Friday, October 25, 2013

BIRTH STORY PART 4. THE FEAR EPIDEMIC

Still with me? 
Thank you for reading my birth story, if you took the time to do so. I tried to keep it brief, but the details are the most important part and there was nothing brief and simple about the experience or any of the emotions we experienced along the way. 

You may be asking at this point, "Why, after having pre-eclampsia and a c-section last time, would you still choose to have a home birth? Aren't you afraid?"


Of course. I'd be a negligent jackass if I wasn't a little scared. The trick is to use that fear to act and not make you immobile. I included a lot of back-story in the last post because I think its important here to explain that I truly believe that the outcome of my last pregnancy could have been avoided. For a long time people tried to tell me (and you'll find most of the information on Pre-E supports this idea) that Pre-E just "happens." That there is no way of preventing it, curing it, or detecting it. I disagree--and I think most midwives would disagree. Honestly I'm not even sure I had Pre-eclampsia. 

There were so many stressful factors that affected my last pregnancy and I naively thought the whole time that just because I felt fine and I looked fine and I wasn't barfing every 5 seconds that I was very healthy. Looking back, I was under an enormous amount of stress with moving homes, finding a job, and coping with a new city.  I had no support other than my husband--who was also coping with moving, navigating a new job and city. I am an only child, my parents are divorced, and I have lived far away from my extended family for years.  My work environment was horribly unsupportive.


My midwife was/is wonderful, but it was too late by the time her recommendations were coming. I needed proper prenatal care from Day 1. Everyone does. I did not pay attention to my nutritional needs. I did not eat enough protein. I did not eat enough period. I only gained about 20 lbs, and being I was 25 lbs overweight when I got pregnant, this all seemed normal and healthy. Most days at work I would go all day without even getting a glass of water. I took my vitamins sporadically when I remembered, but I thought, "Hey I feel fine."


Many of those things I couldn't control but some I could have and I chalk it up to being painfully uniformed about prenatal care. This time around I have taken an active role in my nutrition, excercise and stress-management. It has been a completely different pregnancy and my life is completely different. Should I really let the fear of what happened last time keep me from even trying to give birth and just schedule a surgery? No. This is a completely different situation! Like every woman out there. 


Fear is driving the majority of birth decisions in hospitals and it sucks. Vbacs (Vaginal birth after c-section) are being discouraged and often banned, because of fear. Unwarranted fear.  Women are afraid of pain, afraid they can't do it, and afraid that something will go horribly wrong. Hospitals are feeding the fear. What are hospitals afraid of? Lawsuits. Dead babies. Dead mothers. If they can wheel you in, drug you, take your baby out and send you home with a healthy baby and a prescription and fill your bed again--the staff  have done their job. Not a totally evil agenda..healthy babies are good, right?


The staff at your hospital may even truly care how you feel and agree with you, however they are bound by polices, hospital regulations, insurance companies and they don't have the luxury or autonomy to act on your particular circumstances, your hope for a magical birth or the specifics of your birth plan. Behind the scenes it all comes down to money. When we had Ruby, it cost us $20,000 to be undermined for four days. Pressuring women into a c-section because a tiny percentage of women could have an emergency when allowed to birth naturally is like saying "Hey I knew someone who had breast cancer, so every woman in American should start chemo." This is not rational thinking and its driven by the fear of litigation, not the inability of modern women to give birth. 

Fear influences our families, partners and support systems, too. Our men (or partners) are even more clueless than we are! And why shouldn't they be? All they have are the images they see on tv of women screaming and flailing in pain, "I hate you I hate you"  They feel completely powerless because the woman they love is going through the toughest thing of her life and they think they can't do a damn thing to stop it or help and they just want you and the baby to be safe and live. And its all a matter of being uninformed about birth and options. 


Midwives are trained professionals equipped with all of the necessary emergency equipment that a birth requires-minus a c-section. They come with an arsenal and are trained to administer most of the same things that your labor nurses would in a hospital-even induction drugs. There is a common misconception that midwives are a bunch of hippies who show up with a butter knife and some sheets and chant your baby out, and if something goes wrong, you're screwed. 


That couldn't be more wrong! An experienced Midwife has witnessed hundreds, maybe even thousands of vaginal births and their sole purpose is to be an absolute expert on every nuance of delivering your baby, whether it be normal, breech, or have a cord around its neck. They are women, they know you and they have been monitoring your body all along. More and more OB's don't even witness a natural, vaginal birth. Ever. 


I can tell you from personal experience, hospitals don't really like midwives. Why? Because they work for you--not the hospital (obv hospital midwives still work for the hospital**take note!). They are there to care for your needs and the needs of your baby and not the needs of the hospital system. They are tolerated to save face. They get in the way of getting you in and out without "all that fuss" of labor and dilating and waiting around, and hospital staff are all too quick to offer you what you want when it gets really hard and you're at your most vulnerable: an epidural.


Fear of pain. It's the first thing we think of when we think of labor. An epidural makes it all go away..ahh bliss and a new baby. Know this: there is a 75% chance that when you have an epidural, it is going to be followed by a c-section. You are basically numbing yourself from the waist down. You can't feel the baby move, you can't feel the urge to push, and you can't feel if you are pushing yourself to the point of tearing.  You miss all of your body's natural signals on how to deliver. You get out of a few hours of pain only to spend 6 weeks recovering from abdominal surgery..with a newborn. Basically you're doing a whole lotta work at the wrong time. You get tired,  you don't make any progress and your fetus begins to stress. Now is when you hear, "the baby is under some stress" At that point you're exhausted, you're vulnerable, scared for your baby and you're reaching for the knife yourself. 


Fear. it's a powerful tool. Thank you for reading. 

R

Join the discussion. Share your experiences. Please keep it informed and respectful.


for more info on midwifery, types of midwives, and training:


http://americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/midwives.html


http://watch.birthstorymovie.com/


http://www.mana.org/




1 comment:

Lee said...

Hi Rach,

I'm happy that you are so passionate about this issue and trying to educate others. I hope you get your home birth this time and I'm really glad that you have a midwife that you trust. I think it will be great.

I am going to call you out on one thing. I disagree that there is any OB out there that hasn't seen a vaginal birth. I think you over-exaggerated on that claim. I've delivered all three of my boys vaginally in a hospital. And I did have a lot of trouble with my first and some intervention, but in 24 hours it didn't lead to a c-section. I did however have pitocin on the first two and I was adamant I didn't want that on the third. I also used a hospital offered midwife in that process.

That birth process was much more scary for me because I thought I knew what I was doing, but a natural birth was so much different from what I had known. In my case it was my nurse that was the biggest advocate at the hospital for me. After an unsuccessful attempt to break my water, my doc said I'd have to go on pitocin. Since I was adamant that I didn't want that, I was very bummed. But she stood up for me and told me we could get it done another more natural way. And it worked.

I guess my point is, that I don't think all doctors are evil and I do think there are people that will advocate for you at a hospital. But I definitely agree with you that either way you have your birth, getting educated about the process BEFORE you are in it is extremely helpful. Its easy when you are tired to just give in to someone else's suggestions. Its great to have someone by your side, whether that is your partner, a midwife, a trusted nurse or your OB.

Can't wait to see how it goes for you!