a recognized complication. In 1907 I bet half the population didn't even live two hours from a hospital. You might as well compare 2007 midwifery to 1907 hospitals.
posted by Rumple at 11:52 PM on January 20, 2008


Empath, I don't think comparing 1907 maternal death rates to current US death rates proves so much that "natural birth is unsafe" as it does something like "Antibiotics and an advance in medical knowledge have been very helpful."

You may be interested in this Unicef maternal death table:

High-intervention America and low-intervention Netherlands score the same. Scandinavia kicks everyone's ass.

Miko, unless I wildly misunderstand her position, is not saying "Childbirth doesn't hurt! Pain is an illusion! Think your way out of it!" or anything.

She's saying "Gee, women in America seem to have a generally tougher time with childbirth than women in many other cultures. Is that just because American women are weak-minded, or could it have something to do with how these various cultures treat birth?"

Ah, evolution... Female mammals generally seek secluded, quiet, safe environments in which to give birth. Their labor will generally stall if they are intruded upon, disturbed by strangers, feel unsafe, attacked by predators, etc. That's good evolution, right there. Stop the birth until the mother can get to a safe hiding place.

I don't think it's a crazy stretch to think that women - who are of course also female mammals - also have difficulty giving birth in loud, bright stressful environments full of strangers.

TKolar, childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa isn't really what I'd consider "natural birth" so much as it is people in dire poverty doing the best they can. But there are a number of very cool orgs working to train local women in the basics of midwifery and to provde them with "safe birth kits" that contain sterile gloves, etc. What's really great is that these orgs can substantially lower maternal and infant death rates on a shoestring with these programs.

Kindall, a lot of ladies do strip down. They often get really hot, and some women are really annoyed by the stimulation of fabric on their skin.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:53 PM on January 20, 2008


Maybe I'm stupid, or maybe all the births I've ever seen have occurred on television where the reason for this is obvious, but do most women give birth in the altogether?

kindall -- that's why they call it the birth day suit.
posted by Rumple at 11:56 PM on January 20, 2008


And to be even more clear, I'm not pushing for natural childbirth either. My position would be that women should be able to have the greatest spectrum of choices consistent with appropriate safeguards in creating a birth plan. What tkolar said applies - there's plenty of room for change without (ahem) throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

And I'd like to recommend one quick change:

Modern medicine gave women a chance to not have as much pain during birth


Modern medicine has done wonders, but not achieved perfection.

We socialized birth as a side effect of that evolutionary process

Absolutely, and different societies have done so very differently.
posted by Miko at 11:58 PM on January 20, 2008


As a contrast, check out this Youtube clip of a hospital birth. There are NO VAGINAS OR BOOBS, but there's a bloody newborn at the end.

A remarkable difference. I count eight people in the brightly-lit room besides the mom. Instruments clattering on tables, people shouting encouragements, etc.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:18 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


That was awesome. I cried a little bit at the end.
posted by The Monkey at 12:25 AM on January 21, 2008


Basically if people are squicked out by something, they're squicked out by it. You can be appalled if it makes you happy, but I think it's just people being honest about how they feel.

When you were born, you came out of a vagina, or an open wound some doctor sliced open. Also, you piss, shit, vomit, cough things up, spit, have sex in various ways, have a period if you're a woman, and can get sick, infected, injured, or die in myriad colorful ways.

FUCKING DEAL WITH IT.
Denying reality just compounds problems. I'll take a quote from the Metatalk on this internet website: "adults whining like little bitches".

I often think that one of the biggest problems in the world is exemplified by the number of people I read about, sometimes even on this website, who, when using the public bathroom, cover the whole thing with toilet paper, or don't allow themselves to touch the seat, or kick the handle with their foot to flush. It's exemplified by politicians taking advantage of homophobia, this idea that gay sex is ridiculously aberrant, rare, and not something real people do, while these same politicians are sucking cock in the men's room. It's people who buy into the idea that if I arrange four letters in the permutation "fuck" this is somehow inherently bad.

Some things that actually give me a little hope for the future: Goatse Man. Ogrish. Rotten dot com. Two Girls, One Cup. Why? George Bush keeps the Iraq war going by forbidding publication of photographs of the war dead's coffins, never mind their IED mangled bodies. He persecutes the war on drugs while who knows while, if it were consistent, he'd be in jail for coke (and the same for Obama). Same with the double talk on illegal immigration - they love the status quo of cheap, non-voting labor that also gets them an easy way to grub for votes.

