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Monday
Mar142011

Pointless Hospital "Rituals" 

My Navelgazing Midwife Facebook Page is alight with the voices of women who, oddly, think I am against homebirths and non-nurse midwives. I certainly need to address the thread in a serious post of its own, but I wrote this a few days ago in "Comment to 'Are Homebirths Safe?'" and felt it deserved a place of its own (it was tucked down at the bottom of the other post). I have added links and a few words here and there, but it's born from the previously mentioned piece.

This is a snarky commentary about the absurd things medical folks believe about why we (who believe in homebirth) choose to birth at home. Tucked in the attitude is the hope someone outside of homebirth and non-nurse midwifery is listening.

<snark>

I am just sick and tired of this stupid belief that women birth at home because they want to be "comfortable." That is a sweet side effect, low on the totem pole, of the benefits to both mother and child. Let's begin the list of needless interventions in the hospital, shall we? These are the interventions that have zero to do with keeping mom or baby alive, but are simply there to make life convenient for those that attend to laboring moms. Onward!

- Continuous monitoring - this has never been shown to improve outcomes.

- Starving a mom - this has also never been shown to improve outcomes and, in fact, has been shown to cause problems of fatigue and frustration (among other things). Nurses and doctors really do say, "But the IV supplies all (the nutrition) you need!" Bull caca.

- Having an IV for the duration of labor - when bargaining to naturalize hospital birth, having a saline lock can be requested instead of the whole pole, bag o' fluids, etc.

- A 90+% pitocin rate sometime during labor and a way higher rate immediately postpartum

It's shocking that over 90% of women's bodies cannot figure out how to contract their uteri properly. My, how fast evolution has changed the human biochemistry!

Pitocin, of course, brings risks of fetal distress, a ghastly amount of pain for mom -which leads to pain medication... risks that get their own space, risk of postpartum hemorrhage, DIC, amniotic fluid embolism... and that's just a look at the biggies.

- Immobility - whether because it's inconvenient to have moms "wandering the halls" as I've heard a zillion times over the years, or because her tummy and legs are paralyzed by medication, being in bed has been shown, over and over and over, to not be a good thing for mom, the baby or labor. 

- Speaking of paralyzation, gotta yack about pain medication... sedatives, narcotics, regional anesthesia, oh my! Can't dare have an oyster, piece of sushi, a tuna sandwich, some brie on toast or fried bologna... and god forbid you should even consider a sip of wine during pregnancy! But, once you're in labor, the pharmacy is unlocked and ready to be loaded right into your veins... or spinal cord. What the hell kind of skewed thinking makes that alright?

- Putting women in a physical position that is atrociously uncomfortable (not to mention THE most physiologically incorrect postion for a baby to be born)... oh, but it's fine and dandy for the doc and that is what counts, right?

- Springboarding off the last awful position, taking women's legs and shoving them back, stretching the perineum beyond it's true need, causing tears that might not have happened had the women been "allowed" to birth in their own choice of positions. But, can't have the doctor disoriented with a mom on hands and knees; he might not know where to catch the baby!

- And off that one, doctors incessant belief they need to cram their hands in the woman's vagina down to the perineum and s t r e t c h it so angrily it makes my choo-chatch hurt watching. (I want to SLAP their hands; let me tell you the self-control that takes.) 

- We cannot talk about pushing on one's back, knees in the ears, hands crammed in the vagina without mentioning the SCREAMING everyone (but the mom) seems to think must be part of any birth no matter if mom is medicated or not, if the baby is coming slowly or fastly, it matters not. SCREAMING is one hospital ritual that makes me want to scream. And I, most certainly do not want to scream, "Take a deep breath, let it go. Take another deep breath and PUSH! (and then in screeching voices, rarely in unison) 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10! Do it again!!!"

Ugh. I'm stressed just from writing about those pointless interventions that have zero to do with the crucial operating room down the hall... THE reason given for not birthing at home. I'm too exhausted to even start down the after-the-baby's-born path, which is, sometimes, three times longer than the mom's!

But, rest assured, many more women having all that extra "care" mentioned above will visit the operating room, so apparently, the medical folks do see its necessity a lot more than homebirthing women do. What is behind the curtain, however (and not just the one during a cesarean), is the doctors, administrators, insurance companies and all sorts of "well-meaning" (but delusional) people standing on each others' shoulders... like cheerleaders at a football game... each one demanding their own rules, their own regulations, their own reasons for doing what is done. What a flipping mess of confetti all their rules, regulations and requirements make.

