Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why It Matters

I had a friend from high school share her birth story with me tonight. It was nothing less than traumatic. Although she probably doesn't know this yet, it is the typical c-section birth story. Mom's not progressing fast enough, epidural not working, labor taking too long, mom freaking out so baby stresses and you need a c-section.

A lot of people would look at a birth story like this (and there are many like this) and say, "Oh well? Mom and baby are healthy, and my gosh! At least they got the baby out before something bad happened. It doesn't matter how the baby got here as long as it is healthy". While I'm all for healthy babies, IT DOES MATTER HOW THE BABY GOT HERE! For the rest of her life this mom will look back on the day her son was born as the most traumatic, overwhelming, lonely and helpless experience of her life. All because someone wasn't there to tell her it's ok and that she was strong enough and capable of  birthing her own son. All because doctors want mom in bed on her back because it is convenient for them, but not the best position for the baby or mother. Or maybe they just don't know the right positions, which I'm not sure is any better.

A woman will remember the day her child was born forever. It's a memory that needs to be protected not thrown away like she is just another patient. The family unit, specifically during labor, needs to be protected, respected and cherished. A couple (more specifically the mother) will either come away from birth feeling empowered, taken care of and at peace or feeling out of control and forgotten.  There are a lot of women walking around today feeling like the day they gave birth was the day they lost all control of their body and handed it over to a sharp knife on an operating table. And the majority is because of lazy practices and a misunderstanding of the birthing process.

It was reaffirmed to me tonight why I am becoming a doula. Women deserve a better birth story than my friend's. A baby's birth day should be the best day of the mother's lives, in every way. Hopefully, through education, doulas and competent midwives, we can begin to heal the broken labor practices in this country. And through this, heal the women who have fallen victim to them.


  1. Wow! Talk about over-generalization. I had to 2 vaginal births and 2 sections...but I treasure my children not because of how I gave birth, but because God gave them to me and HE also provided exceptional doctors to help me when needed. Not all births can be "normal" and I resent it greatly that you think I caved in to the doctors demands to save my life.

  2. Anon,
    I don't think she was talking about how much you treasure your children, and she certainly isn't one to take credit away from our Maker. And actually, she never once mentions "normal". Furthermore, she is not saying that YOUR birth stories were traumatic, she is talking about her friend who obviously had a traumatic experience. I had two healthy vaginal deliveries, yet I still felt like the control was taken from me as soon as I hit the hospital bed. Do I remember their births as joyous? OF COURSE. Do I also remember how my OBGYN asked if she could call me by my first name as she was delivering my baby, or the time that the nurse tried and failed to stick me with an IV as I was contracting? Yes. I will. I felt empowered laboring my baby and these healthcare professionals brought me down. This blogger is well-read and well-versed in statistics and anecdotes related to labor and delivery. By the way, it is common etiquette that if you're going to leave a snarky response, you back it up with your name.
    Have a good day,
    Katie E

  3. LeAnn said: Excellent, Andrea! I haven't had a C-section, but I have birthed 3 babies with an epideral and one without. All births were very joyous moments, but hands down, being epidural free was THE most gratifying, on so many levels. I whole-heartedly encourage women to let go of their fears and delivering w/o pain meds. It's so much better for the mom and baby!

  4. If the baby truly is in ditress it will not matter if you tell the mother she is strong enough to do it. As an L&D RN I really advocate for a natural labor, but have also seen tragedy because of refusals of medical interventions.

  5. LeAnn said:
    Absolutely, there should be medical intervention if the baby (or mother) is in distress. But it seems that all too often, medical intervention is the first step (planned C-sections when there is no indication that it will be necessary, for example).