I just read a press release from Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. First, how strange is that term . . . mental hygiene . . . MENTAL hygiene?
Anyway, on the one hand I am glad that steps are in place to give women access to home birth. And if physicians and CNMs will actually attend these home births, then it’s possible that insurance will cover these births. Hooray!
However, I don’t believe that a physician or CNM is necessary for a great outcome at home. A trained midwife, CPM or otherwise, should be just as capable of handing low and lower risk births at home.
Furthermore, many women who fall outside of the definition of low risk will have better birth experiences outside the confines of a hospital. Typically, physicians and CNMs are not able to provide homebirth services to these women and their babies. I don’t recommend limiting their ability to find qualified providers who will attend them at home. I hope this board will use better mental hygiene and reconsider their ban on lay midwifery.
I’ve been so overwhelmed with the start of a new academic year, raising four young daughters, and trying to reserve some time for fun . . . that I have neglected other important aspects of who I am. I am this blog! And I am an empowered birther! Are you?
Even if you had pain meds . . . or an induction . . . or a cesarean . . . you might have had an empowered birth. Who decides what constitutes an empowered birth. YOU DO, and don’t you forget it. It’s not for medicalists or luddites to determine though many are happy to throw in an oar. You have to be ok with your birth experiences, and if you’re not, I encourage you to figure out why and try to resolve that.
Did I have an empowering birth experience? I suppose the answer depends on the moment you ask me about it. Sometimes I think that if I had gone a different direction in terms of care providers that I’d have had a birth experience perhaps more resemblant of the one I so deeply desired. Sometimes I think that my pain-in-the-ass, scare-tactic OB was an angel. He was the best birth coach ever, as far as I’m concerned, especially considering that I had NO idea where my ass was nor how to push from that imaginary ass.
And it’s ok to struggle with being ‘ok’ with your birth experiences whether they are au natural or full-service medicalized. It’s ok to question (or not) the validity of your birth choices (or the choices made on your behalf). Wherever you are on the spectrum, I encourage you to think of yourself as an empowered woman. You have the power to be fully present and accepting and/or participant in your health care decisions. For me, being fully present and a participant are at the heart of being an empowered ‘patient.’
Labortrials got an epidural?! Oh me oh my. Yes, friends, I consented (begged for, even) to the bleepin’ epidural. How did this happen, and how do I feel about it now? Well . . .
I arrived at the hospital worried that something was wrong. The labor contractions came fast and painful, and I knew that less than 24 hours previously I was not dilated but a smidge. I also felt as strange ‘pop’ down there and knew it wasn’t my water, so that in conjunction with the scary contractions (tetanic, perhaps) sent me packing to the hospital quickly.
The OB arrived, checked me, and found me to be 2cm dilated, but the baby was high. According to the monitor, the baby was not handling the contractions well. (She was having late decelerations.) The OB restricted me to laboring on my side; the labor nurse told me I had to relax my body in order to dilate. The contractions really were more than I could handle with the position restriction. The OB checked me a few hours later, and I was still stuck at 2cm. I knew that as soon as I could get an epidural that I needed to have it put in. There was no way I was going to withstand the contractions, restrict my movement, and relax enough to dilate without pain management.
Interesting that this evening on my twitter feed, I saw @RobinPregnancy’s tweet about epidurals:
I had an intrathecal with an epidural placed. The idea was that the intrathecal could possibly get me through the next several centimeters of dilation more quickly and would wear off. If and when I wanted the epidural, it would be ready and waiting for me. The intrathecal improved my quality of life dramatically, and indeed I did progress quickly from 4cm to 8cm dilation. Then I got stuck at 8cm and for a few hours, so I wanted the epidural.
However, the epidural was slow to work, and when it did, it didn’t provide enough relief. My labor was not progressing very well, so I was concerned that if the epidural didn’t work and I needed a cesarean, that I’d feel the surgery. I was terrified, actually. This caused me to over-react. The anesthesiologist gave me a bolus of something (yes, it’s horrible that I can’t recall this information), and when that didn’t seem to give me enough pain coverage, I received another bolus of something (nope, can’t remember what that was either).
So, when it came time to push, and thank God I got to that point, I couldn’t feel a darned thing. I could sense when a contraction was beginning, but that was about it. I had some sensation in my toes. I had no idea where my vagina was or how to push. That was terrible. My OB was a tremendous labor coach, so he talked me through every contraction . . . every push.
Ideal? I suppose that depends on how you look at it. The purist in me says “technically, you had a vaginal birth, but you missed the whole darned thing.” The practical-ist in me says “honey, if you hadn’t gotten that epidural, who knows if you’d have dilated quick enough for the OB, or if the epidural is what helped calm the baby’s response to the labor contractions (stressed mom can lead to stressed baby), or if you would have outlasted the pain.” No one made me get an epidural. I told them on entry that I wasn’t interested, and they left me alone. I asked for the epidural – it was my request; my choice.
People can be sooooooo judgmental about the use (or refusal) of epidurals. Read this woman’s story over at Unnecessarean. Don’t miss the comments which are QUITE polarized. Given what I’ve been through, you may laugh at my comments. Would I recommend an epidural to my closest friends and family members? Yes, with caveats. Would I recommend my closest friends and family members NOT accept an epidural? Yes, with caveats. Would I recommend epidurals for VBACs? Yes, with caveats. Is the epidural the beginning of the end in terms of natural childbirth? Yes and no. Does the epidural cause a cascade of interventions? Yes and no.
Yes, it’s not that simple . . .
No, I still haven’t finished my 4th and final daughter’s birth story. I’ve been too busy and too distracted, and honestly not terribly motivated to share all the gory details. This is why I’m trying to post these ‘snapshots.’ I wrote about my VBA2C for ICAN’s blog, so if you’re interested, go read that post – it shares a lot of what went ‘wrong’ with the birth.
I’ve never enjoyed one of those ‘perfect births.’ You know – the ones you do hear about in the homebirth community – the candles, the soft music, the water, the privacy. I’m still left so unsatisfied . . . and yet thankful.
My baby did come out vaginally. I still don’t know how that happened. Sheer dumb luck? God? A little of both?? In spite of all of the interventions at the hospital, the stress, the loss of my quested homebirth, she came out vaginally.
My husband finds it incredibly frustrating that I will keep open a gazillion tabs or browser windows open for days . . . errrr . . . weeks at a time. Here’s a taste of what’s hanging around my browser these days:
- Are 94% of births really complicated? (Transforming Maternity Care)
- What to do when you’re unable to birth at home (Bring Birth Home)
- RCOG proposes restructuring of women’s health services (Royal College of Midwives)
- Induction: a step by step guide (Midwife Thinking)
- Harvard-MIT Team’s New Synthetic Vocal Cord Gel . . . (Popular Science)
All quality stuff. Check out a link or five!