This, dear reader, is what the homebirthing woman is seeking to avoid... the cacophony of stupid, pointless, and, dare I say, potentially dangerous crap that comes with "the hospital ride." Sometimes, we just want to say, "Who in their right mind takes the hospital ride on purpose?"

I swear, birth in the hospital has to change. It's simply absurd all the (can I say crap again?) crap they do to women that has no impact on the safe outcome they all seem so worried about.

</snark>

Reader Comments (43)

What scares me most is immediate cord clamping, especially for babies born in distress. Ugh, scary scary stuff.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaime

"Can't dare have an oyster, piece of sushi, a tuna sandwich, some brie on toast or fried bologna... and god forbid you should even consider a sip of wine during pregnancy! But, once you're in labor, the pharmacy is unlocked and ready to be loaded right into your veins..."

THIS really brought it home to me. And I suspect is an analogy that the more medical-minded will need to get your point.

You are a terrific writer! It is such a treat when I see you on my reader as having a new post. They are thorough and are my "dessert" when I'm reading blogs. I savor them!

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

Amen!

I am always a bit baffled when FTMs who are basically ideal candidates for HB, understand it fairly well, support its existence, have the money to pay for it and live in an area with plenty of good, legal HB MWs, etc., etc., say they'd rather birth in a hospital because their house is messy, or they'll have just moved and things will still be in boxes, etc.

??

Choosing homebirth in the US is barely about "home" at all for most women.

Like you said, it's NICE and all. The psychological comfort of being in my own home is a plus, fully controlling access to my space is a plus, not having to drive in labor is a plus, etc., etc. Certain things, like candles, which might not be allowed in the most NCB-friendly of hospitals for safety/liability reasons... those are nice, too, I guess.

But for me, having a HB is not about being at home. It's about NOT being in the hospital with all its BS (the stuff that is BS), relative lack of evidence-based care in most cases, disrespect and, mainly-- poorer average outcomes when viewed holistically.

And my mom was a doctor and worked in a hospital! That's the funny part-- I don't hate hospitals in and of themselves, and furthermore, my home IS kind of stressful. It IS a mess. It's positively tiny at the moment (600 square feet)!

Although we're planning on moving before I have a baby (timed for during early pregnancy), I would have a HB in this "home" right now if I had to. I wouldn't even think about it. And heck-- our new "home" will probably be no more than 900 sq ft and it probably WILL have some unopened moving boxes in it when I give birth... And I'll always be a bit of a pig.

Homebirth for me is not "birth at home" so much as it is "birth in the place where I'm likely to get the best, safest care."

Like you said-- the vast majority of HBers think the same way.

But I guess since it's just assumed that the hospital is the smartest, safest place to give birth, even well-meaning and potentially supportive people have to figure that there's some *other* appeal to homebirth. And I guess all they can figure is that it's "homier."

Guess this is why we have all those wood-paneled hospital rooms with rocking chairs and pastoral scenes on the walls... right next to the IV poles and the fetal monitors.

Errrmmm... Yeah.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDreamy

i served as a doula for a friend in hospital recently and was again blown away by the fixation on vaginal exams. she refused several, but the dr. said that she 'had' to do one because usually they check EVERY HOUR once your water is broken (?#@!). a little later, when this THIRD TIME mom was feeling some pressure/pushiness, she called for the dr. who came in, checked her, and dismissed her because she was only a 7 (according to that vaginal exam). about 20 minutes later, that baby came on her own in 1-2 contractions. it was mass chaos, mom was standing at the end of the bed explaining that the head was there. the dr. said, "ok, just lay down and let me check you so that you can go ahead and have the baby."

i was thinking to myself that that technically the baby actually could come out without the dr. checking . . . . and she did.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBirth Smart

As a hospital-birthing mom, who supports homebirth, I have to say that I would have given serious consideration to homebirth with my first baby. However, I was diagnosed with placenta previa at about 25 weeks, so that was ruled out. I was able to have a great vaginal birth in the hospital. Right before I got the diagnosis, I switched from the horrible OB I had in the first half of my pregnancy, to my wonderful CNM. My first birth wasn't all I wanted it to be, and with my second, I did things a ltitle differently. I still gave birth in my local baby-friendly hospital, but I asked for things to be done differently. My CNM was all for it. I think that things definitely need to change in the hospital, and that is part of the motivation for me to get my nursing degree and become a CNM. We need more natural birth friendly staff in the hospital, to be able to make changes.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen B

Just want to say that the pic of the gloved hand doing perineal "massage" does not lessen at all the impact of the Vagina. How on Earth can people say that there is no such thing as birthrape? If a woman does not expressly consent to this type of touching, or if it is done in an angry and aggressive manner, especially if she says "No". Rape? Hell yes it's still a Vag! Rape as a hospital ritual.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCandice

***APPLAUSE***

Amen and amen! Totally in 100% agreement on all the unnecessary (and baffling) interventions. While my midwives do deliver in a hospital I do not have to do any of those things; I'm free to eat and drink, free to move, no IV (no lock either), etc. HB is on shaky ground where I live and the hospital is a compromise with my husband and I'm fine with that. I think we all realize that not everyone is going to have a home birth BUT that the hospital should offer the same options that one would have in an HB situation. And thankfully mine does!

