Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New York state of mind

I am finally home after spending two busy days in Manhattan talking about my book. The first talk, on Monday, was at Realbirth, a childbirth education center downtown founded by the formidable, warm, and brainy Erica Lyon, who has a book of her own coming out in the spring called "The Big Book of Birth." Lyon, who is obviously passionate about birth, relayed a surprising bit of information during the event. Earlier this year, the National Institutes of Health convened to discuss whether mothers should be allowed to request a cesarean simply out of want, not medical need. The panel ultimately decided that women should have that right and health insurers should pay for it. However, while Lyon was attending the panel, one of the experts testifying about the idea said that women did open themselves to the risk of having placenta abnormalities in later pregnancies after a cesarean because the scar can interfere with how the placenta implants itself onto the uterus. 'But surely you only see that happen once in a great while?' the expert was asked. Not so. 'How often does it happen?' More than a dozen times a month. That is alarming.

Yesterday, I spent about 30 minutes batting at questions from Brian Leher, who hosts a call-in talk show on New York's NPR station. One of my favorite calls -- actually it was an email sent to Brian during the program -- was from someone complaining that women seem to be more concerned about their birth experiences than the safety of their babies. Which is the biggest pile of hogwash I've ever heard. What mother would ever knowingly put her unborn baby at risk? Who ever said that having a pleasing birth experience was mutually exclusive with safety? And whoever said that making a mother miserable with unwanted procedures and interference during birth necessarily made delivery safer? In fact, many studies have shown that the more comfortable and supported a woman feels during labor, the better the outcome will be for her and the child. Anyway, here is a link to the show if you missed it.

The final talk last night was at Half King, a Chelsea restaurant/bar owned by author Sebastian Junger. It was the first time I've had to deal with having people eat while I've read a detailed account of what goes on during a c-section. But the audience didn't seem to mind and many even advanced to dessert.

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