Let's stop denying reality.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:31 AM on January 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


i think 'whining like little bitches' is probably not the best way to put it.
posted by empath at 12:34 AM on January 21, 2008


Strike the first "who knows while." I'll explain "little bitches" tomorrow if need be, but I'm going to bed now.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:04 AM on January 21, 2008


Are any other men here jealous of the birth orgasm?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:15 AM on January 21, 2008


So this is how babby's formed?
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:28 AM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


There are some six Billion-capital-B-illion people on this planet and this is the first time that I've witnessed a birth. Something about that is really strange.
posted by stavrogin at 1:32 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


So quiet she could almost be a scientologist.
posted by rhymer at 2:36 AM on January 21, 2008


i want whatever drugs she was on.

(although maybe in about a tenth the dosage. any more than that would frighten everybody around me for the next three months or more, of that i'm sure)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:38 AM on January 21, 2008


Are any other men here jealous of the birth orgasm?

last time i tried squeezing a watermelon into my butt, it wasn't the most pleasant of experiences, so no, not at all, not in the slightest, no. did i say no?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:41 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


thehmsbeagle: I don't think it's a crazy stretch to think that women - who are of course also female mammals - also have difficulty giving birth in loud, bright stressful environments full of strangers.
Damn straight! I wasn't as deleriously happy as that woman but it looked pretty normal to me. Just to weigh for the "hey, these types of births do actually happen" crowd. I'm Swedish, and gave birth in Denmark if anyone wants to firmly box me into a Scandinavian statistic of 'more natural' births.

Best wishes to you and your missus nola. Your being there will help tremendously, listen carefully to your wife's cues, she'll be rather preoccupied but don't think for a second that you are in the way. Just having you in the room is a painkiller. (and being "started" by hormone drip makes the contractions a bit rough they say, I only have one birth under my belt so I can't compare to a non-induced one, but we were fine and could handle it just FYI. Keep cool, your nerves will make her nervous.)
posted by dabitch at 2:41 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


In case anyone's interested, my mother told me childbirth didn't hurt, and I believed her. Right up until halfway through contractions. But what really struck me about the way that woman gave birth, she didn't seem to be pushing, and that makes so much sense. Excuse the analogy, but if I have enough fibre, I don't need to push. My daily crap takes 90 seconds and it runs like clockwork. Maybe that whole idea of pushing the baby out is unnecessary and works against what's supposed to be going on.

Also, she seemed to have really nice nurses. I would have liked someone other than Nurse Ratchett.
posted by b33j at 3:58 AM on January 21, 2008


heh. I like the midwife reminding the dad that 'oh hey, you can do something now'.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:14 AM on January 21, 2008


Although my sister never mentioned that she was smiling and laughing during the whole thing, her last birth was similiar... She felt the baby coming, they got in the car, and on the way there the baby just "slid right out," where she caught it before the baby hit the floor.

According to her, there was only mild pain, and the doctors were very surprised to find a lady walking into the hopsital with a baby in hand - and a dazed husband with a bloody pocketknife from cutting the cord in the passenger seat of his brand new car.
posted by bradth27 at 4:23 AM on January 21, 2008


Oh, hell, not another one.
posted by loquacious at 5:27 AM on January 21, 2008


High-intervention America and low-intervention Netherlands score the same. Scandinavia kicks everyone's ass.

Doesn't part of that have to do with ethnic homogeneity? I mean, if women with hips corresponding to the size of their husband's future progeny's head have babies, no problem, no complications. But if a woman from an ethnicity with small hips has a baby with a guy from an ethnicity with big baby heads/women with big hips, there would be more problems. Of course, I'm sure there are other factors too, and America could probably do a lot to pull itself up on the rankings.
posted by fermezporte at 5:43 AM on January 21, 2008


High-intervention America and low-intervention Netherlands score the same. Scandinavia kicks everyone's ass.

So you're saying that countries with universal health care where everyone can get gobs of prenatal care and where the more risky births can be more accurately sorted into hospitals do better than the US and its clever "Fuck you, uninsured" strategy?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:25 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Interesting discussion. Just FYI, they're speaking French, and I don't see anything to suggest this video isn't from the 2000s. The mother sort of has 50s style hair, but that style is not uncommon in France/Belgium today as a retro-ish look.
posted by melisande at 6:37 AM on January 21, 2008


I've seen this movie before, but I thought it starred Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt, and took place on a space ship.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:40 AM on January 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


The Business of Being Born looks like it's going to be interesting.
posted by muckster at 7:10 AM on January 21, 2008


I'm chiming in here to agree with Miko. I think because the first birth most women see is the birth of their own child the expectation they have of birth is what they see in movies (and I can't remember one scene that was at all accurate). I saw at least four births before my own and seeing how different women coped and that it really is a natural process eased my own fears.

