Trust Birth or Don’t?

I can’t resist.  You would think that since I am new to homebirth and haven’t had a VBAC yet that I wouldn’t bother myself with polemics regarding homebirth.  I’m obviously not that bright.  My homebirth google alert today included a post about the power of positive thinking and the homebirth movement.  I had to check it out. 

I won’t link to this weblog out of principle, but if you search for the quote using your favorite search engine, you’ll find it easily enough . . .

“. . . if you ‘trust’ birth, and refuse to accept the fact that birth is inherently dangerous, you will be rewarded with the birth experience that you desire.”

I’d like to play with the words a bit:

“If you refuse to trust birth and insist that birth is inherently dangerous, you will be rewarded with the birth experience that you desire.”

Some people, practitioners and women, simply refuse to trust birth.  Some will insist that birth is inherently dangerous.  They will likely achieve the birth experience that they desire, and it will likely be overly-managed, overly-medicated, potentially surgical, and definitely exorbitantly expensive.

“If you don’t trust birth and accept the fact that birth is inherently dangerous, you will be rewarded with the birth experience that you desire.”

And somewhat similarly:

“If you don’t trust birth even though you don’t believe that birth is inherently dangerous, you will likely have trouble achieving the birth experience that you desire.”

Some people don’t trust birth and have accepted the “fact” that birth is inherently dangerous.  They will likely create that reality in their birth experiences.  If women engage practitioners with this guiding philosophy, they will likely lose faith in the natural processes of life and end up dissatisfied with their birth experience even if the outcome is positive.

Some women know that birth isn’t dangerous most of the time but lack the trust needed to achieve particular outcomes.  Perhaps this was me once upon a time.  I never really considered that birth might be dangerous.  Why would I be created for a particular skill if it were inherently dangerous to me or my offspring?  However, I’m not sure that I trusted myself enough last time.  I didn’t trust my body.  I didn’t trust my instincts.  That’s probably the worst part of it . . . I didn’t listen to my inner voice.

“If you trust birth and acknowledge that birth is inherently natural to our species, you will likely achieve the birth experience that you desire.”

If you trust birth you are fortunate enough to understand that certain life events are natural and far less risky than some of the every day activities in which we engage.  Things like riding in cars.  That single activity is far more risky (statistically speaking) than giving birth.  If you trust birth you may not be “rewarded” with a particular birth outcome but understand that complications and poor outcomes are possible.  Trusting birth is not about sticking your head in the sand.  It’s about understanding that most of the time women can achieve normal birth when given appropriate support, time, and space.

Going back to the original quote:
“. . . if you ‘trust’ birth, and refuse to accept the fact that birth is inherently dangerous, you will be rewarded with the birth experience that you desire.”

“Trust” – in the original text, the blogger puts the word “trust” in quotes; this diminishes the validity of “trust” in relation to childbirth
“Refuse to accept” – ultimatum . . . polemic
“Inherently dangerous” – emotional scare tactic
“Reward” – as if there’s a prize involved???
“Desire” – as if all that matters for homebirthers is what the woman desires

Do you see yourself anywhere in my “play on words” section?  Where do you want to be?  Do you want to be afraid to be pregnant?  Do you really want to go into labor and delivery afraid?  Do you really want to go into labor and delivery lacking trust?  What is positive and proactive about being fearful and lacking trust?  What do you as a pregnant and/or laboring woman gain from that perspective?  I would say nothing.  You have lost your power and are no longer an active participant in your care when you are afraid and can’t trust.  Perhaps you (and your birth experience) are more manageable that way.  How do you feel about that?  Do you want to be managed?

I can’t really define homebirth for you.  Everyone comes to homebirth from different paths.  Some women always know that they’ll have their babies at home.  Some women are involved in social structures that are more inclined to promote homebirth, homeschool, extended breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and the like.  Some women are disgruntled consumers.  Some women aren’t given the choice to have a vaginal hospital birth and turn to homebirth as their only choice.  Some women who give birth at home don’t fall into any of these generalized categories.

