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FDA Keeps American Safe From The Threat of What….?

May 27, 2011

FDA Keeps Americans Safe From the Threat of What?
Genny White

Just this week an important FDA raid took place at a Portland Oregon dock. What were the feds after?  A shipment of narcotics manufactured in another country? An import of highly addictive opana illegally being shipped here headed for the black market? No, no, and no hold on to your swimming trunks. The FDA seized a shipment of what would relate to a common kiddy pool.  Agents were instructed to inspect and destroy a container containing AquaBorn Birthing Pools.  These pools are purchased for use in water birth by practitioners and institutions, and also purchased and rented for use in private homes as a comfort means in child-birth.  The FDA has decided that birthing pools have not been certified or registered as medical devices or medical equipment and thus they should be destroyed until a costly and lengthy legal process has been waged One has to question what this is really about. Truly a $10.00 tax on medical devices can not be it. The small commodity would be an insignificant source of revenues. Then what is it?  I smell a rat and would love to be a fly on the wall to see how this whole scheme started.   Me thinks more along the line of if you can’t control it destroy it. Now who would want to control the way and means in which women and families want to give birth?

At first glance I think Big deal how does this affect me or any other woman if I want to labor and give birth in a tub of water then I will and I did. But then I realized that many practitioners are using such portable pools in hospitals, and now that the gauntlet has fallen and the FDA is threatening to seize birthing pools. What options do these obstetric providers have? How many labor and delivery suites in this country have bath tubs?

The Nurse Midwives of Indianapolis have a very nice spa like large tub now in their birthing center, and I like to think that I am the reason why; way back in 1994, I stepped foot into a traditional bath tub to find some comfort and means of dealing with my contractions. Oh I did relax and float through the contractions, until the next thing I knew Patty Brumbaugh, CNM was in my face asking me if I wanted to give birth in the tub or on the floor next to the tub. I ran through my options and decided that I was warm and comfortable right where I was and that I was not going to move. What ensued next must have been bedlam I remember pushing my son out while attendants moved radically in trying to pull the shower doors off their railings, and that is how the first water birth in that birth center occurred. When the doors came down they never went back up again.

As I think about the tools of Midwifery I think immediately of my hands and of absorbent linens, towels. Wash cloths, toilet paper, chux pads, paper towels, and warmed receiving blankets, lots and lots of receiving blankets. Faith Gibson, practically the Mother of Midwifery in CA has written a wonderful piece on the tools of Midwifery (see comment to this piece) highlighting these highly technical gadgets of towels and bed linens. I think that nothing says it better than the testimony of the midwife in England who had to stand trial due to some flack of a conspiracy that one of the infants born to the king had been still-born and was carried out in a food warming tray and that an alternative newly born infant was hustled into the palace camouflaged once again in a warming tray. The prosecution threatened to put an end to the midwives practice unless she come clear with all the details surrounding this birth. May her response live on through the rest of us who want to see families birth without un necessary interventions. The Midwife replied as long as young men kiss their maidens and I have my hands, I will have work. Our hands touch, stroke and comfort. Will they be seized and destroyed next until they have received certification as medical devices? Wait just a minute when did the bodily process of birth become a medical event? A woman giving birth is a woman giving birth not a coronary.

Just to be fair, the FDA has also been raiding milk producers: You no raw milk that has not been homogenized is a plague about to happen.  Just got to love the feds.

We will be watching you!

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 27, 2011 5:52 pm

    Excerpts –> The Goodly Art of Orifice Maintenance – December 24, 1994

    “***Verbs of Service, Tools of the Trade***

    The verbs of service in regard to childbearing are an expression of deep instincts to nurture and support one another. I believe that the word “midwife” is first and foremost a verb, and as an active verb, it is the oldest helping vocation after motherhood itself. Midwifing is a biological imperative to the normal events of childbearing, and the midwife-mother diad cannot constitutionally be denied without an equal or superior replacement.