Funny enough I just re-watched the birth of my third child with my children so they can see how I look and sound when I give birth again in a couple of months. It will be my youngest's child first birth so I wanted him be a bit prepared. When I started watching it I thought to myself "oh no, I can't do it again!" but actually it helped me a lot to see how pain-free the experience was. The example I always give people that have never given birth is it is like squeezing a pimple, a bit of pressure (not pain) and then POP! out it comes with a big sense of relief. I always make sure to invite any women I know that are interested in seeing a real life birth to come to any of mine (I usually have a crowd of up to 20 plus midwives). The one friend I had that had a horrible labour experience culminating in a c-section refused to discuss birth with me, let alone see any of mine. She was convinced it would be a horrible, painful experience and for her, that was true.

I am not unique in finding birth a non-painful experience but I think it is because I was raised in a family that didn't make a fuss of every little boo-boo. Another's friend's hypocondriac family has given her a fear of doing anything that might at some point cause pain.

So nola ~ how did it go?
posted by saucysault at 7:21 AM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Everyone thinks having a baby is sooo special.
posted by Melinika at 7:21 AM on January 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


fermezport ~ Scandanavia and the Netherlands aren't exactly homoegenous but if you compare Canada and US birth stats Canada has a lower infant mortality rate than the US despite the fact that there are more mixed souple unions (and more children born of mixed heritage) in Canada. I don't know where the idea that giving birth is like passing a watermelon. Newborns are tiny, with little collapsable skulls. narrow hips don't really come into play.
posted by saucysault at 7:59 AM on January 21, 2008


There are some six Billion-capital-B-illion people on this planet and this is the first time that I've witnessed a birth. Something about that is really strange.

They showed us a birth video in my 8th grade science class. Heh.
posted by delmoi at 8:06 AM on January 21, 2008


Beautiful video, loved the post! As someone who had two scheduled c-sections because my Dr. thought I wouldn't be able to deliver vaginally, I watched this with a little bit of longing. My first priority was the safety of my babies but looking back, I have to wonder if my body would have been able to 'pull through' and deliver without the intervention that the medical system told me I needed. I think that the fear of lawsuits, malpractice, etc. forces the dr's to be TOO cautious, thus forcing the issue of medical intervention, sometimes when it might not be necessary. Do I wish my births could have been like this? Absolutely. But while on one hand I can wish that I had less intervention at delivery, on the other, I never would have gotten pregnant at all without the help and intervention of some very fine fertility specialists. Damned if you do or damned if you don't.

And at this moment, the second of my precious 'interventions' is on hands and knees, just about to crawl for the very first time. Every mother will attest that no matter how they get here, being sure they are healthy and whole is the ultimate goal. If you choose to bring children into the world, enjoy every minute, they are like nothing else!! And Nola, please give us an update!! I'm off to find the video camera, have a big moment to catch!!
posted by pearlybob at 8:06 AM on January 21, 2008


In case anyone's interested, my mother told me childbirth didn't hurt, and I believed her. Right up until halfway through contractions. But what really struck me about the way that woman gave birth, she didn't seem to be pushing, and that makes so much sense. Excuse the analogy, but if I have enough fibre, I don't need to push. My daily crap takes 90 seconds and it runs like clockwork.

Hmm. I wonder if it's actually necessary to tell the women to push? In some cases, the woman might not "have enough fiber" and reminding her to push might make things easier. I wonder if people have actually studied that.
posted by delmoi at 8:11 AM on January 21, 2008


A friend of mine was a Rutgers University professor. She believed that the pain of childbirth was mostly culturally conditioned and could be avoided with proper preparation and positions for delivery.

She'd successfully done it twice herself so I certainly deferred to her first-hand experience.

(Oh, and regarding induction -- my sister was induced because she was late and my mother said, somewhat joking, "If I'd known how much work I could have saved, I'd have had you induced too!")
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:17 AM on January 21, 2008


I'm going to say one thing: In the end, the purpose of any birth is to add another person to the crazy salad of the human race. Whether it happens with or without drugs, in an operating room or a taxicab, with the mother fully conscious or under anaesthesia, with just the right music playing or in dead silence or with mom screaming obscenities -- REALLY DOESN'T MATTER. Or rather, it matters only insofar as it affects the health and safety of the people involved, especially the child. I've seen women in tears because their birth didn't go "according to plan," with extra-special soft-focus bonding moments and all that stuff they'd been led to expect. And they do all this agonizing while they're holding in their arms a beautiful, healthy infant. Of course they're hormonal and crazy, but I blame a lot of this on the Cult of the Perfect Birth.

