Monday, August 22, 2011

I don't know everything, but I know what I want.

I still read lots of articles and blogs about birth.

Ever since I experienced it, I feel close to it, like that magical motherhood club that you are automatically initiated into, I am now part of the natural (med-free) birth club. Even that right there, the re-defining of natural birth, is something I've only learned since giving birth. Some people define natural birth as simply delivering vaginally. There is a whole other community of people trying to change this definition, or at least reinforce that 'natural' means so much more. Natural birth can be a wonderful thing that leaves you feeling like you can take on the world, and I would know. Many studies and stories have taught me that having a med-free birth is better for breastfeeding too, since the baby and mother have no drugs in their system (except of course for the natural endorphin rush).

(Let me stop right here to say: I am not trying to change anyone's mind about their pregnancy, birth or feeding choices. If you're planning an induction? You're having a baby! Joy! As long as you feed your baby? Breast or bottle - you're a GREAT parent! I believe that moms should just support each other.)

I am by no means judging anyone whose choices are different than mine. What I'm trying to get into is the sadness I feel when I read about someone who wants to have a med-free labor and birth but gets pushed into interventions or even get things done to them without their consent or knowledge! Women who want to breastfeed but end up unable to because of unsupportive (or uneducated - a scary thought) hospital staff or because the pain of a c-section and recovery keep them from feeling comfortable with nursing.

I get that shit happens, things beyond our control sometimes will make medical interventions completely necessary. And honestly, thank God for them, because when needed they are there and can save lives.

The problem, in my eyes, is the lack of knowledge people seem to have about the whole thing. Can you really rely on the doctor to help you through the whole process? And if you do feel you can completely trust your doctor... does that mean that you don't need to have any research done, or any thoughts or ideas of your own? This is what upsets me, and has been clanging around in my brain over the past year and a half... why are women leaving their births up to someone else?

It is so common now for pregnant women to just assume that their caregivers (OB, Midwife, nurses, etc.) will always do what's in the best interest of the mother and baby. But when giving birth in a hospital, which is the standard - and birth centers or *gasp* home births are for hippies - it is unfortunately usually just a matter of doing what's routine for the doctors and nurses, not necessarily what the mother wants.

I've said before and I'll say again, I know I'm lucky to have such a great hospital nearby, and a wonderful OB and midwives in the practice I chose. But I also know that it's not necessarily everything it could be. A while after I wrote out my birth story, and after I dove into some online reading, I re-read it and was shocked to see my own words - in my rose-colored hindsight I had completely forgotten about the blown vein and the monitoring fiasco.

The first time I heard of a doula was in our birth class at the hospital, when the instructor said she was a post partum doula. At the time it didn't really sink in, but now I realize that's why it seemed like she only covered what she absolutely had to when it came to epidurals and IV medications. She flatly listed the available options, covered the risks, and answered questions. Most of the time was spent practicing breathing, visualization, and teaching the partners how to help. I thought it was weird at first, like why isn't she telling us more about the epidural? Isn't that what happens when you show up to the hospital in labor? (hahahahaha) I will forever be grateful to Lisa, although she may never know it, because she was the first one to help me begin to realize there are other options.

So? For next time? (No - I'm not pregnant) I'm excited. I'm going to the birth center. I'm birth-planning, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and possibly even encapsulating my placenta.

Again, I'm not saying my ideal way is the only way, or that if someone chooses a voluntary (informed consent) c-section, that they're not doing what's best for them. I just think that there needs to be more dialogue, more communication, more information shared between patient and provider(s). Nothing is perfect (including this crazy mess of a post) but giving birth is too important to let go.


  1. Good for you! You are right, depending on your hospital, it's just presumed you're going epidural. Mine does. To each her own but the key is having the knowledge to do what's best for you.

  2. Yep, I'm with you. Well sort of, if I had been able to deliver vaginally (stupid fake aneurysm) I would probably have wanted the epi eventually, BUT it breaks my heart to hear the pain that some people have when they're not supported. I've seen and heard from people who years later are struggling with a decision that they feel was forced on them.
    Good for you for knowing what you want and having a plan in place to make sure you get it.

  3. I'm totally shocked by how many people seem to do absolutely zero research. They call it "go with the flow" and I call it shocking. My friend is pregnant and she's often asking on Facebook if people did certain tests or had certain things planned for birth and every single time, the same 2-3 people don't even know what she's referring to (who have kids under the age of 3) and when she tries to explain, they go "Eh, never heard of that. We just do what the doctor says, don't really listen to what it's for." I mean, SERIOUSLY?!!? That's scary.

  4. At first this post made me mad. Mad that I felt like you were sounding like you were better than everyone else with your natural birth club. Then the post made me cry. Cry becuase I could not have any of those experiences and I realized that was what made me so mad. So yeah, I ended up part of the long labor, endless pushing, c-section, too many drugs, stapled to death, bruised by terrible lactation nurses, bottle feeding club. And since that wasn't where I wanted to be, your post made me JEALOUS and ANGRY and CRY....then I sat there in my own pile of self guilt and realized...if I wan't part of my 'special' club then I wouldn't have a beautiful healthy baby boy that makes my world go round....and I SMILED and LAUGHED (and cried again from joy this time). So - plan all you want - go for the gusto - just remember, you never know what will happen and for ALL mothers the end goal is the same - a healthy baby. Which is the club we get to be in TOGETHER and I am so grateful to be there with you!!!!
    Jen M

  5. Jen -

    I am so sorry that I made you mad. The last thing I wanted was to come off like I thought I was better than you.

    I just wanted to put it out there that I have heard so many stories (including yours) about women being treated badly and being hurt and scared and that this is what's considered NORMAL. It's scary to me that what you went through can be considered routine or standard or whatever the hell.

    I know that I can't really plan for everything, and that I won't know exactly what will happen, but my goal is just to be as informed as possible for all the options, and be able to make decisions based on the information I have - which IS what you did - and honestly YOU HELPED ME with that. I don't know that my own birth story would have been such a learning experience for me, if I hadn't known about yours.

    Seeing and hearing your feelings and experiences as you healed (and continue to heal, I suspect) this past year made me dig deeper into my search for knowledge, and made me stronger in my determination to find out what I really want.

    I am just lucky that what I ended up wanting and being so passionate about was close to what I got.

    And I am so grateful that you are my friend, and that your happy, healthy, beautiful baby boy is here to give you joy. No matter how he got here, no matter how he ate during his first year, no matter what, he is perfect. You are an excellent mom, and I am so glad that we get to be moms together too!!


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