A Peek Inside Being Pregnant in America

While I plan on putting this up at my other blog, I decided to post this here as well as it's a subject most aren't aware of unless they go through the experience directly or indirectly. As regular readers know, Mr. N and I are pregnant, expecting our first baby next spring. I thought the early stage symptoms of fatigue and nausea were stressful. Little did I know, dealing with the medical system was going to add its own stress.

From the start, we have been adamant in our decisions to not vaccinate the baby, to bypass genetic testing, to have a natural delivery and unless it is medically warranted, to forgo any medical intervention and very recently, to forgo any additional ultrasounds.

So far, while our decisions have been respected, our choices have not been met without a fight, without fear being put into our faces and with all of these supposed "studies". While they claim it's all about empowering ME, it's really about covering their asses (meaning they won't want me to sue them).

To begin with, these "studies" they cite have not been shown to me, despite my asking to see:
1) The actual results.
2) Who was behind the study.
3) Who performed the study.
4) Who funded the study.

Just this past week, we had a Doppler. For those not familiar with the procedure, it's a little hand held device that looks like a microphone attached to a Walkman. It sends sound waves into the womb, into the amniotic sac, to detect heart rate. Prior to this, we had had two ultrasounds.

With the first ultrasound, the baby was about the size of a pea, so movement was really not noticeable. However, with the second ultrasound, what began with the image of a calm little fetus, gently sucking, suddenly took an interesting change. After a few moments of sending the sound wave signals into my uterus, our calm little baby began to thrash violently. It kicked, punched and even flipped from its back to its side and back again. It caught me off guard.

"Is that normal?" I asked.

The midwife assured me that yes, it was indeed normal as they are quite active.

"Yes," I said, "But she seems to be bothered by the ultrasound."

Oh no need to worry. She hardly feels a thing. She's safe and protected in there.

Hardly feels a thing?

Wrong. I found studies (PLURAL) that claim otherwise. In one study, scientists mimicked the sound alone and determined that when ultrasound waves are passed into the womb, the sound decibel is equal to that of a subway train. That's a very loud sound to an adult. Imagine what that can do to a developing baby.

Not only is the sound terribly loud, but the heat coming from these ultrasound machines raises the heat in the amniotic sac and can damage to developing tissue. The FDA even issued this following warning in 2004: "Ultrasound is a form of energy -- and even at low levels, laboratory studies have found it can produce physical effects in tissue, such as jarring vibrations and a rise in temperature." (This despite their allowance of an 8 FOLD increase in power output, to which so far no tests have been done to test for any long-term adverse effects.)

Unfuckingbelievable. And yet, not really given this is western capitalism at work.

As any pregnant woman will tell you, we are warned by the VERY SAME MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS WHO GIVE US THESE ULTRASOUNDS against exposing ourselves to things that raise body temperature, such as sauna's and hot tubs. Even having a fever over 100 for any extended period of time is supposed to be brought down as soon as possible to avoid potentially harming the growing baby. Again, these very same medical "professionals" use ultrasound technology regularly throughout the pregnancy, particularly in the very critical, early stages of fetal development?

I N S A N E.

With this Doppler we had this past week (which I wasn't aware was along the lines of the same technology as ultrasounds), I noticed the same pattern as we experienced with the previous ultrasound. What began at first as nothing but a strong, solid, precious little heartbeat took a different turn. Again, within moments, we heard this "BAM BAM BAM" sound as though the baby were violently kicking.

"Oh isn't that cute? It sounds like she's hiccuping!" the midwife said.

"Hiccup?!" I said. "That sounded more like a kick to me." (And HELLO!? "CUTE"??? I don't THINK so.)

Well the kicking only continued for the next few moments so I said, "Enough! I don't think she likes this!" and pushed the thing away from me. Daddy to be and I discussed this on the way home and our parental instincts were both on the same page: She doesn't like these ultrasound procedures. We both overwhelmingly, strongly just KNEW and KNOW this.

So..no more ultrasounds or dopplers...

Which I relayed to my doctor's office the next day while also stating we would not be doing the 20 week ultrasound (which checks for abnormalities, not to mention it is an HOUR LONG PROCEDURE).

60 minutes of hell when our baby has made it clear after just a minute or two she does NOT like the crap coming out of these "advances in medical science". NO FUCKING WAY. (FMI see this link and this link on ultrasound technology and its risks. They're powerful articles and I was absolutely horrifed, as was Mr. N, after reading them. I can only pray that we haven't unknowingly harmed our baby through the god damn ignorance of medical "professionals". I am remaining positive that our little miracle is well and thriving. I don't often ask for prayers, but I am now. Any like-minded thoughts sent our baby's way is very much appreciated!)

Well, within an hour, the phone rang. It was the midwife who ordered the test. She just wanted to make sure I was making an "educated" decision. Yes we are. Question is, are you?

After making attempts to somehow "justify" our decision, I finally thought 'I don't need to justify SHIT to these people' so I said: "I'm done discussing this. Our decision is made." I thought the conversation was over. I was wrong.

The conversation quickly turned into me needing to be "open" to such testing if I haven't delivered by week 38 or 40. Apparently my chances of delivering a stillborn rise significantly if I go past this time given my "maternal age" (a term i am SO FUCKING SICK OF HEARING). Again, I asked for the stats and again, she didn't "know them off the top of " her head. So get them and present them to me, I said. She said she will. She did mention it is probably something like a jump from 1 in 1000 births to 3 in 1000 births. So, statistically that is a threefold jump even though the chances are so overwhelmingly significantly low. Yes, she agreed with that.


(I decided to do my OWN research on the subject and found that yes, the jump, while being 2-3 times higher in women over 35, is still overwhelmingly small. In fact, you see the majority of this jump in more "deprived" areas where medical care isn't routine. So statistically, I have about the same chance of delivering a NORMAL HEALTHY baby without having to worry about the stillborn issue as ANY OTHER WOMEN UNDER 35.)

