Thursday, July 26, 2012

An Essay

 This is an Periodical I wrote for an assignment.  Having an interest in Midwifery~ I really enjoyed my research and writing it. ~Shiloh

Child-Birthing from the 16 Century to Today
Could you imagine living in a time where a man was burned at the stake for posing as a midwife?  Well, in the sixteenth-century a male physician was actually put to death by burning for pretending to be a female midwife.  Historically birth before the 1900’s took place within the care and comfort of home.  It was a women’s affair where a midwife, mothers and sisters attended the arrival of a new child into the world.  Since the 1900’s the way we view birth has drastically changed—for the good and the bad.  The information provided in this Periodical was found in The Birth Book, by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N. The Birth Book provides an excellent resource for everything you need to know about child-birthing.

By the year 1900, starting in Europe and eventually making its way to America, birth in hospitals became a fashion.  It was fashionable to have your baby in the hospital under a physician rather than to birth at home with a midwife.  Within 40 years, having your baby at the hospital became the standard and only those who couldn’t afford hospital births continued to labor at home.  Eventually, with a shot of morphine, at the start of labor, and a whiff of chloroform or ether, women were able to at last experience pain free laboring; but this caused a major shift in birthing.  Morphine simply stopped the pain whereas the chloroform or ether put the women to sleep during their babies’ births.  This reduced the mother from being in complete control of her birthing experience to becoming a semi-conscious patient.  Birth was never to be this way.  The process of birth is completely natural and a woman’s body is created to birth.  With these new additions birthing was now viewed as a “pathological process” which always required medical intervention.

In the early 1970’s the offspring of the “Roaring Sixties” was ready and willing to challenge authority in every area including birth.  Soon it became voguish to have your baby naturally, without painkillers, and such.  But as all this went on Cesarean births rose from 5% of all births to 25-30%[1] in just 70 years. This trend continued until present day where 50% of American babies are being taken by Cesarean[2].  Why is this?  It is because Cesareans have also changed child-birthing.  Instead of having to wait around for the arrival of a new baby, mothers are able to quickly schedule their due-dates and have their desired results on their desired day.

Since the beginning of time until today, birthing has changed a lot.  Some things have changed for the better and some for the worse.  First, science has diminished many of the old wives tales and superstitions surrounding birthing. Technology has also brought good changes such as being able to save both babies’ lives and mothers’ lives that otherwise would have perished without necessary equipment. In addition, Cesareans have often proven to be crucial in the lives of untold birthing experiences.  But all of this good has come at a price…since the 1900’s, the machines, the falling-off of midwives, and the practicing of time management by Cesarean births these have turned the simple and natural process of birth as it is supposed to be into a scientific experience to be conducted only under the guidance of “professionals”.

It is hard to look at the whole birthing profession of today and imagine that only 400 years ago a man could be burned at the stake for meddling in a strictly woman’s affair, but after reading through sections of The Birth Book, by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N. I have been able to better understand my chosen research paper topic, “Midwifery”, as I prepare to learn more and decide for myself what I think about natural child-birthing.

[1] The Birth Book, by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N. Chapter 2, page 24.
[2] The Business of Being Born Documentary
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Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this; I enjoyed reading it. :) Mary Beth

Shelbi said...

This was very interesting--thanks for posting!

I'm the oldest of 8 kids and my mom chose to have natural births in a birthing center, with a midwife, with the last 5 children. When my youngest sister was born on 3-16-12, she was breech with the umbilical chord wrapped around her neck. She was delivered in the hospital by emergency C-section. If we lived in the times before it was acceptable for women to seek medical help from physicians, in a hospital, during childbirth, she probably wouldn't have lived. Even though my mom is totally into all natural childbirth and hated the C-section, it made our whole family thankful for the skilled surgeons who did their job so quickly and efficiently, and now we have a beautiful, chunky Baby Serenity. ;)

I think it's neat you're interested in becoming a midwife and I can't wait to hear more about your journey!

Shelbi M.