Born Free!

After my induction and intervention-laden birth with my first daughter, I knew I wanted something different and more natural for my next birth. When I became pregnant three years later, I looked into my choices. What I hated most from my first experience was the way I felt focused more on other people in the room than myself. One of my options was unassisted childbirth (UC). Women who choose UC typically have their partner present and possibly a midwife and/or doula. I decided I liked the idea of having no one but my husband around so I could focus on my labor. I feel birth is a natural process, and if something should go wrong we hadn’t already prepared for in our natural birthing classes, we would have a midwife and doula on call just in case. Finally, I wanted my birth to be a special experience my husband and I shared together. Continue reading “Born Free!”

Normal Is Not Normal

A story of intervention

A first time mom chooses to give birth at a birth center. She is excited; she plans a natural birth in a quiet setting. Still pregnant ten days after her due date, an ultrasound checks on the well-being of the baby. As she sees her little one in utero, the technition announces that there is too little amniotic fluid and she needs to be induced immediately. After a teary call to her midwife, she is told to go to the hospital at 12:30 pm.

Once there she is hooked up to Pitocin. There is nothing else that can be done, she must stay in the bed hooked up to the machine. Her water is broken and a fetal monitor is screwed into her baby’s head in utero. Hours pass and her contractions become excruciating. She is dilated only 4 centimeters and everyone is worried that she is not progressing. Pain relief is offered and she agrees to a shot of Stadol. After an hour, the pain has increased, the mother feels dizzy and she has not progressed beyond 4 centimeters. She talks with her midwife who suggests an epidural to give her some pain relief. The mother agrees. 8 hours after her induction started, the epidural takes effect and the mother is able to rest. An hour later and at 10 centimeters of dilation, the mother begins to push. Because she cannot feel anything below her waist, the baby is delivered using a vacuum and an episiotomy. Continue reading “Normal Is Not Normal”

Did You Know?

In other cultures and in earlier times, birth was treated differently than it is today in the United States. Instead of being scared of the pain or possible complications, women looked at it as an exciting rite of passage. Women were prepared by other women in how to get their bodies ready for labor and how to help their bodies during the labor process. Today women rarely know how to labor effectively unless women attend educational birth classes or are prepared by extensive reading or speaking with other women. Some arrive at the hospital expecting to be told what to do with no preparation whatsoever. A very interesting anthropological paper by Robbie E. Davis-Floyd, Ph.D theorizes that the current state of birth in America has become a series of ritualistic procedures that bring “ordered structure to the chaotic flow of the natural birth process.” This explains how birth has gone from a natural process unique to each woman to a process that is managed and controlled by doctors to fit a  predictable pattern.

Should Intervention Be Routine?

Women spend a lot of time in pregnancy researching their baby’s development, the safest car seat, or names for their child. But how many research how their baby will enter the world? Most rely upon their doctors to provide them with the best advice. What women may not realize is that an obstetrician is trained to look for and spot problems. They are experts at surgery, but many of them have witnessed few labors and births without intervention.

Unfortunately medical doctors are not given ample training in natural childbirth and therefore often do not feel confident in a woman’s ability to birth a child without medical intervention. This is clear when you walk though a hospital and see most women laboring and giving birth on their backs, which is the most difficult position to birth a baby. Doctors depend on their familiarity with technology to help them determine the baby and mother’s well-being. They are concerned that they do everything possible to ensure there are no complications.

What if help actual hurts? By providing the best technology and newest procedures, the doctor may actually be impeding the natural flow of the birth process. Various interventions can cause a woman’s body to not work as effectively to dilate the cervix. Most require the woman to stay in or near her bed reducing her mobility. Moving around during labor is very helpful because it allows gravity to help the labor progress. Certain labor and birth positions will change the shape of the pelvis, allowing a woman to help the baby move into a more advantageous position.

What exactly is an intervention? Intervention means interfering with the intent to modify the outcome. Birth interventions can be as obvious as a c-section or as commonplace as electronic fetal monitoring. Each  intervention carries its own risks and benefits. In the next article, we will look at the interventions and discuss what risk are associated with each intervention.

Please stop by in the next few days for the next installment of Birth in America!

Click here to read the first post in this series.