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Comments on Personal Births

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These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

I, too felt very paranoid after my last birth. I felt that the nurse, midwife and doctor had all conspired against me to make it as painful, frightening, and opposite of what I wanted as possible. I felt that I had been lied to and betrayed and that the whole midwife idea was a cruel hoax on birthing women. Two and a half years later I have still not resolved all of these feelings, but it has gotten a lot better. I can't really say that I still feel that anyone did anything mean to me on purpose but I still don't know why things happened the way they did. I don't think you are off base in your feelings. I understand how you feel. I am now a nursing student and I have done my maternity rotation. There does seem to be nurses and doctors and MIDWIVES that are automatically resistant to women that have taken childbirth classes such as Bradley or come in with birth plans or have any requests that are out of the ordinary for their hospital. I do not personally understand these attitudes but the negative feelings are definitely there.

On home vs. hospital births:

Most hospitals are geared towards a medicalized concept of birth, even when that's not what you're interested in. Most people are geared towards birth as something that OTHERS do to them, and do not see themselves as active participants, so it's no wonder that the hospital staff is oriented that way.

My elder daughter's birth was midwife attended in a hospital. Of course, the midwife, to at least some extent, runs the show once she's there, but her hands are tied by hospital policy (if your water breaks, you must deliver in X amount of time, definitions of failure to progress, etc. . .) but the protocol in hospitals is that the attendant is not there until near the end. You are stuck with the hospital staff. Obviously, if all goes well, you are not expecting to be there long before birth, but there's no way to predict this, especially if, say your waters break and labor doesn't start. It's also really hard to tell sometimes how far into labor you are, even with an experienced midwife there.

Many minor interventions happen in hospitals because it's easy and available. For example, automated blood pressure cuffs. Another example is external fetal monitoring. Dopplers tend to "have legs" in hospitals, so you don't get much of a choice but to use the efm, even intermittently.

Furthermore, getting into a car in labor is a miserable experience. Why do it if you don't have to?

There's also dealing with the staff after birth. Hospitals are no place for healthy people! I swear that my recovery was faster this time around for sleeping in my own bed!

I greatly preferred my home birth.

I am the mother of an 11 year old boy who was born in a hospital. I'm also pregnant and due May 30. This time, I'm under the care of two wonderful midwives and am planning a home birth in my small two bedroom apartment. (Neighbors to the left of my and also upstairs.)

I really think that the pros and cons of home vs. hospital is completely up to the individual involved. I do not trust western medicine very much, do not trust the attitude that childbirth is "an accident waiting to happen," and would much rather be in the loving hands of my midwife who cares about me than in the hands of a doctor, thinking of me as "that delivery in room 3." I also believe that our minds can influence us in many ways. Since I feel so much more comfortable and peaceful with the thought of being at home, I am probably much more safe BEING at home, because my body will be more likely to work in accordance with my mind.

I have a friend who had a c-section with her first birth, and since she works in a hospital and knows many medical professionals, she felt incredibly comfortable and fascinated with the process. She considered recovery a breeze. She gave birth to her 2nd child 2 weeks ago--a repeat c-section by choice. This time she asked them to lower the screen and set up a mirror so she could watch. They did and she was fascinated with the opportunity to look inside her own body. Again, she says recovery is a breeze. I don't understand how she can feel this way about major surgery for a natural process, but she thinks I'm "incredibly brave" to be planning a home birth. I believe that a home birth for her would be a bad choice. She trusts medicine over her body.

Bottom line: The only one who can decide this is you. What do you place your trust in? What do you feel more comfortable with? Be where you feel safe so you can spend your time welcoming your new little one.

About Hearing Other Women Talk About Their Births


[about sister who experienced the usual hospital interventions, including two bungled epidurals] She says she was handling the labor just fine before they made her roll over for it! My theory is that they had decided to get prepped for a c-section, but weren't telling her. Luckily she got the urge to push after the second bungled epidural, so at least the baby was born vaginally with no drugs, but she thinks that the whole experience was normal & OK! We're visiting them in 3 weeks & I hope I can keep my mouth shut to avoid either alienating her or making her feel bad about the birth, but geez will it be hard!
It almost makes me cry to think about her experience, and yet she thinks it's OK! Anyway, I didn't intend to write that part about my sister when I started, so thanks for the opportunity to vent - hope nobody minds!
Nancy, I share your frustration about people who had what seem like marginal births and are happy about them. Or at least OK with them. It's hard for me not to want to point out the reality to them, like, is it really OK that they took so many unnecessary chances with your health and the baby's?

I find that one way of responding to this that doesn't leave me feeling crazy is simply to listen to them, leaving space for them to say how they feel about it all, which they almost always will if they're feeling defensive about it. And then I simply say, "I'm glad you had the birth experience you wanted." I can say this honestly, from the heart, that if that's really the birth experience they wanted and are happy with, then I'm happy for them. However, I find that it also jolts them back to reality, helping them realize that it really wasn't the birth they had planned for themselves. If they can come to that simple realization, then there's hope for them to do things differently the next time.

