KS-R: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. I don't remember why I bought it, but I’m glad I did.
ABP: Getting pregnant with #1 and knowing I didn't want drugs and intervention pushed on me.
CM: The birth of my second child. I went into labor with the attitude that the nurses had my best interests in mind and would do whatever possible to make sure I had a wonderful birth. It didn't happen like that at all. They bullied me, made it sound like I had no option except to lie in bed and labor, gave me Demerol against my wishes and overall extremely mean. I vowed never to go through that again and after hearing so many stories of how other women have gone through the same thing, I began my studies to become a doula. I had a beautiful birth with my third child and want to help women have the best birth possible.
SD: I can tell you the exact moment actually. I had a doula friend in Des Moines, IA who had been talking to me about and also pushing me to take out-of-hospital birthing classes, even if I didn't follow any of her other advice. I picked a wonderful doula and childbirth educator and took her class. The first day of class, we did an exercise that is from Birthing From Within I believe. She asked us to draw what a C-Section looked like to us. I quickly drew a cold hospital table, with a Mom on it, with blood rushing out, a baby being yanked out and a terrible awful sad look on the Mom's face. Then I burst into tears. Loudly. I did NOT want my baby to be born into an environment that even remotely resembled that picture. It scared me so much! I went on to hire that woman to be our doula, had a birth center birth with a midwife, and haven't looked back since!
KF: My births. First one, the typical American birth with all the drugs and complications. Second one, very low intervention with a midwife and we got a computer with internet access. There wasn't a lot of information available when I had my first baby in 1996.
AC-M: Getting bulldozed in every aspect of my first birth definitely did it for me. I felt so powerless and helpless during the whole thing and even afterwards. I positively will not allow that to happen this time.
EC: I am one of those people who reads everything I can get my hands on when I am faced with decisions. After my horribly mismanaged miscarriage, I started reading about options other than OBs. This lead me down the rabbit hole and I discovered I was far more "granola" than I thought I was. My previous thoughts of getting an epidural as soon as I got pregnant went out the window as I found out more about the cause/effect of interventions.
JT: First baby--22 years ago--went to the see the OB after getting a positive home pregnancy test. He told me I could not be pregnant because I had not medically treated my endometriosis. I told him I used homeopathy and nutrition and he said "that doesn't work". I walked out and told my husband I could not have a hospital birth. I had never heard of homebirth, but found someone within a few weeks.
JD: looking at VBAC options while suffering secondary infertility; quickly found my options weren't options at all, ended up on the ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) site and the rest is history.
ALJ: Realizing that Dr. Stabby-Hands lied to me once I started researching the undeniable symptoms of the condition he diagnosed to justify our "emergency" c-section.
SE: You were my light switch, Barb.
LC: Getting yelled at by a nurse while purple pushing because I couldn't hold my breath long enough. Luckily my midwives with my 2nd and 3rd would never have dreamed of doing something like that.
EWB: I was 13 and my pastor’s wife had just had a baby and she said to me "Emily, when you have a baby, don't go to the hospital - they won’t even let you eat while in labor." At 13 I couldn't believe the forced starvation. I followed her advice and never went to a hospital - motivated by food!
JWP: There wasn't a one time thing. I went into birth wanting natural and ended up with an induction and c/s and I've just progressively gone from there. I've had 3 VBACs now and have learned even so much more after this 4th baby. I now want to become a CNM.
CR: The fact that I hate hospitals with a passion and really didn't want to be subjected to someone telling me how I needed to have my baby.
CS: When I was 13, I babysat for a La Leche League/natural birth/co-sleeping mama. Back in the 70s! It’s all Connie's fault!
EG: I went to my sister in law's birth; she was induced and didn't even care about seeing her baby - she was just looking at the menu. When they asked if she wanted to hold him or have him cleaned off first - she chose the latter. It creeped me out how cold and unconnected it was.
EHS: I am so lucky because there was no aha moment. I was a little girl who studied things and questioned the status quo. I was also lucky to grow up sleeping in the handmade bed frame my mom was born in. So I was able to extrapolate that birth at home was normal.
KF: What is really sad for me, having worked for many years as a doula, are those women that don't WANT the information that I was unable to get with my births. I'm just astounded. And when a mom says she wants a low or no intervention birth, proceeds to hire an OB who is the MOST intervention-minded, and I TELL HER and she doesn't switch - I don't get it! But it's not about me. I have to let those things go.