Again, all of this is to "educate" me.


Then there's the whole vaccination debate. While we don't have to "worry" about that much with this particular clinic (we've found a pediatrician who is respectful of parent's decision to not vaccinate, which is a growing trend even in our neck of the woods--a relief for certain) in that the baby will only have just the one interaction w/them and that is at birth, we've still had to undergo questioning as well as their "opinions" on the matter. Hospital policy (aka standard procedure) says at birth, newborns will receive (unless parents say otherwise which believe you me we will!) the hepatitis b vaccination, along with an injection of vitamin k as well as an eye treatment of an antibiotic cream. We're saying no to all three, the last two ONLY being allowed if, again, it is medically warranted. (You find yourself saying that term a lot when you're a parent-to-be who thinks like us). The vitamin K injection is given in case (hospital speak for "cover our ass") the baby experiences injury/bleeding. Newborn baby bodies don't clot well during the first hours. I asked the midwife if the hospital provides the oral dosage of vitamin K, which after doing my own research, I learned was the best, most obvious, most effective means of providing this vitamin. Doing so in a shot in muscle tissue doesn't work well and has in fact been linked with newborn jaundice, a benign condition (a ridiculous term considering no babies have ever been asked "did this skin yellowing cause you any pain or discomfort?"). Midwife said "No, the hospital only injects it via a needle."

"Why?" I asked.

"That's just the way it's done."

"Yes," I continued. "But I read where oral injection is the most beneficial and doesn't have the risks or side-effects."

She couldn't disagree with me. FMI on Vitamin K injections, check out this link. I also learned that the first breastmilk provides an ample supply of vitamin K. Since I plan on starting to breasfeed immediately upon delivery, I think she will be ok. Think the midwife offered me this information? Nope. I had to inform her of my awareness of this. She confirmed this fact. Sigh.

Nature knows what she's doing, doesn't she? Miraculous and beautiful.

Then there's the hepatitis B vaccine insanity.

"Why on EARTH would we give our baby this vaccine when it is only caught through the sharing of bodily fluids, usually through sex and sharing of needles?" Mr. N boldly spoke up.

The midwife could only shake her head in agreement, but then went on to say the following rather haunting statement:

"Their idea is that they will catch everyone at birth when they're in the hospital setting and in that way, wipe out hepatitis B altogether."

Holy crap. "Catch" everyone? As though babies are cattle to these "they" folks. Oh wait, you and I are so why not babies, too?

I digress.

"But there has never been any solid evidence to show that vaccines of ANY kind actually work AT reducing or eliminating disease," I pointed out.

As a medical professional, she had nothing to say to that.

As far as the antibiotic eye-ointment, which is used, again "in case" of an eye infection which can happen as baby goes through the womb and comes in contact with my bodily fluid and bacteria. Ok, I thought, I can be open to that possibility occurring and need for such a cream. However, Mr. N and I once again used the magical term (drum roll please): Only if "medically warranted."

I swear to you all, we have spent MORE TIME talking about what COULD go wrong and defending our positions than we have about actually talking about what is going RIGHT. There has been next to no discussion about my health (which at this point is excellent), about my nutrition (very good), about exercise (I'm doing 45 minutes of prenatal yoga 3 days a week, plus walking and dancing, doing some hand weights and modified core training on my yoga ball on occasion). And...Not ONCE has anyone asked how I FEEL emotionally and mentally about being pregnant, delivery and being a mother. And my goodness there are a host of studies that show all of these factors are FAR MORE IMPORTANT than maternal age alone.

Thankfully I had the knowledge to know about doula's. We're interviewing our (potential) doula next week. She's from The Netherlands and gave birth to two of her children at home, without medical intervention. Talking with her over the phone, she said giving birth here in the States is a totally different experience than it is in The Netherlands (although sadly, she said that is changing as things become more corporate/westernized/fear-based). In dutchland, birth is viewed as it should be: A natural event. Fear isn't put into the minds of the birthing mothers as the people over there know this only adds to the stress mothers can experience. That was the one big difference, she said. Over here, pregnancy and delivery is to be feared. In The Netherlands, pregnancy and delivery is not something that is feared. Medical intervention is only used when, again, medically warranted. She sounds just awesome and just what I'm looking for. (And even my midwife said she is wonderful.) She will be my sounding board (along with Mr. N) during my delivery, when I will be completely immersed and absorbed in birthing this beautiful little baby I am carrying.


Zwerver said...

When I told my OB's office recently that I didn't want the standard 1st tri ultrasound that they do on everyone (whether or NOT it's indicated or there is a problem), they first tried to tell me that I couldn't get prenatal care there unless I had it!

Luckily I got past the phone guard and onto a nurse, who okay'd it, but only after she got permission from one of the OBs....to skip a test that is really just for convenience!

Good luck as you continue your pg.

Nina said...

So much for freedom of choice w/our medical procedures, huh? Unbelieve the nurse would only approve of YOUR decision after receiving permission from the supposed "experts" (who I've found don't know squat about the tests they perform on pregnant women). I wonder if they'll bring this up again when you're 20 weeks. I had a girlfriend tell me, given my beliefs and wishes, to be prepared to fight a bit of a battle. I had one of the midwives (CNM) tell me at my last visit perhaps I should have a home delivery with a midwife. This was suggested only because I requested a fetoscope be used during delivery instead of the standard fare of machines and the like.

Give me a break. It's MY body, MY baby, MY pregnancy and MY delivery. They always say "we will respect your choices" but only after I have to listen to their nazi-imposed medical speak.

Thanks for stopping in and posting of your experience.