Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Breeches and rickets: Lessons from Episode Two of the PBS Series Call the Midwife

Episode Two of PBS’ Call the Midwife gave us two births that most contemporary pregnant women don’t have to deal with. (You can read my post on Episode One here.)

The show included a woman with rickets, which is a vitamin D deficiency that was common among poor women who did not have a proper diet. The affliction can cause bones to bend – often noticeable in bowed legs, as in below – but can cause the pelvis to be misshapen as well. Sometimes the deformity could be so bad that there was no way for a baby to be born vaginally.

The mom in Episode Two had had a fatal outcome with a previous pregnancy but was able to have as c-section this time around thanks to the National Health Service covering the costs. If there is ever a time for a c-section, that would be it.

The other interesting birth was a breech, shown coming out “ass first,” as nurse Chummy (below) deadpans during the delivery. 

The scene shows how breeches can be born safely if patience, wisdom, experience and the right birth positions are applied. Today, sadly, very few women with breech babies are allowed to give birth vaginally by their doctors – mostly due to a lack of experience in knowing how to gently guide the baby out. It’s an artful midwifery practice we are losing – and shouldn't.  I’ll leave it to the sage midwife Ina May Gaskin to explain why


Catherine said...

Tina, thank you so much for these posts. I love the show and wondered how accurate it was, especially the breech birth. And when I watched the episode about Rickets, I immediately thought of your book.

Mama V said...

i love chummy!

it's interesting that a lot of the midwives have the women push while lying on their side (on a bed), presumably to help avoid tearing. was also nice to see a mother pushing in the squat position (in the fish drying house) in the last episode.

Anonymous said...

There's a doctor that works at Yale-New Haven that has done breech births in Africa, and would be willing (if mom was a candidate) to do a breech birth in hospital.

I had a scare during my third pregnancy. She turned footling breech right before her high risk induction at 35 weeks. That doctor, was "unavailable" for whatever reason though. For a footling, I understand that's not the best position anyway. Thankfully, she turned and I didn't have to have a c-section.