Totally agree that hospitals need to change. They just do!

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

Ugh about the finger in the vagina. I had a homebirth midwife do that to me when she insisted that she wasn't. We have it on film. Disgusting. I chose another midwife the next time I gave birth in that town.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJo

Pointless things that happened to me...
VE's before my midwife was there. Did I mention that I didn't want one, kept my pants on, and was told that they had spoken to my midwife said she needed to know before she came in. Confused me enough that I allowed the VE only to find out (about 5 minutes later) that I was lied to as she strolled in, and the triage nurse apologized to who? Not me, but my midwife. And then, you get a VE flat on the back. Told for months you cannot lie on your back as it will cause the baby to have lack of blood flow and may cause mom to feel light headed etc, but the VE's they want are flat backed? Wedge possible? VE in another position? Nope, flat backed. I do not know the purpose of all those VE's anyway and wish I had known all those births they were not really needed.

No drinking. What? Why? I was told, "because the anesthesiologist doesn't want you to drink." Excuse me, but I wanted birth without this person involved, and since I was planning it I could have a drink. The drinks were denied me in more than one birth (before I knew I could just do what I wanted anyway...even my midwife said I could drink but don't make a fuss about it just do it).

Stretching my cervix...why again? Especially with an OP baby.

Episiotomy for a 6 lb 12 oz baby and I only had one stitch...weird. Obviously, not needed.


And Barb, you are right about the yelling at me to push. Why OH why do they feel they have to do this? And the counting?

Most annoying unneeded action is TALKING OVER THE MOTHER CONSTANTLY during the birth, while she's pushing, and especially after baby is born when they take baby away. Somebody official, please talk to the mom. Even if after the birth there is some need to focus, then apologize after you hand mom the baby...and say, "we had to focus and worked for your baby to breathe correctly, I wanted to talk to you but couldn't" or send over that extra nurse even for 1/2 a second to say, "It's a girl, they're working on her." I guess that's why we should have a doula, huh?

Pulling on the cord and telling mom as or after doing it...

Taking baby away and warming baby under a machine/light/cafeteria light instead of on mom if all is okay. C'mon. Why on earth do that?

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

I saw the other thread you were mentioning and your posts. It did initially come off as if you posting that to be against homebirths, but then I read your post about just hearing the dude out. It seemed the main point you were getting at is INFORMED decisions and parents taking control of their healthcare. I'm sorry, but just like hospital births, bad things... sometimes things that could have been avoided happen in childbirth. It mega sucks and the pain that can... physically and emotionally are just beyond. But we can not let ourselves be victims to the machine (hospital) or nut (midwives that have no business being midwives). There are times we have to trust the medical professionals like in emergencies, but we need to stop LETTING stuff happen to us. THAT is what I walked away with after reading that story you posted and your posts.

How about the time after my first VBAC when the doctor stuck her whole arm up inside of me in order to check the "integrity" of my scar. Literally, she was in up to her elbow. And then she had the nerve to ask me why I was moaning in pain.
That, in my book, was not only a pointless ritual, but it could have in itself caused the scar to rupture.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTina

Awesome post. You described exactly why for baby #3 we had an undisturbed home waterbirth. Exceot for delivering water and snacks, speaking encouragingly, and apply lower back pressure when I asked for it, nobody really touched me at all until baby was about to emerge... even then, they helped my DH catch him and handed him to me. A world of difference from my first vaginal hospital birth and my second C-section. The almond butter sandwich and protein shake during labor helped me go to the end, all by myself.

We had a very easy ppartum and I hardly tore at all.... healthy baby nursing like a fiend as we speak... huzzah

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBirthThreeWays

Tina: Ugh. To the Nth degree. Please, please tell me that was years ago. I haven't seen a "manual exploration" (doesn't sound so dramatic that way, now does it?) in ages. And you are right... I can totally see (and have heard of) the fingers perforating the uterus during the manual exam. Gives me the shivers. I'm so sorry you had to endure that. So, so sorry.

