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THIS is How We Birth in America?

admin April 24, 2012

I am incredibly annoyed and frustrated as I write this.  I’m writing it because it has to be said.  It’s something I’ve thought for a long time, but it’s two events that occurred in a single day that pushed me to do this now.

First, I read a beautiful planned-HBAC story that ended with surprise breech twins with cord prolapse.  That last part is important.  Those twins were delivered vaginally, by the way.

Second, someone I know was induced just past her due date so that family could be in town for the birth (no medical reason).  This also resulted in cord prolapse, followed by an emergency c-section.

Both stories ended with healthy baby(ies).

Get Some Real Medical Care

A few of the comments on that beautiful HBAC story (seriously, go read it if you haven’t clicked over) are really nasty.  “Go get some real medical care…that midwife was negligent.  You’re lucky this ended okay, stop encouraging women to birth outside of hospitals.”

Really?

Let’s go through the series of events in each situation (as far as I know them).  In the planned home birth, there was a concern of early labor, the midwife advising the woman to head to the hospital because this was outside her scope of care. The babies were born vaginally before intervention could reach them, even with the cord prolapse situation.  I’m pretty sure the midwife — by staying on top of the situation and referring the woman when needed — did exactly what she should have done.

In the planned hospital birth, an induction was scheduled for personal preference, not for any medical reason.  As far as I know, there were no risks/benefits to inducing discussed — it was just a matter of choice, like choosing which shirt to wear that day.  Pitocin was administered, then water broken, but because the baby (likely) hadn’t dropped yet, cord prolapse resulted.  And then an emergency c-section.  The doctor failed to inform the patient of the risks, and by intervening when not medically necessary, potentially caused the prolapse to occur.

Which mother needs to “get real medical care,” again?

I absolutely can’t stand that because it was a “professional” OB in a hospital setting, this situation was completely excused and ignored.  “Oh, it’s just one of those things,” or worse, “He saved the baby!”  Yeah, only after he caused the problem to begin with!

Yet when a midwife is conscientious with her clients, keeps on top of their situations, and refers care if and when a problem arises, “She’s terrible and has no training and could have killed the baby, you’re just lucky!”  No.  She behaved professionally and appropriately.

Just let this seep in for a moment.  In a medical setting, anything is acceptable and excusable to many.  Inductions and c-sections and all of these other interventions are discussed casually, even jovially by some.  This is how we birth in America.  We birth with interventions, and if something with those interventions goes wrong, “They did the best they could; it was just one of those things.”

But God forbid you step outside the mainstream and plan to birth in a birth center or at home.  Even if things went well, but there were some tense moments, “It was bad.  This is why women should not have home births.”  We’re brainwashed to think that more intervention is better!

Is The Hospital Less Risky?

One of the primary arguments for birthing in a hospital is that it is less risky.  “If something goes wrong, then they can intervene immediately.  Sometimes things go from okay to really bad very quickly and there’s no time to call for help.”  This is true — except, of course, if something goes wrong while you are alone in your room and the nurses are too busy to come and check on you (or you don’t realize it and call them).

Whereas a midwife is typically by your side and checking you frequently.  The delay in getting care in a hospital because of the busy-ness of the nursing staff and the need to page a doctor may be about the same as the quick ride to the hospital, for those who live close.  But does that mean that you should be in the hospital for anything that might have risk?  Does it mean that the very tiny “what if” should guide your over all decisions?

But a hospital birth is not without risk.

In 1900, the maternal death rate was 850 out of 100,000.  By 1950, that rate had fallen to 83 in 100,000.  In 1987, it was 6.6 out of 100,000.  And in 2007 (last year I could find data for), it was…12.7 out of 100,000.  That’s right — the numbers are going in the wrong direction!  Maternal deaths have doubled in the last 20 years.  And this is as the rate of interventions, c-sections, and so on have risen too.  The hospital isn’t so safe for low-risk women.

That’s just the death rate.  Women have a 33% chance of ending up with a c-section, which is much higher in some areas.  There are hospitals with 50 – 80% c-section rate!  There is no justification for having a rate that high, ever.  WHO recommends no higher than 10%.  In 1970, the U.S. rate was just 5%.

There’s also the use of other unnecessary interventions: induction (Pitocin, Cervadil — both of which can be dangerous), forceps, vacuum extraction, epidurals, narcotic pain relief, etc.  Then there is the way they force women to labor — often on their backs or at least in bed, which is not the optimal position for most.  Women are forced to push on their backs, which increases the chances of lengthy pushing and need for forceps because the pelvic opening is 30% smaller and their bottoms are “up,” requiring baby to come out “uphill.”

And of course the newborn procedures…early cord clamping and cutting, vitamin K, eye ointment, Hep B, separation from mom, barriers to breastfeeding (in some hospitals), and so on.

These are not, for the most part, evidence-based practices.  Why would women who are low-risk and want respect for their birth process go to a hospital, where there is greater likelihood of unnecessary interventions, where the maternal death rate has doubled in the last 20 years, where their wishes may be entirely ignored?

THIS is How We Birth in America pinterest

 

All That Matters is a Healthy Baby…or Does It?

Several days after these two events, I read a story about a mom who was trying for a VBAC at a hospital.  She was separated from her husband, coerced into the OR, and gassed without her knowledge (they told her it was an oxygen mask), and given a c-section without consent.

The best possible reason for this is that the baby took a turn for the worse. It happened fast, and they decided to go ahead with the c-section to save her baby.  They had poor bedside manner and neglected to tell her what was going on (even after the fact).

The worst possible reason is that they simply didn’t like that she was a VBAC mom and thought surgery would be easier and faster.  They had no respect for her autonomy as a person or respect for her to make her own decisions.  They tricked and lied to her in order to get her into the OR and gave her an unnecessary c-section against her will because that’s what they felt like doing.  The doctor and staff treated her as if she were a stupid woman, a mere vessel to deliver the baby, who had no rights.

It doesn’t matter which it is.  We don’t know and can’t spend forever speculating.  (By the way, no lawyer would take her case because there was “no evidence of permanent physical damage” to her or the baby.  The fact alone that her rights were completely destroyed does not matter.)

What matters more is the reaction this situation got.  “Stupid woman…that doctor obviously saved her baby…she deserved it.  She’s making this up.  Doctor knows best.  She should value a healthy baby over her own experience.”

What?

Where is the outrage over the way this woman was treated?  Where is the respect for her rights…or even her, as a person?  The majority of people sided with the doctor, and several even insulted her by insinuating that she didn’t care about her baby.

That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

“It’s not about the experience.  All that matters is having a healthy baby.”  Does it?  Really?  Then why are women suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after giving birth?  That should not happen.  Giving birth should be an incredible, overwhelming, potentially difficult, but ultimately rewarding experience.  It’s like nothing else.

And it’s something that happens to both moms and babies.  We cannot ignore the mother’s role in the birth.  She is integral.  She is transformed from “me” to “mommy” that day.  Her body goes through so many changes for a 9-month period, and still more in the final days, as she prepares to birth.

Her body, during labor and birth, is literally beyond her control in many ways.  She can cope by turning inward and working with the process, rather than against it.  This produces a more relaxed mother, and an easier labor, which is better for the baby.  This experience cannot be separated into being about “her” OR “baby” because the two are intertwined and that cannot be changed…until the moment birth occurs.  Then they are, for the first time, physically separate — yet still emotionally intertwined.

It is one of the biggest experiences of a woman’s life, whether she’s done it once or twenty times.  To discount that is crazy.

Not to mention that the argument “You don’t care about your baby, you just want your good experience!” is insane on its face.  If complications arise and the baby suffers permanent damage or death, there is no good experience.  You will never hear a mother say, “Well, my baby died during birth, but at least I had a good experience!”  Never.

There is no mother out there who would choose her own natural birthing experience over her baby’s safety.  Even the most hard-core natural birthers, if told, “Your baby will die if you don’t have an immediate c-section” (and the reasons are valid, not “because it’s been more than 40 weeks” or something) will have the c-section and be glad for it.  I would.

Respect for the Birth Process and Women

We such a problem right now.  We don’t respect women and the birth process.  And unlike some, I don’t believe that’s because it’s women.

Consider this:

A woman enters the emergency room complaining of abdominal pain.  She is whisked back to an examining room and told “It might be appendicitis.”  She is then offered an oxygen mask because she’s having trouble breathing due to the pain.  She accepts it.  Only, it isn’t an oxygen mask.  She is put under general anesthesia.  There have been no tests performed, no determination that it is, in fact, appendicitis.  When she wakes up, she’s in recovery and is missing her appendix.  No one comes to tell her what happened or why she had surgery.  

