Birth as an American Rite of Passage

Birth as an American Rite of Passage

Birth as an American Rite of Passage

Birth as an American Rite of Passage

Synopsis

Why do so many American women allow themselves to become enmeshed in the standardized routines of technocratic childbirth--routines that can be insensitive, unnecessary, and even unhealthy? Anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd first addressed these questions in the 1992 edition. Her new preface to this 2003 edition of a book that has been read, applauded, and loved by women all over the world, makes it clear that the issues surrounding childbirth remain as controversial as ever.

Excerpt

Given the volumes of scientific evidence showing that standard obstetrical procedures do more harm than good, why do they continue to be used? Thousands of mothers, childbirth activists, and health care practitioners recognize the irrationality of the technomedical management of childbirth, the damage it does to mothers and babies, and the millions of dollars unnecessarily spent to maintain it. They have long been frustrated by their inability not only to change the situation but even to explain it. Why are so many women’s labors artificially induced or augmented when these practices have been demonstrated to cause unnecessary labor complications? Why is electronic fetal monitoring so widely and routinely used when scientific evidence shows that at the very least it doubles the cesarean rate without improving outcomes? and why do many women still have to give birth in supine positions, when three decades of evidence indicate that upright positions for birth are far more physiologically efficacious? Such questions inspired this book, and the answers contained within these pages have been widely welcomed. Reading this book has helped many women to reflect on their own individual values and beliefs and how those articulate with the core values of American culture, and thus to make more fully informed decisions about whom to choose as their birth attendant, where to give birth, and what interventions to ask for or reject. Hundreds of birth professionals, including obstetricians from many countries, have told me that this book has helped them to change their own practices and . . .

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