There is a pain - so utter -/It swallows substance up -
March 18, 2018 9:42 AM   Subscribe

This Longest Shortest Time episode explores the history of twilight sleep in labor and delivery. Host Andrea Silenzi discusses why women advocated for twilight sleep and what happened to change their minds with author Randi Hutter Epstein. [Heads up: traumatic birth stuff.]

The episode explores first wave feminists push back against a medical community that did not listen to them and believed that pain during childbirth was a moral question.

During the episode Silenzi imagines what it would be like if doctors were ignoring women’s pain and refusing to offer available (but dangerous) pain management. Might she have joined the first-wavers in advocating for Twilight Sleep?

Silenzi does not need to stretch her imagination too far. Today, as previously discussed on MetaFilter, maternal death rates are alarmingly high in the United States, especially for women of color.

Serena Williams recounted being ignored by her medical team earlier this year.

Author Abby Noman explores the medical community ignoring women’s pain in her book Ask Me about My Uterus.


Previously from AskMetafilter on twilight sleep

Part 1 of Vice video documentary on scopolamine referred to in the Longest Shortest Time episode (autoplay video)
posted by CMcG (7 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't have experience with childbirth to comment on the other articles, but that link discussing "Ask Me About My Uterus" exactly mirrors my experiences with pain and abdominal health issues. I have (another) specialist appt. coming up in September and while I'm (again) hopeful, I have no doubt it will be more of the same shrugging.
posted by A hidden well at 10:38 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I just returned from Mexico and we had the burundanga flowering plant, source of scopolomine, in the courtyard of where we stayed.
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:14 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


When (usu. white, male) doctors ignore your pain/all the words coming out of your mouth, drop the word 'malpractice' into the conversation. That usually makes them perk up and pay attention...real quick.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:15 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I cannot watch this, it is a huge trigger for the worst experience of my life. I was an unwed mother in a Catholic inner city hospital in 1968, one of the few white women at their clinic. I got the same bad care as was/is standard for women of color. I did comment on the earlier thread linked here, but have to say it again.

I was in labor for hours, and it was painful, then at the end they gave me scopolamine and I did not know anything for hours later. I think I am allergic, had a bad reaction. It was only when I got my medical records years later, searching for my son who had been given up for adoption, that I learned about the scopolamine and that my child was a forceps delivery. I was not told anything about labor and delivery nor was I consulted about anything they did to me or my child. I do not know what time he was born but I was out for a long time.

I went on to have three more children in a decent suburban hospital with little or no medications and no complications. The pain was less than the traumatized medicated first birth. When I see the word "Scopolamine" my blood runs cold.
posted by mermayd at 1:30 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]


I’m so sorry that happened to you mermayd. I will ask the mods if they will add a trigger warning for traumatic labor experience.
posted by CMcG at 1:55 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the kind words and warning added. This stuff needs to be known though, as women's history and to keep the abuses of the past from coming back or continuing, as in the case of continued bad health care for women of color.

I really did not know what had happened to me in labor and delivery, still don't know the half of it. I was misdiagnosed with a psychiatric disorder and moved to that floor rather than maternity, nobody explained this to me either. Since I had signed papers for my child to go into foster care I was not allowed to see him in the hospital again either. And for years I thought it was all my fault.
posted by mermayd at 4:10 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I just returned from Mexico and we had the burundanga flowering plant, source of scopolomine, in the courtyard of where we stayed.

I have one in may back yard. They're pretty common as ornamentals. Related datura grows wild all over the place in the southwest. They are nightshade family plants, and sources of the active substance. Every now and then, there are local news stories about kids getting seriously fucked up or even dying ingesting the plant in an attempt to get high.

I have a killer garden in the back yard, with burundanga (brugmansia) in one corner, castor bean (ricinus) in the other, and oleander along the sides. Who knows what else. Southern California is full of dangerous plants.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:14 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


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