AMNBS: Wowie zowie on the thread, eh? I'm glad you at least got a take-home message... or, I should say, at least you stayed around for one! Who could have predicted such a "shitstorm" (as a reader called it in my email)? More to come on *that* front. How could I *not* address the accusations, right?

March 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Wow it is amazing the differences between the American and Canadian medical systems. I had an awesome hospital birth and the nurses and doctors were more than willing to do things the way I wanted them to be done. If I wanted medical intervention, they would explain everything that came with it and I could decide for myself if I thought it was necessary. I was monitored only at the beginning and end, baby was put on me even though she had the cord around her neck and there was no screaming or yelling when pushing... just the sounds of Fleetwood Mac from my iPod. I feel bad that ladies in the States are not able to voice what THEY want for a birth and feel like they have to avoid a hospital at all costs to obtain that. Not saying a home birth isn't a good thing but should you choose to go to the hospital, you should be able to control how your labour will be, not the medical administration and personnel.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCanadian Mama

OMG, you NEED to read this article:

http://www.davis-floyd.com/USERIMAGES/File/The%20Rituals%20of%20American%20Hospital%20Birth.pdf

it's about what's really going on at a deeper level in all those medically unnecessary "rituals" of hospital birth...Davis-Floyd is brilliant, and I think she's right on the mark.

Thank you for this post--wonderful!

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

Gotta think of a clever birth shirt to wear that has a phrase (only birth plan) that would fit all these unneeded interventions.

"No yelling, no counting, and keep your hands to yourself."

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

Fantastic post!

For those who don't support home birth, I ask, "What are you doing to make hospital birth more *hospitable*?"

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Deranged Housewife

It was only 4 1/2 years ago that the manual exploration happened. And when I told her that I didn't want it done, she told me that if I was going to be her patient, then I would have it done.
At the time I felt like I had to comply to many things I didn't want to because I so badly wanted my VBAC and I didn't want to rock the boat.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTina

I'd just like to add, you can avoid most of these things during birth. But maybe that's just the hospital I delivered at.....I was induced, but I was allowed to do whatever position I wanted, and actually I found the one depicted in the picture to be the most comfortable.

You can pretty much avoid everything else....if you don't want pain meds then you don't get hooked up to the IV, and you can walk around, etc.

Just sayin'.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

I am trying to put together a birth plan (first baby). Coming from a background of being a CNM who has worked as an RN, I definitely don't want hands going into my vagina to ream my perineum, as I have seen sooo much of. However I DO want my perineum supported, baby's head kept well flexed, while crowning. I want to say "Hands off my perineum!... Until it's smart to have your hands on my perineum." When it comes down to it, I am really afraid of being the woman who has these preferences and is given lip service that her wishes will be followed, and then when she's helpless and pushing, people do whatever the hell they want. They all think that they know what's best and if your wishes are violated, they're sure it's "for your own good".

Side note, I once saw a CNM answer her cell phone with one hand while vigorously massaging this woman's perineum with the other, and chat idly w/her husband while the mom pushed and struggled. So disrespectful.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

I have had all 4 of my boys in a hospital though the last 2 I truly wanted a water birth and it wasn't an option at our hospital :( With my first son I was very young and had no clue what to expect I just wanted it to stop hurting (I was fighting my own body) I got the epi and it only numbed one side and leg well that was a useless pain in my back that has lasted and lasted only to deliver 20 mins after the epi. My second son 6 weeks premature I had been in premature labor for weeks and they had given me mag bag in the hospital for 4 weeks previous I went home and 2 days later returned in labor again this time I was 5cm so they broke my water! 6 weeks early! I stopped having contractions and they gave me pitocin! my son in an abrupt movement pushed his feet against my ribs and shot out I was calling the nurses and they didn't believe me!
Third time i was again givin pitocin and chose to have nothing at all else for any reason i wanted this birth as natural as possible not a room full of nurses they could hide behind the curtain but i didn't wanna see them. My OB actually let my husband catch our son with verbal coaching I was elated! and only in labor for an hour and 47 mins!!
Fourth son induced at 37 weeks due to not only my impatience but a baby that was measured via ultrasound to be over 8lbs. I labored for 26 hours with only saline and pitocin in my arm and cervadill in my crotch (ouch btw) only to watch my son's heart rate drop with every contraction I finally called for the anesthesia doc and for my doc I was giving up and gonna submit to my first section. A nurse that had attended all my births came in and tried to get me to push him out I pushed and pushed she did all that she could do to keep me outta that OR but was really confused at the position of my sons head. After the drugs were in me I shook violently not sure if was how terrified I was or the drugs or a combination of both. my baby was 6lbs 15oz not the 8lb cubbers we were told he was gonna be! He was positioned ear first in the canal and had the cord wrapped around his neck twice. So even though I am still anti section I feel in the end we made the right choice but if we hadn't of induced then would he have been in that position at all?
Induction all to often leads to c-section and I will never do it again I do wanna try for a girl!!

