Misogyny and birth - Page 4 - Mothering Forums
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#91 of 113 Old 11-27-2006, 10:23 AM
 
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It’s so dreadfully sad and enfuriating to hear these stories of open disrespect and downright abuse.

With Obstetrics, though, the misogyny is so deeply engrained in the entire curriculum and so subconscious that its not just the doctors that are outwardly abusive and patronising that are the problem.

There are many who come across as warm, caring and respectful, but who still practice routine episiotomy and c-sections for dubious reasons, that will fear-monger, coerce and manipulate and then tell lies to cover their arses.

Now, if a doctor is going to cut me for no good reason I want some way of telling that this is going to happen. I want rudeness and disrespect at my first visit, I want to see horns and maybe a tail, so that I will KNOW to seek out another care-provider.

But in most cases it's not like this, it’s the doctors with the great bed-side manners that make the over-medicalisation of childbirth at the expense of the mother’s physical and psychological health an unstoppable phenomenon on an international level, because even if their births are far from ideal, women refuse to find fault with the care their OBs have given them and in many instances cover up for them and recommend them to their friends. Because they are such “a great guy/lady” they can get away with a hell of a lot. Stockholm syndrome, bigtime.

And I don’t actually think these regular OBs that I’m describing are bad people, they are just blinded by their training and the system they are working in, none of their patients complain so for them all’s well with the world and they never feel the need for a little introspection.
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#92 of 113 Old 11-27-2006, 02:01 PM
 
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First, I'd like to say that I'm glad to see these long stories being shared. I hope there is a lot of healing taking place. Also, I want to add that I think this problem is attached to mysogyny, but not necessarily solely guided by that. Obviously being ignored in the hospital and mistreated during birth is a throwback to "hysteria" being a mental disease suffered by women. If any of you have ever read the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," you will understand me better. Not long ago, women who were too strong-willed or outspoken were considered to have a problem and treated by extensive bedrest, hysterectomy surgery, and commitment to mental institutions. Another aspect of pregnancy is this connection to "disability." For some reason, having a baby inside you means you revert to being a minor yourself. I was interested in taking prenatal yoga or perhaps a prenatal water class, but opted against it because both things would cause me to need a doctor's note. A doctor's note!?! One woman was open-minded enough to allow a midwife's note instead, but I was outraged by the very idea. I think I know if I'm healthy enough to participate in this type of activity. I think I am capable of taking precautions against hurting myself or sending myself into labor. Outrageous!

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#93 of 113 Old 11-28-2006, 12:12 AM
 
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First, I want to say that I am crying reading some of your stories, and that mine doesn't seem so bad...but still, a sh!tty experience:

Misogyny...it started when we were TTC. We had been at it for about a year, and no pregnancy. I had just started to see a midwife, with a backup doc. This should have been the first red flag. She seemed nice/supportive enough. She was very warm, spent a long time during each visit...Then I had to see the backup doc, apparently, because he would be better able to help me with my year of infertility. When I sat down with him, I brought a year worth of cycle charts. I am pretty anal retentive...everything color coded. From all of my self-research, it was CLEAR that ovulation happened every month, but later than the norm. I ovulated on about day 30 or 35, with a 15 day luteal phase.
Misogyny: The doctor took a glance at my charts (if that much), and lectured me on the ineffectiveness of taking one's temp and charting cervical fluid...because it's really "more than a layperson can handle." He also told me that I was not ovulating because nothing happened on day 14.
He then told me that I needed a panel of bloodtests, and that we would start clomid when everything came back. I tried to back up my information and research. The midwife just sat there...not saying anything. All I thought was, "Please, dear woman...say something...are you a midwife...? Do you know ANYTHING about your own body?"
And of course, the answer was, no. And if she did, she didn't say anthing because he was her backup, and cash cow.
So, one MRI later (the doc was CONVINCED I had a pituitary tumor...which of course, I don't), and lots of heartache...we found out that my husband had next to no living sperm. Nice.
And of course, because I wasn't so knowledgeable at the time, I didn't leave the practice. Thanks to them, I had my first c-section there...which I was railroaded into (another long story that I just can't get into). The best part:
my medical records say that I opted for the c-section.

