I hope you enjoy this blog from Jaimie Schrock as much as I did. She is a dear friend and a treasure in the birth and VBAC community.
Fears. The what if's.
It would be one thing if all we had to worry about was ourselves.
But, there's this precious baby. This fresh new life. That deserves the best. And we love this little one more than our mouths can form the words to say.
You know this love, if you have had a child before. It's unspeakable and it grips your heart in ways you would have never imagined and could have never understood before.
When you choose a VBAC, it's choosing to do something different.
Most doctors, most mothers have been familiar with 'once a c-section, always a c-section."
No one really remarks if you choose this.
However, for those of us who have or will choose to do something that's outside of the norm, many can question us and we can question ourselves. Especially if you have had two or more c-sections.
I can't do it.
Or worst case...I rupture?
But I'm here to tell you...YOU NEED TO GET RID OF FEAR.
Well, we know that fear can be good. It can alert us to dangerous situations. That part of us is a good fear that was created in us to protect us. But this attacking fear that can strike our minds day and night, that is not a good fear.
Can I explain further? If you have chosen to birth by VBAC, I am assuming you have researched, you have thought. You have thought deeply. At one point in time, you decided this was the best thing for you, and for your baby.
And if you are like me, you prayed about it. You asked God what He wanted for your birth. You waited for an answer and when you received it you had peace. That passes over your mind and understanding.
Why Do We Need To Get Rid of Fear?
But what can we do when it prowls around us, wanting us to succumb to its temptation?
They promise us control. That if we believe them and worry with them, somehow we may prevent something from happening or if it does, our being afraid may make it better.
But those, dear readers are lies. Lies we were never meant to believe. They steal from us and nag at us. We were created to live in freedom and be at peace. When we do our best, making our best choices in childbirth and most especially when we ask God and pray about our situations, we can in fact have that peace that passes all understanding. That we have a loving God. That He is there for us. And we can trust Him in whatever we face. In birth. And in everyday life.
I am overdue for sharing another Pro Tip!
The days are short this time of year. And this abundance of darkness reminds me of a great tip to share with you all. There are some great benefits to laboring in the dark.
Melatonin. The first of these is melatonin. It has been discovered that myometrial tissue, the muscle in the uterus, is responsive to the presense of melatonin. And studies have shown that the majority of labor occurs at night. We’ve also found that pregnant women, especially those near term have increased levels of melatonin present. Read more specifics about the role of melatonin in labor and birth here and here. Oh! And watch a great video from Michel Odent on the same topic!
Privacy. The second is privacy. A sense of privacy is really important to laboring women. Birth is an intimate event. Feeling watched can come with a feeling of pressure to perform or act in a certain way and can negatively impact the hormones her body produces and that are needed for labor to progress. Feeling disturbed or interrupted or even exposed or vulnerable can cause stress hormones to rise and even shut down or significantly slow labor. Laboring in the dark is an easy way to gain a sense of privacy even if you are not alone. Read more about the importance of privacy in labor here and here.
Wow! The chemistry of our bodies is pretty cool.
Don’t keep this tip to yourself, friends! Here is a graphic a created to share on your own social media and let others in our secret of the benefits to laboring in the dark!
Dear mothers of Houston,
If chosen as your doula, I promise to:
*Inform you of all of your birthing options
*Help you gather all of the information you need to make the best decisions for your growing family.
*Support you in your decisions.
*Refer you to other needed and/or wanted professionals in the area.
*Encourage you to trust your own intuition.
*Believe in your ability to birth and mother your baby.
*Connect with you emotionally, mother to mother.
*Engage you in discussions and activities for a healthy pregnancy and birth.
*Empower you to take responsibility for and control over your care.
*Comfort you with expert labor support.
*Serve you with loving, intuitive, knowledgeable, professional doula care.
For your birth in 2017, choose Amber Piller.
Choose to be Stronger Together.
Choose to Make Birth Great Again.
It’s time for another Pro Tip!
It’s normal to feel afraid when thinking about what lies ahead of you…..what will labor be like? Can I do it? What if something goes wrong? Will I be a good mom?
These feelings will affect you, your baby, and your birth. But, I have good news! There is a way to keep them under control! Having a provider that you trust is a good start. Taking a quality, independent childbirth education class is another big step in the right direction as is hiring a doula to support you. Having a team around you to support and educate you will help relieve some of your anxieties of what labor and birth will look and feel like. Staying active and eating well is good insurance that you will have a healthy and satisfying birth with a healthy mom and baby at the end. Spending time practicing self care and nourishing and preparing your soul for motherhood is also important. Pray, meditate, talk to friends and family, create art, journal….find whatever it is that works for you and do it regularly.
