Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Choice in Birth
In speaking with many people lately, sitting in prayer and Gods word I find myself asking a few questions about birth in our society. "Why do we doubt our body's abilities? Why do we stop trusting God's design and allow someone other than God to have control?". God designed our bodies to work perfectly, not only in birth, but in all ways. Even if you don't believe in God you have to admit that science has proven that our bodies innately know how to give birth.
I truly believe many woman in our society today have given their births away. We have simply just given control to someone else. For several decades now our doctors have been given clearance to attend our births and administer what drugs they feel are best. But best for whom? Time after time each different drug has been proven to disrupt and alter deliveries in ways no one would want if they were given a choice. I remember the story of Jesus birth pretty well, and I don't remember it saying anything about pitocin, epidurals, cervical checks, monitoring, ultrasounds, vacuums, forceps or any other augmentation of labor you can think of. She simply went into labor, sat on that sweet donkey as long as she had to, when it was time she sat herself down on some hay and had baby Jesus. God, Mary and baby did all the work together. I'm sure Joseph was of great comfort but even he didn't "do" any work.
If you look back a little before Jesus' birth you'll find some reading about Elizabeth's baby and John the Baptist's birth. From this I realize Mary saw live births probably her whole life, they were a natural everyday occurrence in her world. Birth is an everyday occurrence here today where we live but most times there is nothing natural about it. I have had the great privileged of being present at several births and they have all gone very differently. Some where natural like the ones Mary experienced and others shared one common thread, Lack of choice.
Ladies we have a choice in our births. You can choose to trust in a doctors opinion fully or you can educate yourself in all things birth and question his/her opinion when you feel you need to. Most people reading this know I've had two home births. Please know I am not suggesting every person have a home birth. I'm simply saying we as women need to take back what is rightfully ours. I am no feminist, but I do believe this has been stolen from us and we desperately need to take charge of our bodies and have a choice in what happens to it and our babies during this beautiful process.
Many of you I know are saying "I choose everything with my birth, it was just as it was supposed to be." You will forgive me if I explain further for a minute to help you understand what I mean.
Picture this very common scenario:
You realize you are in labor, contractions are 4-5 minutes apart and they have a gradual increase and decline. You notice them getting a little stronger as your walking more and more to hurry up and get baby out, I mean your 10 months pregnant, technically, and you are ready to meet this baby! (1) You call the doctor, wait for a call back and they say come in and let us monitor and check you out to see where you are. You're so excited your hubby is scrambling to get things together as you breath through contractions and call everyone you know to let them know you are on your way to the hospital. (2) You get there, get checked in and (3) they hook you up to a monitor right away so they can see your contractions intensity and frequency. (4) They check your cervix and tell you that you are 4 cm and 50% effaced and then (5) suggest you get potocin to"really get things going". You are all too happy about this idea because you want to meet your sweet baby. You get all settled in your room and get hooked up to more stuff, (6) handed a cup of ice chips and (7) they ask where your pain level is and ask when you would like your epidural. You tell them your OK but you'd like to wait a little you want to (8) start walking to get the baby here faster. They leave the room and your pitocin kicks in. Contractions go from early labor contractions to transition contractions! After getting through a few contractions the nurse comes back in and asks you if you want that (9) epidural now? You easily say "Oh yes". Even if you thought a natural birth is what you would try it's not worth (10) hours of this pain. They get you hooked up to an epidural and the contractions slow down. So (11) they turn up the pitocin drip and give you a little (12) sedative so you sleep some. The nurses and/or doctors (13) continue to check you even wake you to be checked only to realize you are progressing at a slower pace than they'd like to see. (14) So they break your water. Labor then speeds back up a little only to slow down slightly again. (15) You slowly but surely reach 10 cm and start to roll yourself into a ball and push this baby down. (16)Get a few hours into it exhausted and start to spike a fever. Not only have you spiked a fever with broken waters, (17) but the baby seems to be stuck. Several hours of pushing in the same position because they will not allow you to move has jammed the baby in your misaligned pelvis. They tell you a c-section is (18) your best choice. Giving you reasons like; your fever is a danger to the baby, that the baby seems to be to big for your frame and you are progressing too slowly. (19) You get a c-section. (20) An hour or two later you finally get to see your baby who has a hard time latching to nurse. Not that you are extremely interested yourself. You are realizing how extremely tired you are and decide it would be best for you and baby to (21) try again in a few hours, after some sleep. They take the baby to the nursery where he or she gets it's first bottle, (22) fed by nurses who are trying to help you rest. (23) You go home and (24) spend the next several weeks trying to recovery from major surgery. All while trying to adjust to being a new mom.
