Saturday, 10 January 2009

Quick hit: Orgasmic Birth doco

Found at AlterNet:
Pascalli-Bonaro says she wishes some critics who just seem to see the title would actually see the film.

"It's really about the range of choices women have for experiencing birth, some of which most women aren't even aware of. There are eleven couples featured in the movie. Some use words like 'pain' and 'fear' to describe their experience but others use 'transformative', 'blissful', and 'spiritual'. Two of them use the word 'orgasmic'. This sounds strange in our culture because we're used to seeing birth dealt with on an illness model, rather than a wellness model. Birth is part of a woman's sexual life."
I was particularly interested in the point about the heart rate decreases leading to more caesareans. Has anyone heard if it is going to be/has been screened here?


Alison said...

It was screened in Wellington a couple of months back, as the documentary maker spent time here, and the doco actually features a NZ homebirth with a Wellington-based independent midwife (who is also a senior tutor in midwifery at Massey Wellington). It's really excellent, wide-ranging and carefully researched, and far from being the hippy love-in claimed by some "critics" (most of whom appear not to have watched the movie at all).

Alison said...

(Haven't started midwifery training, so please be aware this is based on my own private reading around the topic).

I'm not familiar with the particular study that is discussed in the article about fetal heart-rate decreasing in response to new people in the room, but I've certainly seen evidence for other changes in labour progress as a result of strangers coming and going during labour. There is now quite a large amount of evidence indicating that continuous electronic monitoring of the fetal heart-rate leads to unnecessary caesarian sections in both low- and high- risk births. A certain amount and type of variation in the fetal heart-rate is normal and necessary, and continuous monitoring can show deviations from that (as can intermittent monitoring) but when electronic monitoring is used in place of constant in-person monitoring by a midwife, nurse or doctor, there is a danger of the readout being used without context. Changes in heart-rate that are perfectly normal in context elicit an emergency response, leading to unnecessary intervention. If the study Pascalli-Bonaro quotes shows that a decrease in fetal heart-rate is a normal reaction to carers coming and going, it is plausible that the situation could be leading directly to unnecessary surgical intervention for supposed "fetal distress".