Oh friends! Don’t keep all this information to yourself! I made a little graphic below for you to share on your social media and let all your friends and family in on these pro tips! And be sure to check out the other tips in this series!
Welcome back for my latest edition of my blog series: Pro Tips! This will be a series of short, simple, but incredibly helpful tips from a birth pro….me.
Cesarean rates can vary greatly by hospital. I’m still learning about the hospitals here in Houston, but I can tell you that one large teaching hospital with a maternal-fetal-medicine (high risk OB) department, and level NICU has an overall cesarean rate of 22%. And just a few miles away, another large hospital also with a MFM department and high-level NICU has an overall cesarean rate of 35%. Wow. And that’s not just Omaha. It’s everywhere. Do your research, mamas. Learning the cesarean rate of your birth place will tell you so much about how the providers within that system practice and the policies that hospital holds that may hinder normal birth.
Don’t keep all this great information to yourself! I made a nifty graphic for you to share on your facebook, Instagram, twitter, and whatever else you’d like so you can let all your friends and family in on these awesome pro tips!
I don’t often get so personal on this blog, but I think this topic very much ties into birth so it’s going here. And I am interrupting my Pro Tips series to get something off my chest that has been weighing me down for a good long while.
I am sick, sick, SICK of being ignored, friends. As I chatted with a couple new doula friends a few weeks back, one brought up this topic and she mentioned a personal experience of her own. She said that when she had moved to Houston and needed to get a Texas driver’s license, she looked up what she needed online and brought everything to the DMV. She waited and waited in a long line only to be told she was missing something once she finally got her turn. She asked if there was some way they could help her so that she didn’t have to go back home and gather what was needed and wait in that awful line again and was told no. Then she cried. And you know what happened next? They helped her. Why did they not just help her in the first place?
And since that conversation, I have been paying attention to my interactions with both my kids and my husband here at home. And you know what? The vast majority of the time, I am ignored the first time I say something. And often even the second and third. It is not until I either get crazy mad or really upset and cry that I am taken seriously. WHY???? I am not into the business of husband-bashing. Truth is, my husband is incredible and I love him dearly. But, he doesn’t often take me serious the first time I tell him something. Actually, he doesn’t often even hear me or register that I have said something to him the first time I say it. And it’s not that he’s insensitive or mean or whatever. It’s a strange phenomenon, really. He truly has no recollection of me telling him many of the things I say until I’ve said them two or three or four times and often not until I make a big fuss about it. And you know what? My three kids do the very same thing to me. Just now, as they were doing their chores in the kitchen after lunch and I was doing some work at the computer in our bedroom, I hear the younger two arguing. I listen for a minute and finally call out “What’s going on out there?” Nothing. So I try again, “What’s the matter, kids?” Again, nothing. This time, I just burst. I am MAD. And I go flying out to the kitchen and shout “EVERYBODY STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW!” They all stop and stare at me and I calmly say “Raise your hand if you heard me calling from the bedroom asking what was going on out here just now.” Friends, all three of my dear children raised their hands. And then they all three confessed that they did in fact hear me call out not just once, but two times. And I. Lost. It. Whatever “it” is, is now spattered and sprayed all over my kitchen as I turned into a screeching and screaming monster exclaiming that I am DONE with everyone ignoring me and will not be ignored any longer. Then I took away their screen time indefinitely. Now I have their attention. They’re all crying. But not because they feel bad for ignoring me all the time. Nope, they feel bad for themselves because they can’t watch their favorite TV show today. But I’m going to talk to them once I cool off and explain the very important lesson that I want them to learn here: Everybody’s thoughts and feelings matter and you need to pay attention to them, especially when it is a loved one.
And this is where I can relate this to birth. How many pregnant moms out there sit in the OB’s office with a birth plan only to be refused some of the things they want for their birth? How many expecting moms out there feel like their provider brushes off their concerns, isn’t really listening to or understanding them, is rushed, disconnected, or just too busy? How many pregnant moms out there feel that their OBs talk down to them and treat them like children when they express their desires or concerns for their birth?How many expecting moms out there feel that their husbands just don't understand why some things are so important to them? I am not a betting woman, but I bet it’s a huge number. And I bet it’s a pretty large number of these expecting mothers that just politely shut up at that point. Why? Why is our culture devaluing what women have to say about an event that is so incredibly important and sacred, an event for which we were given the ability to instinctually know what is best for us? Why does our culture generally encourage women to always be quiet and polite and not make a fuss while simultaneously conditioning everyone else to not take women seriously if they are being nice and quiet and polite?