This is only one scenario that happens day after day in our society of 35% c-section rate. Yep, our country has a 35% c-section rate. One of the local hospitals here has a 99% epidural rate! That number floored me when I found out. To further traumatize you, Our local large hospital is staffed with many many nurses who on average see only one natural birth in a 10 year career. ONE, WOW! I'm feel confident in saying God did not envision this for us. It makes me sad that we as woman today just don't know what we can do. In not knowing what we are capable of we lose such an amazing opportunity to experience a miracle.
Looking back at the scenario above there are numbers throughout the story. Below is a breakdown of how this woman had a choice.
(1) Don't call the doctor, they will typically only tell you to come in.
(2) Staying at home and laboring as much as possible is the best plan for a successful natural delivery. A doctor is not needed to be present during labor. There is NO need to monitor you in anyway. Your baby and your body know what they are doing better than any nurse or doctor. It's important we trust this process. Knowing that God developed it that should be easy.
(3) Once you do get to the hospital you have to know where to pick your battles. This should be one, monitoring, it should be intermittent. Having yourself hooked up to a monitor enables you from moving. You will want to be able to move freely, for a successful birth. A monitor will keep your focus in the wrong place counting contractions and timing. This is not productive. You want to be as relaxed as possible. I don't know one clock watcher that can relax.
(4) Do NOT let them give you a cervical exam. The dilation of the cervix doesn't really tell you anything. Every labor will progress differently so knowing this number only does one of two things; Gives your false hope, False in that you have NO idea how fast your labor will or will not go. Or two, it will frustrate you because you may not be as dilated as you had hoped. Which means nothing, again, because every labor progresses differently. You should be focused on breathing and relaxing not a number that has no bearing on your birth.
(5) Pitocin; Oh, where to start? Basically pitocin is a way to augment your labor. ANY labor augmentation will interfere with Gods natural design so you really should seriously weigh those consequences before deciding if it is the best choice for you. There are some serious side effects that you should know about when dealing with this this drug. One that you would notice right away is that your contractions will go up in intensity to transition labor contractions and stay there. God designed your contractions to happen the way they happen for a reason. Transition contractions are more intense and would be very difficult for a person to handle for too long. Also, this is not the flow a birth should have. Again I will say, contractions happen in the flow they do for a reason. It is designed perfectly to encourage baby out the way your perfect body needs it to. Each stage has in purpose and the contractions play a big role in each stage.
(6) Hydration; A woman not only needs hydration during labor but she needs fuel. You are running a marathon you can't do it without food. To deny a woman food is crazy and unfounded. Even the anesthesiologist will tell you an empty stomach is more dangerous or equally as dangerous if you aspirate. Stay home, labor peacefully and eat as you want to. Lots of protein, light salt and carbs for energy.
(7) Epidurals; The last thing any woman needs to think about is her "pain level" during labor. You have a choice to not be asked. In hospitals they will ask. If you make the choice to stay home and labor you will not be asked this question. Having a strong birth partner with you, for when you do go to the hospital, can help to help fend off the constant inquiries about your discomfort levels. A doula is a great option here.
(8) Walking; You are on the right track. You need to be able to move freely as your labor moves. An epidural will interfere with this. Keeping all your limbs free of cables. You have a choice here. They may not love what your choice but they can NOT make you have an IV nor do you need one. Just drink water.
(9) Oh where to start with the Epidural? Really just google "side effects of an epidural" and you will be amazed! Educate yourself before choosing to have one of these augmentations of labor. It's not just pain relief, as they would lead you to believe. Too many unfortunate ladies have found this out the hard way.
(10) The pitocin the doctor choose for her to have earlier has made her contractions as severe as they can be so, yes hours of pain would be tough. Good news ladies, real natural labor isn't that painful. Augmented labor IS that painful. Labor with constant interruption from people who don't believe you can birth a baby naturally or that you can do it without all the medical assist is painful. FEAR equals PAIN. Who can focus in an atmosphere like that? I know I sure couldn't. I felt so judged with every person who entered that door. Like I was on display, a watched pot that they were waiting to see explode. So, they could rush in a save the day! Real natural labor is only really uncomfortable at the very end and that typically only lasts a few hours at the very most, realistically more like 30 - 45 minutes. Labor is actually very peaceful and pleasant when a woman is left to relax and do as she is comfortable doing. It isn't until the end things are uncomfortable.
(11) I have already stated how pitocin has side effects you need to research. Well, more pitocin only increases these risks. One in particular that I happen to have personal experience with is uterine exhaustion and uterine atony. After hours of increased levels of pitocin by health care professionals that had my best interest at heart (sarcasm) my uterus after birth simply gave up and wouldn't shrink so I hemorrhaged. Badly enough that I needed a blood transfusion that I denied. Thanks to God I did survive this experience and thanks to God I was later educated on my choices.
