The Survey

Ok, here are the results of the survey, with commentary on why I asked what I did:

81.2% of respondents were experienced moms
4.7% were first time moms
1.2% were CPMs
1.2% were CNMs
11.8% were 'other', which consisted of doulas, people who have no children, and people who actually fit into the categories provided but for whatever reason chose 'other' anyway

Of the first time moms, 44.4 said they felt confident regarding the information they were receiving in pregnancy, while 55.6 said they were confused and a little afraid. However, I'm not sure how this breaks down, since there were more than twice as many responses here than for the women who identified themselves as first time moms in the first question.

Of the experienced moms, 72.6 said they felt confident they made their own best decisions, while 27.4 said they wondered if things might have been different. Again, the number of experienced mothers from the first question didn't match with the number of responses here, but it was because fewer answered this question than identified themselves as experienced.

Now, for the 'biased' questions. I had someone write to me and say that as a communications professional, she had a problem with these questions because we are all biased. I agreed with her 100%. We do all view the world through a lens of our own experience that makes our view biased. However, most people do not seem to use the term 'biased' as it is defined, especially when it comes to birth. I bring this up in my book before even moving into the birth information because I see it all the time. Therefore, the questions I asked may have seemed redundant, but I asked essentially the same question in a number of different ways for a reason.

94.1% of respondents said that they felt cable birthing programs were biased
81.2% said that factual information on all safe birthing options would be unbiased
97.6% said that information that provides only selected information, or that excludes or misrepresents factual information on all options is biased
67.1% said that if only one side of an issue has been represented, a source providing only the opposing side provides balance
91.8% said that information, even if not widely available, popular or pleasant, but factual and independently verifiable is unbiased

Now, the reason I asked these questions was that I'm trying to figure out why people watch the propaganda that is the cable birth programming, and reject documentaries like The Business of Being Born, Born in the U.S.A or Gentle Birth Choices. Comments I've heard from parents are that these movies, and books like Mother's Intention (which fosters critical thinking regarding birth options) or Obstetrical Myths versus Research Realities (which is all about the scientific data) or Born in the U.S.A (which is an inside look by a doctor of how U.S. maternity care currently fails women and babies) are that they felt these works were 'biased', 'negative', or 'unbalanced'. Yet in everyone of these cases you will find independently verifiable facts and the opinion that the optimum functioning maternity care system needs both midwives and the surgical specialty of obstetrics. Yet in 17 years in birthing, I've yet to hear a doctor, after an initial visit, tell a client, "You know, you are so low risk, you should see the midwife down the street for a consult" and parents will still say that they specifically only seriously consider information that comes directly from their doctor or hospital based childbirth class because it's 'balanced' and 'unbiased'. ACOG has issued position statements that are diametrically opposed to the actual facts of homebirth and midwifery, and this is as far as the vast majority of doctors are going to go to get their information. That is hardly 'unbiased'.

Of the selections above, not one of them says hospitals or doctors are bad. What they say is that what we are doing to women and babies in this country doesn't make sense, based on the evidence. What they say is we can't fix a problem unless we acknowledge a problem exists. So they expose the elephant in the kitchen. Then they propose a solution that gets the elephant out of the kitchen, but certainly doesn't kill the elephant.

72.9% of respondents said that if they encountered information that challenged their core beliefs, they would independently verify it.

52.9% said there is no way they'd watch cable birthing programs

I wish I had asked where and with whom these respondents had birthed. I highly suspect that these were homebirth moms, because these programs aren't still on because no one is watching. In every one of my classes parents sheepishly admit they watch. I tell them if they must, use it as a learning opportunity. Notice how often intervention is often unnecessary and leads to complications.

The order of preference for other birth DVDs was:

90.6% Gentle Birth Choices (home, hospital, birthing center, water-birth)

84.4% The Business of Being Born (home-birth, hospital-birth, comparison of U.S. outcomes with outcomes of other countries)

77.6% Born in the U.S.A. (birth in U.S. compared to other countries)

73.5% Birth As We Know It (water-birth, orgasmic birth)

63.5% Special Delivery (home, hospital, birthing center)

One of the things I wanted to see is if there would be a decent turn out for public viewing of all safe birthing options were made available. These figures would suggest yes, if this indeed was a fair representation of expectant parents, which I unfortunately think it didn't end up being. Home birth mothers, HypnoBirthing(R) mothers, moms who have hired doulas; they have already set themselves apart by questioning all they've been told and rejecting what insults their souls.

Another possible reason for the discrepancy between the data and mainstream outcomes is that some women know that they have safe options, but don't choose those options for some other reason. Often I have people in class who will say they would like to have a homebirth, or birth with midwives as an area hospital that I recommend often, but their insurance won't cover it.

Here is where we get to my next blog entry...how to help these women!

But that will have to wait until this weekend.

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