I am telling you that I have had enough. And I’m asking you to join me in that. That doesn’t mean we have to get mean or lose “it” all over the kitchen every day. But, be firm. Don’t just shut up when you’re ignored or talked down to or brushed off. Especially when it’s about your birth. Who cares if everyone around you thinks you’re crazy and doesn’t understand why you want what you want? If it’s important to you, get it! And if you need help in that, or need to have someone totally on your team, who will support you in what you want even if everyone else thinks you’re crazy….hire a doula. That’s what we do. I will support you giving birth hanging from the chandelier if that’s something that’s important to you. You are worthy of being listened to. Your thoughts and feelings are important.
Make yourselves be heard, mamas.
sHey friends, glad to have you back for part three of this series! If you stumbled across this post first and haven’t yet read the first two parts, you should go back and read them now. In part one, we discussed that there is more to contractions than dilating your cervix; contractions are also about building your fundus. And in part two, we talked about the pushing, specifically feeling the urge to push and/or what is called the fetal ejection reflex. Check them out!
Today, we are continuing our discussion about the second stage of labor, otherwise known as “pushing.” Yesterday, we covered the uncontrollable, involuntary, powerful urge to push, the fetal ejection reflex. But, what about those moms who reach complete dilation and then don’t experience that urge?
If mom has an epidural, she either begins to feel a lot of pressure “down there” and then her cervix is checked and if she’s found to be completely dilated, will be coached in pushing her baby into the world. Or, mom may have her cervix checked during a routine check (usually scheduled for every hour or every couple hours) and is found to be complete but, mom’s not feeling any pressure so she is left to “labor down” for another 30min or even more than an hour before the pushing commences. If mom does not have an epidural, either that uncontrollable, involuntary urge to push takes over and the fetal ejection reflex kicks in and she births her baby, or she is found to have a completely dilated cervix during a routine check. In that case, most providers will coach mom to push her baby out. But some providers….the smaller few will wait. They will grab a chair and wait patiently for the fetal ejection reflex to kick in. The main factor to remember in all of those scenarios is that some moms experience an urge to push/fetal ejection reflex soon after their cervix reaches full dilation and some do not, regardless of whether an epidural is being used or not.
So what is the difference? Does it matter whether you feel the urge to push and just go with it or whether you are coached to push before/without feeling that urge? I believe it does matter. You see friends, our bodies know how to birth our babies. There is this phase of labor that is often not recognized or talked about and not every mom experiences it. It’s called the “rest and be thankful” phase. This occurs when a mom’s cervix has fully dilated but she’s not yet experiencing an urge to push. This is when she should REST AND BE THANKFUL. Labor is seriously hard work. And sometimes our bodies need to take a little break between doing all the work of dilating the cervix (and building the fundus!) and pushing our baby out into the world. This phase is good. Its purpose is to build up energy to finish its work. It may also be allowing baby some time to rotate to better fit through mom’s pelvis. But, mom isn’t allowed that rest (and baby the time to rotate) very often. Our maternity care system is impatient. Providers are taught that there is something wrong if anything takes "too long." And the results of not allowing that rest are that it then takes mom much longer to push her baby out that it would have if we had waited for the urge to push. And because our maternity care system is impatient, mom may even end up with a cesarean after doing all of this work and going this far because of that training that something is wrong if it takes "too long." Or mom just ends up being much more exhausted and sore than necessary once baby has emerged, making recovery harder. Also, it has been shown that coached pushing often results in more occurrences of tearing and more severe tearing than in mom-lead, instinctual pushing (aka the fetal ejection reflex!) which also makes recovery more difficult than it needs to be.