(12) Normally they will not even tell you they have given you this sedative. It will be administered with your epidural. You need to take charge of your birth, know the side effects of all the sedatives that could possibly be used . They don't only effect you but your baby too. They will frequently effect your nursing after delivery also. Delaying nursing and possibly stopping it all together.
(13) Again ladies cervical checks are NOT medically necessary. There is NO need for them.
(14) Your water is not meant to be broken manually. It will break when it is time and there is no harm in waiting. There is, however, harm in breaking it early. Once it is broken in the hospital setting, you will get time stamped. If your body doesn't expel a baby in that time frame you will end in a c-section. The main reason given for this practice is to speed up labor. Ladies, your labor goes at the rate it goes for a reason, there is no need to rush it. If you are progressing slower than a doctor would like, leave and labor else where. Go back to the hospital when you are closer to transition. If your labor stalls there is probably a really good reason for that and you should trust your body enough to let it stay stalled until it is ready to return to active labor.
(15) Pushing, aw the most feared part of labor. And yet if you allow you body to do so it will push the baby out its self! Yes your uterus can and will push a baby out on it's own. Most first time moms will need to push in some way. However most woman will feel the urge to push no matter which baby it is. And should if they feel the need to. Here is where a trained birth partner (midwife) is so helpful. They can help to lead you in pushing. Laying on your back and pushing can last for hours, because that is not a great position for getting a baby to come down. You need to be able to move around to get into favorable positions to allow the baby to descend in a way that is natural to your body shape and baby's position. Here is another reason to skip the epidural.
(16) Fever; An epidural will often cause you to spike a low grade fever and after your water has been broken. This is considered dangerous to the baby and medical professionals haven deemed a c-section the way to help this scenario. Completely unnecessary and avoidable. Don't get the epidural and don't let them put in internal monitoring. Problem solved.
(17) Like I said before, if you can't move around because you are being stricken to your bed baby can and will often times get stuck. You need the freedom of movement. One other thing that I highly recommend while preparing yourself to deliver baby is to consider corrective chiropractic care, for you and the baby when it arrives. It is a wonderful preventative tool for this scenario of baby getting stuck because of misaligned hips and spin. It will also keep you healthier and feeling wonderful during your pregnancy. And as for baby it will help them get the best start to life after birth, keeping them out of the doctors office as much as possible. This applies for all members of the family.
(18) Your best choice is what you decide it is. Educate yourself on your options so that you and your partner can make these decisions on your own.
(19) In no way am I saying a c-section will never happen and should never happen. They are true blessing from God in those true emergency situations. They are WAY over used in this country. If you have allowed birth to happen naturally and things don't go right, don't blame yourself. Feel confident in knowing you did all you could. It's when we don't educate ourselves that we can fall prey to blaming ourselves postpartum. I have seen these situations effect woman well into their children's college years.
(20) Often times breast feeding issues are a side effect of a c-section. Lack of bonding can cause the baby to have a hard time nursing. Several hormones are released after birth that help the baby nurse and the mother to produce milk and c-sections can inhibit this process.
Breast IS best! Really it is!
(22) After the birth can and should be a wonderfully joyous bonding time for mother, father and baby. This sweet child has spent 9 -10 months inside you it needs you. It is comforted by your smell, your sound, simply put you! While sleeping or awake your baby needs you. It should stay with you getting skin to skin contact until you leave the hospital. There are studies that show the great bond between mother and child and how in-tune they are. So in-tune that the mother will wake right before baby does or the baby will wake because the mother has a bad dream. It's a beautiful thing God has created in this bond.
(23) If you end up with a c-section you will spend several days in the hospital. On the flip side, after a natural birth, there is no reason you shouldn't walk out of that place within a few hours. You will recover best at home in a place you are most comfortable. This again is a Choice.
(24) When delivering a baby vaginally you will find the recovery time is very quick as opposed to a c-section where you are out of commission for weeks. People take for granted that it is a major surgery. Like all major surgeries should only be done in extreme emergency and with great caution. The American Association of Gynocology (AAGL) has stated that Vaginal Delivery is safer than a cesarean (obviously). And that vaginal delivery after cesarean (V-Bac) is safer than a return cesarean. This was a statement just recently released and LONG time coming. For years they have stated over and over again how dangerous a V-BAC is. When in actuality the drugs they gave to augment a V-Bac labor is what was dangerous and caused ruptures. If you check out their web page it is almost 100% about surgery. Now I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want a surgery focused professional attending my birth, have you seen Gray's Anatomy?
Hopefully I have helped you to see how I feel we have lost Choice in Our births. Now, do I feel this is our fault? Absolutely not. How can we be expected to do something so monumental that is completely foreign? If all you know about birth is what is plastered across the TV how could you have a good view of it? I know I wouldn't and didn't. The key here is to educate yourself and be open to learn new things. Things you may never have expected to be truths simply are.
Posted by Electra L Hutchison at 5:03 AM