Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Change #16

Good Morning Birth Peeps,
I have been deliberating about how to go about presenting today's Change, which is also my chosen resolution for Changing Birth in our Culture in 2011.

During this year another book will be published. It is well underway. A video will be produced. Lectures, classes, and workshops will be offered... each of those may chip away at some form in this dream of birth in our culture... although I cannot know how.

When I was a young midwife I worked in a public clinic for a short time before my "firing" was inevitable, and I quit to save myself the embarrassment. I recall that one of my "failures" was that I didn't order enough ultrasounds. Instinctively, I did not trust this new technology. For the most part, I did not use a doppler: I used my ears and an old fashioned fetascope to hear the baby's heart beat. I never liked or trusted the idea of using ultrasonic waves as early as possible in the first trimester aimed at the developing heart just to amplify the sound of the tiny baby's heart beat. What are those waves doing to the developing fetus? And how is hearing this, or seeing a distorted image (back then they were more distorted) truly helpful? The early research was "reassuring," but I believed it was only a matter of time before the hidden changes caused by heat rays of ultrasound would manifest.

In recent months I have been researching the effect, and possible effect, that frequent ultrasound is or may be having on our babies and the next generation. I have interviewed caregivers who order ultrasound. And I have examined my conscience deeply as to what needs to happen next, what it is that I am called to do.

And it is to share the ultrasound research with you here, on this blog, in small installments so you can consider this for yourselves and... if you are moved, let parents know about it.

I am finding caregivers don't know about ultrasound risk (because as one caregiver told me, they work long hours and can't always keep up with the latest research in journals), and if they do know about it, they have a dilemma: It takes time to provide true informed consent. Clinics are too busy for caregivers to explain to each of the 20 or 30 patients that day, many of whom will be ordered an ultrasound, the potential risks--and leave the choice to them. Then there is the very real problem of habit mind: all of us tend to continue doing the things we were first trained to do; radical change comes hard. And finally, whenever something, like ultrasound, has become the standard of care, there is collective, not just personal, trust.

So I am going to approach this change methodically and slowly. Beginning tomorrow, and from time to time in 2011, I will present evidence-based research with the intention of raising awareness and caution in the hope that a collective conscience demands protection of the next generation's health.

As you are deciding what your 2011 Change or Gift to Birth in Our Culture will be, may I offer you an image that guides my own process?:
A Love Warrior does not act impulsively, unless the situation is so immediate, swift action IS what needs to happen next. Warriors are Hunters by nature, and Hunters are patient. They suss out the terrain, the predator, and--as all of nature is energy conserving (with the exception of Westernized human beings!)--the huntress acts deliberately, decisively, without ambivalence.


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