With my first VBAC, I experienced a rest and be thankful phase. My midwife knew I was complete. It had been a very very long labor (54 hours) and my baby was possibly, probably not positioned perfectly. I am so thankful that she trusted the birth process and my body’s ability enough to just patiently wait for my body to begin uncontrollably, involuntarily pushing on its own. While we waited, I actually fell asleep. Contractions faded and I napped for I believe around 20min. Then I pushed my daughter out in less than 20min, without any coaching and only experiencing a small tear. With my second VBAC, my water broke as we were on the way to the hospital and then the very next contraction, my body gave a little heave downwards at the peak. He was born just 8 min after we pulled up to the front doors of the hospital. I’m very thankful for that midwife as well, who trusted the birth process and my body enough to just stand back and let me push my baby out without making me submit to a cervical check first. She knew that if I was pushing involuntarily, then my body was ready to birth my baby. And that time, I experienced no tearing. They were both wonderful births.
I’d love to hear about your experiences, too!
I'm glad your back for part two! If you haven't read part one of this series, you should hop over and do so real quick. We talked about how contractions have more of a purpose than to just dilate the cervix.
So what happens once the cervix has opened fully at the bottom of the uterus and the fundus has built into this beautifully thick an strong muscle at the top of the uterus? Pushing! The baby will be born!!!
Pushing is what is known to be the second stage of labor. Some refer to this as the fetal ejection reflex. I can certainly understand why it would be considered a reflex. I like to compare the urge to push as sort of like throwing up, but backwards. It is an involuntary, uncontrollable, heave downwards that your body does all on its own (if left alone). It is that strong fundus that has been building up as your cervix has been opening, pushing downwards and expelling the baby. Have you ever known of a woman’s body to begin involuntarily, uncontrollably pushing and then mom’s cervix was checked and found to not yet be 10cm so she was told not to push? I have. I’ve watched it as a doula. And I really don’t like it. And I won’t participate in coaching mom not to push. I used to, but I won’t any longer. I have full confidence that our bodies are not making a mistake when that pushing urge kicks in. Now, if mom is feeling a lot of pressure in her bottom and is reacting to it by forcefully pushing with that pressure during a contraction, that is different. That can mean things like a swollen cervix. And we don’t want that. In those instances, we (her birth team) help mom to find other ways to cope with that pressure than by bearing down and pushing. But, if that fetal ejection reflex has kicked in and it is truly an uncontrollable, involuntary, and strong pushing urge, I believe in letting her body do its thing, no matter what her cervix dilation was at her last cervical check. I think that telling moms to resist and try to control that urge (although, as I said, it really is not controllable…her body still pushes on its own whether she is consciously pushing along with it or not.) is detrimental to the process. To explain my thinking on this, let’s visualize a baby learning to walk. You notice your baby standing next to the couch and trying to take a step away and then successfully taking two whole wobbly steps unassisted. Now let’s imagine that the “experts” have declared that babies should walk at 12 months old and not any sooner or later. So when you see your baby that is “just” 11 months old taking these couple steps, you decide to not allow him to be free to move about any longer, because babies simply cannot begin walking at any time other than 12 months old; they are not ready! You now confine your baby to a small playpen or a crib all day to discourage him from walking. He will still stand and take tiny wobbly steps in that crib. You can’t stop it, you can’t control it. His body is ready. But, you’ve slowed it down and he is not free to just do what he is ready to do. A few weeks later, after that baby reaches 12 months, you declare he is ready to walk now and let him freely move around again. But, suddenly he’s not interested. He’s lost the confidence he had a couple weeks ago. He’s now scared and unsure of himself and his abilities. His muscles have been temporarily stunted in their growth and development. And then it takes him months to gain that back. He is 16 months old before he is able to walk unassisted. And in those 4 months since his first birthday, everyone has been fretting and worrying and wondering what’s taking so long and offering advice and interventions and help of all kinds because this is not normal.
Can you relate this to the mom whose body was involuntarily and uncontrollably pushing and then told that it wasn’t yet time and she’s not allowed to push yet? What happens to that mom? She loses confidence in her body. She becomes scared and unsure of what to do or how to do it. That beautiful and strong fundus at the top of her uterus that is pushing her baby down and out has been stunted in it's growth and development. And then pushing can take much longer and be much harder than it needs to be, than it would have been if she had just been left alone.
And let’s explore another facet of this. What if……just what if not everyone dilates to exactly 10cm before their body is ready to push their baby out? What if all of our cervixes were not created perfectly equal and alike? What if our babies’ heads were all different shapes and sizes and had different abilities to mold and squish? Can you imagine? Perhaps this one-size-fits all definition of completely dilated being 10cm is a bunch of phooey because we were all created differently.
