I put #1 because I couldn't possible fit everything about birth in one post... so there will be a few "birth" posts and they will be easier to keep track of if they are numbered.
This business of birth and all that surrounds it, the magic, the myth, the medicine, the midwives vs doctors.... but most of all the shear miracle of it. Through my posts I'm sure I will touch on all of these things - certainly not in sequence, and I may overlap them sometimes. But I think it's a very important topic that women need more information about, so that they can make informed decisions about their bodies and for their baby. Also, I will incorporate my varied experiences I've had with my first three children, and I'll update about my fourth as I go along (I'm due in September - so I'll have a full update of how things went after that - until then I'll post about my intentions this time around.
So where to start? There is so much that can be covered on this topic!
I guess I will start at the beginning... my beginning that is.
I had trouble getting pregnant, was seeing a fertility specialist... ended up getting pregnant, but started to miscarry - or so I was told. This "specialist" had missed the fact that I had an ectopic (or tubal) pregnancy. VERY dangerous! 3 days later I was in major pain and ended up in the ER. I won't go on about this (perhaps another time) but I'm including it simply because it led me to the OB/GYN that I used for my first three children. She was great. Very efficient, and blunt which I liked. I wanted to know what was going on, and not have things sugar coated just to make me feel better.
I was with this Dr when I got pregnant with my first baby (technically my 3rd pregnancy though). I had considered going with a midwife after I got pregnant, I called the only midwifery group in my area but they were booked. I went on the waiting list, but didn't hear back. I stuck with my Dr. Now I'm going to gloss over this a bit, but I went into preterm labour at 24 weeks and spent a month in the hospital on bed rest, was released and allowed to go home on bed rest at 28 weeks. I was told I would NEVER (all of the "specialists" opinions, and there were many who had a hand in my case) make it passed 32 weeks at best. I made it to 37. Dr's don't know and can't predict everything. I'll get into my love hate relationship with dr's after.
Fast forward to the birth. 10 hours and 10 minutes long total. I went into the L&D around 6:30 pm with my contractions 2-3 minutes apart. I got checked in, monitored, they made me lay on my back for monitoring - those of you who have had back labour can sympathize with this. I was in AGONY, but they said they needed a 30 minute "strip". I was never so happy to be able to get up when they finally finished that! I got moved to a room, finally, around 8:30.
This is when the constant barrage of options and opinions started flowing in from nurses and the dr. It was highly recommended to me to get an epidural. I refused. It was written in my birth plan that I did NOT want any interventions, unless medically necessary. And since an epidural wasn't a medical emergency.... well... there was no reason for them to even mention it, let alone try to push it. Upon refusal I was given other medicinal options, I can't remember them all, but they were injections to help lessen my pain. I repeatedly informed them that I was doing fine and didn't need it. They told me "oh but you will, and then it will be too late".... gee thanks, way to support a first time mom in labour!! Non the less, I held out. I requested a ball and spent most of my time on that... what a wonderful thing for back labour! It was the only thing that gave me some relief.
Around 9 pm the dr came back in. Upon learning of my refusal of meds he shook his head and came to talk to me. He checked me and I was about 8 cm dilated. He said "well, lets speed things up and have this baby tonight. I'm going to break your water, ok?" Again, as a first time mom I thought that this is what "had" to happen... so I said ok. OH MAN!! That's when the real pain started! I was still having back labour and they gave me gas (the only thing that I had "ok'd" on my birth plan) to try and help me with my breathing. I was getting no breaks between the contractions. This went on for 30 minutes approximately.
Now I think it's interesting to note a couple of things at this point. The Dr said "well, lets speed things up and have this baby tonight. I'm going to break your water, ok?" While that is technically a question, it certainly doesn't come across like "would you like me to break your water to speed things up?". He didn't say it like it was an option. And I didn't think it was an option. It was just what HAD to be done. Now however, I think what was the rush? Did he want to make sure that he got paid for another delivery before his shift was up? I don't understand what the rush was. I hadn't been in labour for very long, the baby was doing fine, and I had only been at the hospital for a few hours - so why the rush? Very curious.
Anyway, around 10 pm I was ready to start pushing. This took me some time... 1 hour and 10 minutes to be precise. I was working hard - my body was working hard with the contractions to push my baby out. And again, in comes the Dr. - by the way, I didn't know this Dr and hadn't met him before - he's there at the end of the bed waiting for more action to happen. Things slowed down as she started to crown, but everything was still fine with both baby and me. However Dr. Rushy-rush had a "suggestion". He said "I'm just going to give you a little incision to help speed things along". Now I was somewhat more prepared for this, and was adamant that I was NOT going to have an episiotomy unless my baby was in distress and it was necessary to get her out now. My baby was fine however, and there was no need for "a little incision" as the Dr said, especially if it was just to speed things up. Since when is birthing a baby a race? I didn't understand the rush.
I spent the next several minutes - I can't say how long exactly, if you've ever been in labour you can understand how time can cease to have any meaning - arguing with the Dr between contractions/pushes. I asked him point blank why he wanted to give me an episiotomy, again he repeated that the incision would just help speed things up. This confirmed that I had not been hearing things the first time. And I don't understand why he wouldn't say episiotomy, he just kept saying "a little incision", like that somehow made it more acceptable and friendly? Anyway, I flat out told him NO. We argued about it for a while. He said, well you're going to tear... like that was scarier than being cut. Not for me, I had done my homework on that and I knew that tears heal better and faster than "little incisions". Arguing with the Dr really makes for a memorable delivery though!
Finally my daughter was born, with no meds, no episiotomy.... and (mostly) in her own time.
So again... why the rush? I found out some interesting information about that night though. There were 9 women in labour that night. I was last one in, the first one out, and the ONLY one not to get an epidural. Of the other 8 who all got epidurals, 7 of them ended up with cesareans. I didn't get the chance to talk to all of them after the fact, but I did get to talk to 5 of the 7 c-section ladies. They ended up with the cesarean because their labour's had stalled out after the epidural, then they had pitocin, then another epidural and more pitocin.... a vicious cycle that ended up with the baby being in distress and then having the cesarean as a result. I wondered if that would have happened if they had not had an epidural? I don't know if they asked for the epidural in the first place, but if that was the first thing the nurses had asked me... well... there's a good chance that it was the first thing they asked them too. And it's hard to refuse a carrot that's being dangled in front of you.
Anyway, I found that a very interesting fact. That's when I started to become more interested in the how's and why's of birth, and birth in the hospitals.
Why was the epidural being pushed so much? Why all the rush? Why did the dr not make my options actually appear to be options? How could this have been a better experience? An experience that didn't feel as though I had different expectations of the staff, an experience where we were all on the same wave length and could work towards the common goal of a healthy, natural birth. Not an experience where medical interventions were offered and in some cases pushed when there was no need for it.
In closing, options are GOOD. But informed decisions are BETTER. Know what you're agreeing too, do your research. This is YOUR body and ultimately your decision.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. And let me know if there is a particular topic that you'd like to discuss.