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

"Who in their right mind takes the hospital ride on purpose?"

There are those of us, with medical conditions, that take that "hospital ride" on purpose because otherwise it's unsafe not to. There are things that would be unavailable in the home birthing process. Not all of us are out of our "right mind" when taking that ride. In fact, we do it for the safety of our child and ourselves.

To answer another commenter about cutting the cord immediately after birth, it is also sometimes safer to do this when the baby is in distress. Like if the cord is in a knot, as was the case with my daughter.

I'm not against home birthing or hospital births, I believe each has it's place. But for one to be "snarky" about the other, I believe people should realize that everyone's choice is their own choice and be respectful of such.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterS.G.

We'll start with Olivia.

O-livia! Um, yes. While it probably isn't *just* your hospital (and hospital administrator and doctor and nurse and their malpractice insurance providers), it absolutely was a rare event that you experienced in your labor and birth. I hope you are able to honor that and catch that most women in hospitals have nothing remotely close to the "luxuries" that you had. Just sayin'.

S.G. You *had* to have come here from somewhere else, not having read any or much of what I've written before, but I *promise* you, I *do* understand why women choose hospital births. *sigh*

Can't a gal have a second of irony?

March 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I am a mom of 3, going on 4... all 3 of my kids have been late and induced... Can I just say that I wish I had done more research on homebirths and midwives sooner! I SOOOOOOOOO agree with everything written in your post and applaud you for putting this out there! I'm not sure that my insurace will cover a home birth (we're military), but you'd better believe that I'm doing everything I can to switch to a midwife and if I can't give birth at home, then I will make sure I wait to go to the hospital until the LAST minute and they WILL NOT be getting my veins again. I HATE iv's and all the meds and after being mobile while laboring with my last child, I'm looking forward to being even more mobile when this one decides it wants to arrive. Bless you for all you do!

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBridget

I also avoided a lot of these things, with a great CNM, but I am very aware of how lucky I am. When she wasn't there, I had a lot of problems with the L&D nurses and especially the recovery nurses. (Did have pitocin because it was an induction, and so also had continuous monitoring, but the nurse and CNM took turns holding the monitor in place so I could move, and they also let me off the monitor for nice long "bathroom breaks.")

And I think calling them "rituals" is right on. Even though I was unmedicated and had been standing, swaying, squatting, etc., throughout my labor, I ended up pushing on my back with the nurse and midwife holding my legs, after I got in the bed for a VE. It sort of just happened. At some point, I said I didn't think it was working very well, and they kind of snapped out of it and realized what they were doing (assume that's how a lot of women with epidurals push?) and I started choosing my own position. And hey! It worked a lot better!

Funny thing is that my husband said later that it seemed weird to him that they were having me push like that, but he figured they knew better than he did so he didn't say anything.

Several nurses came into the room afterward just to see the woman who had a "natural" birth (uh, not quite, but okay). It makes me sad that it's so unusual that L&D nurses came in to gawk at me.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterchingona

Thank you for such a frank post. I have birthed twice in a hospital and the first time was atrocious. Absolutely atrocious to the point where my husband, while we were still in the delivery room said he didn't want me to have another baby because of how horrible it was from watching it all on his end (believe me, it was bad on my end too. He wasn't the one getting perineal "massage," hot oil squirted into a birth canal because they broke my water with the baby totally corked to the point nothing would pass her head, being asked if an episiotomy would be ok, with the scissors poised and half snipped before being asked, begging for the pit to be turned off and no one listening or doing it). Second time wasn't as bad (my CNM was on vacation, got the one on call), but still wasn't what I wanted or ever envisioned birth being (and I said no pit, and they still put it in the IV bag after the birth). Let alone what I said not to do to my newborn, they did anyway saying it was the law (good grief, I've looked into it and I was within my legal rights).

I wish more people would educate themselves on birth and what truly is necessary and how things have progressed to this point where while women are all for empowerment, we chuck it out the window when it comes to the one thing that we can do that men can't and give up our autonomy and brains and let ourselves get fooled into thinking we are inferior and our bodies will not perform as they were designed to do.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCrissyanna

Oh wow

No I haven't read your other posts midwife, nor do I feel like wasting anymore of my time. So Olivia had a good experience. Someone else didn't. No need to get snarky, I think your post was full of that enough.