So now what about those moms that are fully dilated and then that fetal ejection reflex doesn’t kick in? Those moms whose cervixes are 10cm yet they are not feeling an urge to push? Let’s talk about that Thursday.
*Updated to add a link to Part 3.
I spent Monday afternoon watching debates/talks from the ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) 2016 annual meeting. And I am sharing some highlights of those talks as well as my own commentary with you all.
The first debate was titled “Is There a Place for Outpatient Pre-Induction Cervical Ripening at Term?’ and there are just a couple things with this debate I want to highlight. Dr. Anthony Sciscione argued the pro side of this and one thing he said as he was introducing himself sent off alarms in my head. “We do about 7,000 deliveries a year. We are about the 15th busiest DELIVERY SERVICE in the country.” These two sentences give so much insight to the opinions and beliefs of the people at ACOG, the people setting the guidelines and making statements as to what the standards of OB practice should be. They do not see women birthing babies; families growing. They do not see the sacred event of a new life entering the world. These two sentences are undeniable proof that to so many, the practice of obstetrics is not about the woman, the baby, or the family, but is about the OB. And at the core of the practice of obstetrics is the belief that the OB is the knight in shining armor saving (delivering) the family’s tiniest member from the toxic mother’s womb and the dangers of birth. At the core of the practice of obstetrics is the belief that OBs act as fairy godmothers, magically retrieving and presenting the family with their new baby. Obstetrics is a delivery service. And ACOG is a place in which the OBs gather to stroke each other’s egos and brainstorm ways in which to make their jobs easier, not discuss what is needed by and best for the mothers and babies of America.
This debate was about whether or not women should be “allowed” cervical ripening medications and procedures to be administered and performed in her OB’s office and then sent home the day before her induction date or if it’s best for these things to be done in the hospital. Both Dr. Sciscione (who I quoted above and was debating the pro side) and Dr. William Rayburn, who debated the con side said repeatedly that it was important that outpatient cervical ripening only be done patients that have been “cherry-picked” with pregnancies that are low risk and at term. My question is, why are women with low risk pregnancies being induced?
A few minutes later in Dr. Sciscione’s argument for outpatient cervical ripening, he stated when this is done the day before an induction is scheduled, that “93% of people deliver before midnight which is very attractive to our folks.” Because what’s most important here is that the OB is able to “deliver” the baby to its family with enough time leftover to get a few hours of sleep before the next day begins.
My last highlight about this debate comes from Dr. Rayburn. During his argument of the con side of this topic, he discussed the cost of outpatient cervical ripening vs. cervical ripening being done under hospital admittance. He was encouraging OBs to consider the cost to the patient when deciding how they will practice when he said, “Have you looked at patients’ hospital bills and tried to make any sense out of it? I really find it to be difficult.” If a highly educated obstetric physician is unable to make any sense of the hospital bills of his own patients, there is a big problem with our maternity care system.
Let’s move on to the other debate that took place at the 2016 ACOG annual meeting Monday, “If No Elective Inductions Before 39 Weeks, Why Not Induce Everyone at 39 Weeks?” Frist of all, this was not a debate. This was two OBs convincing the other OBs in the audience that all women should be induced at 39 weeks. There was nobody debating the con of this ridiculous and dangerous idea. Both Dr. Errol Norwitz and Charles Lockwood were both “debating” for it to become standard practice.
Dr. Norwitz opened by explaining that their talk would not be a debate with one arguing the pro side and one arguing the con side. He said that “We [OBs] al read the same literature but we often come away with very different takes” so they decided to instead explain their individual reasons for both being pro mandatory induction at 39 weeks for very pregnant woman. The absurdity of this all still makes me want to vomit. As he was introducing himself, Dr. Norwitz announced with smirk that he himself was born at 39 weeks. He explained that he primarily works with high-risk pregnancies and boasted that “By the time my patients get to 39 weeks, the baby has been delivered, been circumcised, and is on its way to college.” The arrogance was palpable. (And let’s just overlook the fact that circumcision is no longer recommended by many health organizations).
He went on to quote a professor he had once had, Sir Alec Turnbull as saying “Nothing good happens after 39 weeks.” *sigh* I didn’t have the time to research any studies that may be out there on this. But, I very strongly feel that if that were true, God would have designed pregnancy to last 39 weeks. He’s not a careless creator, a sloppy artist, a mad scientist. I also know that it is a common belief in the birth world that labor is triggered by hormones that he baby’s lungs produce when s/he is ready for life in the outside world.
