USA / Europe: A realistic perspective on pregnancy and birth

You’ve probably heard it, this is a massive subject in the USA: the profusion of medical care around childbirth. I actually feel lucky that I had my baby here rather than in France.

In 2013, 32.7% of births were operated via c-section in the United States.    [1] The same year, the rate was 20.3% in France.

While pregnant, I looked at documentaries I could find about natural/medical births: The Business of Being Born, plus the 4 other episodes they made afterwards (all available on Netflix). 40 Weeks. And The Mama Sherpas. I also read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, and Hypnobirthing from Marie Mongan.

I needed to educate myself. I started my pregnancy with what I’ve always heard and what I’ve always been told. Like everyone. except I am in a country with a medical culture that is not the one I grew up with.

I would not have searched any of that in France, because people are assisted in every way, so was I. 

I liked all of the movies and books but one. I was surprised how 40 Weeks was so negative. It’s like they wanted to tell the “truth” about all the cons of being pregnant. Without bringing all the other good things up.

This is so trendy to say “No one told me”, those days. How many blog posts are untitled like so. Well…, it’s not true.

We all heard, read and were told about pregnancy/delivery/postpartum stories. But the reality of living the experience is beyond words, so you can’t relate to them unless you’re actually there.

I often note a comparison between the USA and Europe. Frequently about the c-section rates and the so debated subject of midwives’ absence in american maternities and birth centers, unlike in Europe.

Those observations aren’t fully accurate. The C-section rates in Europe varies from country to country. You will have 8.6% in Sweden against 52% in Cyprus. Midway between these extremes, Italy scores 38%, Switzerland and Germany are among the highest rates with respectively 33.1% and 31.3%, or 25% in the UK. [2]

On paper it sounds better in Europe. We have midwives working for the mamas during the pregnancy and at the maternity. Though, the definition of a midwife differs from one country to another. But they almost always work under the responsibility and/or direct supervision of the gynaecologist.  [3]

We do have midwives by our sides at birth, regardless of their responsibilities. Though, it does not make the number of vaginal births rise. Just look at the rates above.

I just don’t sense that in France, they aim to bring wellness to women in labor, nor during their pregnancy. I’ve never heard of anyone in France mentioning that they can walk, squat, use the ball or take a bath while in labor. You are not allowed to eat either.

2016-02-15

They even schedule you with an anesthesiologist weeks before your due date, so you prepare and program your epidural. The choice of having it or not, is still in your hands but, let’s be honest. So far, you have been more educated for drugs and painless labor than for managing and handling your labor naturally, which requires practice, a LOT of practice.

I am not saying that midwives are incompetent. I am saying that they are trained differently. The title is the same but the job is not completely identical. American midwives emphasize on the wellbeing aspect of women.

Actually, the definition from The Midwife Alliance of North America, includes the following: Midwives provide women with individualized care uniquely suited to their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs.

In France, the National Association of Midwives only mentions cares provided throughout the pregnancy, the birth and beyond pregnancy.

It speaks for itself.

The lack of education in drug free births is colossale. 

This is where I got lucky. I found such a great place and encountered such great people where I live, without having a midwife. I was looking for prenatal yoga classes when entering my second trimester and, came upon a dream place for mothers-to-be, mothers and even families.

It’s called Acelleron.

I started going there for prenatal fitness and yoga classes, thinking it was a fitness center for future moms. Well… this is one, but not only. You think you go to a class, when in reality, you are going to find support you were secretly dreaming of having, whether you’re in class or just hanging there. Support from the team, every one of them is like a personal coach. Also, support from other future mamas, and mamas that already have kids which is priceless. This is a place of sharing, support, education and, wellness.  This is our home, I wish it was yours also.

There are so many workshops there, I can’t even named them such the variety is wide. You receive the best guidance during your pregnancy. But wait until your baby arrives…  They are unbelievable!

I am trying to explain and define it to a lot of people. Either in France or in the US but, this is so exclusive, most of them stay stoïck.

It is unique. It deserves to be known, to be spread all over the country and elsewhere. I would not have been the same pregnant woman, the same mother and my daughter the same baby without them.

No country is perfect in terms of medical care. The US suited me better to give birth to my daughter but it may not suit others. Yet, Europe masters at maternity leave of course and, more importantly at postpartum cares but, so few mention it. This is huge ! You cannot deny that your body needs rehabilitation after having a baby. Unfortunately,  american women don’t know much about it because caregivers don’t talk about it. I wish there would be more education on the subject. 

So ladies, you can overall feel good of what is given to you in this country and, seek further for what you want to know more about.

With love,

E

 

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