I also try very hard to separate the issues of how the mom feels about the baby and how she feels about the birth. I think there's a cultural bias against seeming unhappy about the birth because, well, didn't it bring this beautiful baby? How bad could it have been when you got such a great door prize?

Sometimes, simply articulating that can help them separate the two. One can put this very obliquely, avoiding any direct reference to *this* mom and *this* baby. For example, if there was anything you were unhappy about at your own birth, you could bring that up. For example: "I'm just thrilled beyond knowing with little Chris, of course, and I wish we'd been able to have the waterbirth we planned on." or "Little Morgan is an absolute sweetheart, and we love her dearly, of course, and I think I'd like to try an upright birth next time." You get the picture.

Also, it can take a long time to integrate a birth experience; some people say it can take a year or two for some births. So you can continue to be open to any comments she may make, and offer encouraging noises if she brings up specifics of her birth.

I don't intend on having another hospital birth, we are planning a homebirth, but what I have been advocating for is informed consent forms for hospital birth that include the statement, "As a patient, I may refuse any treatment I consider medically unnecessary." I never knew I could *refuse* anything. If doctor says it is so, it must be so. If nurse says I have to, I guess I have to. I did the reading, I did the classes, I thought I was informed. I never knew I could say "I respectfully decline that treatment" when they said they were going to place a metal screw in my baby's head. I never knew I could rip off that horrible velcro elastic belt and say, "I respectfully decline that treatment--use a bloody stethoscope." I never knew I could say, "I respectfully refuse to stay in bed" when they said I had to lay in bed flat on my back. These are the things I want women to know. You don't *have* to have all that crap if you don't want it, hospital policy-shmolicy or not!

It really bothers me that when I gave birth, I was depending on my midwife to guide me, thinking she had my best interests at heart, but she was depending on guidelines, protocols and insurance standards to guide her... My baby and I were at the mercy of a rigid system that cares more about money and litigation than assisting women to birth with dignity.

My husband felt complete terror and helplessness nearing the end of my labour and during my c/sec. It was a long time until he said he felt he could even be there for me if we decided to have more children...he felt he couldn't watch me go through it all again (of course, that has been reversed totally since we began planning this homebirth). But he's always held great respect for me in the past two years, knowing that he wasn't the one to actually go through it, and that I had to find peace and healing for myself through support of other woman who had. And he has supported and encouraged me to rebuild my courage and belief in childbirth, because I am the one that births these babies.

Bizarre Hospital Attitudes Towards Consumers

I think that the attitude toward women in the hospital is totally bizarre considering what you would reasonably think you would get in an enlightened democracy like America. You would think, being in a country where we are all consumers and you can "have it your way at Burger King" and where everyone believe their rights are important and we all talk about not being racist and not being unkind....how is it that women can go to a hospital where they ought to be honored and well cared for, and they get etc.

Not to say this always happens, but the trend is, you go to have your baby, it's supposed to be a painful but happy occasion, but once you get in the hospital you quickly learn that You personally have no rights. The reality, at least the way I heard it from the doctor at the meeting I went to, is that the hospital staff and doctors can do to you whatever they feel like doing, and say it was medically justified, and they don't feel they have to answer to anyone. And then you go home and get the bill for this baloney.

Difference Between Laboring in the Hospital and Laboring at Home

There is a lot of difference between a 60 hour labor at home and a 60 hour labor in the hospital. My longest labor was 24 hours in the hospital that ended with a C-section. It truly was hell on earth. My husband and I were scared, left alone, not informed, and just basically treated badly with a lot of disrespect. My husband runs his own business, if he treated his clientele the same way the hospital personnel treated us he would be OUT of business.

My second labor was mainly at home with a planned hospital delivery. I labored with my husband and doula for 6 hours. But I have to say that we had a good time - we ate, drank, laughed, I took a bath. In fact, when we finally got into the van to go to the hospital (which was 60 minutes away) I was ready to push!! We did make it to the hospital and I had several more hours of pushing, but it was an exciting ride.

My third labor and birth were entirely at home. I awoke at 3:00 a.m. in labor. Went down to watch a movie and time contractions just to make sure this was the real thing. After the movie I went back to bed to save up my rest, and found my 2 year old in bed and husband in my other son's bedroom. So I cuddled my toddler and dozed off while timing contractions.

By 8:00 a.m. I was sure this was really labor. I called friends in between contractions to ask for their prayers, I folded towels. I made sure all the food was out of the freezer for the midwife, doula, babysitter and family. When my birth team finally arrived I visited with them for a while too. Sure it was a lot of work, but the time passed very quickly because the atmosphere and the people were so pleasant!!

I delivered a 10 lb 12 oz boy, at 5:15 p.m., which was no picnic, but when it was over it was over. The next day I was sitting at the computer (although I had ice on my sore bottom! - try doing that after a abdominal surgery!!)

So I guess I'm saying that a long labor doesn't have to be horrible, terrible, teeth gritting torment. It can actually be rather pleasant, enjoyable ,memorable and kind of fun!! I think a lot depends on where you are, and who you have around you.

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