Dr. Norwitz justified his strong belief that all pregnant women should have their labor artificially induced at 39 weeks by saying “If a baby is born at 39 weeks, it is not at risk of still birth at 40 weeks.” This statement is so loaded, I’m not even sure I can appropriately convey all of my thoughts. And I have to be honest here and say that I would like him to say that to my dear, sweet friend who recently lost her baby at 39 weeks. (There is much more colorful language than that running through my mind, but I’m a lady and will leave it in my mind.) First of all, here is a glimmer of some good intentions with all of this madness. He wants to save babies. OR. Is he playing on other people’s fear with that statement? Does he say things like that to his patients to coerce them into interventions that they don’t’ want? That’s a common manipulation technique used in this profession. And lastly, once we start inducing everyone at 39 weeks and don’t see a big dent in our rates of stillbirth but see our cesarean section rates rise even further (and the rates of serious complications associated with cesareans like accreta become out of control), will there be debates about inducing everyone at 38 weeks? 37 weeks? He went on to say that although it is believed that elective labor induction is believed to increase risk of cesarean, he doesn’t think that is true. And he believes this because he looked at cesarean rates of women induced at 41 weeks. I’m not a doctor, or a scientist, or a mathematician. But, I’m not so sure that’s good science. A woman at 39 weeks of pregnancy is very very different than woman at 41 weeks. And a baby (not a fetus, but I digress) at 39 weeks gestation is very very different than a baby at 41 weeks.
To close, Dr. Norwitz told the audience to “Think like a fetus!” He said that if “you” (meaning the OBs in the audience, I presume) are a fetus just swimming around in the amniotic fluid with nothing to do but play with the cord and “you’ve read the literature” (But it’s a fetus! Obviously, not a baby, so how in the world can it read?!? *eyeroll*) and you are not smart enough to induce labor at 39 weeks, the OB care provider needs to step in. Wow. Just wow. Could this man be any more arrogant, insulting, and absurd? He then stated that he thinks the question posed at the beginning of the debate (If no elective inductions before 39 weeks, why not induce everyone at 39 weeks?) is a “No Brainer” and he doesn’t even know why it’s a debate at all.
To drive home his point, he cued up a slide with a photo of two newborns and the words “39 weeks and out!” along the top and, “…rescued by birth” under the photo. What exactly are you rescuing these babies from, Dr. Norwitz? I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and remember that he mostly works with women who have high-risk pregnancies during which it DOES become safer for the babies to be out than in sometimes. But, this statement drives home my point that the OB believes s/he is a knight in shining armor, whisking the baby from imminent danger in its mother’s womb and “delivering” it into its mother’s arms.
Dr. Norwitz was followed by Dr. Lockwood who explained his reasoning for thinking mandatory standard inductions at 39 weeks are a good idea. In his “debate,” he stated that “Elective Induction of labor at 39 weeks is ALWAYS a better strategy,” using phrases such as “exposed in utero.” It absolutely blows my mind that these doctors sincerely think a mother’s womb is so dangerous compared to the outside world. Dr. Lockwood also explains that with his research, he has determined that the “optimal maternal age for delivery is about 29-30 years.” After instate mandatory “elective” inductions at 39 weeks for everyone, maybe they can further better our lives by only allowing women to birth babies around the “optimal maternal age” that they have determined for us.
During the rebuttal time, Dr. Norwitz said “I happen to think nature is a lousy obstetrician.” And then explained how midwives think it’s best to sit back and watch and let nature takes its course but he very much disagrees. Dr. Norwitz, you are a disgrace.
Before and after the debates, they polled the audience about their opinions on the topic being discussed. When asked the question, “Do you agree that it would be best to deliver most al women at 39 weeks gestation?” 63% of the audience answered “no” or “strongly no.” After this “debate” the audience was asked again and this time, only 9% answered “no” or “strongly no” while 70% answered “yes” and “strongly yes.” 81% of the audience answered “yes” to the question “Did the debate cause you to change or reconsider the view you had prior to the debate?” And the facilitator of this discussion responded to this with “Excellent. People are reconsidering their practice. Very good. We absolutely changed a lot of minds.” Disgusting.
The conclusion I have come to after spending two hours of my time watching these debates is that the mothers and babies of America are in a heap of trouble. We need to take back birth, mamas.
