For me, Atul Gawande’s “How Childbirth Went Industrial” was absolutely fascinating and relates to something that I am very passionate about. The summer before last, I worked as a clinical researcher and volunteer assistant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at my local hospital. Through this job, I was allowed to attend morning rounds, watch births and surgeries, sit in on bioethics debates and even attend meetings where difficult cases were discussed. In a nutshell, it was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and it has changed my life goals, to hopefully some day work with premature babies in a NICU.
While I understand and agree that childbirth and pregnancy are both “romanticized” and risky, and even the language that Gawande used describing the process of C-sections and use of tools was extremely methodical/technical and practiced, having been in the operating room, first hand, to watch births of premature and extremely sick babies, I cannot help but think that what doctors do to keep these children alive are nothing short of miracles. I saw many infants who were born at only one pound and 24 weeks (normal babies are 36 to 40 weeks) survive and thrive. The project I specifically worked on was also a way to help ameliorate treatment of very low birth weight babies. I saw the APGAR score used in real life, every time I went to watch a delivery… and it was explained to me then the history of the score. All in all though, I find it truly is amazing what has been developed to help both mothers and their babies, not to mention the fact that it was a woman who created the APGAR score which is used in hospitals everywhere.
Finally, I do have to say that I understand that Elizabeth Rourke did not end up following her childbirth plan, but who really follows their life plans exactly anyway? In the end, I agree with her, however she should have been happy that her child was born as healthy as she was, not reprimanding herself for the choices she made along the way. As long as both mother and child are safe and well, there should be no regrets.