RG: When I got pregnant, my friend gave me the Lamaze Guide to Giving Birth w/ Confidence. I was amazed that hospitals aren't set up to give women the best birth possible. That put me on the road to homebirth and now doula work!
BJ: Endometriosis and figuring if I don't pass out in labor, it can't be as bad as a period.
SS: Was born with it switched on. My mom had me at home after two hospital births. One a nightmare of medical pestering that has left her with serious urinary tract issues and another where she arrived intentionally just as she was about to push, and they insisted on separating her from her baby. I was a home birth. My sister was the first person to hold me (she was 10 at the time). I was born in my parent’s bedroom with the lights dimmed.
I grew up with a healthy respect for things, since my mom told me our birth stories. She talked about the safety precautions the midwives took (apparently because of law, they had to hire an ambulance to wait in their driveway while I was being born), the feelings that she felt, what everything felt like, etc.
I also grew up surrounded by animals and seeing animals give birth and care for their young. So my mental images of birth are of birth. When I asked my mother questions about "does it hurt", etc. her answers were honest according to my experiences in my births. That yes, there can be pain but that it's a different type of pain and that our bodies are strong and were born to give birth.
AH-T: When I witnessed my nephew being held inside my sister in law because the nurse wouldn't deliver for "insurance purposes". I knew that I would never let someone tell me when I could or couldn't push or that I had to wait for some doctor to get there.
Stories like that disgust me.
NM: The booklist my OB insisted I read including “Spiritual Midwifery” & Immaculate Deception.
PK: Pushing out a sunny side baby (my third baby and second Occiput Posterior) after 2 and 1/2 hours of pushing at my first homebirth. She was 8lbs 14oz. I realized that Natural Birth was the way to go after that, and felt I could do anything if I could birth a baby that size who was OP. My previous baby born at the hospital came after 2 hours of pushing (they had no clue she was sunny side up, duh...) and the help of the vacuum which was a b!tch because I had let the epidural wear off and I felt her being ripped out of me (I tore as a result also.) I've had a total of 3 homebirths now and at no time during any of them have I ever felt any kind of pain like the pain I felt when my OB pulled my second child out of me with that vacuum. I had the pleasure of seeing him at the hospital when my niece was born and telling him I'd had 2 more (larger) babies at home.
ACA: After having my first in the hospital. While I didn't end up like the many women who are forced into a c-section from being induced, etc., it was by the Grace of God and my God-given stubbornness (and my husband's refusal to allow the med staff to take control).
I knew I would never have another hospital birth, but didn't know of other options, so I researched and found a home birth doctor who was great and the rest is history. I had baby 2 and 3 at home and am currently awaiting the birth of my twins who are due any day now and am having them at home.
Life is good.
NgM: How beautiful, all of you!
I was a total sheeple with Tristan. I'd gained 70 lbs with him and did not want to repeat that, so when pregnant with Meghann, we'd just moved to Tacoma, WA, where I knew no one. The woman who registered me into the OB program at Ft. Lewis referred me to Marie Foxton, a prenatal and postpartum exercise instructor. Her studio happened to be really close to where we lived, so I went over there not too long after.
Not only was Marie an exercise coach, she was also a Bradley instructor and LLL leader. Women in all stages of pregnancy and postpartum danced around the room, many with kids on their hips... and some even on the mom's boobs! I was fascinated.
I took the pics of Tristan being born in to share... the blue drapes, the masks on everyone, the baby being taken across the room... and the women kindly oo'd and ah'd. Later, of course, I was astounded they'd been so kind. When I asked why no one said anything about how gross they were (to them), they smiled lovingly and said they trusted I would figure out the right way to birth for me... and they knew it wasn't going to be like that.
They were right. I UC'd the next baby.
KO: @TS - YES!!! That was it for me too! I ordered HypnoBirthing the very next day.
TC: I knew from the get go that being immobile wasn't going to work for a control freak like me. Little did I know that it was surrender that would bring my baby forth.
CSM: I'm not sure… I was told throughout my childhood that I'd never be able to handle childbirth (I was a big baby if pain was involved) but somewhere along the way I realized things didn't hurt as much if I was the one in control. I knew I wanted an intervention-free birth long before I ever became pregnant.
Ditto! I was told my whole life what a baby I was –and was-; but when it came to having babies, I was a lioness! It changed the way I saw myself forever.