There would be outrage.  How dare they give her surgery without her permission?  Without testing?  With no medical evidence?  I’m sure she could sue — she was missing an organ that may or may not have needed to be removed, and she could suffer infections or other complications of this unnecessary surgery.  The woman would be thought autonomous and worthy of respect in this situation.

Do the same thing during birth, and the woman has no role other than as a vessel for the baby’s safe delivery — however it might occur.  I think it is actually a total disrespect for pregnancy, birth, and children that underlies this, rather the simple fact that it is a woman.

(I don’t think men are any more respected during the birth process — in some areas they’re still not encouraged to come into delivery rooms.  When my daughter was born, the doctor barely looked at him and certainly didn’t ask if he wanted to participate in any way.  And in the story above, the husband was separated from his wife, barred from the OR, and lied to about the surgery too.)

Why is this?  And why do we stand for it?

Ironically, the woman in that story was told via commenters, “If you didn’t want interventions, you should have had a home birth.”  This, by the very people who decry home birth as “unsafe” and only for those who “don’t care about their babies!”  Talk about doublespeak!

For the last 60 or so years, women have been moving increasingly into hospitals and submitting to “managed birth.”  But we need to remember that in the 1950s, science was relatively crude.  We believed that formula was superior to breastmilk.  Also that babies ought to spend most of their time lying in bed and not being held, lest they get “spoiled.”  We believed in a clinical, hands-off approach to most things with birth and parenting.  This is thanks to psychologists who tried to tell people the “right” way to raise children.

We’ve started to realize, since then, that responding to a baby’s cues and needs does not spoil them.  Infants cannot be spoiled.  We know that breastmilk is nutritionally superior to formula.  But some of these clinical, hands-off methods remain, such as with birth: doctor knows best.  Lie back and take it, dearie.

Stand Strong

People don’t realize what they’re saying.  Honestly, they don’t.  They don’t know the history of the movement or how we arrived where we are today.  If questioned deeply they would probably get extremely offended because they were challenged and had no logic to stand on.

(Someone, please, tell me where the logic is that allows abortion because “a woman has a right to choose” but disallows choices during birth; or why doctors are somehow special, god-like humans that never make mistakes or at least are always more right than patients?)

We have to stand up, though, and keep pushing back against the status quo.  Wanting to be a full participant in your child’s birth (whether mother or father), be respected as a person, have the right to make decisions for yourself and your child, and be treated gently during the birth process is something that all women (and men) deserve.  All women deserve a choice in how and where they would like to birth.  And once that child’s born — the parents make the decisions.  End of story.  (Barring, as we all know, abuse or neglect.)

We need respect for birth and respect for families.  I could go on another rant about the lack of respect for families, but I won’t — now.

Support midwives, support the right to choose, and support birth.

What do you think about the state of birth in America?

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78 Comments

  1. I read parts of this, couldnt finish because i had to rush to go get ready for a meeting at my church.
    I agree with a lot you said 🙂

    I am pregnant with our 4th. My last baby was my 1st natural birth. My 1st two, one born after I just turned 21 and the other 23… I got epidurals. Out of fear. I thought anyone with any sense did that lol. Thakfully my epidurals were fine. In fact my 2nd epidural with my 2nd son, I got at 6cm – after the nurse came in and said “now is the point of no return, if you want it you have to get it now” – and i folded and got it, that epidural tho was so mild i was able to feel things much more and thankfully only had to push 45 min and baby didnt cause tearing or tearing. such a blessing. After that birth going so well i promised myself to be informd abt the next time i had a baby… and planned my BIRTH plan. I think that is whats key.. to really lay out your goals in the birth room.. esp if you are in a hospital. WRITE THEM OUT 🙂

    I had an awesome natural birth in a large hospital with a midwife 🙂 – from 5:30-11am – walked around most of the time, used a birth ball and then for pushing i used a bar to squat with.

    im thankful tho for the medical care after the birth. My baby was very blue.. they had to rush him to oxygen and make sure all was ok. that is why i chose hospital births… because of the risk afterwards more so than during… although the idea of having one in a home is appealing 😉 – I do love my time away from the house … i joke that my hospital stays are usually like mini vacations, crazy… but they really are in ways, minus the bad food.

    any who 🙂 good post. I think women just really need to be more informed with what pit and other drugs can do during labor… that to me is why so many things go south, because women fail to do their home work – and doctors some not all… really could care less of its natural or c-section. thats why we need to do some work too 🙂

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    • My second child was born at home with a midwife. He was stressed during delivery and was born blue, not moving or breathing. His first APGAR is a 3. Within minutes he was stimulated, given oxygen, and he bounced back to have a 10 min APGAR of 9.5.

      Midwives do NOT just ‘show up’ at your house and catch a baby. They come with cases of medical supplies and set up a birthing suite with all their tools ready and waiting. Thankfully more often than not, those tools sit unused and are repackaged after delivery.

      Every birth is different; you cannot and should not compare one experience against another. It is like comparing Apples to Oranges, similar but very different.

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    • I was going to say the same thing! Midwives do have oxygen tanks! Mine showed up with a suitcase big enough to move to another country for six months! (Filled with supplies) They are fully equipped to handle anything except surgery. I think that fear in this country has convinced many woman than complications happen so fast that if you are not in a hospital mom or baby or both will die. Most complications arise fairly slowly though and there is plenty of time to get to the hospital. (Provided you aren’t hours away). Even if you are in a hospital and a complication arises quickly, it is not a guarantee. Everyone forgets that the medical system is a business. They sell you fear, and you buy it. Choose to look at all sides of things 🙂

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  2. I completely agree with you! I’ve been trying to say the same things, but people just don’t want to listen. I agree that their logic isn’t logical because they are using double-speak. Thank you for writing a very informative post! I’ll be sharing it on my blog and my facebook page.

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  3. I agree 100% I am expecting #2 in late June/ early July and will be going to the hospital b/c hubby is not comfortable yet with the idea of a homebirth. Even though I had my son naturally at a hosptial and it went well, I know more now and plan to refuse a lot of thing esspecially with newborn care. luckily I am delivery at a some what natural friendly hospital and have a few friends who got there “homebirth” in a hospital. Women NEED to be informed and demand the birth they deserve, b/c homebirth is not for everyone and that shouldnt mean they dont get the birth they want. I really hope that when we have #3 God will give my husband the courage and confidence to have a homebirth, but for now that isnt in the cards. But that doesnt mean I am giving up on the hands free, no intervention natural birth I want 🙂 I might have to fight a little towards the end but I dont care I am getting what I want and fee is best for my baby as long as things are going well 🙂

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  4. I hear more and more that people WANT a c- section. I’m like are you kidding! Why would anyone want a major surgery! I had my kids in hospitals, but I had strict orders that I wanted NO drugs and NO interventions unless I was going to die. Its sad that we have to fight for our medical rights, not with pregnancy but with everything.

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  5. I had my first 8 months ago, she was head-down in the right position and I had a wonderfully healthy pregnancy.
    I started to have contractions, and went to the hospital where my OB immediately broke my water, I continued to labour, but not progress, so was put on PIT.
    This caused my contractions to triple in strength, I was not dilating further, stress was put on the baby and I had to have an emergency c-section.
    I should have been told to labour longer in the beginning, but wasn’t, instead my water was broken and the whole process made to move even though baby and I weren’t ready.
    Even though I had a healthy baby, I regret how I birthed.
    Women need to be made more aware of whats out there, alternatives and what the doctors will do if/when you arrive labouring.

    Thank you very much for this post, I appreciate it very much .
    Peace,
    -Jenny

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    • Wow! You are describing my birth with our first son. It was exactly like that. Stress and intervetion. It is not only in the states they do that. I am from Norway and your story could be me telling mine. Thanks to that first emergency c-section, my uterus did not function properly at my second birth. Nothing ever happened. The contactions never got strong enough or effective enough and with a c-section already behind me there is a slightly heightened risk of uterus tare. They somehow suddently desided that it was time to give up after 2.5 days and when they took my second son out they found my uterus very thin where the scar from last time was. How anyone can WISH for a c-section is beyond me….

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  6. See, now, I shouldn’t have even read this because it just makes me soooo mad. You are completely right, of course. The way most births are handled is completely outrageous. And the sad thing is that many women have been so indoctrinated that they have no problem with multiple interventions. I have had 5 good hospital births with a midwife, but I have still been uneasy about being in the hospital in the first place because often a midwife’s hands are tied there, and you never know when someone can override her decision and begin the interventions. I’m 36+ wk weeks with this baby and, because we have moved, I have found a midwife and am planning a much-longed-for homebirth. Thank you for your excellent post. May more women get informed!