ACOG, the possessive, authoritative, demeaning, and insulting way in which you speak about women and babies is disgusting. Your failure to recognize the sacredness of the event of birth and that mothers are deserving of respect and bodily autonomy is alarming. Your dismissal of the centuries-old wisdom of midwives who are exceptionally skilled and trained in the design of birth is ignorant. And your efforts to play God are dangerous. Shame on you.
“My doctor won’t allow me to go past 40 weeks.”
“I can’t labor in the tub at my hospital.”
“My doctor says I have to be in the bed for pushing.”
“I’m not allowed to eat during labor at my hospital.”
“I have to do the gestational diabetes/Group B Strep test at my next appt.”
“My doctor says I have to have IV fluids during labor.”
“My midwife says I have to have my labor induced.”
“I’m not allowed to walk around during labor because I have to be monitored.”
“My midwife says I have to have a flu shot.”
Do those things sound familiar? I hear them ALL THE TIME. Friends, I have another quote for you.
“How can we hope to make mothers out of women when we treat them like children?” ~ Cole Deelah
Please do not think for a minute that your provider or the hospital staff have any authority over you. In fact, the words “won’t allow,” “I can’t,” or “he/she/they won’t let me” do not belong in maternity care. You are not a child, you are a pregnant/birthing mother paying the members of your birth team to provide you with a service. You are the boss of your birth team. This birth team works for you and you are free to fire anybody at any time if they are not providing you with the service you need/desire. Hospital policy is not law. If your hospital’s policy is to not eat during labor, I promise you that you will not be arrested if you munch on an apple and cheese cubes between contractions. You don’t even have to be sneaky about it. Just do it. It’s your body. It’s your baby. It’s your birth. YOURS. If you are told during pregnancy that you are not allowed to labor in water and that is what you’d really like, tell your provider that. And if s/he is insistent that you will not be allowed to, find a new provider/hospital. If you can’t do that, petition the hospital administrators with your request and take along plenty of research and evidence for its safety. Consider driving to a provider/hospital that will allow it. Don’t give your money and business to providers and hospitals that will not support your desires and your role as a decision maker for both your and your baby’s care. Remember, as long as your baby is still on the inside, it is not too late to fire your current provider and find one that will support you. When choosing a doctor or midwife, refer to my post about choosing a maternity care provider for a list of questions to ask potential providers.
Pregnancy and birth have so many emotions attached to them. Excitement. Doubt. Anticipation. Love. Contentment. Discomfort. Happiness. Worry. Joy. Fear.
There is a lot to be afraid of for any mom. And even more so for a first time mom, having never experienced all things motherhood before.
It's normal to fear childbirth. Especially in our country, where women stop eachother in grocery stores to share their birth horror stories with eachother. Our country, where childbirth costs more than any other country in the world, but doesn't have the improved outcomes to show for all that extra expense. Our country, where many doctors and midwives practice based in fear.
This fear is doing none of us any good. It's turned a normal, natural, God-designed process that can and should be beautiful and joyful into a cold, sterile, medical procedure wrapped in fear.
Sometimes, bad things happen. And it's awful and heartbreaking. But, letting fear of those bad things take over, steals the incredible potential there is for joy, beauty and love in childbirth. Fear is a dirty theif.
Don't let fear steal that from you, friends. You deserve love and joy and beauty.
But what about Eve? Didn't she ruin it for us? Isn't childbirth suppposed to be awful?
Birth is supposed to be hard work. I will never tell a mom otherwise. It is powerful and intense and a lot of work. But, that hard work doesn't steal the beauty and joy. Fear steals it. Childbirth can be both a lot of intense hard work and incredibly beautiful and joyful. We just need to kick fear to the curb.
*Give your worries and fears to God through prayer. Ask for His peace to fill your heart. (Philippians 4:6-7 ~ Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.)
*Claim the power you have through God to cast out fear. (2 Timothy 1:7 ~ For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.)
*Trust God's plan, not only for you, but for your baby as well. (Jeremiah 29:11 ~ For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.)
*Stand on God's promise that you can do ALL THINGS with Him. (Philippians 4:13 ~ I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.)
*Support. Find a provider who does not fear birth. Hire a doula to guide, educate, and support you on your journey.
It is my prayer that moms release their fears to The Lord, embrace their bodies' design, trust God's plan for them and their children, and reclaim their births.
Amber Piller - Professional Birth Doula and owner of Agape Birth Services. Serving Northwest Houston including Jersey Village, Cypress, Tomball, Spring, and Katy Texas.