SP: Well, I had that "There is something not right about this" feeling after my first C section. I suppose reading Immaculate Deception and Spiritual Midwifery in the same week was what clinched it for me. Then after I had my first homebirth, it just seemed so simple that it was monstrous what I had been through to get there.
TR: A completely unnecessary and very painful episiotomy at my second birth. I wasn't going to go through that again and I knew there had to be a different way.
PNB: My first birth - Actually, I don't know that I was a sheep then either. I wanted a natural birth then, but for uneducated reasons. My first birth taught me to be educated.
MPF: Educating myself, knowing our bodies are made to birth children, watching The Business of Being Born and knowing if I did try to have my baby in a hospital it would be a fight for natural vaginal child birth.
KBH: There wasn't a total switch flip, as some of it had been there before, but I would have to say my long history of endometriosis really started it. How I was treated with that, being told at 17 to not expect to have children, going through medical menopause at 16, and taking two years and two miscarriages to conceive my first. I knew I may only get one shot and I wasn't going to be drugged or anything and miss it! After his birth, I only went deeper down the rabbit hole, and even more so after my second.
LH: Reading every book I could get my hands on from the library and I came across Pushed by Jennifer Block. Haven't looked back since!!
DV: Nine months of supporting one of my best friends during pregnancy (daddy is military and was out of state at the time) taught me a lot. So did the 12 weeks of Bradley classes she asked me to attend with her. But my light bulb moment was when mom acquiesced to amniotomy, which led down a path of intervention that included augmentation, pain meds which fractured her concentration, being tethered to an EFM and IV pole and all of the hassle of those entanglements, immediate cord clamping/cutting against mom's wishes - and the finale: a manual extraction of her placenta, because the care provider pulled too hard on the cord and it broke off. It was like everything we were told, all the warnings we received, moved from hypothetical to 'this is actually happening.'
Watching other women experience pregnancy, labor and birth is no longer a remote landscape on the horizon that I catch a glimpse of once in a while and think, 'That's just some other country.' Birth is in my own backyard now, and I exam every blade of grass.
M: I transfered care to a wonderful CNM, and when I asked her epidural or no, she told me that if I didn't decide in advance, I would have an epidural. I wanted to have a choice, so I choose. Now I'm a Bradley teacher, doula, and hopeful future natural OB.
KJ: I was never a sheeple. Before my first birth, I knew that I wanted no drugs, no intervention. My hubby wanted a hospital birth, and it wasn't worth arguing. Over the last 13 years, I've had five babies, all birthed with no interventions, no drugs, all born in the hospital. Each birth has gotten closer to ideal. Each birth, I've learned a little more. If I have a 6th (not likely, but possible), I'll birth at home, even though my hospital experiences have been good. (I live in AZ, and I think, as a state, women are more "left alone" to do what they want to do, and less pushed, than in other locales. That has been my experience, anyway!)
HOWEVER, there was a light bulb moment for me, about being a natural birth advocate.
I'd always been rather laissez-faire about birthing: to each her own. I never encouraged ANYONE to do anything naturally; I figured each woman had done her own research, and had just decided that they wanted an epidural (or whatever), in spite of their research. Pretty much everyone in my circle knew I was a natural birther, and I figured if they wanted help, they would come to me. It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized that most women DON'T do research and haven't come to their OWN conclusions; they're just trusting the OB to do what's best, assuming that the OB is working towards the same goal that the mother is.
The galvanizing light bulb moment, though, was about two years ago, talking to a friend who had a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE vacuum vaginal birth with 4th degree tears, very alone, very confused, very unsupported. She had wanted a natural birth, and didn't know what steps to take to help that happen, and assumed her OB was on her "side". He wasn't. She ended up with PTSD. I didn't know her well at the time, but afterwards, in tears, I asked her if she would have allowed me to be present at her birth, to add support and to help her with decisions. She then burst into tears and said, "I was hoping you'd ask!"
I realized that I had been so "live and let live" about the whole thing that I had missed countless opportunities to HELP other women achieve the birth they wanted. Instantly, I felt the weight of guilt and grief for the mothers who might have wanted my assistance, but were afraid to ask, for all those lost births. I'm not the "afraid to ask" kind, so it never occurred to me that women might WANT some help and direction and support, but not ask for it.
I'm now doing the prerequisite reading to become a DONA doula, and have switched my modus operandi regarding birth and birth issues to be a much more active, vocal one.
