I read an article in pathways magazine that sparked this whole post. I will include the link at the end of the blog. It called to me in a deep way. I want to shout this from the rooftops(and actually do quite often). We are witnessing our political climate change with more women in office than ever before. We heard the call to wake up, take a stand and we put our votes behind that. Hallelujah! Our future looks different now. Women of all colors, cultures and sexual orientations- standing up and letting our muffled voices be heard. It’s long overdue and so necessary.
Why then do we, as women, in 2019, settle for less than amazing health and maternity care? Why, in THIS country, do our maternal and infant death rates keep rising each year and we, as smart, educated women fail to the question why? and then solve it? It is OUR female workforce dollars that are also going into this broken system. Why are we okay with a 33% cesarean rate when the World Health Organization says should be 10-15%? (food for thought… our cesarean rate was 4.5% in 1965) With all of our medical technology, why are we going backwards and losing more mothers and babies? And why do many of us think this is a safe, alternative birth that gets us back to work quickly?
Why are we more concerned with how our nursery is coming together more than what kind of postpartum team WE need to put together as we recover within a system that offers women crap maternal work leave, zero pelvic floor health benefits and only one or two check ups after birth that are covered by insurance? Why is this okay with us?
Why are we so fearful of labor and birth, that we turn our personal health decisions over to “professionals” to make all the choices for ourselves and our babies? Cancer is scary too and we would research the heck out of that. We would ask questions, study everything and get a better provider and/or a second opinion if we were not feeling that doc or that the hospital wasn’t a right fit for us. Why are we ignoring our gut and the red flags in our prenatal visits because THEY are the pros and THEY should know what is best for us? Why can we feel confident and have a voice in the cancer (disease) but not in pregnancy and birth(normal, mammal function)? We don’t have to be scared but we have definitely been conditioned to stay that way and not buck the system.
Why aren’t we demanding to be respected within our Dr. visits/hospital stays and given evidence-based information instead of fear tactics to get us to comply when we question why a certain intervention is being offered? We wouldn’t allow that to happen to us in our workplace. We have ALL the evidence based information at our finger tips in this age of hand held technology…(which we are smart enough to read and understand) Why are WE settling for tradition based/old school or “business based” medical care for ourselves and especially our unborn babies?
Example: If American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – ACOG recommends that we are not “post due” until 42 weeks, why are we being scheduled for induction at 39-41 weeks? The average due date for a first time mom is between 40 weeks and 5 days to 41 weeks and 2 days. Have our care providers offered us THAT information? Have WE researched why that induction suggestion would be offered if we are healthy and so is our baby? Induction increases our risk of a belly birth. A belly birth is major surgery and comes with long-term health consequences for ourselves and our babies. If they are medically necessary they can be life saving. But many are unnecessary, brought on by interventions that could have been avoided if we had just waited out our baby’s timing and allowed nature to do its job. If we educated providers to be patient with nature and had hospitals that weren’t set up like big businesses, things would change. Those changes are consumer driven and those changes begin with us. When we get this ball rolling, our daughters will have a better health system.
The World Health Organization has recommended one way to cut down our cesarean rate is to let labor begin on it’s own. They also recommend walking, moving around and changing positions in labor, eating and drinking, having labor support (a doula), avoiding interventions that are not medically necessary, not giving birth on your back and keeping moms and babies together. Has any of that been discussed in your prenatal appointments?
Our bodies have not forgotten how to give birth. Our bodies don’t forget to have a period each month. Nope..that period shows up on the one day we had plans, but it shows up nonetheless. Would our bodies just allow us to stay pregnant forever? No, no, no. NEVER happened in the history of the planet. Nope.
I see beautiful births all the time. I know care providers that treat women with respect and those providers make health decisions with that woman, on a case by case basis. She is not a number, her health is not in a “one size fits all” box. She is heard when she asks questions, she is referred to studies, she is encouraged to get “out of hospital” education so SHE can make the choices(without bias) for her baby’s birth. Those providers have low cesarean rates. Those providers are yelped by mothers and have amazing reviews. We need MORE of them.
