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Friday
Dec142012

The Feminist Breeder as Doula

On Dec. 5, 2012, Gina Crosley-Corcoran of The Feminist Breeder wrote a post entitled “20 Births Later: My Thoughts on Being a Doula.” Just as it sounds like, she reflects on her beliefs about births now that she’s attended them and they aren’t just in theory as they were before. She learned that doctors aren’t all evil and midwives aren’t all wonderful, that UCs are not such a great idea after all and that inductions sometimes have their place. In her mere twenty births, she has seen more than one Postpartum Hemorrhage (she doesn’t say how many, but it is plural) that, she says, “that blood poured out of their birth canal like spicket (sic).” She makes a comment that the medications used to stop the PPH would have been used at home, but it bears noting that not in all home births, even with midwives; it depends on the laws. And while the hemorrhage she witnessed can be scary as hell, if it can be stopped with just three medications, it isn’t that big of a deal. Let’s get going with six medications, a trip to the Operating Room, blood products pouring through two IVs wide open in the woman’s arms. These are the PPHs that terrify and traumatize the doula and show her that UC is the stupidest idea on the face of the earth. But, that’s in the next 100 births she attends.

I read through Gina’s piece smiling, thinking, “And this is with only twenty under her belt. Does she realize how few this is and how profound her opinions have changed already?”

I’ve written extensively on the turning points in my own birth life, one of the main ones being witnessing the mother dying from amniotic fluid embolism. At that time, I had already had a UC and my pendulum was swinging towards the middle from the farrrrr left, so the death solidified my more center-of-the-road beliefs –and that’s where they’ve stayed (pretty much) these 25 years. I’d had been in the Trust Birth camp (decades before there was such a thing), thinking the body always knew what to do when left alone. I’d believed everything my Bradley classes told me, that the Brewer Diet was perfect for avoiding preeclampsia (never mind the classmate who had eclampsia despite her meticulous following of the diet) and that relaxing completely would allow the baby to come as pain-free as possible. Meghann’s birth was one experience that demonstrated that just because I was told something doesn’t mean it was so.

Just like what Gina and I were told about birth in general. And as we experienced more and more, we saw that things weren’t always what were led to believe they were.

Over time, Gina will also likely learn that cesareans aren’t evil and many aren’t unnecessary. She’ll discover that those who perform cesareans are almost always respectful during the surgery and speak only about the birth at hand, not talk about the football game or what restaurant they are going to after they get off that night. She’ll find that babies aren’t separated from their mothers after the cesarean, but are brought to them in the Recovery Room, being held by dad or cuddled by mom even if she’s sleepy. There’re other lessons about cesareans she’ll learn, too, but I’ll leave those to her.

It’s amazing the transformation Gina’s already had in this short amount of time, over these few births; I’m impressed. It doesn’t take long to go from Trust Birth to Respect Birth when one begins attending births. It’s clear that those that are in that Trust Birth camp just haven’t been to any or very few births. Once you start going to births, even normal, natural, 100% unhindered births, you begin seeing the complications that Nature throws into the “perfection” that is birth.

I’m proud of Gina. It took a lot of guts for her to speak her new truth. It will be easier to continue talking about the changes over time and I hope she does. I’m mostly glad she spoke up because I know she isn’t alone. I hear from doulas who echo these sentiments all the time, but are afraid to say anything. I now can point to a prominent figure and say, “See! Gina, too!” Thanks, dear doula sister. You’ve done a brave and power-full thing. Keep speaking up. We need you to.

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