For me homebirth is about safety, sanctity, Faith, Trust, natural life processes, achieving physiologic birth, what’s best for me and baby, avoiding an unnecessary cut, vaginal birth after cesarean, comfort, family, community, and a whole host of other things that I haven’t even discovered yet!

Why “I don’t care” hurts

My sister-in-law’s birth experience came up in discussion this week when we were home visiting.  We knew at the time of her cesarean that the baby was likely premature – even at 41+ weeks – because of the thick coating of vernix on her when she was extracted from my SIL’s body and based on her mother’s gestational pattern.  Her OB of course recommends repeat cesarean for future childbirth.  Perhaps some of the reasoning is valid, but personally, I think she’s being misinformed and discriminated against.

My husband asked her if she was interested in a VBAC or would go with the OB’s recommendation, and she said “I don’t care.”  She doesn’t care?  How can that be?  How can she say that in front of me knowing damned well that I DO CARE!

Because I do care!

Telling a woman like me that you don’t care is offensive.  I do care.  I care that my baby likely was unnecessarily removed via major abdominal surgery.  I care that the physical and emotional effects of this surgery may not be seen in and by my daughter until later in life.  I have just this year (at age 34) begun to learn about and remedy some of the ill effects of my own cesarean birth.  I also care that my brother’s wife was subject to interventions that lead to cesarean birth.  I really care that she was subjected to a surgery that could have prematurely ended her own life.  Stories of maternal death during or shortly following cesarean surgery are working their way into the mainstream media.

We know that this is not the best way for babies to be born unless it is an emergency situation.  We know that babies who are born via cesarean section risk breathing issues, spinal issues, being accidentally cut, being seperated at birth from his/her mother, needing NICU support, as well as emotional and chemical problems in the future.

Because of what “I don’t care” implies

She said she doesn’t care to my husband and me knowing full well that we do care.  She knows about my work with ICAN.  By saying “I don’t care”, she made me feel like she doesn’t believe in the work I am doing or honor my birth philosophy.  Instead of saying “I don’t care” so bluntly, she could have said something much more tactful.  Try “I’m not sure which path I will take, but given my reproductive health history I will likely do as my doctor recommends and schedule a repeat section.”

My whole being in invested in two very important personal issues: (1) cesarean awareness and advocacy through ICAN; (2) miscarriage – cause, prevention, “treatment”.  By saying “I don’t care”, I am left feeling like she doesn’t care about me.  (Now, I recognize this as a bit extreme.  I know she does care about me, but she didn’t care to think about how this statement would hurt me.  This happened days ago and I still hurt.)

Because of who says it

I’d imagine that you or I are more likely to hear something along these lines from someone we care about – a close friend or family member.  This makes it all the more painful.  If some idiot woman I don’t know or like said this to me, it would roll right off.  But the horrible things our family members and friends say to us are really tough to forgive and forget.  I know that I must forgive and forget, and that’s partially why I am writing this post. 

Because she should care

I recognize that I have no power over another person’s decision to care about health care decisions made for them.  However, does that mean that I back off and let a family member be led to medical decisions that could adversely affect her family?  This is tricky for sure.  I have no desire to badger her and don’t want to negatively impact my relationship with her and my brother, but it is really hard to stay silent when your family chooses to stick its head in the sand.  They’d just rather I stick my head in there with them than have to endure one of my “rants”, as I am sure they see it.

I don’t want to negate anyone’s birth experience.  I don’t want to tell another woman how she should plan childbirth.  However, I believe it is my Calling to advocate, support, and educate women (and their families) with regard to safe and ethical health care decisions specific to prenatal, childbirth, and postnatal care.

What is so offensive about that?  Why should my caring be taken so poorly or treated as trivial?

‘Tis the Season to be Reminded Why My Family Drives Me Nuts . . .
Fa la la la la!