    The true role of the midwife is to deliver the mother to deliver-ability at which point a truly spontaneous birth becomes an Act of God, no matter who hands are on the baby — the mother herself, the father, a physician, midwife or simply a soft surface. In order to deliver the mother to deliver-ability, it becomes the work of the midwife to “baby” (i.e. nurture) the mother during labor and thereby assist the mother in surrendering to the natural but none-the-less uncomfortable sensations of cervical dilatation, pushing and expulsion.

    The tools of the trade for a domiciliary midwife are decidedly unglamorous, non-technological and non-medical. Absorbent linens are high on the list, paper towels, menstrual pads, diapers, plastic trash bags, and other containers for the wet & wild work of childbearing. These verbs of service and tools of the trade are not the things of a sophisticated medical school curriculum.

    Much of what midwives do during early labor doesn’t even look like “doing”. Perhaps it is more accurate to call it a “being present”. I speak for myself and the long and honorable tradition of midwifery when I describe this “work” as mastery in “doing nothing”. It is a specific skill that must be learned and developed, no less so than any of those busy medical skills associated with the “doing-ness” of hospital-based obstetrics.

    As community midwives, we sit for many long hours doing ‘nothing’ while parents talk about their hopes and dreams, fears and impersonal love. Midwives attempt to be cheerful to keep up the mother’s spirit, tell jokes to help pass the time, sometimes we pray silently to ourselves. When frustration brings the mother to tears, we supply her with a Kleenex to wipe her eyes and blow her nose.

    As labor progresses, it is the midwife who brings the mother food, holds the straw while she drinks, holds the basin when she gets sick to her stomach, draws a bath in the middle of the night and sits on the floor for hours pouring water over the mother’s pregnant abdomen to aid relaxation. We sit face to face for many more hours, breathing with the mother during each contraction, massaging her back and working diligently to keep her from being overwhelmed by the painful and often frightening sensations of progressive labor.

    Community midwives mop up little puddles of amniotic fluids left behind as the mother walks about, we clean little drips of `bloody show’ off the inside of her thigh. So that she won’t be left alone in the early phase of the pushing phase, we sit in the bathroom on a little stool in front of the toilet while she has a bowel movement. We whisper words of encouragement to tired moms, we comfort discouraged mothers, we commiserate with the mother whose labor is, (to her!) too long, too fast, too uncomfortable, or much too much to deal with.

    Woven almost invisibly into this matrix of emotional support and domestic remedies is a practiced ear for the baby and an experienced eye for the mother’s physical well-being. Fetal heart tones and maternal pulses are noted regularly and mothers are scrutinized for signs of dehydration and fatigue by the educated eye of someone who knows them well and who has been continuously observing them for many hours. These low-tech monitoring activities are not a focus of concern or anxiety, nor an impediment to the primacy of the mother’s needs. It is the art and not the science that organizes the work of the community midwife.

    During the “labor-intensive” expulsive stage, midwives help the mother to squat low to the floor during each pushing urge and then help her to stand up again between contractions. We hold warm cloths against the mother’s perineum to help her relax, we whisper words of encouragement in her ear, we coax her when she becomes tired and wants to give up, we cajole her onward when she insists that she can’t last another minute, we would move heaven and earth if it would help the mother to do the work of delivering her baby spontaneously. Some times we sit on the floor with feet folded back under us and put the mother on our lap to help her to push effectively and to tell the mother kinesthetically that she is not alone, that we are companions in the work of bringing forth her child and gladly bear her weight as our share of that universal reproductive burden.

    And as the baby slips over the mother’s perineum unaided by “artificial, forcible, or mechanical means”, midwives guide the father’s sometimes shaky hands to receive his own child or we catch the baby ourselves before it lands on something hard. It does not matter whose hands are on the baby, for spontaneous birth of this kind is an Act of God, it is a sacred and a social event — not a medical one.

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