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  7. I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve noticed, with many of my mainstream friends, whenever the subject of home births or birth center births is brought up (usually relating to an article about how they’re a better option for low-risk moms), out come the defenses. Everyone has a horror story, and says they wouldn’t trust being out of a hospital environment should those sorts of things happen again. But no one seems to hear me when I ask, “have you ever thought that maybe those things wouldn’t have happened if you were under a midwife’s care at home or a birth center, instead of an intervention-hungry OB at a hospital?” To hear that question, forces people to think outside their comfort zone. If they actually thought about it, it would turn all their preconceived opinions on doctors and the medical establishment as a whole, on it’s backside. And it would force them to have to DEAL with this newfound information. And that’s just too hard. No no, doctors know best, and never question. It’s much easier to go through life believing that everything is out of your hands, everything just HAPPENS to you. You unlucky girl.

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    • I’ve learned that peoples’ worldviews are shaped by major events in their lives. And birth, despite how a lot try to sort of deny it, is a MAJOR event. So whatever their experiences or perceptions of birth are are sadly unlikely to change, especially if they’re done having children. A few people were so offended by this post because they have had difficult experiences. It is almost impossible to say anything to people who have been hurt in some way. Which is sad, since of course you only want to help. 🙁

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  8. I can’t even read all of this because it just makes me more frustrated than I am already about this country and how they handle births. Perhaps when I am not 36 weeks along with a breech baby I would be less hormonal and could read this less annoyed. 🙂

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    • LOL…I got myself in lots of trouble when I was very pregnant because I wrote things I shouldn’t have. Easier now that I’m not right in the middle of it, haha.

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    • Karrie, I don’t know if it’s too late for this, but if you desire a vaginal birth I would look into it if I were you. My last was breech, and the nurse midwife told me that some chiropractors are trained to do a special type of adjustment called the Webster Technique. My daughter turned head down after a few adjustments, and I had the best natural birth experience with her. I hope you have a good birth experience no matter what happens!

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      • Oops! Kate, I didn’t see the dates on this, so please don’t post my comment if you feel it could upset her.

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  9. Sheesh, I agree with you that many times doctors cause problems, and then are heralded with ‘saving’ the baby afterwards?! Get real. I’ve only given birth once, and it was completely intervention-free in a hospital, but I was so confused by that fact that the nurses did all the work, and the doctor was just there for the actual crowning and baby coming out. I know had I needed an emergency section, that doctor is the one to do it, but I felt like in my case the doctor wasn’t really necessary! We (myself and the nurses) could have managed just fine without her!

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  10. I’ve had 3 c-sections and 4 vbacs and 2 of the last vbacs at home. If you’ve had c- sections you’re pretty much out of options for a vaginal birth. My 3 sections were not because the baby or I was in danger but because of the decisions made during labor that led to them. I decided with my 6 th child I had enough of the hospital protocol making the decisions for me and to have my babies at home with an experienced midwife. People don’t realize that OB’s have been trained in looking for problems and surgery. They don’t have to witness natural birth to become an OB but midwives do. My sister and I got into an argument after the birth of my last child which was at home. The baby was a little dusky colored and dudn’t cry at first. The midwife gave her a little puff of oxygen and she perked right up. She felt I risked my baby’s life for ” an experience”. She will not be at the birth if this next child which is due in Nov. my husbands cousin just had her third child at the hospital and the cord was around her neck. She died as she was being pushed out. Hospitals and doctors are not God and shouldn’t elevate themselves to be. And How about those infections you or your baby can leave the hospital with? My pastor contracted MRSA when his daughter was born and nearly died because of it 6 yrs later. Thank you for posting. There’s a great video collection that Ricki Lake did called “The Business of Being Born” Worth checking out.

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    • Stories like yours are why I wrote this…because c-sections occur because of “management” decisions during labor, and not because there is anything wrong with your body or your baby. 🙁 I have heard of the documentary but I don’t think I’ve seen it yet…I probably should!

      That is so sad about your husband’s cousin’s baby. 🙁

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    • I have birthed seven babies, the first in a standard hospital delivery room (38 years ago… stirrups, saddleblock and forceps, WTH?). Baby #2 was in a birthing center run by a crusty old doc (but he was pretty cool) and I nearly had her in the car on the way! No interventions or drugs. Baby #3 in a hospital birthing room, no interventions or drugs. Baby #4 in hospital with CNM. It was o.k. but my midwife was constantly running interference on my behalf fending off procedures like the monitor they strap around your belly… it wasn’t even working properly! Baby #5 at home born before midwives could even make it. If we had been planning a hospital birth there is no way we would have made it. It was 2 1/2 hours from first pain to delivery! My husband caught her while being coached via cell phones from midwives who were enroute but trying to get through five o’clock traffic. Two midwives arrived at the same time coming from two opposite locations five minutes after baby arrived. Baby had a full knot in her cord but was perfectly fine. Baby #6 at home with same midwives, he was totally wrapped in his cord. The midwives declared he was truly “knitted in the womb”. Skillful hands unwrapped, snipped and clamped cord, then unwrapped some more until he could actually be birthed all the way. Smaller babies have more room to move around and if they are active they can get themselves all wound up! Finally, baby #7 at home. I know he was breech because I felt him turn in the week before birth. It was painful and I could barely walk afterward, but I had been spending a lot of time on my hands and knees trying to take pressure off my pelvis where he had been sitting (which had also made walking very uncomfortable). He was born with no complications and he weighed a whopping 9lb.11oz.! (Which explains why it hurt so much when he turned!). My last three, the ones birthed at home, also were ALL 10-11 days “late”. The law says that after two weeks late the mother must birth in the hospital… what pressure to put on an expectant mom!
      Yes, things can go wrong at home. But like you said, things can go wrong in the hospital too and somehow the fact that it was in a hospital setting makes it acceptable? We have a friend who had her first baby in hospital with an O.B.. Baby was fine (or was he?) and then he wasn’t. He died. In the hospital. No good explanation. Ever. Do we fault the mom because she chose hospital birth with epidural and call her selfish and irresponsible? No. She buried her only boy and went on to deliver two successive healthy baby girls.
      Shit happens and that is about the shittiest of all the things that could happen but it happens both in the hospital and at home. I would still choose home over hospital any day because of the difference in attitude between doctors (and sometimes even certified nurse midwives) and lay midwives: respect for the act of birth and the woman giving birth. Faith in the power and strength of a woman’s body to do what it was *designed* to do.

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  11. It’s so true and as a soon-to-be Certified Childbirth Educator it’s a burden that weighs heavily on my heart. How do we educate when people are so closed-minded and automatically side w/ the medical side of these horrific stories? How do we teach respect of self, of autonomy, of truly informed consent, of a person’s right to participate in the decisions for their own healthcare? It all used to automatically be one of our unalienable rights but things have changed. How do we open eyes that are so focused on the Western/Medical approach that alternative choices are almost criminalized? Needless to say, I share in your frustration and disbelief!

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    • Elisabeth I thougth you might be interested in reading some stuff on Theology of the body by Pope John Paul II. Really goes along with educating respect of self and autonomy. I think you may find it very interesting and informative.

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  12. P.S. the link to the home birth story isn’t working. Could you post the URL?

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  13. Amen, your thoughts on this whole situation are very much like mine. I really believe that a lot of this devaluing if the birth process, etc is due to the loss in value of being human…via abortion. I basically could have written the same thing you did, we have so many of the same thoughts on the issue! Thankfully, I just experienced a wonderful, healing, natural VBA2C, in a hospital!, with an amazing OB who is more like a midwife, with a wonderful nurse who respected my wishes and made sure every other nurse, etc followed my wishes on lack of intervention with my baby, and my doula and husband!

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    • That’s awesome! Congrats on your new little one! I just had my all-natural VBA2C in a hospital last August! It was a struggle to avoid all the interventions/policy but it is definitely doable!

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      • Congrats on your little one! I bet s/he is about the same age as my youngest. 🙂 That’s great that you had such an awesome hospital experience! It definitely happens. There are some excellent facilities and excellent doctors/midwives out there, and they should get credit for all they do.

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      • That is truly awful that there are states preventing midwives from carrying life saving drugs. Here in Alaska, my midwife administered pitocin and finally methergin to help with postpartum hemorrhage. No complications or transfer needed after that.

