I had an interesting experience the other day - getting to watch a vintage childbirth scene from a 1946 film, "Blue Skies" with Bing Crosby and Fred Astair.
First of all, as an aside, I should say that I now understand why a movie with two such phenomenal actors is not well-known - talk about overdone!! This was supposed to be Fred's last movie (it wasn't), so they pulled out all the stops for it - they had a song and/or dance number about every five minutes. Literally. It was extremely tiresome! Combined with a weak plot, it made for a movie that we probably won't be watching again.
Anyhow, there was an unexpected childbirth scene in the movie that I found very interesting. Here's what you see: Bing Crosby pacing with his friend in a lobby in front of a newborn nursery. The nurse comes out with a baby and shows it to him, then takes it away. The doctor comes out and Bing immediately says, "Can I see her, doctor?" The doctor says, "Well, I don't know - she's still kind of sleepy." He rushes in anyway, in time for a conversation with a half-unconscious wife. The next scene is of them giving a bottle to the baby.
Okay, let's unpack this for just a minute. Here's the reality of what would have happened:
During labor, the wife (Joan) would have been isolated from her family and then doped out of her mind with various drugs, including scopolamine. She would have been strapped down to a delivery table in the lithotomy position (flat on her back, head lower than her legs, legs tied into stirrups). For the actual delivery she would have been (either willingly or forcibly) drugged into complete unconsciousness. The doctor would have cut one heck of an episiotomy, dragged a near-unconscious infant out with forceps, and spanked it vigorously to it breathing (a drugged mother is a drugged baby) and then toted it off to the newborn nursery. Not only would the mother not have been conscious for the birth, but she probably wouldn't have seen her baby for some time (and would be too drugged out to care). She would have been discouraged from breastfeeding and told to give the always-superior formula.
The arrogance of humanity astounds me. God has given us a perfect process in human childbirth which is self-contained and needs (in most cases) only loving support and encouragement. But in every age since we've been able to do so (including the present time) man has with the utmost conceit assumed that a perfect process needs improvement by humanity, and thus has created such atrocities as scopolamine-drugged births in the 1950's and a now 32% cesarean rate in the 2000's. Sad.
This just makes me mad because I know how important a woman's birth experiences are to her. Rather than go on a rant, I'll just refer you to my entry below this one.
A couple of years ago, I would have seen this scene and thought it merely sweet. After all, they abound throughout film - "I Love Lucy," etc. And modern childbirth scenes in the media are really no better. There's always the emergency situation, the "rescue" by the godlike doctor, the unnecessary interventions accepted by unknowing mothers as good and needed. Gee whiz, you'd think we could improve out of this mess!
Enough grousing! Back to what I should be doing!