Holy c(ha)ow, Matt, they got rid of the log city at Tuckahoe? That bites! Arg, I think you're right!
Now my essay on hospital birth differences and liabiltiy-driven medicine.
Basically, in Switzerland they feel like a birth is a natural event which, you know, sometimes runs into trouble, so you might want to have a doctor around just in case. So they pretty much leave you to the midwives, and let you do whatever you want, and come check on you occasionally. The emphasis is on your being comfortable.
In America, they basically think that birth is a medical emergency, managed by a doctor. In order to compete in the market, they may have to grudgingly allow frills like midwives, doulas, or not strapping you down to the bed, but all that frippery is going to fall away the minute the presiding doctor feels it's getting in the way of her getting the baby out as she sees fit.
Aviva's birth in Frauenspital Basel: after about ten hours of labor, Esther's contractions gradually subside. They are now coming at about one every ten minutes, which means the baby is not progressing. Esther sits up and says, "actually, I'm kind of hungry."
So, they bring her dinner. She eats, and then takes a nap (or rather an hour-long series of ten-minute catnaps). After a few hours, a doctor comes around and says that, you know, if we want to hurry things along, they could put her on a Petocin drip. We say we'd rather try all the non-drug techniques we've read about.
The doctor is cool with that, so we spend quite a few hours walking up and down stairs, bouncing on balls, etc., before we reluctantly conclude we'll go with the Petocin. (And, after they do put her on Petocin, and contractions speed up to one a minute, which is way to fast to handle with the Bradley method and autohypnosis, we ask them to take her off the drip, and they do. At which point the contractions settle down to a manageable one every three minutes, and sometime thereafter Aviva is born, underwater).
Noah's birth, Arlington Hospital: first, you do not eat -- you get ice. Why? Because, if some complication required surgery under general anaesthesia, and you vomit and aspirate, you might die and they'd get sued. But, you ask, isn't this vanishingly rare? And what about any other emergency surgery under general anaesthesia? Might the same thing not happen then? Um, I don't think you heard me: THEY'D GET SUED.
Second, if the baby is not progressing, you are going on Petocin, and you are not going off it. The input of laypeople on medical procedures, such as the administration of Petocin, is barely tolerated, for marketing reasons, with thinly concealed disgust.
Aviva's birth, Frauenspital Basel: Once the baby is born, she gets wiped off briefly, plunked into mom's arms to nurse, then Dad's arms while they sew mom up, then the family gets put in a family room, where they hang out for five days.
Again, if you want expertise on how to diaper, etc., a nurse comes around and helps out, otherwise, they pretty much feel like you can handle it.
Around day two, a nurse comes by and is like, hey, maybe we should show you how to bathe your baby. And they do.
Noah's birth, Arlington hospital: after the medically indicated nursing-on-the-off-chance-you-can-handle-it, the baby is whisked away to the nursery to be washed, weighed, swaddled, and have antibiotic goo smeared in its eyes.
Why the goo? Syphillis. Because, you know, of the plague of syphillis in Arlington, and the inability to, say, test the mother to see if she HAS syphillis.
Why the washing? I actually asked the nurse doing the washing, what is the purpose of removing the waxy protective natural covering on my baby? Does that, I said (putting on my best friendly-and-naive voice) help the baby?
"Oh no," said the nurse, busily scrubbing Noah, "it's not for the baby. It's for the hospital workers, because of the risk of contamination. See, if we don't wash your baby, and then we have to handle it, we could get infected."
And then we might sue.