There is one element of Ukrainian obstetric birthing style that just really shocks me. Sometimes I feel like I’m living the movie “Anna and the King”–You know, the clash of East and West cultures. Each one is shocking to the other.
I will try to be *sensitive* as I write this, but I think even most Ukrainians will agree with me that it is a shocking practice.
(Is this my trauma talkingtalkingtalking???)
Let me stop on that trauma point. Doulas see traumatic things during birth. It’s hard for me to go to births sometimes. I used to cry after births. I used to be haunted for days. I used to go around for days after a birth feeling cruddy. … Now … Now I am more used to it … more “professional.” What I witness doesn’t intrude so much into my own life. It’s still there, but somehow I’m more used to it now.
Gah. Is it right that I should be used to these things?
I described how the midwife (not an exact translation of the western word) is responsible for handling the baby and placenta coming out. The thing that shocks me the most is how they use their hands/fingers while the baby’s head is still in the mom’s v~gina.
I’ve seen their fingers in the v~agina while the mom is pushing and they use their first two fingers along the sides of the babies’ heads, working it out in a sweeping motion from deeper in to out, deeper in to out.
I’ve also seen, if I am recalling this one correctly, kind of using the outside edges of her hands all around the outside of the perineum, kind of kneading it back around the baby’s head.
Anyway, I don’t like talking about it even, it gives me the creeps. But it happens a lot.
You know, American OBs and midwives are taught “hand maneuvers” to do on babies once the head is out, to get the body and shoulders out. It’s also creepy. And scary. And dangerous. But western maneuvers start when the head is out. I want to find a textbook of Ukrainian obstetrics and know if they are taught these things formally. Or do they just pass it on during clinical experience?
So is it cultural that Im shocked by the midwives here doing maneuvers on the baby while s/he’s still in the mom’s birth canal? Maybe. As an American, I see it kind of as a physical attack of a mom. I know some stuff goes on in U.S. hospitals, too, during birth that are made to sound really aggressive. Maybe I’m just more used to those issues because it’s from my culture. I don’t know. I’m not used to this, though.
I haven’t seen a Ukrainian really shocked about it yet. It happens kind of fast; they expect birth to hurt; they don’t know any better; and what does the mom herself really see? Is it not more the dads seeing this and not thinking it something unusual?
Anyway . . . . shiver.
I am a witness.