We have heard of ADD, (Attention Deficit Disorder) ADHD, (Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder) PIT, (Pitocin, an artificial oxytocin to get labor contractions started) ROM, (Rupture of Membranes, breaking of waters during labor), VBAC, (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) but have you heard of CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder? I hadn’t until I read the recent issue of Yoga + , (Spring 2009) Lorrain Dusky’s article on “The Future of the Bees”. Without the healthy cross-pollination of 25 million flowers per day…we can kiss many simple nutritional pleasures in our lives goodbye. Melons, apples, coffee, blueberries, cherries, cucumbers…shall I go on?
As I read the article, I began to see many correlations between the world of bees collapsing and the world of birth at a critical mass. And who is responsible for both? Of course, we humans.
Industrial beekeepers scratch their heads and wonder what the possible cause of CCD could be? Medical caregivers scratch their heads and wonder what the cause of the rise of inductions/epidurals/cesareans/infirtility could be?
In Rowan Jacobsen’s book, Fruitless Fall, he takes a look at how far the bees have been taken from their natural environment, where they ate a varied diet, and now attempt to thrive on the monocropped fields of industrial farming, where they struggle and die. Sound familiar? So what is this ‘industrialized agriculture disease?’ Chemically fertilized fields of single crops: no biodiversity, not local pollinators, no curbs on diseases than can spread across countries through the packing and shipping. Hmmmm…not only is the care in a disarray, the stress levels put on bees is outrageous: trucked around countries to do their pollination duties, viral infections on the rise mites, chemicals to kill the mites, exotic pathogens, antibiotics and on and on. Sound familiar? Diets of CORN SYRUP, for DECADES. As Jacobson states, “GIving them corn syrup is like giving us nothing but soda when we are sick.” As Dusky mentions in her article, “Migrant labor, bee style, One job to the next, no vacations and lousy food to boot.”
Queen bees are dying off in 6 months instead of a couple of years! The baby bees are weak and subject to all sorts of viruses. Forager bees are listless and exhausted, a perfect breeding ground for the mites. Bees die off in the fields. Not only is this happening in the United States, but Canada, Asia, South America and China. Sound familiar in the birth world?
Jacobson even suggest, “If the bees lived a life they evolved for, staying in one place, having a variety of flowers to visit, which would give them the different nutrients they needed, the corn syrup addition might be okay.” Dusky continues with, “But when a cheap diet of sucrose comes at the end of a long list of stressors, you get a tipping point and …CCD.”
So what is our ‘tipping point’ in the birth world? The fact that in 3 decades cesarean sections have gone from under 7% nationally to 35+% today. Faster, easier, more convenient and financially profitable procedures. Why waste the time on letting a woman’s body go into labor naturally when the drugs and pharmacuticals exist today to expediate the process. Step away from nature, at what cost? The World Health Organization (WHO) states that no region in the world is justified in having a cesarean rate greater than 10-15%.
“Inductions and epidurals?’ Another ‘tipping point’ in the field of birth. All creating more opportunities for us to distance ourselves from nature and our own natural chemicals and allow the ‘machines’ to determine, when, how long and how much time.
I remember seeing a birth film by, David Sotnik, “Fate of the Earth, Fate of Birth,” (1997) where midwife Candace McCracken stated, “I’m worried that natural childbirth is becoming an endangered species.” Birth and cultural anthropologist, Robbie Davis Floyd draws a line between women who choose to ‘drop down into biology’ and those who do not choose to ‘drop down into biology’, thus creating two completely different cultures. One that tunes in and trusts the nature of their bodies and the other that sees and experiences their bodies to be a ‘vehicle’ and the baby to be the ‘end result’. A culture of a mechanistic, detached society that does not choose to be in their bodies by even breastfeeding. Where do you draw the line?
There is hope for the bees though, with a Buddhist, Bee Mystic, in Vermont, Kirk Webster. Instead of opting for chemicals to kill his crop of mites, he allowed the bees to die, took the survivors and bred them with each other and introduced hardy Russian bees into the hive. Patience was the key, because he had to wait a decade without income. (OH HORRORS for the industrial world of bees). The result was developing bees largely resistant to mites and letting the bees build their own V-shaped organic hives. No bad diets…only a variety of apple blossoms to feed off of. Staying local, no trucking around the country. The Bee’s needs were met.
As with any collapse or disorder, there is a silver lining. Colony Collapse Disorder opended the world’s eyes to the fact that agriculture depends on honeybees. Biodiversity is what we humans crave and need for survival.
So, what is our silver lining in the birth world? What are we going to do to bring back our connection to nature, our natural secretion of hormones, healthy vibrant food sources and trusting the process of labor and birth? I put it in your hands, your words, your actions.
If the bees can make it with the help of one small farmer at a time, remembering it takes patience, trust, good strong genes and getting back to nature…it might be a helpful formula for the birth community to regroup, realign and tip the point in another direction.