I had an EXCELLENT hospital birth. No it's not RARE.

Birth at home all you want ladies, it's all cool with me, but STOP SLAMMING HOSPITALS

I suppose all you midwives are also doing this for free? As in, you make no money as a midwife? just the goodness of your little hearts? No. This is your business interest.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

No, I haven't read over your previous posts. This was put up by a friend of mine as a link and I went to read it. I don't always agree with the medical community on many things. But, there are cases where I do for certain reasons. If you do understand why women choose them, it seems like it's not said out of irony but more out of an attempt of "I'm better." Fine, if that's the way you feel, so be it but at least own up to it. It seems that's the attitude that's being tossed around by some as of late.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterS.G.

No, actually Holly, I closed my homebirth practice to concentrate soley on Monitrice & Doula work. This has zero to do with economics.

It's great you had such a wonderful birth, but most women don't... and I believe there needs to be change so more and MORE women can have the great birth you did.

For those of you who don't know me, I *love* hospital births. I should have been a CNM, but am now too old to go back to school and go that route... it's one of my great regrets in life. And I write about that here.

You certainly don't ever have to read another word I write, but I do feel it's important for you to put this post in context with who I am and what I believe.

Again, it's great your births were wonderful! I hope to help women have the same fantastic experiences you did.

March 16, 2011 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

My first: planned homebirth that ended in induction (for preeclampsia) and an eventual Cesarean because, amazing, when laying on my left side in a hospital bed for 36 hours, hooked up to IV's, blood pressure monitors (every 10 minutes it took my blood pressure), a catheter, and fetal monitors, being denied food and water and not getting any sleep - my body never really went into labor (though I did have loads of nice, painful contractions while on pitocin and cervidil!)
I told the OB I didn't want a Cesarean, she did it anyway. Break the law much? FTP. I wonder why.
My second - due at the end of May - planned Birth Center birth, DH is scared for me to birth at home b/c of the Cesarean. The midwives at the birth center dumped me 2 weeks ago. I'm switching providers at 30 weeks pregnant. I'm going with a known-to-be VBAC supportive OB/midwifery practice and hospital. I don't want to birth in the hospital. But that's how things shake out sometimes. Hopefully this one will end up closer to the dream birth I had for my 1st.
I post this to say: No, all hospital births are not dreamy and good. Most are sucky and filled with useless interventions that cause harm to mother and baby. We need to change the system to be, in all hospitals, like it was for the few women who can say they had great hospital births. That is the point of this blog post, people! She isn't saying no babies should be born in a hospital - she's saying going to the hospital to have a baby SHOULD NOT MEAN YOU END UP CUT OPEN 30% of the time, On pitocin 75% of the time, with an epidural 80-90% of the time, with an episiotomy 50%+ of the time. These numbers make no sense when you realize BIRTH IS NATURAL.All hospitals should support that.

March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachael

I LOVE how that other post, from a licensed Nurse, wasn't put up. Ya know the one rebutting the points made, asking where all these "statistics" are coming from. So Rachael, where are your statistics coming from? The numbers, percentages, those. Where are they coming from?

March 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSG

Amen! I'm sending this to all the family members who think I'm turning into a hippie because I believe in homebirth and am studying midwifery!

March 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

I am choosing to deliver with a midwife at a freestanding birth center as a FTM after witnessing many hospital births and comparing them to seeing my mom birth my youngest sibling (my mom's 4th child) at home. My hubby and I did a lot of research and know the pros and cons to both and know that if something should go astray, we can transfer to the hospital in less than five minutes which is significantly closer than our home. Another reason we chose to do this was because the care we were receiving from the military doctors was so substandard. (to the earlier poster who is also military, if you are pregnant as a dependent you can drop to Tricare Standard, that is what we did and we are only paying a total of $175 out of pocket for prenatal care, delivery and post-partum care, just make sure whoever you decide to birth with takes your insurance and confirm the amount you would pay!) And no, midwives and doulas do not work for free, but they do offer their services at a SIGNIFICANTLY lower cost than that of a hospital for low-risk mothers. They also seem to be extremely more passionate about helping soon-to-be parents make educated decisions and allow such parents to take an active role in their health care. In my personal experience, the doctors and hospital administration were all about the numbers. In fact, when trying to get referred out of the military treatment facility to a local women's OB clinic (which is on the list of approved facilities through our insurance), the head of the hospital told me "at the end of the day we run a business, if we let you go, we have to let everyone go". Shows me where their priorities are!

