The Princess Industrial Complex (TM)

This. Is. Terrifying.

This sort of stuff gives me nightmares and makes me break out in cold sweats. Thank you, Capitalism, for providing avenues for commodification of (new! improved!) infants before they even leave the hospital.

Now, Disney has identified another problem: Children are not becoming consumers of its products until preschool, resulting in a good three years of potential revenue loss. Getting an expectant mom thinking about her family’s first theme-park visit while her child was in the womb, an exec told the Times, would be like hitting “a home run.”

I’ve spent the past three years looking at the ways the Princess Industrial Complex transformed the culture of little girlhood — the long-term impact of the 24/7, 365-days-a-year royal press of pink and pretty on our daughters’ femininity, sexuality and identity. But reading about the attempt to turn fetuses into consumers made me wonder whether it’s time to have a larger conversation about the wisdom and ethics of marketing to small children of either sex.

via Dodging Disney In The Delivery Room : NPR.

I had honestly never contemplated the need to prepare doula clients and hospital transports for the reality that they might need to fend off ad representatives as well as medical students, unwanted interventions, etc. In a twisted and backwards way, it makes homebirth look all that more appealing.

People commenting on this piece seem to be as offended and disgusted as I am after having read the article. R I writes:

I’ve never threatened violence in my life.

But if Anne Boyer [Our365 rep] or any other Disney rep had interrupted the most magical 24 hours of my life — the first moments with our daughter, lying exhausted/exhilarated in the recovery room, filled as never before with the tender miracle of humanity, and struck dumb with the responsibility of protecting the most innocent person either of us had ever seen — if a sales rep from ANY company had thought it acceptable to step into our room and violate that amazing and irreplaceable moment with a sales pitch, I would have had a hard time not slugging them. Is nothing sacred? Nothing?

A Courageous and Determined VBAC

Did you hear about Joy Szabo, the Arizona woman fighting to have a VBAC despite being denied by her hospital? After a c-section with her second child, she successfully had a VBAC at the same hospital with her 3rd child. Now pregnant with her fourth, the same hospital has since changed its rules and is refusing to allow her to try for a repeat VBAC.

CNN picked this story up and featured it on their homepage earlier this week. They’ve been refused by their hospital and so

To get around the ban, Joy Szabo plans on moving to an apartment in Phoenix in the middle of November. They have no friends or family there, but a doula, or childbirth assistant, will drive her to the hospital when she goes into labor.

Which is a little more than heartbreaking to me that this is their only option to get the birth they want.

The Szabos know there’s little chance Jeff will make it in time for the birth. “With our other sons, her labor only lasted three hours. It’ll take me five hours to get to Phoenix,” Jeff says, noting that with three little kids along for the ride, it will take even longer.

“Of course I’m scared that I won’t be there,” he adds. “It’s my job as the dad to make sure the baby’s OK after the birth, to follow him around and make sure he has 10 fingers and 10 toes. Now the chances of that happening are slim to none.”

And it reminds me how much we need to completely change the American system of hospital birth – midwives are crucial to that but not the only answer. I’m so pleased CNN has really brought attention to this issue, it’s been making a lot of people (rightfully) angry.

Pregnancy Wheels and Due Dates

The first day of Normal Prenatal was this week. We learned a ton of stuff, and then we pulled out our pregnancy wheels to practice with due dates, irregular cycles, etc. In our relatively large class, we had a really wide range of dates, as many as 4 or 5 days depending on how each different pregnancy wheel was constructed. And of course, that got me thinking.

Due dates are such arbitrary things. First of all, they are calculated not on the date of ovulation and therefore conception, but on the date of the last menstrual period. This of course is based on the assumption that there is such a thing as a “normal” woman with a perfect 28-day cycle. Even when a woman knows for a fact which day she got pregnant, it does not change the way the due date is calculated.

A due date is such a simple thing, really.  A guess at when the baby might be born. But little things like inaccurate due dates add up and sometimes it becomes incredibly important. When women are told (as they all too often are) that it is dangerous to go past their due dates and they must be induced (because the placenta might break down!) or when women are routinely induced at 38 weeks (so that the baby won’t grow too big to fit!), an extra 4 of 5 days could have made a world of difference.

I predict that I will continue to have these sorts of completely obvious epiphanies (now, with added depth and sparkle!) as the weeks go on. It’s all of that work of rounding me out as a midwifery student.

Pit to Distress

I learned a new term today on Unnecesarean and it is terrifying: pit to distress. In short, this is a shockingly common practice in hospitals where OBs write orders to administer the highest possible dose of pitocin to a laboring mother in order to intentionally induce fetal distress and mandate a cesarean delivery.

Jill asks the questions, “OBs, do you still think women are choosing not to birth at your hospitals because Ricki Lake said homebirths are cool? Do you still think we are only out for a “good experience?”

I imagine that all of us who have openly questioned the practices of obstetricians in the U.S. have been hit with the same backlash. We must be selfish, irrational and motivated by our own personal satisfaction. We’ve been indoctrinated into a subculture of natural birth zealots and want to force pain on other women or just feel mighty and superior. We fetishize vaginal birth and attach magical powers to a so-called natural entrance to the world.

Nah. It’s stuff like “pit to distress” that made me run for the nearest freestanding birth center. If I had to do it all over again, I’d stay home.

You can find the full blog post here.