We already feel inadequate

I watched Orgasmic Birth last night on Amazon.  When I told my husband what I was watching, he gave me a look like “oh no, you’re going to be one of those women this time, huh?”  I told him that despite the title, the movie was supposed to be good, and for the most part it was.

If you go to the OG website, you’ll see that they define the word orgasmic differently than you would expect: “Intense or unrestrained excitement or a similar point of intensity or emotional excitement.”  I’d agree that all of the normal physiologic births shown on the video demonstrated intensity.  It’s important to read the definition above with the word “or” in mind.  A woman does not have to achieve orgasm during labor/birth to have an orgasmic birth.

I found it interesting that one of the interviewed NCB experts suggested that we don’t share our birth stories because we don’t want to make other women feel inadequate.  Perhaps a woman who consents to an epidural in a hospital setting will feel inadequate, I don’t know.  But, a woman who has undergone a cesarean after trying to labor will almost always feel inadequate in some way.  (I know there are always women out there who will say different.)  Let me explain.

A woman is told that babies come out of vaginas, and that most of the time that is possible.  Women may enter into the last stages of pregnancy knowing that they want an epidural or to be induced, but they still expect that in most cases, the baby is going to come out normally.  However, most hospital birthers are not given the right kind of support to achieve a natural physiologic birth or normal birth.  Inductions are fairly normal.  Augmentations are fairly normal.  Epidurals are extremely common.  As one expert pointed out on the movie, when most (like 90%) laboring women receive an epidural, and you don’t, you take the staff out of its comfort zone.

So after these interventions and more (constant monitoring, restricted movement in labor, etc.), women are still expected somehow to birth vaginally.  And a third of us are sectioned – or more, depending on the location.  Our bodies failed us, we are lead to believe.  “Thank God I was in the hospital or my baby and I would have been in big trouble.”  Our inadequacies are magnified by the overwhelming successes of the medical machine.

Women who have had cesareans are defensive.  “My cesarean was necessary” is a common belief.  But to suggest that women don’t share their birth stories because they don’t want to make a cesarean mother feel inadequate is not understanding the situation.  We already feel inadequate.

I am 1 of 3 women sectioned in childbirth.

I am one of numerous women told that her body wasn’t capable of birthing her baby.

I am 3 of 4 women sectioned in Montana for twins.

I am nearly 100% of women in my community told they cannot have a VBAC in the hospital after multiple scars.

I am nearly 100% of women told to be thankful that they have a healthy baby after a cesarean section.

Share your birth stories in a supportive, instructive, and hopeful manner.  Give cesarean mamas hope that next time can be different, if she chooses.  And she has to choose; you can’t choose for her.  I myself am preparing for a transformational experience this summer.  I can’t get there unless I embrace stories of uninhibited natural physiologic birth.

Are naturally-born babies more calm?

I’ve really started to pay attention to how babies act in the days, weeks, and months after they are born. I’m starting to really buy into the idea that naturally-born babies tend to be more calm, more confident, and sleep better than babies who experience traumatic births.

Fact. My daughter didn’t sleep well and was difficult to calm as a young baby.

Fact. My student’s wife just had their first baby at home. Calm. Chill. That’s how this baby is described.

Fact. My best girlfriend here in town just had her third baby at a birth center. Calm. Chill. I’ve seen first-hand how calm and secure this little guy is. He’s only 2 days old and he clearly recognizes his mother’s voice. They were only at the birth center for a few hours following the birth. And my friend is SO IN LOVE with him.

Now, I’m not trying to suggest that ALL homebirthed babies or all babies born at birth centers are calm and quiet, and ALL hospital-born babies are difficult, but as I’ve learned from Diane Wiessinger, the birth environment and the birthing act/ritual have a tremendous impact on the mother-baby dyad.

Dr. Sarah J. Buckley, MD writes: “The connections between events at birth and long-term health certainly deserve more study.1 But we cannot afford to wait for years for researchers to prove the benefits of an undisturbed birth. Perhaps the best we can do is trust our instincts and vote with our birthing bodies, choosing models of care that increase our chances of undisturbed- and ecstatic- birthing.”

The three examples that I made above – my child, my friend’s child, and my student’s child – are not the only ones that I can think of that strengthen my belief that how a baby is brought into the world is critical to his/her health, happiness, and development. Talk to everyone you know who has had a baby and find out what their early experiences with their children were like. I’m certain you will observe patterns in what you hear and see.

1. Odent M. Primal Health Database: Birthworks, 2003 http://www.birthworks.org/primalhealth/.

Finding a Voice Again

I am finding a voice – I don’t completely recognize it as my own, but perhaps I need to live with this voice a bit before it resonates authentically within me.  I shall sing again.

Thanks to Google Alerts I happened upon this homebirth post.  I made a comment which I am cross-posting here.  I am not posting it here because it sheds a new light on a circular issue but because I wrote it.  Me.  When I have had so little to say about childbirth since the loss of my 10 week pregnancy back in February.

So why then is there so much animosity against those who choose to homebirth. Why are they persecuted for their freedom of choice? I’m sure we all have our suspicions.

I think those people who are so vocal against homebirth are pretty clear about their reasons. The fear of poor outcomes for the BABY. It seems that the baby is worth more than the mother. Homebirth is a “selfish” choice, evidently, that only makes the mother feel good about herself. Homebirth is a “disaster” just begging to happen. @@

It is true that when a mother makes decisions with regard to HOW the baby will be birthed, the innocent baby is not in on the decision-making process. The “rights” of the baby only matter, so it seems, when there is a poor outcome (for the baby) outside of the hospital setting.

OBs are not used to seeing normal (as in natural) birth. They are not trained to assist natural birth. They are trained to intervene. They are trained for surgery. They are trained for catastrophe. They are trained to medically-manage outcomes not facilitate a physiologic time-proven natural process.

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!