Did anyone watch the documentary "Babies?" It came out around two years ago, and it followed four families through the birth and first year of their baby's life. One family was from a nomadic tribe in Namibia, the Himba, and another was a very crunchy family from San Francisco.
The documentary's website features extensive interviews with each of the parents from the film. The Namibian mother's story was very interesting: when asked why she agreed to participate in the film, which represented an enormous intrusion in her way of life [the subjects weren't paid], she said it was because the documentary team agreed to build a medical clinic in her village, so the women could have a trained birth attendant-- maybe even a doctor-- and no longer have to give birth in their huts and lose babies.
The San Francisco mother wrote that she was so pleased to have a natural, drug-free homebirth attended only by an intervention-free lay midwife. Unfortunately her baby had some degree of oxygen deprivation and had to be rushed by ambulance to a local children's hospital, where she spent a few days in the NICU.
Could there be a starker contrast?
Homebirth in the US is almost exclusively the purvey of relatively well-educated, relatively affluent white women. They often cite birth practices in dirt-poor countries as a shining example of how things should be (after all the c-section rate is less than 5%!) and claim some kind of sisterhood with the world's poorest and most disenfranchised women. I personally feel this trivializes the struggle and pain of the mothers in these countries. Having helped deliver babies in a few African countries, in Haiti and in Nepal I cannot emphasize enough that these are hardly birth practices the mother is choosing. If she had the option of a clean, sterile hospital, a trained attendant, pain-eradicating medications, neonatal resuscitation, antibiotics, blood transfusion, surgical birth, etc they would absolutely take it.
I'm totally butting in here, as I'm not expecting, but that is interesting, Blade. I'll have to check out the interviews as I really enjoyed the documentary. The little Namibian boy and his brother were pretty much the cutest thing I've ever seen.
The pediatrician that we took Ivy to for the first few months made a reference to the Mongolian baby and his goat nanny as though she truly believed the parents just left him sitting naked in a tub for hours on end while they went to work in the fields. She was using it to illustrate the point that babies are much more self sufficient than we give them credit for, but... I had assumed while watching it that the children were only "unsupervised" for the purposes of getting a better picture of the world on their level. To your point about the Namibian mom wanting access to medical help - I wonder how many Super Crunchies watched that documentary and thought, "SEE?! Women everywhere do it themselves and it's SO MUCH BETTER!" It's amazing how little thought some people give to what is left out of documentaries (BoBB, anyone?), apparently our old pediatrician included.
ETA: Perhaps goat-sitters really are common practice in Mongolia, and I'm just not aware of it. In which case, I apologize, Dr. Yu.
I've seen that documentary and I read those interviews. It was fascinating to see the differences, especially the San Fransisco mother's opinions and experience against the Namibian mother's. I don't remember all the details but it was really good.
And congrats and good luck to all the mommies to be!
Not pregnant, but curious. Why would a mom choose an elective cesarean? It's a fairly major operation. I'd be scared to have one. But of course, it is ultimately up to the mom to do what she feels is best for her and her baby. I'm so sorry the doctors didn't listen to you, @rowangreeneyes.