Thank you for this thread. I hope that we all have some healing through it.
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#94 of 113 Old 11-28-2006, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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For some reason, having a baby inside you means you revert to being a minor yourself. I was interested in taking prenatal yoga or perhaps a prenatal water class, but opted against it because both things would cause me to need a doctor's note. A doctor's note!?! One woman was open-minded enough to allow a midwife's note instead, but I was outraged by the very idea. I think I know if I'm healthy enough to participate in this type of activity. I think I am capable of taking precautions against hurting myself or sending myself into labor. Outrageous!
Really?!? I've never heard of such a thing--that's insane. I took a prenatal yoga class, and certainly wasn't required to bring a note (although I did get lots of kudos from the instructor for planning an out-of-hospital birth).

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The best part:
my medical records say that I opted for the c-section.
That is just so, so wrong. I'm sorry.
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#95 of 113 Old 11-28-2006, 02:38 PM
 
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That is just so, so wrong. I'm sorry.
What really gets to me is that this is at least the tenth case of this I've heard about. Many sections are pushed (or forced) on women, then put down in the records as patient choice.

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#96 of 113 Old 11-28-2006, 03:56 PM
 
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What really gets to me is that this is at least the tenth case of this I've heard about. Many sections are pushed (or forced) on women, then put down in the records as patient choice.
Exactly...my records read, "elective" in the area stating the reason for the section.
Ok...so ummm, doc and medwife calling me at home the night before and telling me the "grave consequences" of me not having a c section, with me crying on the phone and trying to delay....THAT's considered "elective?"

And by the way, my too big baby was 8 lbs, 15 oz, long and skinny, small head...not the 10 lbs estimated!
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#97 of 113 Old 11-28-2006, 06:01 PM
 
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What really gets to me is that this is at least the tenth case of this I've heard about. Many sections are pushed (or forced) on women, then put down in the records as patient choice.
: - that'd be my experience! Again, the "huge" baby my ob warned me of ended up being bigger than some, but certainly not the gigantic one they made him out to seem. And did I mention my ob was a woman? Most of the misogyny I faced was always at the hand of women and the males that I encountered were much more supportive and helpful.
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#98 of 113 Old 11-30-2006, 02:41 PM
 
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It is an eye-opening and vivid description about how male medical "experts" have taken the authority and knowledge of child-rearing away from women and put it into their own "expert" hands.
I have been saying this about not only male ob/gyns, but about Skinner and Piaget for years.

Piaget was a Swiss (land-locked country?) marine biologist whose observations of children involved his own children done over the period of two weeks. I assume his wife or governess took care of them the rest of the seventeen years, fifty weeks.
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#99 of 113 Old 11-30-2006, 05:23 PM
 
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First a big to everyone who posted their stories. It's hard to come out and say what has happened to us, especially if you're saying it for the first time. It's also sometimes difficult to acknowledge that what happened to us is misogyny, it's wrong, it shouldn't have happened, and it's NOT OUR FAULT.

I don't want to go into my whole birth story here, but I'll recap some of the more relevant highlights:

-Met with an old friend at 33wks, to talk about life. His wife had a baby about 18mos ago. At the close of the conversation, he advises me, "Hey, don't be a hero. Take the drugs. Seriously."

-U/S at 39wks when I went to the hospital in a panic for decreased fetal movement; the u/s tech speculated out loud that the baby looked like he weighed 11 pounds and then proceeded to tell us about her 3rd degree tear and 75 stitches with her first baby. "you better hope you get a section, girl! labor sucks!"

-Telling the L&D nurse during my induction that I wanted to be informed every time she turned up the pitocin drip, to which her response was to turn the machine's indicator lights away from me. I mean, the whole conversation started because I told her I didn't want her to turn it up at all ... she says ok, well the Doc told me to, so let me just do this one little thing here *beep beep beep* and I'll go ask the doc if it's ok to let you go at this level. Of course, when she left, I asked DH to tell me what the number was on the drip indicator, and of course she had turned it up already.

-While trying to have the first of an eventual three epis/spinals, my field of vision went blurry, i got dizzy, my heart rate soared, and I could hear my pulse in my ears. I reported all these things to the anesthesiologist, who said nothing and continued pushing the needle. Then I heard an alarm go off behind me. I said, "what's that? what IS that?" and the same L&D nurse said, "don't worry about that, honey, it's just the machine that tells the doctors what's happening".

