Women rushed into hospitals, screaming at their husbands. Doctors yelling push!!! The baby is slapped into existence. This is the Hollywood version of labor. The portrayal of pregnancy, labor, and delivery leaves me scratching my head.
When I picture my sons, one memory will be forever engraved in my mind. The labor and delivery. The ability to birth new life is the most accomplishing thing I have ever done. It was the beginning of our story together.
I remember witnessing birth from an outsider perspective, countless hours of watching the TLC story The Birth Story. I was proud of the women and baffled at the same time. These scenarios however seemed off. Something was missing.
My husband and I married after 8 short months of knowing one another. I was assured that the pill would be powerful enough to give us some years to be a “just a couple”. Oh the beauty in realizing that I am not the One in control.
Pregnancy changed my life. It opened my eyes to the things that humans are capable of. And yet, in all this joy, there was a tension. I knew I didn’t want to go to the hospital. But I was afraid. The women in my family had a history of c-sections, was that to be the case for me? Even a relative warned me saying I couldn’t stand the pain without drugs.
Please understand, this post is not intended to bash on anyone who has had an epidural, a c-section, or hospital birth. My intention is that women can be confident in their choices and abilities, educate themselves, ask questions, and develop a personal meaningful relationship with their care provider. Nor, do I claim to be a health expert claiming I know all the answers. I believe health care can shape a nation. A positive influence encouraging health and consciousness is what I desire. There are certain complications that a woman does not have control of. To those of you who fall into this category or have simply chosen to have medical intervention, I respect you as a mother. This is not a fight between home births and hospitals or your personal integrity. What does sadden me, is the lack of care and respect for a birthing woman. A lack of trust in her capabilities. I have heard countless stories of women having traumatic and emotionally scarring birth experiences. What does this do to a woman? To the baby?
What legacy are we leaving with women in the US?
- 70% of women have an epidural during birth
- A new National Institutes of Health-sponsored study shows that most c sections happen before the woman is in active labor.
- The C-section rate has climbed more than 50% since 1996, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
- The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 1 in 3 babies in the United States are delivered by c-section.
- 10% of U.S. women with a previous C-section deliver subsequent babies vaginally, down from nearly 30% 15 years ago
- United States home birth declined from 50% in 1938 to fewer than 1% in 1955
- Death rate of newborns in US is higher than Malaysia, Cuba And 38 other countries
My friend introduced us to a water birth center in Portland, Oregon. No doctors, just midwives. No epidural, just you and the pain. My husband and I flooded the midwife with questions, and this was when I realized how ignorant I had been of birth and what my body could achieve. Some assumptions I made about labor and delivery were completely wrong. What I was told was also fabricated. Epidurals actually can directly and indirectly affect the baby creating ranges of problems like difficulty latching onto the breast. The drug also stays in the baby’s system after birth (sometimes days). Some women are so faithful to not drink, take drugs even certain over the counter drugs, eat right, exercise- and yet when right before the baby is born we inject a massive drug that crosses the placenta and enters the bloodstream? Epidurals also inhibit a woman’s natural hormonal responses to labor, making it very difficult to progress. Fever, increase in blood pressure, shaking, numbness, headaches, are other side effects. Because of the inhibition labor slows or stops completely, so a synthetic drug is introduced- Pitocin. Which creates unnatural and beastly contractions. This can lead to many complications that require more medical intervention.
It doesn’t have to be horrible or traumatic. It is possible to have a gentle and natural birth. I was very fortunate to have had such a beautiful experience. A bed and breakfast like room to birth my boys, with my own private bathroom and massive tub. Midwives who were patient and genuinely cared for me and the baby. I probably would have had a c section if I went with a hospital. I probably would have been induced. I was exactly 10 days late with each child, most doctors wont let a woman go past full term. I had serious back labor with my first son, hours and hours of intense pain with a baby who eventually turned into the right position. Would the doctors have given up on me?
Maybe this just a plea to remind women of the joys of pregnancy, the wonderful gift they carry inside of them, the unique and growing experience to enter motherhood. I reflect on the birth of my sons, and I remember the little details- the car drive to the birth center with my husband while we listen to Coldplay, my midwife and her simple touch that encouraged me to keep on, the fear of leaving my first son overnight while in labor with the next son, to feel the baby leaving my body, my water breaking all over my midwife (and the embarrassment that followed), the first time I felt their ears, the personal growth of learning to surrender, the 8 hours of back labor, the taste of food during labor….
What is your story? What is your legacy?
- Dispelling Homebirth Myths (thefeministbreeder.com)
- WebMD – Home Births on the Rise in the U.S. (thorns2roses.wordpress.com)
- Women don’t have to push so much (macleans.ca)
- During Childbirth, Do You Plan on Getting an Epidural? (fitsugar.com)
- Birth Practices Which Interfere With Breastfeeding (smiffybaby.com)
- The Consumer: Demand Growing for Giving Birth at Home (nytimes.com)