March 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterB.N.B.

SG, I did a research paper on hospital birth vs birth out of the hospital for my ENG-101 class last semester and found the same statistics from the World Health Organization as well as in many articles from highly regarded newspapers, books etc.

I was also surprised at the attitude I came across when telling people about my choice not to use pain medication because of being worried about some of the risks.  Most women didn't know that using the epi highly increases the chance of having to use Pitocin.  These drugs end up fighting for control of the body and a lot of the time lead to fetal distress and ultimately cesarians when used together.  Not for everyone of course, but it amazed me how few women knew that.  

I firmly believe in everyone having their own choice and they should definitely deliver where they feel safe.  I personally just wish that women were more informed.

March 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterB.N.B.

Over and over I read that women should be allowed to eat while in labor. Maybe I'm a weirdo, but who ARE these people who were hungry and ate during labor? Blech! My midwives kept shoving this stupid organic protein shake thing in my face while I was in labor with my son and I finally screamed at them to stop it, I didn't want it.

What frustrates me so much about birth is it's like you can only have extremes- cut me open and get it done or herbs and pain and what I honestly perceive (now) as more risk to the baby.

Sucks.

March 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin

True, many women don't want to eat *meals* during labor, but think about the women in the hospital for an induction... those can take a day or more and certainly take many hours to get going strong enough to take your mind off eating. Or women whose labors slow down. There are plenty of women who are flat out hungry and it's ridiculous to starve them.

I've been that pushy midwife, forcing a client to eat. I've had a couple yell at me, too. It's a precarious place, knowing a woman (and BABY!) needs food to keep her energy up, but also trying to honor her autonomy. If a woman gets hungry enough (runs through her energy stores), she becomes hypoglycemic and then is so nauseous, she *really* doesn't want to eat and that cycle goes right down to fetal distress. Trying to avoid the hypoglycemic part in the first place is the goal of offering/suggesting/giving food to a laboring mom.

Sorry you had a hard time with the food thing. I know you aren't alone.

March 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I had an awesome hospital birth. So did my friend. You guys need to start respecting the decisions of women who decide to have hospital births if you want respect for your decision of home birth. If something were to happen to me or my child (which there IS a chance of happening and I don't care how 'low risk' your pregnancy is), I want everything to be right there and ready. I don't want to have to wait for the ride to the hospital
With my epidural, I got the benefit of sleeping and actually enjoying my time during labor. (Oh yeah-I was induced too! Oh no!) And then to top it all off, I didn't feel a thing and that's the way I wanted it. The doctor was doing all he could to avoid a c section and guess what!!! I didn't have one! I didn't have one even after 26 hours of labor! I had an 8 lb, healthy baby boy that I *gasp* circumcized! Go ahead and judge me for that too because that is the type of people you are showing me to be.
Just because a woman decides to give birth in a hospital doesn't mean she is uneducated or a worse mother than the rest of you, but yet that is the way you all act. How good of a mother doesn't depend on your labor and delivery experience. I know mothers who HB, but then sit their kid in front of the tv and then get on fb to either say what a great mother they are or to complain or talk about HB. Any way you look at it, they aren't paying attention to their child. Maybe if you HB moms would take as much time as you do complaining about hospital births (which no one forces you to do so what do you care since you don't do it?) and spend it with your kids, people would think more highly of you. I don't disrespect you for having your child at home. I would like to have the same respect for my decision.
Good luck to you in your decision that is right for YOU and NOT SOMEONE ELSE. Let other women make their own decisions without you degrading them and hospitals.
For the record, I had a little break at work when I wrote this. I'm not ignoring my child.

March 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Whenever someone says, "You guys need to...." I know we're in for a treat.

Yet another new person to the blog. You don't understand the blog AT ALL if you think I'm bashing women's choices. I've explained it several times, so feel free to read the other comments to catch that you are quite incorrect about the bashing of women who choose a different birth than we do.

I am *highly* amused by the seriously angry defensiveness coming from outside, though. Who's got the problem?

March 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I'm sorry, I must have misunderstood with all the *snarks*. My bad. I must have misunderstood with the title having the word 'pointless' in it when something may not be 'pointless' to someone else. My bad again. I must have misunderstood when you said "Who in their right mind takes the hospital ride on purpose?" I have to assume you don't think we who have hospital births are in our 'right mind' with that wording. "Skewed thinking" was also used. Maybe you should choose your words more carefully. So excuse me if you think I don't understand you with that wording. That's the way you are proving my point again about you being judgemental. No one understands anything except you, right? Why should I not be defensive if what I believe I am doing is right? Nowhere in my post did I put anything to put home births down. I just put you down for putting others down. I say go for it if you want a home birth, just don't bash others. What is so hard to understand about that? Maybe you are the one who doesn't understand. I only read this because HB mothers post this stuff all over so sometimes my curiosity takes over. Then I want that time in my life back that it took to read this because all it does is bash bash bash. I actually wasn't angry with my last post. I just want to say people can have good hospital births too. It depends on the person and the situation.

