Natural Birth – My Rant on the Right to Choose
From the beginning of time, we’ve all come into this world the same way, though our mother’s birth canal. Well, most of us. I’m not one of them actually. My mother had a scheduled C-Section on a Saturday morning, both for her and her doctor’s convenience. My understanding is they were friends, and this is common practice in Brazil, where 85% of births are scheduled C-sections. Sad, you might think: Sure, you can think whatever you want, and I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but it was her choice, she has to live with it, and she seems pretty happy about it. What’s truly important? She had a choice, and she made it. Power to her.
I on he other hand, choose different than my mother. I am pro-natural childbirth all the way. I feel medically educated enough that is definitely what I want, as long as both myself and my baby are healthy and able to do it, which you best believe I’m doing all I can to make sure that’s the case.
So what is this post about? MY right, YOUR right, to choose what WE feel is best for us.
Modern medicine has just been wonderful at giving us many options, and now we are able to develop a “birth plan” which is a fancy way of organizing how we want to bring our babies into this world. Being pro-natural birth doesn’t mean I think the other options are wrong or that I wouldn’t apply them to my birth plan if needed, but that’s not what this “rant turns post” is about. It’s about the right to choose your path, as long as you’re able.
I’m going into my third trimester this week, beginning of week 27 and have been quite happy with my midwife. I’m generally healthy, have had good lab results up until now and am not showing any signs of complications. I do realize this can all change but I’m doing my best to remain this way until it’s time to meet my baby. Due to some travel concerns, we (my midwife and me) decided I’d be referred to an OBGYN closer to home, so I went to make an initial visit with this person just yesterday. It was quite an experience. Let me describe exactly how it went, without exaggerations, this is a promise. In all seriousness:
Upon arrival and typical insurance card exchanges, my weight was taken and I gave a urine sample. I was told this would happen every time I’d come in for a follow up. Then the nurse took me to the exam room and checked the baby’s heart rate, a strong 148 beats per minute. I was given a “pregnancy packet” and told the doctor would be right with me. Pretty standard I thought.
In the meantime I whipped out my phone and started reviewing the questions my husband and I came up with to ask her since this was our first encounter. He unfortunately couldn’t be there due to a business trip. She (the doctor) walked in to the room while I was lying down on my side, on the treatment table finishing up the read on the birth packet with the hospital information, drugs that are safe to take while pregnant and insurance information. I had read and re-read everything because I was waiting for over 45 minutes, which is considered “normal” I guess.
Anyway, I was lying there on my side, and she walked in and stood by the sink, about 6 feet away, and there she remained. She seemed relaxed with her tablet (high tech place) and asked me how I was feeling. I told her I was feeling fine, that I was very health aware (she knows I’m a physical therapist from my history) and had been keeping up with a good diet, prenatal yoga and such. She was supportive of the healthy lifestyle I described and even joked that she felt women should work up until the day they give birth and that there should be cross fit competitions for preggos. Until there, I thought, OK she’s pretty cool and doesn’t treat pregnancy like a disease, as I’ve heard other OB’s tend to do. Still in my lane.
Then she asked me how I was sleeping. I told her not very well this week as the baby apparently likes to starfish in my belly, much like I do on my bed (my husband can attest to that). He and I often joke the baby is just like me, always moving and very active, but probably has his face! Either way, I’ve been sleeping poorly during this transition week (from 26-27 weeks) as really, I do have a very active baby, but nothing I’m complaining about. At this point, I was expecting this, and I know sleepless nights will come.
The Dr. proceeds to share that that’s her number 1 complain in the clinic. Apparently a lot of patients ask: “How can us women sleep better during the later stages of pregnancy?”, to which her answer was, and I quote: “Load up on Benadryl or Tylenol PM, those are perfectly safe and you need your rest“. I was shocked. First of all, I didn’t ask for any help or advice on sleeping, I was simply answering her question which was “How are you sleeping”, but in no way was I looking for an intervention.
First sign something was off. Sure it’s annoying that you can’t get a good night’s sleep, but there is no reason to “load up” on sleep inducing medications to calm my baby down, aka drug my baby when I’m not in pain or am not having a severe allergic reaction. Really?
Next item on the agenda, and again, I quote: “Well, I deliver on Thursdays, that’s when I’m on call, and there are 5 other doctors on rotation (part of this physician group), so we could schedule your delivery for a Thursday during week 39 or 40. I don’t like to go beyond week 40 into 41 weeks because there are many risks the ‘natural people’ don’t tell you about“.
Ok, Pause. Digest….Nearly pinch myself. My response: “I’m looking for a natural birth, so I may not go into labor on a Thursday.” She proceeded to look at the wall calendar and said: “Your due date in December 22nd; if baby doesn’t come by then I think December 27th is perfect. You have a tax write-off“. At this point, I’m still trying to be a reasonable human being, probably out of the shock. I chuckle, as in, is this lady for real? She proceeds to tell me “Oh, you’re laughing, people actually ask for this. The sad part is, I believe it: I myself know of someone who did do this. But anyway, I calmly explain that I’d really like to have an ALL natural birth, to which she responds that I can still get a natural birth that is scheduled.
“I will let you labor for as long as you want when I’m on call, which is on Thursdays“.