In a lot of ways, it's like the wedding racket. We're encouraged to spend months worrying about dresses and cakes and guests lists and rings and flower arrangements, when no matter how much money you spend and how much trouble you go to, a wedding day is just the first day in a marriage, which lasts a lot longer and requires a lot more than the right outfit. Same with birth. I had dreams of a drug-free birth with Miles Davis playing "All Blues" in the background, and I got an epidural, an episiotomy that seemingly ran from nostrils to the top of my ass crack, forceps and a room filled with a dozen people all staring at my twat. And by the time I'd changed my fifth diaper, it just didn't seem important how it happened. I had a daughter to start raising.

I learned the first lesson of parenthood in the delivery room: You think you're in control, but you really aren't. It was probably a good place to learn it.
posted by nance at 8:42 AM on January 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


I found AskMetafilter to be a good way to pass to time during childbirth.

(Although it took another 26 hours from the time that comment was posted...)
posted by Asparagirl at 8:55 AM on January 21, 2008


There's such a broad range of experience. I feel some of these comments sound like "oh if you're in the right mental state it won't hurt!" or something. I understand the discussion of different cultures' approaches making it easier for women, I think that's true, and I also believe many births are safe and more pleasant if at home rather than hospital; and I agree there are more medical interventions that aren't necessary in the US as compared to European countries mentioned; I get all that. But there's this undercurrent of "if you just go with what's natural..." Well, no. Feminists fought to have pain relief during labor, because the prevailing thought at the time was that women *should* be in pain "as God intended" - appalling. These discussions seem to divide up a lot between "modern medicine knows best" and "all natural is the way to go". Really it's somewhere in the middle, depending on the woman.

I had plenty of support, I had midwives, I had done my research, because after all, if you look at that video - who wouldn't want a birth like that? It's lovely that she is so focused, that it doesn't seem to hurt, or at the least it seems to be manageable for her, that she can enjoy the process. But even with all my preparation, I needed epidurals with all three of my deliveries. Because it fucking hurt. It really, really, really hurt. I am not a wuss, I can handle pain, we don't fuss over every boo-boo. Straight up, it is the most painful thing I have ever been through. I have big babies, I dilate really slowly, my body just doesn't relax and I am in labor a long time. When I get to the point I can't take it anymore, I get an epidural, the pain goes away, my body relaxes, and the baby comes within a couple hours.

With my first delivery, I was in labor a day and a half. I was excited, it didn't hurt so much I couldn't cope, everything I read, I'd heard, said it was manageable. I breathed, I laid in a deep bath, it was great. The contractions and the pain got stronger, we timed it, I thought I was pretty far along because it was like that for twelve hours... I was barely dilated. After that it got bad, worse, AWFUL, OMG I AM GOING TO DIE I CAN'T TAKE IT. And I held out thinking I just had to manage it, get in the zone, relax, I would be okay, because women do this all the time. HAH. I was in tears when I begged for an epidural because I thought I'd failed somehow. Pfft. It's not a competition! It was bliss and everything came easy after that, I wondered what I'd been afraid of, why did I hold out? This experience does not reflect every woman, it reflects me. I had control of my births, I had birth plans, no one cut me... I really do believe the least medical interventions necessary are probably best, and I'm all for homebirths, but my easiest labor and delivery was the one they induced.

Every woman's body is different. I believe other women can have manageable experiences. And I believe some women need the pain relief. I don't think you're uptight or you're fearful or you didn't learn to manage your body properly if it's painful! You just won't know how your body will handle it until you go through it. I tried to have homebirths for my second and third, but when it became medically necessary to go to the hospital, we went; I asked for and received pain relief. And thus I was able to get through the experience. And knowing I could have that pain relief if I needed it meant I could face labor without fear - because if I hadn't had it the first time I would never have done it again.
posted by Melinika at 9:02 AM on January 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


Humans are aquatic apes that should give birth in water. It supports the mother and baby and prevents faeces from getting into the baby's throat and lungs and giving it all sorts of horrible conditions. Newborns1 are very happy underwater.

1 Should that be "new-borns" or "new borns" or what?
posted by alby at 9:10 AM on January 21, 2008


Best bit was when they almost dropped the baby
posted by A189Nut at 9:13 AM on January 21, 2008


there's this undercurrent of "if you just go with what's natural..."

That's definitely not something I believe, so if you see such an undercurrent in my comments, please read them again. I hope it's clear that in asking this question I don't mean to trivialize the experiences of people who had lots of pain. I'm interested in what cultural factors might reduce the stress and fear surrounding childbirth. Clearly knowing you could have pain relief was a key part of making labor better for you, and the availability of that medication when you choose it is one cultural factor that helped labor become more manageable.

The choice is part of this. If women knew they were going to get drugs 100% of the time whether or not they wanted or needed them, like it or not, because that's the protocol and the doctors know best, I imagine that would create its own kind of stress in many women, as well.
posted by Miko at 9:13 AM on January 21, 2008


Everyone thinks having a baby is sooo special.