-the MW who caught my ds yanked on the cord to deliver my placenta. at least she showed it to me. and at least i was nursing ds at the time.

-I was railroaded and bullied into signing the consent form for circ. I told them numerous times during my hospital stay that I would not be consenting to circ, and that if my husband were to sign the consent form that would be the only way they could do it. They waited until they knew he was gone for a few hours, until I was at the height of postpartum hormones and out of my MIND on percocet, to come round and tell me it was the last thing they needed to do before they could sign off on my release, it's really no big deal, etc etc etc. That's still my biggest regret.

And I had it WAY better than most. The efm never picked up my contractions, which is why they kept pushing the pit level higher and higher even though I kept telling them, no, you're wrong, I'm CONTRACTING, I swear ... I was extremely lucky to have had my dh there with me, keeping me within myself enough to push ds out instead of giving up and taking the section, which is sooo what they wanted me to do. Oh, and I was a screamer ... and the one L&D nurse who tried to shut me up, let me tell you, she got an earful of the highest order of profane blasphemy. I'm not sure she even knew those words COULD go together.
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#100 of 113 Old 11-30-2006, 06:09 PM
 
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here's a great ob quote (from that ob board, i'm having fun being p'd off at them right now.
"Just an observation, we are talking about Home Deliveries.

And, as you know, in my opinion those are for Pizzas only. "
There is an OB in my area who has that as a bumpersticker on his car.
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#101 of 113 Old 11-30-2006, 06:36 PM
 
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here's a great ob quote (from that ob board, i'm having fun being p'd off at them right now.
"Just an observation, we are talking about Home Deliveries.

And, as you know, in my opinion those are for Pizzas only. "
You know, this made me : when I first read it, but now that I've read the "delivery" thread, I actually agree with this statement. Only it's incomplete, the full quote should be:

Just an observation, we are talking about Home Deliveries.
And, as you know, in my opinion those are for Pizzas only,
Babies should arrive at home via BIRTH.
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#102 of 113 Old 12-02-2006, 03:04 AM
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I couldn't read this thread and not reply. *hugs* and <3 for all of you who have suffered at the hands of misogyny.

Please don't discount your experiences as "not that bad". Some people may have more horrifying experiences than others, but any kind of behavior that degrades, physically or emotionally abuses, or purposely dismisses the legitimate concerns of an pregnant/laboring/post-partum mother, is still intolerable and unacceptable.

I think a lot of this behavior is allowed to continue because many woman are told it's "not that bad". They end up believing it, and don't even realize they have suffered abuse. They feel awful about it, harbor deep emotional scars over it, but feel completely incapable of expressing it or healing it, because to be so traumatized over something considered so status quo, they must be over-emotional, hormonal, or any other demoralizing adjective assigned to disenfranchised women, deprived of their human right to a natural, normal, happy, harmonious pregnancy and birth.

*climbs off the soapbox* sorry about that. Once I get going it's hard to stop
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#103 of 113 Old 12-02-2006, 04:46 AM
 
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I couldn't read this thread and not reply. *hugs* and <3 for all of you who have suffered at the hands of misogyny.

Please don't discount your experiences as "not that bad". Some people may have more horrifying experiences than others, but any kind of behavior that degrades, physically or emotionally abuses, or purposely dismisses the legitimate concerns of an pregnant/laboring/post-partum mother, is still intolerable and unacceptable.

I think a lot of this behavior is allowed to continue because many woman are told it's "not that bad". They end up believing it, and don't even realize they have suffered abuse. They feel awful about it, harbor deep emotional scars over it, but feel completely incapable of expressing it or healing it, because to be so traumatized over something considered so status quo, they must be over-emotional, hormonal, or any other demoralizing adjective assigned to disenfranchised women, deprived of their human right to a natural, normal, happy, harmonious pregnancy and birth.

*climbs off the soapbox* sorry about that. Once I get going it's hard to stop
Thank you for saying that.
And it is so true. It took a long time for me to realize exactly how wrong it all was. I was told to just be happy I had a healthy baby. But the pain did not go away.

It makes me so sad to see so many other women being treated this way at a time that should be sacred. It is truly shameful.