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    • That’s great that you had a midwife who respected you and your wishes! Congratulations on your new baby. 🙂

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  14. I had my one and only child at the ripe old age of forty. ( Thank God for epidurals! ) We trained for the marathon but, I confess, caved in the early stages of labor and asked for the epidural because the pain was peaking more than I expected. ( How does one gauge? ) I opted for a hospital birth because of my age but I was bossy and opinionated enough as a “woman of advanced maternal age” to insist on doing things my way. The nursing staff was nice and responsive the my desires. For example, they whisked Goober away to a bassinette to assess him, etc. and kept worrying aloud about his dropping temperature. I couldn’t walk yet so I loudly insisted they bring him and a blanket back to me. They placed him on my chest, I covered him with the blanket, and voila’! He warmed up!

    The attending physician, in sharp contrast, did not introduce himself let alone speak to me as he instructed the midwife how to sew up my vaginal tear ( Goober weighed 9.7 lbs and came out the way he went in. ) even-and my sister HEARD him!-saying ” Look you can pick up her butt with the stitches! ” as he did so! I was preoccupied with my child or I might have exlaimed something like” Hey, wouldja STOP:? I’ve gotta live with the trauma of that when the epidural wears off! ”

    I was afraid to let my son out of my sight and insisted we room in together. I also stayed in the hospital for the entire 48 hours my insurance would allow. And of course we started attempting to nurse right off.

    Nursing was another area in which my bossy old age came in handy; I have a couple of dowager aunts who gave birth in the 50/60’s who kept wondering when I was going to wean Goober, handing down sage advice from the Atomic Age such as ” He’ll turn out gay if you nurse him too long! ” Eh? I nursed him until he [almost] weaned himself. He was down to occasional comfort nursing at 4 when I started distracting him from the breast as a means of solace. I can’t tell you how many questions I answered and weird looks I got for nursing so long but we have made very few trips to the doctor’s office and, at ten, he has no cavities and a beautiful set of nicely-shaped teeth.

    I would encourage young women to be as bossy as you wanna be when it comes to your baby and your family life. Read books, watch DVDs, consult the local La Leche League, draw information from many sources and use your instincts to make your own decisions!

    Reply

    • He’ll turn out gay, huh? I wasn’t aware that breastfeeding (nourishing and comforting) your child could cause him to be gay. Or that exposure to female breasts would cause gayness. Or that anything necessarily would ‘turn a child gay.’ Sigh. I guess if that’s true I’m in trouble because my almost 3-year-old (boy) is still breastfeeding…and so is my 4-year-old (girl)! 🙂

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  15. Thank you so MUCH for your article! My thoughts EXACTLY! We women have been scared into thinking that anyplace other than a hospital for birthing our babies is wrong and we will kill the baby or ourselves. Doctor ALWAYS knows best!

    I have heard so many hospital horror stories, I am forever grateful that I have 3 out of my 4 babies at home. The last was at the Hospital and I could not get out of there fast enough it was so bad.

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    • It is sad that people feel the need to pull the “dead baby card.” 🙁 Women need to trust themselves and their bodies more!

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  16. Thankfully, I learned a lot about this before conceiving my first child. My 2 best friends used a midwife at a birth center, and I knew I wanted to do the same. So now, I am due to have my son at a private birth center with an incredible midwife! I am so excited and I can’t wait to share my story with other women. I’ve heard all the horror stories, people telling me I am crazy, I will beg for an epi, I’m going to kill my baby… I’ve heard it all. But I don’t let it scare me. I trust my body, I was made for this! And if for some reason things don’t go as planned, I will not hesitate to transfer. Hospitals can be great, when they are actually necessary! I feel exactly the way you do. Thank you for sharing!

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  17. Not every one is able to have a home birth or a natural birth. It is easy to judge others because you had a certain type of experience but until you have walked in her shoes (or birthed her baby, in this case), it is not up to you to decide if one woman’s choice was right or not. I had an emergency c-section with my first because the cord was wrapped around his neck. I opted for a healthy VBAC with my second. I went into labor naturally and spent the next 40 hours walking around and doing all the things I was supposed to do to progress the birth naturally. The baby was stuck on my pelvic bone and despite using many different positions to try to help her shift in the birth canal, she was born face up with a huge hematoma on her head. I ripped and because of the length of time that I labored and pushed, I ended up with prolapsed bladder and pelvic organs. In retrospect, I would choose a second c-section any day over what I went through. It took me over 8 weeks to even heal enough to walk around without severe discomfort. My OB was fantastic and encouraging of my decision to have a VBAC. I did have to see a specialist because I have a blood clotting disorder so I needed to be monitored for other health risks. The fact is, the doctor knew I had desired a VBAC, but I wish she would have just told me that I needed to have a c-section after all. Don’t judge the women who legitimately need c-sections. It is not always because the doctor caused the situation or because it is convenient.

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    • Amy, you’ve missed the point of the article.

      The point is not “everyone should have a natural birth.” The point is “women should have all the information available and the respect given to make their own choices.,” No one is judging moms who knowledgeably chose to have a c-section, as you state you would have preferred. No one is judging MOMS at all. No, the point is that women don’t have access to information and support for their choices, whatever they may be.

      Whether you are full aware of the risks and benefits and prefer an unassisted delivery or a scheduled c-section, that’s your choice to make. But you have a right to have access to the necessary information and the right to make the choice for yourself.

      Reply

      • I didn’t miss the point of the article, I was replying more to the section that stated that we are brainwashed to think that more interventions are better and the strong emphasis and push for home birth throughout the post and previous comments. It was stated that “interventions and c-sections are discussed…jovially”. Despite trying to give an air of non-judgment, the post and many of the comments paint women who have the interventions as uninformed and having a lack of consent and voice in the birthing process. I disagree that women are uninformed. There is a plethora of information out there. The difference is a lack of interest by many regarding the non-mainstream options. The information is there. Most women think “well, it was good enough when I was born and I survived”. My mother-in-law even stated that she wouldn’t have given birth except by c-section and she thinks it is unnecessary to breast feed because formula worked fine for her kids. I am definitely an advocate for natural options but it doesn’t always work for everyone and there is definitely a tone that homebirths are the superior choice.

        Reply

        • There ARE a lot of women (not all) who choose interventions who are uninformed. That is the “mainstream” or “normal” way right now, so women don’t have to research it or advocate for it. It is simply offered. On the other hand, natural/unmedicated birth is NOT the norm, so women have to research carefully and really advocate hard in some cases to be able to achieve their goals. By no means are all women who are choosing medicated birth uninformed, but many are.

          Also, yes, I’m advocating for natural/home birth. Again, it’s not the norm. If a woman goes to her OB and says, “I’d really like to be induced at 39 weeks so my husband can guarantee he can have the day off from work to be with me,” the OB will at least take her seriously and will probably agree to her wish. But she went to her OB and said, “I’d seriously like to consider a water birth,” or worse, “I’d like to have this baby at home,” she’d likely be laughed out of the office…or told in no uncertain terms that “we don’t do that.”

          Women’s access to managed/hospital births is not limited. If you want to have a scheduled induction or c-section, you can find someone who will perform this for you, and who will probably behave professionally and reserve his/her judgment. But women’s access to natural options IS limited. I have to champion for the rights women don’t have. Believe me — if women who needed c-sections were being denied them, and their babies were suffering damage or death as a result, I’d be talking about how limiting access to life-saving medical care is wrong. But that’s not what’s happening here.

          And finally, while I strongly believe in informed choice and that all women have the right to choose what is best for them, I do have my own opinions. I’ve had a managed hospital birth, and two unmedicated home births. Home birth was far superior for me. I cannot erase that experience when I write like this. I am not suggesting home birth is THE superior experience. But it is MY superior experience. I just can’t be 100% neutral on it. If that bothers you so much…I’d have to ask why? You had an experience that worked for you and you have your thoughts, feelings, and opinions about that. I had an experience that worked for me and I have my thoughts, feelings, and opinions about that. My opinions shine through in my writing. That’s just the way it is, honestly. I believe in choice for all women but I made a decision that was right for me and yes, I talk about it.

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  18. I completely agree with your great article. I have had 4 hospital births and all of them because of intervention caused me to bleed much more then I should have. All 4 of the births were lacking in having a good birth. I did have them all naturally but there really is no respect for the mother. I have had 5 home births and they have all been wonderful. Two of them were water births which I would highly recommend. Our 8th child had a cleft palette and I was so thankful that he was born at home since we had bounding time before we needed to take him to the hospital, where they treated him as if he was sick with iv’s and the entire works. We were able to just wait a couple hours at home and relax and enjoy our son before taking him. The midwife told us that if he had been in the hospital they probably would have taken him immediately. Our health system is so messed up in USA. Most midwives have had more training in birthing babies then doctors. Plus if there are any complications they are more than ready to have you go to the hospital. They want to keep the mother and baby safe.

