Personal and Professional Stance

Astrik Vardanyan

Childbirth is the most magnificent and miraculous experience of our life-cycle; the most powerful event of nature!

While all of us will accept that birth is a natural event, most of us associate it with medicine, hospital, and technology. However, few of us realize that high-technology interventions may disrupt and alter the naturally unfolding physiological process of childbirth.

I myself was ignorant about the potential physical and emotional consequences of highly medicalized routine of the hospital birth. Through medical anthropology I explored the various cultural practices surrounding reproduction and women’s health. The cross-cultural comparison and my three unnecessary and preventable caesarian deliveries in the U.S. hospitals profoundly changed my outlook as a professional and as a mother.

Needless to say, I repent submitting myself to the procedures that restrained my ability to deliver naturally. These procedures robbed from me what could have been the most natural and empowering experience of my life as a woman. Through years of research, it became clear to me that the protocols imposed women entering the U.S. hospitals are profit-driven and defensive. These practices are not sound science. The efficacy and reliability of medicalized birth is at best questionable and at worst devalues the human birth experience. In retrospect, I regret all three caesarians!

I wish I had known better…

Like me, millions of women each year entirely trust and rely on hospital protocols in the time of their childbirth.

In my lecture series I demonstrate that the routine interventions of obstetrical practices are often times not derived from evidence-based science; in fact, many aspects of mainstream hospital childbirth protocols go against scientific findings, natural laws, and evolutionary development of human body. Some permanently harm the mother and the child.

This is not to say that medical interventions have no place in childbirth; in fact, they can be life-saving! However, these interventions should be used with caution and only in emergencies – not routinely, and certainly not in normal deliveries! Here are some facts to illustrate my point.

In 2010 Amnesty International (AI) issued a report stating that the U.S. deaths from pregnancy and childbirth have doubled in the past 20 years reaching to a scandalous number. While women of color and low income are at higher risk, Larry Cox, the executive director of AI warns that “every woman who is going though pregnancy in this country is at risk.” [i]

According to WHO’s report, the U.S. maternal and infant mortality rates rank as one of the highest among the industrialized world; [ii] 49 other countries have lower birth-related death rates, [iii], [iv] and about 30 other countries have lower infant mortality rates than the U.S.[v], [vi] This is despite the highest per capita spending on health care in the U.S.[vii]

Why is this discrepancy!

While many birth-related deaths result from lack of good medical care, other adverse events are caused by the overuse of childbirth technology. [viii] This is why the WHO has repeatedly urged the U.S. to employ midwife-based system of maternity care.[ix]

My personal and professional quest led me to create an educational organization: HAIKPROJECT whose aim is to share, connect, and raise awareness among parents in our community.

Which childbirth practices are safe? Which should be avoided? Which location is best for your own case? We invite you to explore these questions and concerns in our comprehensive on-going lecture series!

Knowledge is the key to happy parenthood. Educate yourself for the well-being of your child!

 

 

[i] Doubling of maternal deaths in U.S. ‘scandalous,’ rights group says. CNN Health. Available at: http://articles.cnn.com/2010-03-12/health/maternal.mortality_1_maternal-deaths-deaths-and-complications-pregnancy?_s=PM:HEALTH
[ii] The World Health Report 2005 – make every mother and child count . Available at: http://www.who.int/whr/2005/en/index.html
[iii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Maternal Mortality—United States, 1982-1996”, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 47.34, 1998.
[iv] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Safe Motherhood, Promoting Health for Women Before, During and After Pregnancy”, 2008. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/NCCDPHP/publications/aag/pdf/drh.pdf
[v] World Health Organization. “The World Health Report: Make Every Mother and Child Count,” 2005. Available at: http://www.who.int.whr/2005/en
[vi] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db09.htm
[vii]  Sakala and Corry, Evidence-Based Maternity Care:10
[viii] Somkins G. Midwifery in the U.S. Mothering 2011, May Available at: http://www.mothering.com/pregnancy-birth/midwifery-in-the-united-states
[ix] Mothering Magazine, Jan/Feb. 1990

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