March 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I absolutely agree with Mary! Women should be respected for their choice to deliver in hospitals, birth centers or at home. On that same note, women should also have their wishes/birth plans respected no matter where they deliver and unfortunately, many women I know didnt have that happen when they delivered in a hospital, whether they were with a midwife or an OB, because of hospital policies etc.

I was all for a hospital delivery until I only had one choice for a hospital (because of military insurance). With the lack of prenatal care/respect I was receiving from the doctors that would be attending the birth, the fact that they only had one midwife on staff in the MTF OB office (who only attends deliveries on Mondays...weird right?) and the fact that the hospital had a history of not catering well to women who wanted natural deliveries, it was a no-brainer for me to switch to the type of insurance I now carry so that I have co-pays and could go where I wanted to...my choice being a birth center.

One reason I wrote the research paper I did was so that I could hopefully prove to myself that I have just seen/heard of bad birth experiences/situations where interventions were taken that weren't necessary and unfortunately I came across more bad situations than good ones. Now of course, this is likely because, just like with the news, the bad situations are aired out more than the good situations...but I found a lot of circumstances where women had their birth plans tossed out the window or had to stand up for themselves because their doctors were insisting on inductions, cesarians etc when they weren't necessary. And I couldn't ignore the insanely high cesarian rates I was finding.

Another thing that I found, as another poster wrote earlier, is that opinions seem heavily biased on either side of this topic. Statistics/writings supporting natural births seemed to be calling for reform in hospitals and are encouraging women to stay away from them (ex: the book Pushed by Jennifer Block) and the writings that I found of people not supporting natural births (ex: The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy) basically stated that women wanting to try to deliver without pain meds and outside of hospitals etc were crazy for even trying to go without them because there was no danger to the mother or baby when using pain meds and every danger in delivering outside of the hospital, which is totally misleading (and quite frankly a danger) to anyone that reads that book and does not do their own research.

Just for the record before my "closing" since this seems to be a novel of sorts (sorry for the length), I am choosing to deliver naturally at a birth center with no pain medication (does not mean I will not have pain relief as there are many natural alternatives for pain relief), and I still plan to circumcize my son. Just because we give birth naturally does not mean we are against medical procedures. I, afterall, had to go through IVF to get pregnant in the first place. I firmly believe medicine and interventions are here and should be available, but they should only be used for what they were created for...not just convenience.

Now, in closing...hopefully in all of the conversation in this blog and the comments that have been posted we are all walking away with this: Women should enjoy their pregnancies as much as possible (afterall, being able to bear children and carry them to term is such a blessing for all of us!) and should be respected for any decision they make for their deliveries. No matter where a woman chooses to deliver, she should feel safe and feel like her birth plan is being respected and when being told that an intervention needs to be used, she should be confident in knowing that there is truly a medical need for it.

March 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterB.N.B.

Something I was shown during my doula training...a fitting video to your post don't you think?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arCITMfxvEc&feature=player_embedded#at=30

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJill

Well, a woman presents to the hospital in labor with ruptured membranes 16 hrs earlier. At 18 hrs post SROM antibiotics are recommended but refused. labor augmentation is recommended for a stalled labor (even after all natural methods are utilized) but that too is refused. Antibiotics are again refused as well as augmentation at 24hrs post ROM because they "aren't natural". Eventually the baby is born by INFORMED and consented c/s. baby goes to NICU septic. The big bad medical people made recommendations to prevent this foreseen outcome but the woman knowingly and well informed refused treatment thus putting herself and baby at risk...guess who gets sued...the "medical people" that tried to prevent all this. Even though this case (having been carefully and thoroughly documented) would most likely not have been decided against the doctor/staff, it still would have cost (hospital/ malpractice insurance/Doctor/staff) tens of thousands, even $100,000 in legal fees to have the case dropped. This is the kid that ends up with C.P. because the those "Pointless hospital rituals" were refused. (all characters depicted in this story are fiction and not real).

March 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterguest

I can also make up a story about a fictional woman and her birth story ending in disaster DUE to all the hospital/doctor interventions, but I don't have to because it actually HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.

March 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachael

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