    Reply

    • I’m so glad you had great experiences with your later babies! And that’s awesome to know about your cleft palate baby, that you had time to snuggle and bond before having to hand him over. 🙂 I really believe that if I’d been in a hospital, my second would have been whisked immediately to the NICU. The cord was wrapped tightly around his neck and he was a bit blue and not breathing well. The midwife gave him oxygen, rubbed him, and kept him on my chest the whole time, and after a few minutes he was breathing just fine. AND his cord was left uncut until he was an hour old. He’s a perfectly healthy, happy, almost 3-year-old now!

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  19. Echo everything others have said – it’s just so frustrating that we have to constantly struggle to choose the way we want to bring our babies into this world – I have had similar experiences when telling people I birthed with a midwife (even though it was in a hospital setting), the ignorance about why natural birth is important is beyond me. Just goes to show how on average people cannot think outside the box – anything different from the norm is simply unacceptable! Great post, great job 🙂

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  20. I loved what you said about allowing women right to abortion because of right to choose so it should be in birth as well. I am all about choice. Years before we even thought about children I told my husband, I don’t want to birth with an OB, several people I knew saw the same OB/gyn I did and all I heard was c-section stories. I knew that I wanted the choice for a natural birth. For those naysayers, it’s not about the “experience” only, it’s about you doing what you feel is best for you and your baby. We had a birth center birth with a wonderful midwife and are getting ready to do it again. We have gone to see a dr for a sono, and again it mademe very disgusted with OBs care these days. We had to wait for an hr before we were seen (and we had an appt), and there was no apology or explanation why we were kept waiting. During the sono there was discussion among my husband and mom and she mentioned it was hard seeing her daughter go through labor (yes, it can be painful) and the doc said, tell me why you want to do that (you could her the snideness in his voice). I said “because that’s the way I believe it should be done”. In my OB experience I feel like a patient, a number, just another person coming through their door. With my midwife I am a real person to her, a relationship develops and you know they truly care about your well being and the well being of your baby. They have a heart thats interested in you and your baby. OBs just seemed to be interested in doing “the job”! Women need to educate themselves and not just take the drs word on everything. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you want, that’s the only way you’ll get it!!

    Reply

    • That’s one reason women are struggling…they don’t feel like a “person” to their doctors, in some cases. I know I didn’t, with my first baby. I barely spent 5 minutes with her per appointment. She had no interest in what I thought, felt, or wanted. She only wanted to make sure there was nothing glaringly physically wrong. And when I called her with concerns twice, she was very rude and clipped, like “What do you want me to do about it?” Seriously, lady? What am I paying you for? So unfortunate that people think this is normal. 🙁

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  21. This is an amazing post, it’s very well-articulated. I think it’s largely a matter of moms not being aware that there are other options than a hospital birth. At least that was true for me. I have had 4 drug-free hospital births. One was with pitocin after my water broke at home, and another was technically induced because my OB broke my water, which sent me into full labor. I wish I’d known more about homebirth or birth centers before we had children. I wish I hadn’t been so influenced by how the movies and such portray birth. I would have done it differently. I am grateful though to have had drug-free births, and to have known enough about birth that I could make my needs and wishes known and my OB has very good bedside manner and shares my beliefs. It’s blog posts like this that will help to change things, in my opinion, and other women speaking up about our country’s way of doing birth.

    Reply

    • You bring up a good point — the “movies” issue. People come to fear birth because that’s the only place they see it — on TV! And that’s unfortunate because that is not the reality. Thanks for commenting!

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  22. To me, the whole thing with birth is about money and power. They want your money, so they scare you into giving up your power, so they can use it against you.
    I can’t tell you all the crap they told me to try to get my money, and take away my right to make decisions. It is all crap. It is all a big lie. The nurses lie because, if they don’t, they will be fired and/or lose their license. They lie until they believe the lie, or change to another kind of work. The doctors lie for money and convenience. Why are women so gullible? Why do we buy the line that we have to push on our backs? Why do we allow shaving, IV’s, drugs, episiotomies? Why do we let them burn our babies eyes with silver nitrate, feed them sugar water or formula, take them away from us?? It is all so very wrong, and we fight with each other about it, instead of banding together against “them”.
    I had six babies. The first was born in the hospital, with lots of interventions and lots of neglect. Horrible, and it was 31 years ago; still horrible. The next four were born at home. The best! Wonderful! Powerful! Fresh baked birthday cake when the baby is 2 hours old. Siblings being able to touch and hold and love their new baby. Instant family!! Less bleeding. Faster recovery. Better start on nursing. No silver nitrate. The last baby was born in the hospital. Something just felt wrong, and I knew I needed to go. Broken membranes, meconium staining, d-cells, cesearean, spinal headache. But the cord was wrapped around her neck multiple times, and she probably would have died before she could be born at home. So it was horrible, but I did get my healthy baby out of it. They explained everything to me. My husband was right there all the time. They were (mostly) respectful to me. I will never forget the spinal headache pain, or the way it colored everything for the first month of her life. But she is 16yo now, and the joy of my life. We need all kinds of options for birth: home, birthing center, and hospital. But we need all those places and people involved to respect mom and take their cues from her. Women have been having babies with little to no assistance for thousands of years. We need support and encouragement, not infantilization.

    Reply

    • That’s sad about your first birth. 🙁 I am happy the others went well, and that you had those “instincts” to tell you to go to the hospital with your last! There’s a reason we have hospitals and c-sections and it’s for times like those. 🙂 And not for “everyday” stuff like “you hit your due date.”

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  23. I am in the UK but watch the US baby birth programmes. I’m really shocked at how the women are often treated and really can’t understand why the women of America aren’t up in arms. Good article.

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  24. I haven’t had any babies yet, but I like reading things like this. A friend of mine from college (who I think had both her babies in a birthing center with midwives) shared this on Facebook.
    As I read more and do research, the idea of birthing in a hospital scares me! Never mind all the scary “birthing” TV shows on nowadays–It always feels weird to see how rough a lot of the nurses/doctors are when they handle the newborns–seems wrong to me. But I don’t have any experience with this, so what do I know?
    Anyway, thanks for the post! Opened my eyes, definitely.

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  25. By the way, I read this to my husband (who was kind and patient enough to listen to the whole thing lol), and he couldn’t believe that the maternal death rates are going back up. I think he’s kinda freaked out about our going to a hospital to have a baby now, too!

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  26. im from australia, and have never had a home birth, but i had 2 hospital births, both vaginal births, both with pain relief. my first daughter, who i had at 19, was a 25 hour labour. i had pain relief. i dont regret this as it helped me get some sleep and regain some energy. i had complications, my placenta split in the womb and only partially came out, i lost a lot of blood, but it was nothing that could have been avoided. i chose to have minor surgery over a catheter to have it removed. my midwife was amazing. she tried to insert a catheter after my daughter was born and i kicked her away from me. the next day she came to check on me, she wasnt even working. my doctor on the other hand was rude and abrupt. he left because i was being uncooperative. i gave birth on my knees, my doctor wanted me to lay down. i refused. i dont remember a lot of the details, which upsets me. i was very disorientated and the only bits i clearly remember were when i had the pain relief. i also refused to hold my daughter after the birth despite the nurse trying to give her to me seeral times, i was too scared i would squish her while trying to pass the placenta. she tried to reassure me, as did my stepmother and father who were with me. my partner had been allowed in with me earlier, but was on his way back to the hospital after going home when my daughter was actually born.
    my second daughter took 18 hours to come out, after i was given drugs to try and speed up the labour. while this meant my sister, who was flying in from interstate to be with me, missed her birth by 1 hour, im glad i made that choice. and yes it was a choice. i also had an epidural. because of this, i have clear memories of the birth, i was calm, collected and got to hold my daughter without panicking or being scared of hurting her. i enjoyed my experience. i had a retained placenta again, which was manually removed by my doctor. i was awake during this, but due to the epidural, i didnt feel it. my birthing doctor was the same woman who i had seen all through my pregnancy, she happened to be on call that night, and i felt comfortable with her. my midwife again, was wonderful. and my mother was with me, and my partner.
    my point is, i think its the choices that matter not the place of birth.its not fair that some people have an ignorant view of home births, but completely being against hospital births is no better.
    sometimes, hospital births can be bad, sometimes they can be fantastic. and im sure that home-births are the same. i dont think that either home births or hospital births are superior to the other. its about choice, whats best for you. with both births, even though one was definately better than the other, at all times, i was given options, never told what to do, and whatever i said, thats what happened. thats what matters.

