I truly believe we can blame our high infant mortality rate on the Flexner Report of 1910. This single document changed the course of medicine in this country and I would even argue cost us what could have been a plethora of medical advances in this country. Being a capitalist society I think it is easy to see how we allowed biomedicine to monopolize American medicine, being the form that sells you a pill for every ill rather than offering natural courses of healing. I think it is also easy to see how this adoption of biomedicine naturally led to the medicalization of natural processes like birth and death. Processes that we and all of nature have be doing independently since the beginning of time. I think the medicalization of birth is deeply rooted in sexism. I think it comes for a place of believing that women are incompetent, and the idea that we will need a male doctor to be there to save the day when something goes wrong. After all, the Flexner report was a sexist and racist report that led to the closing of all medical schools who taught black or female students. It is not my belief that all biomedicine is bad. It is just my wish that American medicine would be more accepting of more natural or alternative healing practices. I wish home birth was accepted and practiced by more physicians here in the United States like it is by the Inuit and in the Netherlands. As we read in the article about home births in the Netherlands, these babies are at equal odds to end up in the neo natal intensive care unit and the infant mortality for both devilries are the same. In the Inuit communities, we see how dangerous it is force women to travel for a delivery. However, I am thankful for the lifesaving procedures biomedicine has offered us for when things do go horribly wrong as we saw with the Vietnamese women who suffer from higher death rate post-partum do to the inability to deliver the placenta. When it comes to the medicalization of death in this country we see the same pompous attitude of the medical community that tells us we are unable to handle this process ourselves. Ultimately, I believe the true cause of this comes from just trying to monetize off these events. Another factor that is to blame is our cultures immortality obsession and estrangement with death. It is something that makes us very uncomfortable here in America. From my own personal experience with the death of a loved one, the time you get to spend with the dead body is oddly healing and special, which is something I definitely would have thought was weird until it happened to me. When my Grandfather passed very unexpectedly the hospital let us spend time with his body before it was taken to the funeral home. It is hard to explain but I think it was very helpful for me to be with him for a while he still looked and smelled like himself, his hands still felt like his hands. After he had been embalmed it was hard for me to look at him because it really did not look like him. Like with more options when it comes to birth, I wish we had more options when it comes to death. I had no idea that home funerals were even possible, and after watching that video it sounds like they are pretty hard to come by. I think it would be beneficial for Americans to have more options like this.
On Cosmopolitan’s page, I found a series of photos called 26 Mesmerizing Photos of Childbirth That Will Leave You Awestruck (NSFW). I am going to be focusing on image 5 which depicts a woman breast feeding immediately after birth with the umbilical cord still intact. I admit given the usual content of Cosmo and the name of the photo gallery, I expected the gallery to contain a more glamorous and “tradition” view on birth. Many of the pictures are actually of at home and water births. I liked this picture in particular because I know how important that skin on skin contact is immediately after birth for bonding. Many doctors did not use to encourage this. I am excited to see that “taking back birth” has become more mainstream and more and more women are pursuing alternative birthing methods.