Skepchick Quickies 4.12


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. Wait!?

    Hollywood gets birth wrong? Seriously!? WTF!!?

    Next you’re going to tell me that gunshot wounds are dangerous, cars don’t explode all the time, and that adults are acually smarter than kids and animals!

    You are seriously deluded.

    [/snark off]

  2. I remember reading something about setting up underground greenhouses that take advantage of the geothermal gradient to regulate temperature. Something like: If the mean surface temperature is 45F and the gradient is 1F/100ft, then a chamber 3000ft below the surface would be a constant 75F.

  3. I find the report on sunless farms very encouraging. For years the sheer inefficiency of generating sunlight intensities of light with incandescent or fluorescent lamps has been used to argue that a self-sustaining lunar colony was impossible. Provided sufficient energy can be stored to last through the lunar night it seems that LEDs are the answer.

  4. I screamed while giving birth… I also got an epidural (as a result of the screaming, I might add).

    One thing I find interesting is that one of the risks I was told about getting an epidural was that it would increase my chances of getting a c-section. It was actually the opposite for me – I got the epidural because I was in so much pain that my blood pressure was skyrocketing, I was developing a fever, and my son’s heart rate was dipping after every contraction. Once I got the epidural, we both got to rest for a couple hours before we turned it down for the final stretch.

    While I was actually pushing my son out, the fever came back and my blood pressure kept going up and my son was going into distress. The OB was about a heartbeat away from rushing me in for an emergency c-section. Had I not gotten that rest that the epidural made possible, I have no doubt that I would have needed a c-section.

    It’s insane that women in labour are just expected to deal with the pain. In no other medical procedure would this be the case! When I finally broke down and asked for the anaesthesiologist (well, actually, my husband asked for one because he thought I was going to die, and I agreed with his wise decision), I actually spent the time I was waiting feeling like I was already a horrible mom, like I’d failed birthing. Once that sweet sweet juice started pumping into my spine, however, I was far too relieved to feel any guilt over unrealistic cultural expectations.

  5. My wife was insignificant pain before her epidural. She was screaming in pain fairly regularly and was really pissed at one point because the anesthesiologist was in surgery and would be a few minutes late. She told me the other day, she remembers being in pain, but doesn’t remember it being that bad.

    Perhaps there’s something to the idea that women forget some of the pain of giving birth so they might be willing to do it again in the future?

  6. @DiscordianStooge: My mom says the same thing. Certainly, I was riding an oxytocin high for a few days after my son’s birth that had me thinking that maybe, just maybe, it would be worth it if I could have more awesome little critters like him.

    Then the hormones died down and my rational brain kicked in, screaming “awe hell no!”

    I do see the possibility that I might change my mind once a couple years have dulled my memory of the pain. Thankfully, I have an awesome husband who has sworn to prevent me from making such bad decisions.

  7. @DiscordianStooge:

    I think that we tend to forget a lot of kinds of pain. It’s only anecdotal, but there have been times I was in pretty bad pain, and then replayed the memory without the pain, and then remembered the pain again only after being reminded of it (such are re-reading old diary entries).

    I think this is also why so many people are nostalgic for the “good old days” of their childhood. We remember the good things more easily than the bad things.

  8. My one problem with indoor farms is that the energy must now be supplied from artificial sources. The amount of energy required to grow food on this planet is immense: just think about how much of the landmass is covered with farms: it is a significant fraction. Now if you put that all indoors it takes up much less space and uses less water but now all the energy is coming from (yet more) fossil fuels. We might imagine powering these farms by solar energy: It is true that this would allow us to funnel the solar energy into the wavelengths that the plant can use best but I would be surprised if between the ~20% efficiency of commercial panels and the energy loss of the lighting if we would come anywhere close to the energy efficiency of just farming out in the sun, which is much much cheaper. Once Mr. Fusion comes along, though, I’ll be all for this idea.

  9. @ethanol: I agree with you that replacing all farming with this kind of method doesn’t strike me as being particularly realistic. However, imagine if we started building our cities so that all rooftops had solar panels and all sub-basements had farms?

    In a country like Canada where we really only have a fairly narrow band that serves both for living and farming, urban sprawl can become quite an issue. But a method like this would go a long way toward solving the problem.