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    • Yes, I agree. It isn’t about what a woman chooses. It is about having the freedom to choose, and having those choices respected. It is about doctors, midwives, and other professionals treating women as people who deserve respect and autonomy, and partnering with them. Home birth or even unmedicated hospital birth is not what all women want. That is okay. But they ought to have the right to choose what they want without fear of being laughed at or having interventions they don’t want pushed on them…or refused if they request them! That is the real crux of the matter.

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  27. Wholeheartedly agree with you! The situation is the same in the UK…convenience not safety first in 9 out of 10 cases.

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  28. Wow, how disgusting what happened to that family, to be so completely disrespected like that. I know of far too many stories of women and their supporters being coerced into unnecessary and dangerous procedures, but to actually knock out a woman cold and just take her baby from her body like that?

    The state of “health”care in this country is in shambles. No wonder more and more people are taking it into their own hands.

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  29. Homebirth is not always safe. To me homebirth can be worse than hospital. I attempted it and it was a disaster. I was left alone to labor for 3 day with as little as barely as getting a text back from my midwife. One of the reasons I hired our midwife was because she provided a birthpool and got a 13 inch off the ground kiddie pool that was a joke. Finaly my midwife showed up after 3 days, sat on the couch for about an hour and then ran to the store and was gone for 4.5 hours!!! Told me she took a lunch break with her boyfriend because she needed to rest! I was crawling on the floor. Scared, panicking and having no idea how and what I’m supposed to do. Midwife came back and sat back on the couch. Did NOTHING. No words of encouragement, no rubs, no soothing encouraging words NOTHING. Actualy, it felt like me being in pain annoyed and irritated her. From the far corner of our living room she would say things like “if you don’t move you wont get very far”, “go sit on the toilet, that will help the process” I did what she said but had no physical help getting to the toilet, but crawled on my hands and knees between my 2-3 min contractions while she watched me crawl sitting there on the couch chatting with her friend. No words can describe how vulnerable, ashamed and hurt I was. It was humiliating.
    For those of you who think I may have made up my story, well I didn’t. I still shake and cry when I remember my homebirht. I sobbed for weeks after it. Oh how I prepred for it! I went over the list of things I might need, research online if I missed something. Prepared all the snacks for the midwife weeks ahead of time. Everything was ready to go 2 1/2 months before due date!
    From being dialated between 8-9 my contractions started to die down and still not help from her. We desided to go to the hospital. The hospital staff was wonderful! They were just wonderful! I’m sad that it happened this way, but I will never ever do homebirht again. There is no one to supervise the midwife. You are alone at her mercy and if she is tired, angry, hungry or whatever there is no one to help you or stand up for you.

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    • Susan,

      I’m sorry this happened to you. It sounds like you had a really bad midwife, and that you were in a state where midwifery isn’t really legal. In states where it is, midwives are overseen by doctors, so that there are back ups and people to talk to if things don’t go well. It’s unfortunate that you had this experience, but it doesn’t mean that all midwives or home birth are unsafe.

      I have to ask…did you have any inclination that this midwife was not right for you prior to going into labor? If so…why didn’t you switch? I’m not blaming you because I had a similar situation except with an OB in a hospital. I should have switched but I just didn’t know…I assumed it would go okay. And then it didn’t.

      Why didn’t you go into the hospital sooner? If things were that rough and she wasn’t coming…why wait so long? And have you reported her?

      What happened to you was really terrible. But it just means that that particular midwife should not be practicing. It does not mean that homebirth in general is bad. Where I am, there is a whole practice of midwives and there are always two at your home at once. They are competent, professional, and focused on you. That is more the norm — what you experienced was an exception. I’m sorry it happened to you and I can understand why you would never want to attempt a home birth again. But please don’t say that no one else should. That’s simply not the way it should be. Women should have a choice.

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      • In our state they don’t give midwifery licenses. She was licensed in two different states and came highly recomended. She was awesome from day one! We clicked and talked of herbs, preventative care, birhting pool, things she would do for me not to tear, birthing positions, etc. I shared with her about my verbaly abusive father and that I will need lots of verbal encouragemnt. Everything went well up until about the 8th month of my pregnancy. I started to get that “feeling” about her when somethings did not add up. Like she said sertain things, like she has a doctor that backs her up. Something came up and I could not reach her so I called up the doctor’s office saying I’m her patient, well they would not talk to me and said they have nothing to do with homebirht. It was little things, like she would text back hours later. I pushed those thoughts away because I have already commited, payed in full for the service, trusted her and thought I was just getting cold feet.
        Why I have not went in sooner? I don’t know, I trusted her to show up. That once she got here I will be her first priority like she said. I really wanted my homebirth. She had another birth just as I went in to labor. I asked her for her to send in her assistant and she could not find one, the one she did send was already up one night and in the middle of her client being in labor, so she saw me only for 30 min, took my temperature, talked a little and went back to her client.
        I truly felt abandoned at the time when I most needed somebody.
        I told my husband ahead of time that no matter how much I beg don’t let me go to the hospital. So when I told him over and over again that I can’t do this anymore he thought I was just saying that from pain. He though he was helping me with making homebirth happen. I was also in so much pain that I could not think straight. I did not take birthing classes, just read some stuff online and watched youtube videos, so at that point I just need someone to direct me, coach me through, tell me what to do.
        I don’t tell people what to do.
        I don’t say no one should try homebirth. I just tell my story. It left a huge emotional wound in my heart.
        I still tremble thinking about it. It was horrible. Women should be protected and aware of how things might go wrong here too. They should be prepared from both sides.
        I tell people that they need to be careful, they need to trust that little voice in their head, that nagging feeling that something might go wrong and be prepared for it. Not to trust just one person, but have someone there that would stand up for her, that would know what to do. I tell those women to call the references, ask for the women who transfered to the hospital while attempting homebirth. Aske them WHY they transfered. I know why I transfered. I was neglected, left in pain alone without any help, even my birthpool was being used by someone else. Now the midwife tells another story, she says that I went in because I was exhausted and needed to rest so that’s why I got the epi.
        Yes I was exhausted! My labor started on Thursday and I had my baby early Monday morning! I have not heard anyone being in labor that long!!! The baby was stuck, his head is still dented in from that. She should have guided me through different positions that she talked about earlier when we met! She did not. We agreed that if we ever transfered she would call the hospital and let them know so they are prepared, she did not do that. When we agreed to go in she said she will meet us there, she did not. She showed up 40-45 minutes later saying she got lost. Then she sat with us for a while and said to call her when its time for me to push. !!!! who in the world is going to call someone when they are about push out a baby?!!!!!! We did not call her.
        I wrote her a letter of how I feel about her services.
        A month in a half later she came to my house with an appology. I forgave her. I try to forgive her. I’m still working on it. She said she was physically ill and going through a lot in her life. I feel bad for her situation, but she should have used her better judgement and be honest with me that she was not healthy enough to care for me.

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  30. Hi there,
    A really interesting post that I came across when researching birthing practices in the US. I live in New Zealand and have been watching a US birth show, and while not representative of all births I’m sure, was taken aback at the level of intervention and lack of choice offered women during the birthing process. ‘Natural’ births were represented as foolish and crazy, opposed to the instant break water/pitocin/monitoring that seemed to be the norm. Here, we have a Lead Maternity Carer (usually a midwife) and options for home births, ‘natural births’ etc are wider and more freely discussed and accepted. In fact, you are likely to be sent home from the public (government funded) hospital if you are too early into your labour so you can labour in the comfort of your own home, as opposed to being rushed through the birth in hospital. I’m sure it’s not a perfect system, but I’m grateful I live here and can benefit from it!