The Onion takes on a similar theme.
posted by tkolar at 9:15 AM on January 21, 2008


Very moving video. Beautiful.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:37 AM on January 21, 2008


This video reinforces what one friend of mine, who had her daughter at home with a midwife and no medications (naked on the bed very much like the woman in the video), said to me... that she was so elated with the whole process, with her body, with the idea of meeting her daughter, that she felt it was like a vision quest and that she felt overwhelming physical and mental euphoria during labor. It only lasted 2 hours and 33 minutes for her, which seems pretty amazing to me too.

I think I'd be freaked out about having a baby at home naked in front of my husband, mother and midwife, but she loved it (I don't think children are for me, but I looooooove other people's babies).

It's not exactly "mind over matter" when it comes to labor due to the range of complications, but if it was this easy for everyone, how amazing would that be?

This was really neat to watch, thanks for sharing!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:49 AM on January 21, 2008


Everyone thinks having a baby is sooo special.

The Onion takes on a similar theme.


Similarly.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:56 AM on January 21, 2008


But if a woman from an ethnicity with small hips has a baby with a guy from an ethnicity with big baby heads/women with big hips, there would be more problems.

Which is why I fear for the Western world. But I guess for some it's hot for a woman to have an ass like a 12-year old boy.

The Latinas are gonna take over. I'm cool with that. They can all be my overlord.
posted by illiad at 9:58 AM on January 21, 2008


this eliminates the risk of your descendants not seeing what's special about species procreation

Irony.
posted by meehawl at 11:15 AM on January 21, 2008


this is close to home for me because yesterday we attended our second-to-last class in HypnoBirthing, which takes relaxation techniques from hypnotherapy to allow the laboring mother to remain in control of what's called the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle.

Basically, the mother is afraid when she enters labor. Everything her mom, sisters, cow-orkers, etc, have told her about their own birthing experiences reads a bit like this thread: "AWFUL, OMG I AM GOING TO DIE I CAN'T TAKE IT." that doesn't exactly prepare the expectant mother to be in a mindset of relaxation. the nursing and medical staff rush her into the room on a wheelchair, strap a fetal heart monitor on her and run an IV. what's the mother supposed to think other than "holy shit, there's a better than average chance i'm gonna die or be horribly disfigured through this"?

there are three layers of muscle fiber in the uterus. the outer layer runs longitudinally up and down and mechanically opens the cervix by pulling up from the outside. the middle layer is soft muscle tissue filled with capillaries and isn't very pertinent to the discussion, but the inner layer runs horizontally and its job is to band together and keep the cervix closed. notice now that the outer layer and the inner layer are designed to do diametrically opposing tasks.

So the mother has some level of fear in her emotional state. The body responds to this fear with tension, preparing the fight-or-flight response. Part (or most) of this tension gets focused on that inner layer of muscles, the ones supposed to be keeping the cervix closed. aha, but we're also in labor, so that outer layer, the one trying to open the cervix, is pulling harder and harder, directly against the force of the inner layer. so we have two muscle groups fighting each other, and voila, pain.

and this becomes a feedback loop. once a contraction is done, mom thinks "goddamn, that hurt. the next contraction will hurt even more, i bet." so she goes into the next round even more afraid, causing more tension, causing more pain. The way to break this cycle is to first remove the fear. Mothers need to stay focused and relaxed, remembering that her body already knows what to do, and her anxieties only get in the way. through deep breathing, visualizations, and her birthing partner's help, a woman has a much better shot of having an unassisted natural birth.

Now, i'm not so naive as to think that when it's our time that something bad can't happen because we have the magic talisman of relaxation, but rather than just show up and accept things like an automatic IV hookup or suggestions that we "help things along" so that the nurses can go home early, we know we have the power to wait until something arises that medically demands it, rather than as a default. I am also emboldened by the growing statistics (pdf) that are showing that this method has a greater percentage of unassisted births, lower rates of ceasareans, inductions, etc., and fewer numbers of low birthweight babies.

Western, medicalized birth has been developed in a way that makes birthing easier for the medical staff, not for the mother.
posted by acid freaking on the kitty at 11:18 AM on January 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


Everyone thinks having a baby is sooo special.

It is, for the parents. I am one, so I speak with authori-tay.
posted by illiad at 12:00 PM on January 21, 2008


“My position would be that women should be able to have the greatest spectrum of choices consistent with appropriate safeguards in creating a birth plan.”