C: My mom wanted a natural birth in 1987, at age 21, unmarried, deep south. she had her first c-section, because of 'failure to progress'. the next baby was also a c-section, and he was given up for adoption. then third c-section was in 1994 (I was seven), a miscarriage in early 1995 (I remember that day), fourth c in 1997, fifth c in 1998, sixth in 2000, and the final c was in 2005 with the only OB in town willing to preform a seventh c-section instead of a full hysterectomy and abortion. she still has her uterus, but pretty horrible endometriosis.
When I was twelve I saw a video of my aunt's accidental UC (midwife stuck in traffic and arrived to deliver the placenta).
I am grateful that my mom was always so open with me about everything baby, and that their history has taught me so much so young.
I am grateful for the lessons that I learned in my own birth experience. That while homebirth was the right choice for me, the hospital is not the enemy, they are sometimes supportive. I choose a kick-ass CPM,who labor sat for the long, slow 48 hours, and transferred for heavy meconium and who guarded the space in the L and D room while I worked through my acquired fear of hospital birth and taught me how to birth a baby.
L: My mom had 3 natural births which she always shared were very painful. When I first got pregnant I was scared of labor, but knew that I absolutely did not want a c-section (lady at work had one). I checked out a ton of books at the library, but the one I read first was The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. Then I was trying to figure out what kind of birthing classes to take and Amazon reviews ended up convinced me to try hypnosis, even though at first I thought it was way too hokey. I ended up doing Hypnobabies Home study and became completely sold on natural birth and was excited. I switched to a CNM/birth center at 6 months pregnant (fortunately it was a cheaper option thus I was able to convince my husband), and had a wonderful birth experience. With my second I was super excited about giving birth again, and this time chose a CPM but wanted the birth center again. Unfortunately I ended with a c-section the second time around. It really sucked.
My one piece of unsolicited advice to every new mom is to interview their care provider. No one listens though.
A: For me, it was watching The Business of Being Born. In fact, I can tell you the exact moment in that movie when the switch flipped. My friend (a natural birth advocate and survivor of a traumatic birth) took me to see it at a film festival and at first, I was quite skeptical and huffing about certain points, yet interested.
But when they started describing the cascade of interventions, it clicked me for me. I thought my hospital birth was awesome (and it was exactly what I needed/wanted at the time) but the third degree tear that took literally months to recover from (couldn't have sex for 6 months, it didn't stop hurting for another 3) was the worst part.
As I watched the movie, I realized that a lot of the circumstances in the hospital conspired to create a bigger and more painful tear and that there were things I could do to help prevent or at least lessen future tears, I wanted to know more.
I dug a scrap of paper out of my purse and started scribbling questions furiously and as soon as we left, bombarded my friend with them. It's been almost 3 years since that night and I have devoured and learned and sucked up tons of knowledge. I went on to have a beautiful, successful home birth with my son (second baby) and am now pregnant and planning a birth center birth for my third baby.
D: My 16 week IUFD when I was not told I could have an induction rather than a D&E, and when I asked about what happened to my child's remains I was told by the OB, "you don't want to know" so then I called the hospital after the procedure. The nurse on the other end of the line didn't know how to deal with me and when I asked what happened to my CJ's remains she first asked, "what did your doctor say," and then stated, "yes, you don't want to know." Then she coldly stated with annoyance, "they went out with the medical waste."
All along I had the right to ask for the remains, had the right to ask for an induction, had the right to have sonogram photos of CJ, but I was nervous and never spoke up for myself.
When I got a positive screen for t-18 with my 6th pregnancy, I had already begun reading your blog regularly. You had photos of Dr. Biter with a patient who had an OP baby who was having decels and he didn't do a c-section but had her move. In my labor, my OP baby was having decels that went down to 80. I recalled your photos at that moment and resolved in my head to do something, instead of staying on my left side, I argued with the nurse and sat up. Heartrate jumped immediately to 120. I have written you about this birth, I complied after that and the nurse was horrible, and that experience really changed me. I had a midwife for the next baby (my last one) and I have bloggers to thank really. Funny....
Very humbled, Dawn. Thank you.
Thank you… all of you. And feel free to add your own story. We’re all listening.
Tristan's birth, 1982 (notice the nurse not wearing gloves).
Me, in labor with Meghann (my UC baby), 1984