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  31. Katie,
    Thank you for this article! I’ve had 10 births. 9 hospital, 1 home birth. Home birth was the greatest experience I’d ever had. Sadly it was birth #8! It was thanks to “The Business of being Born”, that awaked my frustration and disenchantment with hospital birth. All my hospital births I’d been induced anywhere from 4 weeks to 2 weeks early. My homebirth I was 3 weeks past my due date and had my largest baby at a whoppen 8 lbs 13 oz. She was born in a birthing tub and was truly such an amazing experience. With my 9 th baby we did a birthing center due to the lack of space at home… We have a 4 bedroom home that is less then 1300 sq feet. Unfortunetly my bp likes to bump up right at the last month of pregnancy. My midwife for the homebirth did find it was due to I get dehydrated easily, but with hospital, and even the birthing center, they ignored that fact at wanted to treat it medically. For the birthing center they deamed me “high risk” and transfered me to the hospital. From that point everything went down hill. I have ptsd before even having children, but the experiences in the hospital have made it much worse. The Dr I was transfered to thought it was laughable that I could not have a male dr and told us to get over it. I stressed so bad that my son went from ready to deliver to full back breech, to which the dr demanded immediate delivery. We had amazing nurses advocating for us, but in the end it ended with my first csection. To this day my son has a better relationship with his dad. The bonding was extremely hard and to this day I can not remember the first 2 months of his life. Because of that experience I went from quiverfull to DONE. Granted, as I said I had 10 God had other plans. We found out at 17 week (according to ultrasound) that we were expecting. God blessed us with an amazing family practioner who was willing to do VBAC. As usual it ended in an induction, but through it the OB that oversaw my dr was amazing. I had a lot of fear as we had been warned that at 12 hours of having my water broken we would have to do another c section. Instead, at hr 12 the ob signed off that they were not to do a c unless there showed severe distress from me or my baby. After 17 hrs of no progress she ordered me to the tub to rest, rather then the c section. I had been stuck at 5 cm dialated, 70% eface stuck at -2 station for the last 7 hrs. After me giving up and deciding my fate was a c, she pushed me along to tell me I could do this, “I was made for this!” With that said her shift was over and a new dr was coming on. With everyone leaving me for the shift change I gave birth to my beautiful daughter in less then 15 minutes. 😀 Thankfully that group of dr had a natural mindset and thought it was awesome that she was born in the water, though my nurse said had I had the dr from the day before or after I would not have had that outcome… He would have forced csection.
    On an ever greater note for those drs… They highly discourage vaccinations for at least the first 3 yrs of life, and then from there IF after educating youself they give a break down of what are and are not impotant. As my FP says the less toxins the better!

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  32. I am lucky that I currently am living under and experiencing a different model of birth care. I live in Germany, and here, the prenatal care is shared by midwives and OB’s equally. Most “hospital births” here are the equivalent to birthing centers and it is law for a midwife to be in attendence at births. Only if a very unsual or life-threatening complication arises will the OB intervene. Use of additional interventions may be requested but is far from the norm. Women are encouraged to go through their own natural process.
    I have also watched “The Business of Being Born”. As a healthcare practitioner myself, I am appalled by: 1. the lack of experience OB’s have with the natural birth process, 2. The lack of regard for the informed consent process (I beleive that the process of birth can put a person in an altered state, if one is in an altered state from “normal” one cannot legally give consent) 3. lack of regard for the woman 4. proceedures being done with profit motivation above “first do no harm”.
    I have 3 months to go in my first pregnancy and am looking foward to delivering within a system that approaches things differently. Thank you for your frank discussion on this matter.

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  33. My birthing experience was an exercise in stubbornness. I took Bradley birthing classes and greatly appreciated the information i learned in these classes which has since inspired me to start my training this fall and hopefully have my first class starting by the end of the year. I made a birth plan and stuck to it- also being very blessed that God allowed a healthy birth with few complications other than needing to switch positions and getting oxygen at one point and a very long time pushing which led to other issues which could have been prevented if the mindset of my first nurse had been to encourage me in my desire not to stay in bed- but she kept pushing me back in bed to read the vitals on baby- whereas several hours later my next nurse had been at the birthing center and was wonderful about helping me move around but by this point i was tired and my motivation for staying out of bed was not there. I delivered in a modified lying down squat- but wish now I had gone to the birthing center and had a better experience with more of a focus on facilitating my birthing rather than discouraging it. My son was born very healthy but i had several challenges with my recovery which i think could have been prevented by a better birthing position. When you get ready to deliver you are in such a focused way its hard to make decisions so I was very glad my birthing plan was with me, my supportive husband & mom, and my excellent doula. Now we are in a state that does not have or allow birthing centers, or home births and I’m left wondering what do i do if i get pregnant? I would rather avoid another hospital birth especially after my experience birthing our stillborn child and basically being almost coerced into using the doctor- but i finally demanded enough to have the midwife after several hours they finally acquiesced and then instead of encouraging the natural birth i wanted basically i felt coerced into getting some medication- thankfully it didn’t take until after delivery- so 2 med free births! I am hoping and praying by teaching Bradley classes I can pass on the information about the reality of birthing and what is necessary and when as well as what isn’t necessary. Also- the book “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” by Henci Goer as well as “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg were excellent resources.

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  34. I loved reading this! I had my son vaginally but I had and epidural and I blame the pitoci. They had me on since I went in (though I was stil in labor for 28hrs). I don’t mind having the pitocin. But I went in because my water broke so they hookednme right up to pitocin. I lasted 21 hrs before getting the epidural. I’m surprised they didn’t push for a csection after 24hrs there and his pulse kept dropping but I’m glad they didn’t. Some of the nurses were kind of mean though. And one had me crying and giving up trying to breastfeed. If my insurance covers it I want a home birth or birthing center next time for the peace of mind. I’m definitely getting a midwife.
    Sorry for spelling errors I’m on my kindle and its annoying to type on. I definitely want to breastfeed y next and I’m not having a nurse ruin that again

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  35. A girl I know is expecting and wants a c-section because childbirth is painful and ‘gross’. I don’t understand some people. Childbirth is beautiful and the pain bonds you with your child. If you can’t handle it you probably shouldn’t have a baby.

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  36. So unfortunate to hear people naively state that midwives are less capable then an OB. I too, was once ignorant and biased and brainwashed like the masses to believe that midwives are an ancient thing of the past that no longer has a place in this day and age. I have been blessed to give birth to 5 beautiful children. My first 3 with a family physician and my latter 2 with midwives. There is actually no comparison to be made! A midwife is constantly at your side, there is no busyness to attend to you are her only business. They are incredibly sensitive and intuitive and empowering. They do not tell you what to do, they inform you and make you knowledgeable about all possible options and let you decide.
    With my first 3, they hid when my daughter lost oxygen and was turning blue they removed her from us and told my husband to stand away and then came back to say…oh we were just making sure the bowel movement she had had prior to birth hadnt seeped into her lungs. She has suffered with some neurological issues since. I believe, quite possibly because of the induced labour, stress throughout the delivery and the lack of oxygen to her. With my second I tore significantly because I was TOLD my baby would not be much bigger then my 6 lb 10oz for which I got an episiotomy. 8lb 13oz later with stitches from one end to the next. Then the stitches were a whole other story.
    Long story short my last 2 babies were the biggest, both over 9lbs. I had no complications, even when my 4th was coming out with the wrong shoulder first, my midwives quickly fixed that by having me get on all fours, rather then what the dr. had done by reaching in, OUCH…and then having to suction my second baby, so that he had an acorn head for 2 months. People can speak there ignorance all they want. My only regret is that I was too immature to know better with my first 3. They should have all had midwives deliver them!!! And then there is vaccinating them……………another brainwash propaganda!

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  37. It’s important for a mother to go where she feels most comfortable and that whoever her birth professional is, she feels comfortable in their capabilities as a professional. For some of us, that may be a hospital and for others, that may be a birthing center and for still others, that’s home. And that’s perfectly all right, no matter what. I err towards the idea that a healthy and happy baby and mom at the end of the birthing process is the singular most important thing.

    But that being said, every situation is different. When I was pregnant five years ago, I was considered a high-risk pregnancy as I was an insulin-controlled gestational diabetic. I was very happy to have modern medicine that helped to ensure that both my daughter and I made it through okay. At least, that’s what I thought at the time.

    Once at the hospital, I really wished that I had gone with a midwife, if for nothing else, a professional who *cared* and would stay with me. The OB I saw throughout my pregnancy wasn’t even present; instead a partner from her practice was. It felt so impersonal. Even so, giving birth at a hospital, while not ideal, was still the best option for me.

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  38. Kate, Kate, Kate – BRAVO!!

