Monday, October 14, 2013

A wonderful, inspiring, and very educational article to share with you...and a Kind Birth commentary.

A Woman's Nation: Reclaim Your Right to Birth Right

The above article is written by an Obstetrician/Author/Women's Health Activist and Advocate.
I respect her deeply.  Her words reflect many of my experiences.
Contrary to some opinions out there, those of us that believe in and support the body's normal/natural process of giving birth are not necessarily militant, anti medicine, anti hospital, anti obstetrician, frivolous, risk takers.  I have been blessed with a profession that allows me to witness the beautiful feminine power in this process and only want women to feel it, see it in themselves no matter where or with whom they choose to give birth.  I personally and professionally see the physical act of giving birth as a form of art.  And like other arts, music, for example, there will be a select few who, without much or any instruction can play with a natural ability.  There will be a few women who have a particular genetic/anatomic/chemical makeup that creates a labor process that can easily be managed, like a small child who picks up the guitar and can innately make music.  The rest of us need some guidance, lessons, nurturing, confidence, support, encouragement.  Some of us, even with all of those things, may never be able to make music the way someone who is born with and nurtures an inherent gift, but that doesn't stop us from trying to get better and better.  Some women will have challenges in labor that may or may not require intervention, but cause her to work harder/experience more pain/discomfort than the woman who perspires slightly and then has her baby.  One experience is not "better" than the other.  Hopefully, we take away strength, knowledge, understanding, beauty, and power from the birth experience, no matter if the outcome matches the intention.
This article, this kind of data, drives us to actively minimize unnecessary risks (through a healthy diet, safe exercise, preventing exposure to known illnesses, bacteria, chemicals, drugs, alcohol, smoke inhalation, changing our activities if necessary, limiting stress) while also reclaiming our feminine power.
There are obviously medical reasons for all obstetric interventions, and requiring them should never affect a woman's experience of feeling empowered and powerful as a mother.  I don't think anyone questions that.  I say all the time to my clients that if a woman is willing to make the sacrifice of feeling her labor, because she feels that fewer interventions is in the best interest of her baby, that it stands to reason that if a circumstance arises that requires an intervention for the safety and well being of herself or her baby, OF COURSE she would make the sacrifice of the experience she desired for the health of her baby.  That goes without saying.
When there is a medical reason to intervene, for example: a disease, a specific complication, pain that is above a woman's ability to cope, it becomes very simple for the patient to put her body and her baby in the hands of the trusted professionals she has chosen.  But as this article, and thousands of others suggest, there are specific risks associated with the overuse of these procedures and technologies and  unfortunately, the feelings that go along with a birth with maximum intervention are often reported as: Helpless, out of control, traumatized, frightening, overwhelming, weird, victimized.  So how do we decide when they are appropriate?  Some would say to trust your care provider.  While I agree that you should interview any Obstetrician or Midwife that you might hire to make sure that you feel confident in their care and that you feel that you can trust them to have your back, I am not a proponent of blind faith.
As a Labor Doula I have seen many many many situations in which there did not appear to be any risks, nor any distress or request of/by the laboring mother, and still there was pressure to accept routine interventions like pitocin or pain management.  Pressure ranging from "reminders" about augmentation and pain management options (even when explicitly asked to "not offer"), to undermining her self confidence and preying on fears that her body might not be adequate, to threats of cesarean "if things don't pick up", to constant pelvic exams and negative feedback.  It is very hard for parents to determine sometimes, if certain interventions that can have effects on the baby, and absolutely increase the risk of cesarean section, are medically indicated because they are so routine.   I am reminded of a quote from the PBS film Born in the USA approximately 10 years ago, in which an Obstetrician stated during an interview that it goes against the nature of doctors and nurses to admit someone to the hospital and then do nothing.  She goes on to say that hospitals are the places where we do things.  Place things, assess, re-assess.  That isn't an exact quote, but you can check out the film using the link, if you like.  It's an excellent piece that accurately represents the major differences in obstetric vs. midwifery care.  My only conflict with the film is that they did not seek out an obstetrician that also respects the feminine art of birth, who practices more or less as a VERY highly trained life guard.
In conclusion, I would say that whether you are planning a home birth, a birth center birth, or a hospital birth, the best way to manage your medical care and your labor process is to be very well informed about what normal birth looks and feels like.  If you can identify what is normal and healthy, it will be much easier for you to recognize a true reason for intervention and instead of feeling victimized by it, you can add to the feminine art of birth, the art of self advocacy and self respect, and the art of medicine, when appropriate.
Oh, one more thing...hire a doula!

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