I completely agree. Some women though want to be Rambo.
With our first child my wife wouldn’t dialate past a certain amount. Kept looking like she would though. That day was one of the worst and one of the best of my life.
I’d just come off a really long hard day at work (one of those ‘beat the hell out of you days’) I hadn’t slept the night before and that night I got to bed at about 2 am. About 3 am I get this nudge from my wife telling me her water broke. She spent about a day and change in labor.
Now, I’ve been through some pretty rough stuff in my life, but watching my wife in pain for hours and hours was probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do.
But she wanted to do it naturally and all this other stuff and while I’d rather have driven nails into my skull, I didn’t do more than make quiet suggestions (I’m big on personal respect).

So, she’s writhing there for hours and hours and finally says to me “I think I’ll take the epidural...I’m a wimp.”
I mean, are you kidding me?
I’d’ve done that in the first five minutes and I’ve had shrapnel pulled out of me without anesthetic.
So she had that and the Caesarean and that was it. Kid’s head was gigantic. No way that would have fit through her pelvis (she’s a small woman).

“kick the handle with their foot to flush.”

Actually, that’s a good idea. I’ll sit my bare ass all over the toilet seat because it’s a poor surface for germ growth, but the handle is generally the germiest spot in the bathroom - with the nice moist sink area a close second.
‘Course I generally monkey crap in my hand and play “Battleship” with the guy in the stall next to me. So y’know, grain of salt with anything I say.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:52 PM on January 21, 2008


Where are all the gallons and gallons of boiling water that are apparently desperately needed during childbirth (the ones that take place outside of the delivery room, anyway)? I'm beginning to suspect it's just an excuse to get rid of the boiling water/towel fetcher.

And someone should let that doctor/midwife/nurse know that she's supposed to slap the baby, not the mother.
posted by Devils Slide at 1:24 PM on January 21, 2008


My wife tried to deliver our first kid naturally, and it didn't work out. There had been health concerns with the kid early in the pregnancy, which provoked a very "interventionist" approach to the delivery, including induction a couple weeks early because he was pretty big and they didn't want him getting bigger before delivery and increasing the chances of stress on the baby during the process.

Induction led to the baby not descending naturally, led to an extremely painful labour, led to my wife asking for an epidural well into the process, led to the epidural not taking good effect, led to a stuck kid, led to a c-section, led to local anesthetic not taking good effect, led to a c-section under general anesthetic after 30 hours with me waiting like a rat in a cage in a room across the hall. We figure there was a good chance everything would have gone smoothly if no intervention had taken place at all.

My wife's sister had her baby at home with a midwife. It was a (relatively) easy delivery in just a couple hours, and she was walking around 1/2 an hour later.

My cousin had her baby at home with a midwife. The cord got wrapped around the baby, and delays in getting the baby to the hospital left the baby with permanent brain damage.

Now, I know that the standards of midwifery care in the two cases were pretty different, but when the choice is between "less comfortable" and "less likely to be born without brain damage", I'll take the former, thank you very much.
posted by CaseyB at 1:30 PM on January 21, 2008


Everyone thinks having a baby is sooo special.

It is, for the parents. I am one, so I speak with authori-tay.


Yes, but in my observation, once a couple has kids their social circle changes radically, to include only similar new parents, because, well, nobody else can stand to be around them, unless for some reason they have some kind of morbid fascination with the colour of baby poo. I can understand it being very special for the parents; I just wish they realised how excruciatingly dull it is for everybody else, especially because life's precious miracle is actually so incredibly commonplace - six billion miracles in the last hundred years, no? It's really quite banal for everybody except those directly involved.

/speaking with authori-tay as the world's worst uncle.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:41 PM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


(hm, that was a bit harsher than intended. still, it would be a bit like me talking about my house or my new bike or whatever, and only ever about that, for the next few years, except that those don't take up 99% of my energy & attention)
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:54 PM on January 21, 2008


I just wish they realised how excruciatingly dull it is for everybody else

As social blemishes go, this one isn't so bad. At least they segregate themselves.

It does suck when your friends disappear to babyville though.
posted by tkolar at 2:00 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's really quite banal for everybody except those directly involved.

Well, sure, I can get behind that. Our social circle hasn't really changed, other than adding a few people we met at a parents' group. We still have a mittful of friends that are kidless, and we take great care in making sure that our munchkin doesn't intrude.

