My soapbox of the week: The Business of Being Born

Soapbox: Obstetrical Community follies

I have to say, even almost 8 months later, I still am disappointed, slightly disturbed and even angry about how my labor and delivery went. Yes, I had plans and expectations, but I also knew I had to be flexible. What I did NOT count on was doctors and nurses taking advantage of me, a first time mother, first pregnancy, basically naive to the obstetrical ways. Yes, in the end maybe all that matters is that I had a healthy baby and neither of us had any complications...or did we? [Quick recap-it's in my blog somewhere: My OB scraped/weakend my membranes, which caused me to leak fluid. I had been having semi-regular contactions but no labor yet. They then induced me because I had been leaking for almost 48 hours. I was in labor for 20 hours, stuck at 6 cm for at least 9 hours. I was not allowed to walk, could barely move, had to be monitored, not allowed to do what I needed for the pain and my body. It turned out alright, but I felt violated in ways...]

Every time I watch A Baby Story, or Special Deliveries or some other labor/birth show I get angry at what doctors and nurses are doing to mothers. Women don't know how to stand up for themselves yet because we are told to listen to the doctors, doctors are always right, blah blah blah. Women also are not educated about labor and birthing. Sure we all take the class. Sure we learn how to breathe. But does anyone really explain that gravity helps the baby come down and the cervix to open? Does anyone tell women that laying on her back is not the best position? Does anyone tell the women they can give birth in other positions besides laying on her back with their feet in the air? Does anyone tell women that contractions may be easier to deal with if you are moving? That movement/walking speeds up labor? That the majority of women who opt for epidurals end up with pitocin, and the same goes for that most women who are given pitocin end up needing/wanting epidurals because pitocin causes hyperuterine contractions that are more painful, closer together and more intense? No. I found out some of that myself.

Ricki Lake was on Ellen the other day or other week, I don't remember. She was talking about her documentary "The Business of Being Born". She had her first child in the hospital with an epidural and for the second she wanted to change things, she wanted to try new things, she wanted to research and become educated. This looks amazing. It gives statistics and shows all the side affects we're not told of. (I remember asking the nurse about side affects of the pitocin as they kept giving it to me. She said "none". None? Really? Everything has a side affect. I felt like it was giving me a headache. She said "no, none". Right. Try researching that.) This documentary goes over how Obstetrics and Maternity care in the US is a high-paying, profit-making business. Yep. And she's right. My doc who wanted to get me going into labor? She wanted me to go into labor and deliver on her watch. I later found out she was going on vacation the next week and she wanted to deliver me herself. Why? Big bucks. I didn't have a real connection with her, it's not like I had to have her there or else. It also looks at the roles of midwives and doulas that are beginning to make a comeback in the US. There are incredible facts, that you can also find anywhere else (WHO, etc.) about how the USA has a horrible maternal/baby delivery death rate compared to other developed countries.

I don't blame women, I don't argue that their pain necessitated the need of medication. I, myself, had to take some because of the long, intense labor, which I blame purely on pitocin. My body, as with most women, couldn't adjust to the increases of pitocin and work with it as well. Natural labor allows the body to adjust and is timed better. Not saying that it isn't painful, but it's the body doing what it needs to do; not the body being forced into something it wasn't ready for.

I always came back to work from my prenatal appointments telling my coworkers how I felt like a number, a machine, a process, I don't even know the word. I kept saying how disappointed I was that I couldn't get a connection with my doctor, not for lack of trying. I was one of 30 patients she'd see that day, she told me so. She didn't have the time or the want to get to know me, to personalize my experience. There was barely any talk, barely any information given or asked, other than handouts thrown at me. If I didn't read and research and talk to as many people as I do, I wouldn't have known 3/4 of what I knew. I have said so many times "I can't imagine being a teenage girl and pregnant in these conditions, you would be so clueless and lost". I really felt ignored, taken advantage of.

And the response I got from coworkers and friends? "Get used to it, there's no personal care in America, you're in, you're out, you're done. They've got other patients to see, other money to collect". So sad, but so true. They all experienced the same things. No one I've talked to yet has really felt a great connection with their doctor and practice and was allowed to have a very personalized birth, or even personal prenatal visits. Some practices you see a different doctor every prenatal visit. I, at least, was able to see the same doc every time. Not that it mattered much because when it came down to it, they wanted my labor to go how they wanted it to go, when they wanted it to.

I am seriously, *gasp* considering a homebirth for the next one. I had said I wanted it the first time, but they all told me with my "clotting factor" I best go to the hospital, especially for the first one, etc. etc. etc. I wish I had followed my gut. No, it wasn't horrible. No, nothing went seriously wrong. No. I just hate that I was treated like a sickness. We gotta get these drugs in her, get that parasite out and yada yada. I want a midwife, someone who will let me do what my body needs to do. If I want to sit on a ball all night, then let me. If I want to walk the block 63 times, let me. I don't want 8 interns checking me, violating me all night long, every hour. I don't want someone manipulating my child's head as it comes out, or 'stretching' me before the head is there. I want to be in the comforts of my own home. I don't like spending the night somewhere, let alone 3, while in pain, and not being able to be comfortable as I would in my own home.

Call me a hippie, call me a freak, call me a crunchy granola crazy. Just think. Why do we make a fuss and send back our food at a restaurant if it isn't just as we ordered, or just how we like, yet we take the back seat and give the doctor the controls when it comes to something like labor? It's our bodies, our babies. And instead of going with instinct we're going with chemicals and MEN doctors telling us what to do wtih our bodies. I just find it odd. I think women are stronger than they think, smarter than they believe and just don't know it because they're told they're not. They're told to listen to a doctor instead of their own bodies. I think we need to take back our instinct, take back our bodies, take back our strength and take back control of labor. Why stand by and let them induce chemicals in our bodies to fit into their schedules?

*Please note I am not bashing what anyone chooses. I sometimes get passionate about things and just need to speak about them. I am putting blame on the medical 'professionals'. I am disgusted with the way America's health care is anyways and to feel like an income check to them so much so that they want to control my labor for it? I just think that Obstetric care pendulum has swung too much to the side of technology and thrown away how natural it really is. Women have been giving birth for thousands of years. Most of this medical technology is new, only in the last 20-50 years. Just something to ponder. I'll accept any and all criticism.


Dr. Nick Riviera said...

(singing)"The knee bone's connected to the...something! The something's connected to thing! The red thing's connected to my...wrist watch! Uh oh."

Rachel said...

UK births are pretty different. Even though I had an exceptionally good experience with my US birth, I think I'd go the midwife route again if I even had another.

Gina said...

Your post resonated with me. My first 2 were "by the book" with everything the doctor ordered...induction with pitocin, epidural, monitoring, etc. By the third, I had gotten a backbone & learned a few things for myself. My third was with a midwife who really got to know me. It was to be a homebirth, but the baby turned transverse & ended up coming by c-section. But, the labor was an absolutely amazing difference from my first 2. Although disappointed by the end result, I knew that I'd TOTALLY choose a homebirth next time. It was worlds better. I wish everyone could experience birth like that!