I’d heard about this book/video for a while, but finally got the time to sit down and watch the video via instant Netflix yesterday. Can I just say…
My world has changed upside down and inside out after seeing this video. My third child/first birth was born in a hospital with an induction and epidural — my fourth child/second birth was a water birth, attended by a midwife in a birthing center, so I thought I had done my homework and knew it all. Clearly I didn’t.
I knew about the high rate of c-sections (1 in every 3 births), I knew the US has the second highest rate of mother/infant mortality in the world, I knew that obstetricians are trained surgeons and rarely get to experience a natural birth in a healthy woman and so therefore has no idea what to do with a natural birth in a healthy woman and how ridiculous it is to expect a woman to give birth on her back when that is clearly working against gravity. But I had no idea about the women in the 20′s, 30′s, 40′s who were blindfolded and straight-jacketed and drugged and strapped to tables to give birth. I had no idea how many woman are literally bullied into having drugs and c-sections by their obstetricians.
This whole thing with oxytocin — which is the hormone the body starts producing to induce labor, that flows through your body as you are giving birth to your own flesh and blood — is the same hormone that is produced while having sex. Some people call it the “love hormone” — this is the same hormone that is at the very core of you being attached so wholly and emotionally to your baby. The same hormone, people — in one way it is literally in the conception of your child and the other in the birthing and attachment of your child. What a beautiful thing! Why have we gotten to this place of being so fearful of pregnancy and giving birth and letting other people take control of what our bodies are so very capable of doing on its own? If the love making we do is tender and wonderful, why can’t the birthing of our children be? Why do we let ourselves be dragged into the mindset that we don’t know what our bodies are doing? Our babies will come when they are good and ready to come, and we ought not charge into labor and birth with the idea that we are to lie back on a table and let a doctor push medication through our bodies and tell us we need c-sections because we aren’t “progressing” quickly enough. Doctors want to get you in and out and they will do whatever they can to help that along, whether it’s telling you there’s a need for more drugs or unnecessary surgery. They’d like to be home for dinner, thank you very much! Here’s how it often goes:
Woman: Oh I’m so tired of being pregnant!
Doctor: Well you’re 37 weeks, no reason the baby shouldn’t be ready to come now.
Woman: Oh that’d be so wonderful! I just can’t wait to see him/her!
Fast forward – woman gets her pitocin, which puts her into labor a lot harder than it would come naturally.
Woman: The pain! I need an epidural!
So the woman gets an epidural, which slows down her labor, so she needs more pitocin and at this point she’s been in labor too long, so she may or may not get another epidural.
Doctor comes in: Well this is taking way too long and the baby is showing signs of distress (well you are trying to make the poor thing come out before he’s ready; I’d be distressed too!) so in my opinion we should go ahead with a c-section to make sure everything’s okay.
Woman: Whatever you say, Dr, I just want the baby to be okay.
Unfortunately, this is what happens A LOT. Women are truly relying on their doctors to give them and their babies the best care, and they are just not getting it. It’s a sad situation to see so many woman who are so fearful of the process of giving birth that they solely rely on the doctor’s opinion instead of keeping an open mind and realizing what they really can do. It doesn’t have to be lying in a hospital bed, with IVs in and 85 different people coming in to look at your private parts and shoving their hand up your insides.
Laboring and birthing your child is, and should be, a wonderful, emotional experience for you. Know what your options are. Do your research! Obviously if you are getting prenatal care, you know whether you’re considered high risk or low risk. In my opinion the women who are high risk should definitely stick with their obstetrician in case of an emergency, like preterm labor, etc. But for those of you that are low risk, why not have a water birth? Why not have a home birth? Seek out the comfort and experience of a midwife who will simply guide you through your birth, all the while being supportive and with only you and your baby’s best interest at heart. Like I mentioned before, I’ve had the sterile hospital birth with the IVs and being flat on my back, but I’ve also had the other kind — the kind where you walk or squat or laugh through your labor, where your midwife lets you do what she knows your body is capable of doing. My labor with my second daughter was hard right from the moment I started pumping to keep my contractions going. I yelled a lot, but in between the yelling I did a lot of resting/passing out between contractions. Once I was at 10 cm, I pushed 2 or 3 times and my girl was out and she was on my chest and this time the crying I did was from relief of that pain being gone and the joy of seeing her (of finally knowing her gender!). While I still felt like I didn’t have the absolute “perfect birth,” I was happy with how it went because it was safe, it was natural and I know and felt what and how I did things were the best for my baby. Isn’t what we all want? To come out of a birth happy and content in knowing we did right by our children?
Definitely more on this topic later. This is my passion folks – can’t we bring back this sense of feminism – that we know what our bodies are capable of and we’re not afraid of it? Labor is supposed to be hard, but it doesn’t have to be frightening! Bring it on!
Edited to add: I will definitely be writing follow-up posts to this! In the meantime if you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments or email me.
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