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.