There are some parents out there who don't believe that everyone else should just coo and adore their offspring. Our child, our responsibility.
posted by illiad at 2:18 PM on January 21, 2008


To be fair, I was generalising far too much. I know other couples who just carried on with their outgoing lifestyles & pursued their various interests pretty much as before, with little more than a three month break after birth. They were very motivated & energetic people to begin with, though. Maybe some people just gravitate towards their little domestic havens, and a baby is the final excuse they need to give up the ghost of a social life beyond their parents' group.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:34 PM on January 21, 2008


Awesome video - I couldn't help but smile at the end. Happy proud mothers rock.
posted by mrbill at 2:46 PM on January 21, 2008


When my son was born, we had a "birthing suite" at the hospital. So it wasn't all brightly lit and sterile looking. There was furniture and a warm tub and walking around room. The birth actually seemed to be going fairly well until the hospital decided I was taking too long, and they started induction drugs, and then all hell broke loose and it got scary and I ended up under the knife. But while I was hanging out in a hot tub while my husband rubbed my shoulders? I was good, even though I was 26 hours into the process. Hospitals, on the other hand, do not want people hanging out in the birthing rooms for days at a time. And so it goes.
posted by dejah420 at 2:46 PM on January 21, 2008


...in my observation, once a couple has kids their social circle changes radically, to include only similar new parents, because, well, nobody else can stand to be around them

In my experience, you are largely correct in regards to your first observation. My social life definitely changed dramatically (as in, far less active) after becoming a dad. But the cause of this is more practical than what you're suggesting: Getting together with friends, particularly ones who don't live in our immediate vicinity, for various parties, bar hops, spontaneous activities, etc. now requires complex, sometimes elusive and often expensive babysitting services.
posted by The Gooch at 3:15 PM on January 21, 2008


To 2nd The Gooch in terms of practical, decades from now when you’re a drooling wreck in some bed somewhere, it’s not your buddies who are going to be there, it’s your kids and your grand kids.
Maybe if you’re lucky enough you will have close friends to look after you. On the other hand they might die before you.
I’ve spent a lot of time in nursing homes visiting (my relatives and other folks) and talking.
When I was a kid I remember an old woman telling me everyone she’d known had died and she was the last one alive who had graduated from this elementary school that isn’t there anymore. All her friends, family, etc. I think one great grandchild was alive, but they had moved away long ago.
About that time I decided I’d die fighting the Soviets (yeah, that plan went south in ‘91) or something. Didn’t work out.

Still, boring as it is from the outside, it’s amazing how your child can capture ALL of your attention. And there are some social benefits. I’m nowhere nearly as emotionaly nihilistic as I was and I’m far more interested in the future.
So it’s not just baby poo and a lack of social life - it’s a new or renewed but certainly reenergized interest in environmentalism, politics, financial security, education - and all ‘future’ related areas.
All of us have benefited from that shift in attention by parents in the past.
(Not that anyone else’s commitment to those things is less because they don’t have kids, but y'know, worked for me)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:58 PM on January 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


Okay, I finally had time to watch this.

No wonder she looked happy. First, she was in the pushing stage-so contractions themselves do not hurt at that point. If you watch the video as the baby's head slowly starts to slip out you will notice she shows relief in her face-because that is when one's hoohah quits feeling like it's on fire from the stretching. Once that head is born the hard part is OVER WITH.

(I have had three children, no epidurals, and the middle birth, no drugs whatsoever.)

Show me that same woman, that same birth, during the transition stage (right before pushing) and we will see how blissful she looks. ;-P
posted by konolia at 4:00 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Gooch: I think it's entirely a practical thing. First up, the new parents lack the time, energy, money & babysitting services to socialise as much, so they drift away from the old crowd. Simultaneously, they meet a new circle simply by virtue of being in the same places at the same times, and having the same new major interest in life. This new circle is drawn from the parents' group, the professional mothers on maternity leave, the creche crowd. If any more than about two of that circle manage to infiltrate the old one, suddenly the majority of talk is about rashes & vomit, and before long the older friends start finding that they have other engagements on the night of the dinner party, sorry, maybe next time. It's quite a vicious circle & before long there's this entire terrifying borg-like posse of one-tracked momzillas, who don't have all that much in common other than the fact they all live in the same neighbourhood & all their little ones are dropped off at the same creche every day.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:01 PM on January 21, 2008


(But yeah, some new parents turn it into some kind of weird cult thing. Talked to a guy who was a new papa and he kept going on and on I’d I’d keep saying “Yeah, I have kids too” and he’d tell me about the diapers and watching out for the soft spot and I’d keep saying “Yeah, uh, I have kids.” Some folks don’t do exuberance well.)
posted by Smedleyman at 4:03 PM on January 21, 2008


To 2nd The Gooch in terms of practical, decades from now when you’re a drooling wreck in some bed somewhere, it’s not your buddies who are going to be there, it’s your kids and your grand kids.

