Disclaimer: I know there are very real risks and dangers in some pregnancy/labor situations. The entire point of this is that women who are having normal pregnancy progression and normal labors are getting pushed into unnecessary things for convenience or “routine” practices due to lack of knowledge. And even if there is some type of complication, women should be given options, not be forced into anything. Most of all, women should be respected for their decision about what happens to their body.
I was just like most childless people, “Doctor knows best” and why feel pain if you don’t have to? Medicine is a gift, why not take advantage of it? Yes, medicine is a gift, but only when used when it is truly needed, not for convenience. Our birth culture has turned into convenience-sad.
I began to educate myself over several years. While I was in school, while my husband was deployed, I read many things about the female body during pregnancy and birth. Most of it starting with the Birth Without Fear Blog. Then I found some groups on Facebook and read stories from other women about their experiences and was appalled at how some of them were treated during what should be the best day of their life-the birth of their child. Like most people, no idea birth rape was a thing. I just assumed everyone had their baby and they were happy.
No matter what happens to a woman in labor, she will remember that day for the rest of her life. It makes me very sad to know some of them remember that day with anger or regret and feelings of “I wish I had…”
First I learned what the female body does during labor. I really think that is the first step to having a successful labor and delivery. I knew exactly what my body was going to do when it came time for Malachai to show up. I’d read about the muscles of the uterus, how the cervix thins out and dilates, the stages of labor and pushing and whatever else I could learn about what my body would do.
I also read tons of birth stories and watched labors on YouTube and you know what. Every. Single. One. Was different.
We can not put all laboring women into the same category and we can not give them all the same care, each patient and each labor is and will be different. Also, we cannot view labor as a process with flaws. Yes, some women truly have issues, I’m not saying none do. What I am saying is I feel like our culture views labor as a time bomb, just waiting for something negative to happen. And they also portray it as the worst pain a person could ever feel which scares them. We can’t make women afraid to give birth because there should be nothing scary about it-your body knows how to do it when it is left to it’s own accord.
Making another person is pretty incredible. When you truly sit down and think about how complex that is, it’s mind blowing. Man does nothing to aid in the growth of a human for 40 weeks, so why do we feel the need to intervene so much when it comes time to give birth? When you think about making a person, how complex that must be, and our bodies get it right, why can’t we trust our body to get the baby out? In comparison, I think making a baby is way more complicated than getting baby out. Take that sentence lightly. I realize labor is very hard! But for the sake of this argument, labor takes hours of hard work, it takes 40 weeks to make a baby. Get what I’m saying? It’s just incredible how our bodies can make a baby and it’s even more incredible how it knows when baby has cooked long enough and knows how to get him out.
We have got to trust the process. Trust ourselves. Trust our babies.
We also have to educate ourselves as women. It is OUR body.
Just because someone went to medical school doesn’t make them a complete know it all in the subject because everyday medical miracles happen that man cannot explain. Doctors practice medicine. What works for one patient may not work for another. You can’t expect the same process to go the same way for everyone even if you introduce the same medications. Everyone’s body will respond differently.
So many times I have heard women say “If I had known I could say no to something during my labor, I would have.” So many times I hear women say, “He wouldn’t allow me to.” So many times I hear women say, “I regret doing /consenting to _____ during labor.” So many times I see women say, “I was pressured, they fear-mongered me, they told me my baby was going to die.”
It sickens me to know that women feel so helpless that they feel like they cannot say no to something that scares them or they don’t want to do. It makes me even more sick to know that doctors everyday scare the life out of women by saying their baby is going to die if they don’t do ____.
One of my favorite to talk about is dilation checks. Why are we so obsessed with them? Why do nurses come in every few hours and say, “I have to check you.”? Most just go along with it. Ladies, if you don’t want someone’s hand up there, you can say no. No one has to check you. The more you get checked the more people are going to over analyze your labor. “You aren’t progressing, you’ve been at a 3 for X hours. We have to start you on Pitocin.” (Again with the “we have to” BS). Did you know that it’s possible to be at a 3 for days?
For arguments sake, I was at a 4 for almost 2 days.
Dilation is only a moment in time. It does not tell you when you will go into labor. It does not tell you when baby is coming. It does not tell you how many more hours of labor you have left to go. It tells you where you are in that very moment.
Example: My entire labor was 2.5 hours. From the time my water broke (woke me up, I was dead asleep) to the time he was in my arms it was 2.5 hours. Some women dilate just a cm or two in that time. I walked into the hospital at an 8 and in a very, very short amount of time I was complete.
I got checked one time during my prenatal visits because I asked to be checked. I declined the others and my midwife was great about it. I got checked when I got into the hospital and once more when I said I felt like I had to poop. (HA!) That’s when I was at a 10. The nurse who checked me when I arrived waited on me before she checked me. I was in transition and it was intense. It was hard for me to get into a position for her to check me, but she just stood and waited until I told her I was ready. Everyone deserves that treatment.
I had a wonderful birth experience for my first because I had a great midwife. (I don’t like doctors.) Some will have a great second labor because they have birth trauma from the first. Everyone’s first labor, second labor, and so on should be wonderful.
When I look back at my labor, I was in prodromal labor on two different days. My son was born Wednesday morning. The Saturday before, I was having regular contractions every few minutes but they didn’t get stronger. The Monday before, same thing and I went into labor and delivery. I was still at a 4 and 90% effaced like I was at my appointment earlier that morning when I allowed my midwife to check me.
In that situation, I know a lot of moms get admitted and started on Pitocin. My midwife trusted my body, trusted the process and sent me home to let my body keep doing it’s practice runs. It was getting ready and doing what it needed to naturally. Then Wednesday he came all on his own and I did it with no intervention because I trusted myself and I had a care provider who trusted me and believed in me. Every pregnant woman deserves that.
The first step to a successful labor is trusting that your body can do it and trusting that you can do it. Because you can.