LIES, DAMN LIES, AND STATISTICS

‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.’ – Mark Twain

I’ve heard some really ridiculous things in my years attending births (and there’s even a website someone else has devoted to ridiculous things that have been heard called “my OB said what??”).

I’ve had a doctor – an OB – hold up a placenta after a birth and say, “I wonder what it is that tells the placenta it’s time to separate.” Umm….that worries me because if you don’t know how that works, how did you become a doctor? Seriously? You don’t know that?

I heard a nurse tell an expectant mother that they have to put the eye ointment into the baby’s eyes because babies are born with dry eyes and they have to lubricate them. HUH? Wow…amazing. For the record: the eye ointment is an antibiotic eye ointment used for the prevention of newborn conjunctivitis from untreated Chlamydia or Gonorrhea which can lead to permanent blindness. If, however, you do not have either of these conditions (that can even be checked for with a urine sample) – then there is no benefit to the eye ointment!! I’ve heard it claimed that it’s to protect the baby’s eyes from “any bacteria they may come into contact with in the birth canal.” First off, those poor poor babies going through such a nasty gross thing as a VAGINA!! (did my sarcasm come across in that sentence?) Second off, if you are worried about your babies’ eyes, the BEST thing for them? BREASTMILK!! That’s right Mommies…you hold magic medicine in them boobies, and it’s a more broad spectrum antibiotic than most any of the prescription drops you can purchase…all without any side effects or risk!! Yes, dripping breastmilk from your breast straight into the baby’s eyes a couple of times a day does the trick! (I’d tell you about the time I cleared my ENTIRE FAMILY of pinkeye – but my husband and teenage son would probably throttle me)

**random tip: to give a baby/toddler eye drops – lay them on their backs with their eyes closed. Put a drop of the milk/medicine into the inner corner of their eye. Open their eye and tip their head to that side and the liquid will just run straight into their eye…no fighting!**

I’ve heard statements like, “At 38, pregnancy is considered high risk because your chance of having a baby with chromosomal abnormalities is 1 in 259. That’s considered very high! So we recommend an amniocentesis. The risks from an amnio is very low – there is only a 1 in 200 chance that you will lose the pregnancy, so they are considered VERY safe. (looks at chart) Oh! Your last baby was a cesarean? So you’ll be having a repeat cesarean? VBACs are too dangerous – uterine ruptures occur in 1 in 500 births! If we did VBACs, there’s a 1 in 2000 chance that your baby could die! No, we don’t take that much risk – you’ll have to schedule a C-section which only has a 3.4 in 2000 chance of causing your baby to die – and even though there is a 3 times greater chance of you dying if you have a C-section rather than vaginal birth, we still consider that risk very very very low!”

RECAP:

Downs risks at 38                       1:259
Amnio risk of miscarriage         1:200
VBAC rupture risk                      1:500
Rupture baby death risks         1:2000
C-sec baby death risk                3.4:2000
C-sec mom death risk               3X greater than vaginal birth

These are TRUE statistics, so they are not mistaken in the stats – but I have heard the above statement almost verbatim on television and in person! I guess the term “too much risk” doesn’t have a real clear definition, does it? That being the case, shouldn’t it be the parents’ definition?

NOTE: the above stats/figures can be easily found online in multiple sources, but here are some quickies specifically for the numbers listed above:
Baby death rate C-sec
Mother dreath rate C-sec
Uterine rupture risk baby death
Downs Syndrome  risk by age

Amnio miscarriage risk
Uterine rupture risk

I recently had a friend of mine tell me that she heard a midwife once claim that if you’ve been induced with Pitocin, that your body can become ADDICTED to Pitocin and you will probably need it to give birth in the future – and asked me if I knew anything about that. I had never heard such a claim! It is unclear to me whether the midwife said this as a way to talk the mother into being induced or to prevent her from having a homebirth or keep her in the hospital or because she really believes this!! I know that I don’t know everything (far from it) – but after hearing that I did a little research, and nowhere could I find anything to support the idea that a HORMONE given years prior for just one day and which is considered out of your system in 3-7 minutes after we disconnect the IV,….that it could cause a uterus to become addicted to it!! Dat’s just silly talk.

I’ve heard the bait-and-switch game played with medical terms many many times. Mom says, “I don’t want Cytotec, I’ve heard scary things about that!” and nurse says, “Oh no, this is just a little pill called miso….it is just a little pill and will help induce labor.”. Miso…full name misoprostil…IS CYTOTEC!! That’s like saying, “I’m not going to give you a Tylenol…just a little acetaminophen..” BAH – it’s the same thing! Or, “Here we don’t do spinals, don’t worry…we’re going to do an Intrathecal instead”. Again – same thing! Two different names for the same thing! (Intrathecal is the name of the space it is administered into) And yes, a “little snip” is the exact same thing as an episiotomy.

Finally, I’ve heard someone say that their cousin had a homebirth, but that they wanted prenatal care and medical care during the birth so they were choosing an OB and hospital birth. I don’t know whether to laugh, or cry, or just sigh and walk away.

I’ll walk away.

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