Mama to my spirited J, and L, my homebirth: baby especially DTaP, MMR (family vax injuries)
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#104 of 113 Old 12-02-2006, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Please don't discount your experiences as "not that bad". Some people may have more horrifying experiences than others, but any kind of behavior that degrades, physically or emotionally abuses, or purposely dismisses the legitimate concerns of an pregnant/laboring/post-partum mother, is still intolerable and unacceptable.
Ah, yes, the "at least you have a healthy baby" approach...if that ain't misogyny, I don't know what is. Remember, YOUR experience doesn't count at all...only the baby matters. :
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#105 of 113 Old 12-02-2006, 11:52 AM
 
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OMG, I HATE being told "at least you have a healthy baby"! Like it doesn't matter WHAT happens to you as long as your child is reasonably healthy in the end.

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#106 of 113 Old 12-02-2006, 12:03 PM
 
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Condescension (sp?) is the main issue I dealt with. My OB gave me the most rudimentary explainations and answers to my questions, often repeating information to me that I had just expressed my knowledge and understanding of in our conversation. It was like he wasn't even listening to me thoughts or concerns, just honing in on one word that I had used in order to present to me a stock answer that he had ready. When I started bringing up my desires for the birth, he was always smiling and nodding and supportive, but followed all that with "unless something goes terribly wrong" or "as long as that is still safe" Over all, he always spoke to me in a sing-songy voice like I was a preschooler.
I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. Fortunately, my doctor spent a lot of time with me, and I felt very comforted. However, your post did remind me of the fact that I was sent a breastfeeding coach (in the hospital) who had never even had a child! I actually kind of felt sorry for her because I could tell she was nervous about the whole thing. We know how men feel about women medical professionals at all, much less dealing with something so specific to your own sex. I just feel that if they are going to have breastfeeding coaches who have never done so themselves they really need a lot of training in hands-on coaching because I'd already taken the class and read the articles and books myself!

Also, circa 1999 the American Medical Association did an in-house study, so to speak, which concluded that doctors are biased against women and minorities. Some were unaware of their bias, and some flat-out admitted it, saying that they felt women were too emtional and minorities would not follow-up with their care given. Those were, in general, the opinions expressed. And, it was the AMA reporting on their own members! I don't have time to find the study right now, nor write further on this topic, but it was no surprise to me. I just happened to have a good OB/GYN at the time of my pregnancy. I'll try to write more later...
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#107 of 113 Old 12-02-2006, 03:50 PM
 
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You may be interested in "misconception" by naomi wolf
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#108 of 113 Old 12-02-2006, 05:53 PM
 
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The worst misogyny I experienced during my first birth oddly enough came from a female nurse who'd obviously been a victim of it herself. She was mean to me the entire time, telling my family that I was faking my pain and I "couldn't be in that much pain, I've had three kids and I didn't act like that, etc..." When it came time for me to push, she threw my right leg back and injured my spine. When we moved to Arizona and I found a new chiropractor, they X-rayed me and found that I had a slipped disk that was causing me excruciating pain. That injury was not present until that nurse jammed my leg back. I'm guessing that nurse had just been around so many nasty, careless doctors that she had become numb to the emotions and feelings of real people. I will never forget how cruel she was to me and my family. My OB at that time was "ok" but my ideas about childbirth and the power of women's bodies are radically different from his. And maybe this is a sexist thing of me to say, but I don't think men have any place in the birthing process other than the fathers of the babies who are there to support the moms. Men will never be pregnant, men will never experience labor. I don't care how many books you read and how many hours of classes you've taken in med school- men will NEVER understand pregnancy and birth the way I feel is necessary to be so intimately involved with it. My 2 cents.
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#109 of 113 Old 12-02-2006, 06:30 PM
 
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And maybe this is a sexist thing of me to say, but I don't think men have any place in the birthing process other than the fathers of the babies who are there to support the moms. Men will never be pregnant, men will never experience labor. I don't care how many books you read and how many hours of classes you've taken in med school- men will NEVER understand pregnancy and birth the way I feel is necessary to be so intimately involved with it. My 2 cents.
I agree totally, but then I think of Michel Odent. He has done so many good things for the culture of birth. But I still agree with you, and I think Odent would even agree with you. I'm just thankful he's around -- reading his book Birth and Breastfeeding changed everything for me.