And if it turns out that I don't have kids & grandkids, it's not going to be my buddies, but one big fat hit of the purest heroin that will be there for me before I become a drooling wreck in a bed somewhere.

posted by UbuRoivas at 4:07 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I found it interesting that she gave birth nude. How common is that?
posted by delmoi at 4:51 PM on January 21, 2008


Miko, I didn't see that in your comments; I consistently find your comments fair, balanced, and nuanced. We're good. And I'm very interested in the questions and analysis you're bringing to the table.
posted by Melinika at 5:08 PM on January 21, 2008


"one big fat hit of the purest heroin that will be there for me before I become a drooling wreck in a bed somewhere."

Until that time, let me give you a piece of advice - fuck a lot of women. Listen to me, I got no reason to lie to you, don't make the same mistakes I made when I was young. Fuck a lotta women UbuRoivas, not just one woman, a lotta women.

(I can say what I want - I still got Nazi bullets in my ass)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:12 PM on January 21, 2008


That's a quote from somewhere, isn't it?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:32 PM on January 21, 2008


Oh, Little Miss Sunshine! I'd completely forgotten that one!
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:49 PM on January 21, 2008


acid freaking on the kitty - I didn't know there was such a thing as HypnoBirth classes but the muscles fighting process that you describe was explained to me by a midwife before labour as well, and just knowing that it works that way helped me tremendously. Best of luck when it's your time, go with the flow. :)
posted by dabitch at 1:15 AM on January 22, 2008


Just in case some other pregnant woman or future daddy reads this, seconding dabitch and acid freaking. I had a QUICK six hour labor, without a lot of serious pain, because I knew this info and used it. Fear lengthens labor, no doubt. No one other than partner, one nurse, doula and OB were allowed in the hospital room, no bright lights, and I moved around/got in the shower/sat on the toilet/generally did things my own way the entire time. It worked for me.
posted by pomegranate at 8:39 AM on January 22, 2008


With my wife expecting a baby in a month, I'm deeply deeply saddened at all of those on here who think this is disgusting. It's beautiful! What an amazing experience! I'm insanely jealous that I, as a male, will never get to experience what she is going through (and will go through). That video was so amazing.

But again, why the need to watch something you find disgusting, then posting on the blue about how disgusting it is? I dont respond in threads where I have nothing to add. Can someone explain this reflex? Why do people need to come sh!t on a thread?
posted by Dantien at 9:13 AM on January 22, 2008


My mom used to say that people who behave like that are jealous. ;)
posted by dabitch at 10:11 AM on January 22, 2008


I dont respond in threads where I have nothing to add. Can someone explain this reflex? Why do people need to come sh!t on a thread?

That's it. Gag the reflex.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:21 PM on January 22, 2008


Interesting thread, amazing video! While childbirth and pregnancy are not for me, it's a shame, because my mama dropped my 10 pound, 2 ounce Apgar score of 10 newborn ass out in under 4 hours. I'm pretty sure I could birth ponies.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:24 PM on January 22, 2008


I believe that you can get into such a place that the pain does become manageble, and the birth becomes easier. For both of my pregnancies I did the Bradley Method - deep breathing, unlike the "hee hee, hoo hoo" of Lamaze. I had a midwife deliver my first son - labor lasted all of four hours. No drugs. Though things happened too fast to really get into the Bradley (my first arrived a month early, I was eight centimeters dialated when I got to the hospital, so was in the hospital less than two hours before delivery), and yeah, it did hurt, it wasn't horrible.

My second son was a couple of days overdue when I got a leak in the amniotic fluid. The doctor told me I was having contractions I could not feel when she broke the water. Pain came three minutes apart after that, but I was able to use my deep breathing to control it. Three deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth, and the contraction was over. I got into such a zone, that I could barely speak up to tell my then husband to get the doctor because I'd felt the baby slide into the birth canal. No, I never felt the urge to push, so they did have to tell me when to do so, but it only took four or five pushes to birth him. Labor lasted (from what I could feel) only three hours, I had no drugs, he weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces, and although the doctor gave me an episiotomy (for his big head) I felt fantastic.

My sister-in-law felt rushed by her midwife with her second child. Her midwife had to get to a funeral, and was trying to hurry things along and even tried talking my brother-in-law into convincing her to get a c-section so it would go faster. Her labor was hard and upsetting. I believe Miko had the right idea - medically we've become so programmed that women are choosing C-sections for convenience sake, that pregnant women hear nothing but horror stories from other women, that the whole giving birth process has become just that - a process.
posted by annieb at 1:17 PM on January 22, 2008


delmoi, I'd say it's very common around here (as in Scandinavia). The hospital offers an easy to open soft cotton gown and tall soft socks but you get hot and sweaty and it's in the way and clothes just hurt and OMG SOCKS OFF! NOW! to paraphrase what I said during delivery. (in fact I still can't say "socks" without my man totally cracking up)
posted by dabitch at 2:47 AM on January 23, 2008


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