Obviously, I’m missing something, as I think inducing labor is not natural, but I come to find out that is not her belief. She meant I could still have a vaginal birth without epidural use, even if I got induced. In her skewed world, this is a completely natural birth, but not in mine. That is still assisted, and I would still like to avoid it if possible. Personal preference; again, if needed, obviously induction is not off the table, but I’m not willing to make it happen just because it’s Thursday. Anyway, let’s move on because I didn’t feel like I wanted to schedule a my birth, at least not just yet (I mean, I’m barely 27 weeks pregnant and I’m hoping to carry to term, which is a 40 weeks, or beyond)!
Hi, it’s the first time I see you, and I bet you don’t realize this is an interview, and I don’t have to hire you to take care of ME and my baby!! Looking back, I should have definitely said that.
I went on to ask her about how many people can be in the delivery room and how she felt about doulas. (Question tailored by winecoach) OH. I can tell this was a sore spot for this lady. I could tell by her body language that she was quickly getting annoyed by my questions. By my natural birth questions. She folded her arms and said:” I don’t care for them, I think they get in the way and the last 3 doulas that were in the delivery room thought they were midwives, or at least were trying to interfere in care and as a result 2 of the babies ended up in the NICU and 1 ended up dead“.
Guys, I KID YOU NOT. This is exactly what she said. I was taken back, not even because I have a need or desire to have a doula, but it’s definitely an option I may look into, which clearly wouldn’t work well with this doctor. I felt like she used fear to possibly manipulate an outcome, and that just gave me the chills. Like I said, not only is this a time for her to evaluate me, it is one for me to evaluate her, and decide if she is the best choice for me. By now, I think I know the answer.
I think I swallowed some water the nurse had given me earlier and proceeded to evaluate and asked. How do you feel about birthing classes? I’m currently learning about the Bradley method of Childbirth (which mainly focuses on relaxation techniques and mentally getting prepared to get through labor and achieve a natural birth)? Her answer.
“I’m not a fan of those classes. Those people like to make it seem like all we (OBGYNs) want to do is get the job done so I can go play golf later. If you’re into meditation, you should look into hypnobirthing. If you can get there psychologically, you should do well.”
Hey, at least she actually suggested some form of natural preparedness for birthing. I gotta give her that, besides completely shooting down something that I have already invested time and money, and feel pretty strongly about, which is my current birthing preparation method that was suggested by my midwife as to include my husband in the birth as much as possible. The Bradley method is all about preparing the coaches (in this case, my husband) to be my coach during labor. I just love the idea of that, he is practically in doula training, so let’s focus on the positive here.
My final question, and I don’t want you guys to judge this doctor solely on this premise, but on all the previous behaviors described here: “You briefly mentioned you had a son, how was your birth?”. She answered that he was an angel given to him the day of his birth, but that she herself had never physically carried or delivered a baby: “Pregnancy is not for me, I’m glad I didn’t have to go through this“.
Mind you. I’m not judging this woman at all on the premise that she has never been pregnant and has no idea what it’s like to give birth, naturally, medically induced or by Cesarean section. At this point, I’m just appalled that she can be so judgmental of any birthing process that she hasn’t even tried herself. Heck, from the sounds of it, she never even considered being pregnant. Let’s just say I left there with a bitter taste in my mouth and made a follow up appointment for 2 weeks from tomorrow, which I will cancel, because I have no interest going back to see her. I was still in a trance when I left the clinic, but today I went back to reestablish care with my midwife and see what else is in store for us.
PS: I Later also realized that doctor never did introduce herself to me, and never touched me, not even once. She probably is a good doctor, a great surgeon, but has poor bedside manner and did not display wanting to be a partner in my birth, but a dictator of my choices, which are her choices. I’m sure some of her patients are satisfied with her, but unfortunately, she isn’t the one for me.
I feel everything happens for a reason, and maybe I had to endure this encounter so that I can speak more on this topic and enlighten myself and others on a subject that isn’t discussed as much as it should be. I feel blessed to have gone through it and be writing to you about it right now. Perhaps I needed to be used for this, and I accept. I rather it be with me than a young and inexperienced person who would take her word for what it is worth (not much in my book), and I can’t help but to think of how many of her patients are doping themselves each night by “loading up on benadryl or tylenol PM” thinking this is absolutely normal behavior.
I wrote this blog post to share my story in the hopes of empower YOU, the reader, the expectant mother, the experience laborer, the aspiring pregnant woman, that YOU have the power to make your decisions when it comes to birthing YOUR baby. Look for a provider who will work with you in partnership, listen to you and your needs, include your partner in the decision making process and do what is best for you and your baby. Educate yourself, do your research on how you want things to go and what to expect. Prepare yourselves mentally and assure your support system is in place, you will need them.
I shared this story with you all via Snapchat (Username: AnaSandee) last night and was overwhelmed with nearly 300 messages from YOU in less than 24 hours, sharing your stories and showing so much support it was overwhelming to me in the best of ways. Thank you for that. I hope enough people read this, raw truthful story, and that at least one person can be influenced to choose their path in this beautiful journey that is creating life. If I can get that message across, it was worth sharing every word on here. Women supporting and empowering women is beautiful, so do that for the next one.
I invite you to please share your stories in the comment section below, You can make a difference and touch another life with your message. I know you did me.
Thank you all so much!
Much love, Ana
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