    Excellent! I had the honor of attending the birth of my oldest niece at home – it was perfect. I still laugh to this day – my sister was hang issues with nursing so she called her lactation consultant. When she arrived she thought I was the one who had the baby not my sister. Been a birth junkie ever since.
    I have had three natural hospital births. My oddest (DD) was born in a military hospital. I was considered high risk because of a history of Epilepsy (now managed perfectly my meds after surgery in 2001) and being a good patient, I went to fetal/maternal specialist. He just shook his head, everything looked amazing and to enjoy the remainder of my pregnancy. At the end of the pregnancy, the same OB that I would have to all but block the door she was in and out so fast during my appointments, calls me at home (for the first time ever) after an U/S at 33 wks. The baby measuring small (I’m 5’2″ and 110 lbs soaking wet, married to an average sized Army grunt). Did I mention my husband was deployed?? I asked her “what will make you feel better?” Non-stress tests, twice a week. Ok. After two weeks of that, Anna was born at 36 and 5 on the day of one of my non-stress tests. That morning knew something was going on, but didn’t tell them. Got out of there ASAP!! Went home, did a belly cast (with the help of two dear friends ), got washed up, headed on post, chewed up a little more time and finally went to the hospital at about 3 in the afternoon. I was in the triage room for 30 minutes and finally asked my friend if she could find someone to check me – 5 minutes later, I’m being pushed down the hall VERY quickly (I was at a 7). They got an IV in me (for which they used to give me Pit – afterwards). 2 hours and 47 minutes later, my daughter was put on my chest. She weighed 5 lb 15ozs and was 18 inches long.
    My son was born in Monterey, Ca. Went to the high risk OB that everyone LOVED – whatever. Everything was ducky, no problem. At 32 weeks OB wanted to do a Fetal fibronectin test (just a swab, just in case). Does he do any teaching, give me a pamphlet, tell me that obtaining from sex would be a good idea? NOPE! 24 hours, I miss a phone call from him and get a to listen to a message from a very stressed sounding OB, telling me to PLEASE CALL HIM BACK! I call him back and he proceeds to scare the crap out of me, telling me that the test was positive, which meant the odds were VERY good that I could go into labor in the next 2 weeks. “Come in tomorrow, get a shot and we will give you a script for some smooth muscle relaxers. With moderate bed rest (you mother of a 14 month-old), I think we can get you to 36 weeks. This is my husbands first pregnancy (he was a little preoccupied, being operations officer for a 500 man squadron in combat), so he is trying to stay cool, but concerned as well. After we talk each other off our respective ledges, call my sister, and do a little research, that test has a 50% false positive rate!!! But, the good OB has put doubt in our heads. We are “good patients” following his guidance. I feel a braxton hicks come on, I pop a Terbutaline – because, what if? Once I hit 36 weeks, my OB ceases acting like a fruit loop and no chalantly I magically make it to to my 37 week appointment. He checks me and I am at a

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  39. I was going to insert a “This is gong to be a comment” warning. I hit the wrong button. Almost there – sorry!

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  40. From where I left off – He checks me and I am at 4 cm (Tuesday). At this point, all the fun has been sucked out of the pregnancy, so when he mentions breaking my water and “getting things” on Thursday. I tell him I will talk with my husband. When my hubby get home, I tell him what the OB suggests. (I love this) “No, I don’t think that’s a good idea”. I went into labor the next morning (after a relaxing evening of my husband tending to me and my mom taking care of my daughter). I think I was at the hospital for a whopping 4 hours, when he was born. He was 6lbs 6ozs 18 & 1/2 inches
    My next daughter was born 19 months (to the day) after my son. This time in the rest state of NY. This pregnancy was almost EXACTLY like my first pregnancy. Yet again, they were concerned about size. I got a call from an OB in the practice (whom I had never met with) and informed me that she thought taking the baby early, was the best route. The difference this time. I complied, but didn’t make it easy and finally got fed up enough to take my husband in with me. That was not an easy thing to pull off (the job he had was high stress didn’t allow for him to easily break away). When the very perky Major (Army OB’s again), rounded the corner and asked how we were doing, my husband (also a Major), informed her that if she was in his organization, he would have her “relieved for cause” – for negligent actions. Her tune magically changed and she assured him that this was a “team decision”. He informed her “NO, it’s ours”. Of course before we left, I had to remind them about doing the GBS test. They forgot to do this at the last appointment. My daughter was born 3 days later (at 36w6d) – 30 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. Unfortunately, it takes longer than 3 days to the the results to the GBS test (Army bureaucracy). This meant I had to stay in the hospital an extra day. When I offered to go AMA – they said “fine, but we will have to send social services to check on you”. That’s ok – we’ll stay.
    These weren’t horrible experiences – there just could have been so much less stress. Needless to say, I am 31 weeks with #4 and seeing a midwife . I told my husband I was DONE with hospitals!! My husband will end up being deployed the majority of the last trimester (until I am 36w&5d) and this has still pregnancy has still been less stressful than the previous pregnancies. 🙂

    Again, I apologize for the lengthy comment. I just want yo to know that birth 3 different places, 3 different settings, (Army hospital, civilian hospital, and civilian hospital with Army care), there is a complete lack of education and an acceptance bad behavior. I’m just grateful I finally said that enough is enough!! It’s scary – I’m a trained doula, I have taken Childbirth Ed classes, attended 9 births other than my own and I had to fight for it. Breaks my heart 🙁

    Dee

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  41. Great post. I just got into reading a book called “Scared Sick” about early childhood trauma (I’m a therapist in training) and I was shocked to read about how in-utero and birth trauma (including use of forceps, vacuum, induction, etc.) hyper-sensitize a baby to pain and affect them for a long, long time to come. E.g. being induced is correlated to a lifelong tendency to quit things, be chronically late, etc and use of sedative for mom increases likelihood of drug dependency/use later in life for baby. While I don’t think we should think about these risks in determinist ways or stress about what’s already happened to our children, it just makes me madder to hear, “Well, you ended up with a healthy baby.” “Healthy”, except with birth trauma, and that matters even though you’ll never hear it from the mainstream. Once you know the degree of risks of high-intervention birth, a natural birther could ask the same question back, “Don’t you care about your baby?” (Although we never would, because we know that disrespect helps nothing, and we all make the best choices we know how to for our children, and we certainly all care about our kids. Our society is just biased to trust the medical industry like it’s a deity.)

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  42. Thank you for writing this! I am 22 weeks and facing some big disagreements with my hospital and OB. I only wish I knew three years ago,the things I know now. My first was what I would call an avoidable c-section (scraped membranes leading to a serious infection along with serious dehydration, water broke before baby dropped, and a 10lb boy stuck tight, face up after 24 hrs. of labor). My second was VBAC and as happy as I was that I was able to do that I was still left disappointed by the process. They broke my water as soon as I arrived and gave me an epidural because they claimed it was necessary to have in place in case of a uterine rupture. Then I was hooked to monitors and forced to deliver laying down. They are telling me that if I don’t do things the same this time around and anything goes wrong i will end up being put under and not even my husband will be able to stay with me! My doctors listen very well and are always available to answer questions. They claim they want to help me do things the way I want, but when it comes to VBAC they claim their hands are tied by hospital rules. I told them I was going to stay in the parking lot until my water broke on it’s own since I live far away. She laughed, but told me honestly to stay away as long as I could if I want things to be left alone.
    This is very frustrating. I am making a birth plan and I want to refuse the intervention as much as I can, but I am afraid of having to be put under 🙁 Between my care choices and those we have made for the baby my husband and I are already prepping our boxing gloves. We want more kids, but after my first I’m not sure I would ever go for a home birth. I would be very interested in a birthing center and a midwife, but I do wonder how a midwife would handle a VBAC and what they would do about a uterine rupture. I don’t want to give into fear tactics from the doctors and I know that my past births have not been what is best for me or my babies. I hate feeling like my options are concede or go in swinging not a very peaceful picture either way 🙁

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  43. See: Don’t Cut Me Again! True Stories About Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. It’s on Amazon and can be ordered from any bookstore.

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  44. Just ran across this article on Pinterest. I am Canadian and I don’t think we are much different. Except that midwives are mostly covered by our medical system. They aren’t practicing in every area though. I have had many different experiences, no C-Sections but inductions and the worst, breaking my tailbone b/c of the awkward position they wanted me to birth in. By the time I had my 5th I decided to completely ignore everything any nurse or doctor told me to do and birthed on my side, didn’t allow the nurse to put a monitor on me and definitely not break my water. I basically did my own thing at the hospital. It was much better and I’m hoping to do the same early next year with my 6th.

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  45. Lets not forget to include and mention circumcision as another one of the unnecessary newborn procedure’s! Other than that, very good article, thank you!

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  46. Birth in America is generally feared because people are not educated about it properly. I am planning an undisturbed home birth at home next month. I have not seen a midwife or doctor my entire pregnancy. I completely trust my body and my baby. no one will mess with my body, my baby, or my birth!

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  47. I love this post. Where are all the LIKE buttons? I always press the LIKE buttons on your posts :).

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  48. The health of the baby is affected by the birth experience…Drug- free…. The passage through the birth canal. These are important to the baby’s health. As are the mother’s mental and emotional states during the birth process. (and pregnancy) So “all that matters is the health of the baby” would really lead one to a natural (home) birth. Thanks for writing this. I had 3 home births. The last one was 23 years ago. These same issues were then too. It makes me sad that they still linger.

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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