    Add rain-catchers to all new buildings and we’d be well on our way toward being a sustainable country…

  10. That was a pretty well written article about labor pain, but I am skeptical of the claim that labor pain is fundamentally different than other types of pain. Anecdotally, I’ve experienced lots of different types of pain (broken bones, surgeries, childbirth, etc), and they all seem fundamentally pretty similar to me. They all hurt, they’re all uncomfortable, and drugs work remarkably well at relieving all of them. So yeah, I have a hard time buying that the science actually backs up the assertion that labor pain is somehow different and therefore useful, or a necessary part of labor.

  11. Grimalkin: This is a good point, although for most areas I might lean more towards solar collectors on the roof funneling that light down to lower levels, or even rooftop farms/greenhouses. If needed (perhaps during the winter) the lighting could be supplemented with LED’s. But wherever sunlight is available I would rather use it directly than funnel it through a costly and inefficient electrical system.

  12. @lexicakes:

    I remember an unbelievable endorphin high between contractions. While the contractions were horrible (a pain I don’t remember at all), each time they ended I would think that each one was almost worth it because I felt so amazing once they stopped. Seriously the best high I’d ever felt.

    Eventually I decided the high was not worth it and got the epidural.

  13. @Elyse: That would have been nice. My boy was nearly 11lbs, so the pain of him pressing on things that are NOT meant to pass something that big made the pain between contractions nearly as bad as the contraction pain itself.

    Endorphin highs were conspicuously absent.

  14. Dr Parikh mentions obliquely a couple of times that some people claim that pain is an “essential” part of childbirth. I think he is referring to the claim I’ve heard that somehow a woman can’t be a good and proper mother without experiencing extreme pain, ( Elyse and Lexicakes ranted about this several months ago.) Anyway, it just struck me that I personally know many wonderful mothers who didn’t experience one iota of childbirth pain; they adopted. Adoption couldn’t possibly work if there was the slightest bit of truth to this ridiculous notion.

  15. From my research into childbirth, it seems like it’s a good idea to plan for a natural birth, but to have no hang-ups about taking the epidural when you decide you really want it.
    The reason it’s good not to plan for a drugged, pain-free, birth is that sometimes the epidural doesn’t work. Imagine that scenario, for a woman who has no other resources for pain management!
    And I believe one should avoid the epidural until dilated to 5 cm or something in order for the epidural not to put a stop to contractions.
    So having drug-free ways to cope with pain seems like a really good idea, even if you are prepared to get the drugs if needed.
    But pain = good? Not so much.

  16. @Kaloikagathoi:

    I’d rather take my chances and plan for an epidural, but learn other pain management techniques as back-up. How common is it anyway for an epidural to not work? Is it on the order of 1%, 0.1%, or 10%? Your conclusion simply doesn’t follow from your premises. Planning for an epidural does not mean that women can’t or won’t learn about other pain management techniques for back-up.

    And I’m pretty sure the hypothesis that epidurals stop contractions has been thoroughly debunked.

  17. @Elyse: Now I’m totally jealous. I remember there being relief between contractions, but no high.

    Still, I don’t think there’s science showing that labor pain is special or helpful. In fact, some studies show that extreme pain during labor is associated with Cesarean deliveries and instrumental deliveries, as well as longer labors.

  18. Amanda,

    I just thought of something. Might that indoor, sunless farming method, also allow us, to eventually colonize other worlds in the solar system, not only the moon and mars, but also ones far from the Sun, in addition to helping solve the food crisis here on Earth? Its definitively something that would help toward that end, since people living on hostile planets would have to have some way to produce their own food. Even with a large number of very fast spaceships it with a large cargo hold, it would be too impractical for the colonists to import all of it.

  19. @catgirl: What you’re saying is really the same as what I am saying.
    I guess I felt that the emphasis is so much on having drugs and not expecting to have to deal with much pain that a good response would be to start off by figuring out how to cope if there is a lot of pain.
    If you personally think you could be bothered learning drug-free pain management techniques even though you thought there was only a 0.1 chance of having to use them, then you would be fine too.
    I don’t know what the chances are of an epidural not working, though.

  20. @Kaloikagathoi:

    I think there’s a big difference between preparing for the worst, and planning to fore-go something on the off chance that it won’t work.

  21. @catgirl: I think the problem is the word “planning.” To some people it means “deciding on your intentions”, and to others “preparing for contingencies.”

    I do quite a bit of planning as part of my job. I use the word to mean the latter. I don’t think you and Kaloikagathoi are actually disagreeing, just using different meanings of the word.

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