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".... The baby is closely confined in a warm dark prison of exquisite, neutral comfort.  Everything around him is of the same texture and at the same temperature as himself. ... there is no friction, no sensation, no change.  ... He has no need to breathe or to digest food, so he feels no sensations from within himself.  He can sense sound and movement, but muffled by his insulated liquid environment. ....

... But the baby is outgrowing his seed-bed. ....He must prepare for birth.

....You cannot see your baby turned, forced and molded by the muscular contractions which you feel as labor pains." ... readmore logo

The Business of Being Born

A splendid film about giving birth in the United States these days. for more on birth specific to the United States

The importance of place

Giving birth at home, in a midwife center, in a hospital, in water, outside in the garden 
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What is, in fact, the state of birth around the world? What do social anthropologists working in this field say?

"For decades, the World Health Organization, national ministries of health and philanthropic organizations have been engaged in the "upgrading" of perinatal services in developing regions. These efforts include the importation of high-tech obstetric technology and of technology-dependent obstetric procedures such as hospital deliveries, readmore logo

Benefits of Natural birth - for mother

"1.Quick recovery -The recovery from a natural vaginal birth is almost immediate. Generally, a mother can stand up and care for herself and her baby without assistance. Within days she can be attending to her family, taking care of other responsibilities and driving as usual. 2. Shorter hospital stays - If the birth was in a hospital, the mother can be discharged soon after the birth. This has financial benefits. 3. Vaginal births are cost-effective. 4. After a successful vaginal birth mothers feel empowered emotionally and enjoy a sense of accomplishment. 5. Vaginal birth has lower maternal mortality rates than caesarean birth. 6. There is no risk of complications in future births due to previous surgical damage. 7. No risk of post-operative infections or complications." Pregnancy and Giving Birth

Example of appropriate bio-medical intervention

Obstetric fistula is a side-effect of mismanaged labor that can be avoided through better health care of pregnant women, better education of non-hospital-based birth helpers, and if a prolonged obstructed labor does occur, is completely treatable. The WHO declared it "the single most dramatic aftermath of neglected childbirth" and that, when treated, allows women to resume a normal life. [view source]

Marshall, Anna, "After Obstetric Fistula: A Cured Patient Returns to Her Life" Anthropology News, March 2009, pg. 11, citing "Dead Women Walking" International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 99

Cultural differences in birth

by Brenda Lane

"In the United States, birth is often seen as a medical event that requires a hospital, obstetrician and an epidural. In contrast, about one third of the expectant mothers in the Netherlands give birth at home since childbirth is viewed as a natural, healthy event that generally does not require high-tech medical attention. These are two examples of how a woman's culture plays a significant role in her decisions about birth." go to

Oxford-based Cochrane Review of medical evidence on midwife-led versus other models of care for childbearing women

The review of midwife-led care covered midwives providing care antenatally, during labour and postnatally. This was compared with models of medical-led care and shared care, and identified 11 trials, involving 12,276 women. Midwife-led care was associated with several benefits for mothers and babies, and had no identified adverse effects. The main benefits were a reduction in the use of regional analgesia, with fewer episiotomies or instrumental births. readmore logo

Though I am loathe to subscribe to the modern trend for labeling everything as a syndrome or disease, I found Sheila Kitzinger's approach of describing many women's post-birth behavior as 'post-traumatic stress' compelling in her book "Birth Crisis". Kitzinger is a British anthropologist specializing in birth issues and I enjoyed her book Pregnancy and Childbirth when I was pregnant with our first child.


Our Bodies Our Babies: The Forgotten Women's Movement

Kitzinger wrote: In this absorbing book, Kerreen Reiger traces the history and politics of the Australian childbirth movement and shows how the concept of family-centred maternity care gradually emerged. While reaching out to individual women, we also have the responsibility to engage in a political movement which challenges the male control of women 's reproductive functions and the power of a medical system which is authoritarian and hierarchical, and which often ignores the findings of evidence-based research. A great deal of lip-service is paid to 'choice', but women find it hugely difficult to access the information which they need in order to be able to choose. For many pregnant women, the processes of getting information, exploring alternatives and negotiating what they want is like picking their way through a minefield.