Birth is so much more than the “medical side”. This is your baby’s only birth. It is your labor but it is THEIR birth. There are no do-overs for this one-time event. Your baby deserves the opportunity for you to do the research, face your fears and be just as mindful of their experience as you are in worrying about your own. Labor and birth is not as scary as you have it in your head. Your OWN birth 32 years ago could be shaping how you feel about this birth on a cellular level and you’re not even aware of it. That was your mother’s experience, but you felt it as if it was your own. As hippie as this sounds, babies remember their birth and you have recorded yours. On a cellular level, we stored the entire birth experience because we were there. THIS is why I teach, help families work out their fears and get connected with these new little humans that will soon be in their homes. We have lost the sacred side of what we’re really doing in this birth process. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a healthy combination of safe and respected medical care along with evidence-based gentility for our babies birth experience?
What is your baby being baked in right now? Is it love and excitement, fear and worry or possibly neglect because you’re so busy that you just don’t have the time to pay attention as much as you should? Is it almost unfathomable to bond with your baby right now? To bond with someone you haven’t met yet and can’t physically see? Someone who is hiding behind a big mound of tight skin and uncomfortable back aches? You can change that today and share something different with your baby.
This little baby of yours has ten little fingers and a tiny, pink bum that will fit perfectly in the palm of your hand. This baby has your partner’s nose and your lips. Your baby has a trace of soft hair on the top of their head and they smell like vanilla cupcakes. Your baby’s heart is strong and their IQ goes up every day they stay inside of you. Your baby hears the rhythmic sound of your heartbeat that comforts them constantly. They will soon hear that heartbeat from the outside as they nestle into your chest. Their lungs are getting prepared to take their first breath out of water and join you in land life. Your baby knows you from the inside. They hear your voice, feel the warmth of your hand resting on their back and they’ve listened to you sing to them on the way to work. They observe your life by feeling your feelings in how you well you navigate what’s going on in your world. You are already teaching them if they can trust and feel safe when they’re on the outside. And it’s your job to create a soft place for them to land emotionally in the birth room.
I see women all the time walk through my doors with white knuckles and tight jaw. After 5 weeks, these women are relaxed, calm and looking forward to labor starting. Are they a bit nervous – yes but they are actually looking forward to working through labor! Do they all want a medication free birth? Not always. But now they have more pieces put together as to how their body works along side their baby’s body. Now they can choose possibly less risky options and make informed decisions for themselves and their child. They feel more empowered and confident. Babies can come into the world with a room full of trust, safety and love. You can create that… You can create that in a vaginal birth or a belly birth. Babies are imprinted with the feelings that surround them, both in pregnancy and birth. So are their mothers. Take some time to get educated on how to create something special. You are worthy of it. Your baby is patient and has signed up to be with YOU. They’re not going anywhere. You are doing this together.
We are powerful women in the boardroom and we can be just as powerful when we are vulnerable in the birth room. But in order to be vulnerable and allow that power to come through in an instinctual way, we need to have the right provider, the right birth place and amazing support (doula) that allows us to feel safe with our baby. Safety is what allows us to do hard things in our lives. You are perfectly capable of birthing your baby. You are also perfectly capable of going with the flow if your baby needs something different then you imagined. Putting your baby at the forefront of your medical decisions will help you evaluate if you’re making decisions in fear. Decisions are best made from love because then we don’t have regrets. So if you need more education around something that’s scaring you, get the education. It’s available. It will put those fears to rest and your feelings can switch to love and peace with your choices.
Preventing birth trauma starts with early education, facing the fears you may have and getting evidence based information so you know what your choices and options are. When you don’t make decisions or take action in your medical care, that is the decision you are making and you will bear the full weight of that choice. There is support within your community for all of this “birth stuff.” You don’t have to want a natural birth in order to have doula support or to enroll in out of hospital education. But those two things will help you ask the right questions, find your voice around your maternal health care and make educated decisions instead of coerced ones. Those days should be OVER.
You can do this mama. You are already powerful. You don’t settle for less anywhere else in your life and you shouldn’t be doing it when it comes to the beauty and power of your labor and birth. This is a life experience between you and your new baby. It’s not a disease, a medical condition or something to be scared away from. It’s an unknown challenge for sure but so is that account you’ve been chasing after for 6 months. We are just as fierce in a birth room as we are in a boardroom!
WE are the consumer. WE pay the bill. Nothing changes in the system until we make noise. #wearerising