Birth stories: About our culture of induction
After my successful VBAC, Rebecca wondered if Pitocin could possibly be a cause of our country's high c-section rate. That got me thinking, and as I'm doing research for a book I'm pitching on pregnancy, last night I came across two really interesting recent books: Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care and Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First. Amazon had several pages from Pushed in its little 'inside-the-book' feature and I was struck when reading about one hospital in Florida whose power went out during Hurricane Charley.
The labor & delivery ward changed its policies and cancelled all inductions. Mothers were sent home unless they were in active labor. No one got Pitocin, no one's water was broken, and epidurals were contraindicated. Their c-section rate went down to almost zero, and even first-time mothers had quick and relatively easy labors. What's more (here's a shocker, haha), the births were evenly distributed between day and night, weekday and weekend (did you know that more births happen on Tuesdays than any other day in the U.S.?). Even fetal distress and interventions after birth dropped to almost nothing.
Essentially, the lesson seems to be that induction is the enemy of a relatively easy birth, and what's more: a healthy baby. Most of the nurses who worked the Hurricane Charley shifts at that Florida hospital have quit and a few are campaigning for changes in the 'induction culture' of birth in the U.S. While it's certainly not true that Pitocin causes c-sections, it could be a major contributor to our unusually high c-section rate. It's anecdotally true for me: I had a bunch of Pitocin in each of my two c-sections, but none in my vaginal birth. I'll continue to do research because it interests me (and Rebecca, let me know what you find) -- but in the meantime, I'd love to hear your stories.