Birth in Russia

"Doctors also believed that women's 'low level of culture' (kul'turnost) - ignorance and apathy - about one's health - was to blame for their poor health, frequent abortions, and difficult maternity experiences." Rivkin-Fish traces Russia's medicalization of childbearing to the Soviet emphasis on medical expertise and institutional authority beginning in the 1960s. Women's Health in Post-Soviet Russia: The Politics of Intervention (New Anthropologies of Europe) "impressively captures the complex predicaments on both sides." … The doctors, whose wages under the Soviet state were placed below manual laborers' and post-Soviet cuts in healthcare expenditures prohibited wage increases, target women for blame and demand to be treated as lone authorities (perhaps as a result of this sense of victimization) while women struggle to navigate a system that neglects their needs. Patients turn to bribes and 'gifts of thanks' or mobilizing personal relations in order to ensure better care. [view source]

book review by Joanna Mishtal, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, vol. 24, no.3, September 2010, pg.424.


from erziehungskunst

"Nowadays a delivery is evaluated by scientific experts according to criteria they themselves have developed. This leads to a readiness to assume malpractice when the individual circumstances do not align with those same scientific criteria." go to Erziehungskunst


by Catherine Pearson

"Obstetrical hypnosis has long existed in many forms, but the best-known version these days is the trademarked "HypnoBirthing" or "The Mongan Method." Now taught in more than 30 countries, the technique was developed by Marie Mongan, a former college dean from New Hampshire who claims to have used self-hypnosis to deliver all four of her children without anesthesia and without pain, some 60 years ago.

In subsequent years, Mongan went on to study hypnosis and wrote several books, including "HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method," which has become the central tome of Mongan's technique. By eliminating fear and tension, it claims, physical suffering does not have to be part of the birthing experience.

"We do not promise a pain-free or painless birth. We say easier, shorter, more comfortable," Mongan said. "But there are many, many who do birth painlessly. I was one of them. I never felt a smidgen of pain." go to the Huffington Post


No men at birth

by Brenda Lane

"Female relatives of the laboring woman attend the birth instead of the husband. Rather than being a rare cultural difference among birthing women, using female relatives at the birth instead of the husband is a common practice among many women in Arabic cultures as well as traditions of Pacific Islanders, ... Chinese, Filipinos, Indonesians, and Koreans."

"Women in parts of Russia view birth as a strictly medical event where social support during labor is unnecessary. ... The most common reasons for Russian women to decline support during labor did so because they felt that childbirth was a private experience and that they were afraid for their husbands." see article


Placenta uses in China

by Ember Swift

"First of all, last night I finally had a conversation with my mother-in-law about the placenta.

You see, I have been researching the incredible benefits of keeping one's placenta after birth. . . . In fact, in traditional Chinese medicine, this was something that was always done. The placenta was dried, ground into a powder, and then was made into Chinese medicine that was then fed back to the mother, postpartum. It's been proven to help with PPD as well as the overall recovery times for one's energy and physical healing. I've also heard of people chopping it up like meat and frying it in a stirfry. This, of course, makes this vegetarian want to hurl and so I couldn't imagine going that route. I'm open to taking a tasteless capsule a day, however, especially if it will help my body (and spirit) recover.

ember swift

My doctor agreed to let us have and take the placenta, but swept aside the research that it was good for you. It's funny how Chinese medical professionals are so quick to follow in the footsteps of the West sometimes and disregard the traditional wisdom that came from this very land! I see that attitude related to Western vs. Chinese medicine here by many Chinese people of all walks of life. It seems many have simply have lost faith in the old ways and place more value on the scientific Western studies. In any case, at least she didn't fight me on this request. see

Interested in more? Here are other articles:
yoga Wochenbett
water birth Russia
Chinese medicine China
bonding birth

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