Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WHY CLIMB A MOUNTAIN?

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I want to thank everyone who has read or commented on my posts lately.  Congrats, you've made it to the end of my rant. :)

Many people have contacted me with birth stories of their own and tons of well wishes. Several have had wonderful experiences with their OBs, and called me out on some of my own assumptions, generalizations and biases. Several were somewhere in the middle--things turned out good, but they felt the pressure of the hospital system and wish they could have changed some things.  Yay for starting a dialogue and having the courage to speak up! 

I'm aware I've alienated a few people, too and for that I'm sorry. I admit I am not a professional writer... I'm just a person who feels very passionately about this issue after experiencing incredible disappointment and loss the first time around. Writing about my experience is bringing me to some sort of closure before my next birth and I'm hopeful that it informed a few people along the way. 

I need to say it loud and clear: The goal is not to draw a big judge-y line between hospital moms and home birth moms or even midwives and doctors. The real issue is that we are hugely uninformed about one of the most important decisions in our life. We spend at least a week if not more planning what kind of phone we will purchase but most people don't really put a lot of effort into researching birth options. 

There is a habit in our culture to just assume that medical professionals are gods and that if we just get to the hospital they will take care of it all, regardless of what kind of effort we've put into our health ourselves.  I don't want ANY woman or man to feel the loss of power we felt after Ruby's birth, and there are a host of outside forces--none related to whats best for you and the baby--working against what you may want, in the current system. What should be the natural state of having your children may be a fight tooth and nail. This I know from first-hand experience.





Maybe I've convinced a few of you that the current birth situation is screwy, and hospitals aren't perfect, but 50 years of American modern medicine still makes you leery of home birth and midwives, and you're still afraid something will go wrong--rightfully so.  What can you/your wife/your girlfriend/sister/friend do? 


Educate yourself. Period.  


Natural birth takes more effort, research and responsibility for our own health. You have to shop for an OB that will honor and respect your wishes in a REAL way.  If it seems like your Doc is sort of nodding along about your wishes, or they are annoyed or surprised by your knowledgeable questions, you may want to switch--immediately. Is this a hassle? Yes.  


You have to take responsibility for your prenatal health from Day 1. Despite how it looks on TV, pregnancy is not an ice-cream free-for-all or a free pass to the buffet line. The 15 minutes you spend in an OB's office visit will most likely be spent talking about due dates and tests and not about how you need to be fortifying your body to support another human for the next year. Nutrition is uber-important to your birth outcome, especially if you are not in prime health when you get pregnant (like me). Hassle? Yes. 


Find out what types of birth facilities are in your community. Most major cities have maybe one free-standing birth center and it is probably booked to the max. Call them immediately when you find out you're pregnant. Talk to friends who loved their OBs, find out why and get their name. Talk to friends who used midwives and doulas and get their experiences. Read, read, read.  Make your husband or partner read it too. He's going to learn about all this from YOU. 



Super silly but it's my blog. Man up. Real men know about birth. 
When a health professional tells you something that goes against everything else you've researched about it (i.e. c-sections are safer than natural birth or episiotomies are safer than a tear), don't be afraid to question it!! Nothing ever changes until enough people call "bullshit." By the time my daughter has children I hope she doesn't have to research OBs and hospitals because they ALL respect the birth process and have her best interests in mind. 

Yes, all of this takes more effort than just showing up on the big day and expecting the hospital to teach you how to birth.  Which begs a very important question...

Why bother? 



I am aware that on some level, I care more about having the experience of childbirth than other women. Some people just want kids..they don't care how they get here. Why go through all of the hassle of researching and planning, and giving birth? Why do anything? Why run a marathon when you can get dropped off at the Starbucks near the finish line? Why climb a mountain? Only because it is one of the most life-affirming things that you can do as a HUMAN, and in this case as a woman. If this is the most amazing and powerful thing you can do as a female, do you really want to miss it?


Knowing all the facts, many people will still choose an elective c-section or a common (in America) medically-assisted birth and if that satisfies their expectations for the birth of their children, then all is well and ideal--but my hope for all families out there, is that the decision will be made based on what they TRULY wanted from the experience and not what they settled for because of fear, outside pressures, or the belief that they couldn't do it. 

Do you want the most wonderful day of your life to look like this?


Or like this? 




Something to think about. 

The first place to start if you want to know more about this is by watching The Business of Being Born. (netflix, download, even message me and I will burn it for you) It is a very informative documentary about all of the things I've been talking about and they do it in a much more eloquent way than I ever could. Once you open the door to knowledge about this subject.. you'll find you want more. It's all out there.

Thanks for listening. 

R




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