I'm so sorry to hear about your birth-back injury, btw! I'm no stranger to chiropractic woes, and if mine had been caused by a health care provider I'd be so angry.
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#110 of 113 Old 12-02-2006, 07:50 PM
 
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MamaPoot, I am so sorry for your pain. I brought an awful memory back.

When we were undergoing testing for infertility I had to have a HSG test. Basically, reactive die is injected into your uterus and then xrayed to see what the die shows.

I had a very large septum in my uterus. Had the radiologist read the report from an earlier ultrasound, he would have known this. He had not read that report.

DH and I arrived for our appointment. We waited nearly 2 hours. I believe I was treated this way because I asked a couple of times when we would be seen. First they refuesed to have DH in the procedure. They said it was for xray concerns. LIE. ALL of my friends who had this procedure had their SOs in there.

When I got into the room, they had a tech and a trainee there. The way they had me lay, if the door was open, everyone in the hall could see my vagina/vulva. I complained about this, and was treated rather rudely by the trainer, who said that no one was out there anyway. It was freezing in there, and I asked for a blanket. Trainer said it's not that cold, trainee, who was so very kind and nice, brought me a blanket and a pillow, which was apprieciated as I again had to wait for the radiologist while lying on the very hard x-ray table. Finally he gets there. He gives me a bit of a lecture about needing to be patient for medical providers.

He inserts the ice cold speculum. Umm... I don't think this guy had been anywhere near a vagina in years, because he inserted the speclum rather painfully. He started the procedure. He inserted the sound into my uterus, and the pain began. He tried to insert the die, and I screamed and the sound slipped out. I had seen a heart shaped uterus on the screen, then the tech whipped the screen around. She also told me it did not hurt that bad, and that I should "be still." As there are no sturrips on xray tables, my feet were slipping all over the place.

At my request, because he had not gotten enough dye in to check my tubes, the procedure began again. Again awful pain. Basically he was jabbing the instruments and syringe into the septum. Had he read the report he would have known it was there. I again screamed, this time the pressure from him trying to inject dye into my deformed uterus shot the syringe out. I was crying, and tech again said, "that's what a contraction feels like, so hope you never go into labor" to someone who was there for infertility testing.

I could barely stand after that. Tech said I needed to hurry because they needed the room. I went to the bathroom to try to clean the blood and dye running from me with toilet paper. I needed a pad, and asked for one. Tech said that they don't have them and I should have been prepared. I was not on my period when the test occured. Trainee went and got me a panty liner from her locker and apologized that the liner was all she had. So I went home bleeding all over myself.

When I left, limping out, DH was shocked. He said I was pale and looked awful. He said I looked like I had just been tortured. He was right. I would have been so much happier if he had been there. He would have yelled at the tech for treating me that way.

I complained mightly to the midwife who was overseeing my care. I actually wrote a formal complaint to the clinic. Very shortly after that, I terminated my relationship with that clinic.
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#111 of 113 Old 12-02-2006, 08:02 PM
 
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HSG does hurt like hell, I presume like a contraction, which was what my doc also told me.

I've had the great fortune (sarcasm) of having had lots of invasive procedures in my life. I'm very stoic with pain, and typically have had medical personnel exclaim over how quiet I am, how calm I am, how well I tolerate pain, etc.

But when he injected that dye, I groaned and moaned. I didn't squirm away or yell to stop or otherwise impair the procedure, but as for the moaning I simply COULD NOT help it. It was very interesting to me, because I'd never experienced that before.
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#112 of 113 Old 12-02-2006, 08:46 PM
 
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I agree totally, but then I think of Michel Odent. He has done so many good things for the culture of birth. But I still agree with you, and I think Odent would even agree with you. I'm just thankful he's around -- reading his book Birth and Breastfeeding changed everything for me.
True true there are some saints out there. Dr Bradley, Dick-Read, all wonderful, caring men. Toddler trying to use bouncy seat as a diving board....
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#113 of 113 Old 12-03-2006, 11:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by phoebemommy View Post
I agree totally, but then I think of Michel Odent. He has done so many good things for the culture of birth. But I still agree with you, and I think Odent would even agree with you.
Odent repeatedly suggests having only one motherly midwife who sits quietly in a corner. The key with Odent, as with all good practioners, is that he doesn't ask "what can I do to improve the outcome?" but rather "what can I not do to keep from damaging a perfect process?"
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