I have some soap boxes to get on today. There is a lot of “doctor or hospital blaming” that can happen in the natural childbirth community. Some of it is deserved and some of it is not. What is becoming clear to me is that for any real change to happen, the families must stand up and demand it! Money talks and if families start taking their money to where they will get the care they want and deserve, change will eventually happen. One of my pet peeves is that many people seem to spend more time researching which TV to buy than on where and with who they will give birth. To this end, here are some of my thoughts.
In order for a person to have the optimal birth experience for themselves, it is CRITICAL to choose your care provider and birth setting accordingly. If you desire a natural, physiologic birth you need to hire a provider who aligns with that desire and then works in a setting that supports the process. If you would like an epidural, choose a hospital that has 24/7 anesthesia available. Research these issues; be sure that your provider and birth setting truly have and offer what you are looking for. Ask around in your community; what is the cesarean section rate at the local hospital, what is the epidural rate? Ask your provider how they feel about your wishes; are they supportive or dismissive? It is not unusual in the current culture to experience the “bait and switch” of having a provider say one thing early on and then start to change their tune as the pregnancy progresses. If you want a physiologic birth then the first step is to be in an environment, surrounded by people, that will facilitate natural birth. When a birthing person is well supported, they will feel comfortable and can more easily relax. This will in turn increase the release of endorphins and decrease the release of stress hormones; it will hurt less and progress more effectively. Planning a natural, un-medicated birth in a hospital that has a very high epidural rate may be like fighting an uphill battle as they may not be equipped to support the process. Birth should not be a battle, you should not have to go in ready for a fight. You should be welcomed with compassion and support.
Another point to be made: you have hired your provider, if the relationship is not going well do not be afraid to change providers! Prenatal appointments should make you feel supported and comfortable. You should have time to ask questions and those questions should be treated thoughtfully and fully answered. Going to care should not be a battle that you have to gear up for…if it is, leave and find a new provider.
Don’t forget about the postpartum period. Many first time families have a tendency to only focus on the birth itself. Really, that is only the beginning. Think about how you want those first few precious hours to go. Uninterrupted skin to skin time is crucial for long term breastfeeding success, does the birth setting you choose support skin to skin care? Will the baby be left in the room with you or will they be removed to a nursery for an exam and observation? What types of routine procedures are done? Research these issues, ask questions and be persistent. These are reasonable questions and should be easy to answer. This is your baby and you have every right to know these things.
Essentially, here is my truth: Be Honest about what you want, Research your options and Choose a provider and setting that will truly support you.
Image credit Jennifer Mason Photography