I have a doula who once shared that she had been supporting a mom in labor for a couple of days who eventually ended up having a cesarean. Another doula- not in my company- asked her, “Don’t you wish she had just gotten the epidural much earlier and they had called for the cesarean hours earlier? When I heard that I was aghast! NO! This mom had a journey she was choosing to play out to the very end until there were no other options. And my guess is she is glad she did. And this doula, the one in my company- was happy to have been there supporting her the whole time.
I had a mom recently tell me the story of having her first baby by cesarean due to the suspected large baby. She had been so disappointed that the baby was found to be of only average size. She said that no one supported her through the consideration of having the baby select her own due date and for the mom to labor. Her husband who was a larger man, her mom, her mother in law and her friends all agree with the doctor. And now she was struggling with finding the right care provider to truly honor her desire for a vaginal birth after a cesarean with her next. And guess what, her friends and family are not supportive of her having a VBAC this time either. I think folks forget it is her journey not theirs!
A mom to be sat in my class recently and shared how she was not going to be fully forthright with information about her birth location with her mom. She felt it would upset her and bring harm in doing so. So instead of being able to share in the joy of their decision to have a home birth, she was going to keep it to herself. It made me sad that her mom’s response would not be one of support. Sure there may need to be some educating for the mom to understand the choice, but in the end I was sad that this young mother did not feel her mom would be able to “hear” it. I am glad this woman does not feel compelled to change her mind to please her mom- but it makes me sad that she has to keep it private as to avoid the conflict.
In that same class was a mom who really wanted to make decisions for her birth that would not make her partner feel good. I don’t mean decisions that would bring harm- I mean personal decision that are right for her. Whether that is for one woman, hiring a doula. Or for another choosing a different birth location. She should be able to decide who to have with her in labor. (I suspect some moms are angry when I am included, and not them for instance.) Or something as simple as what she will wear in labor. These are her decisions to make- it is her birth- the baby is coming out of her body.
I had a mom who made a decision to fight to have a natural- organic birth. She selected midwives who she felt would support her and had lots of conversations with them about what she wanted. She did not want to be induced. She did not want to have augmentation to her labor. She did not want to have any pain medication. She labored prodromally for three days- with little or no sleep. She consented to getting low dose Pitocin when her contractions proved to need assistance in the last hours of her labor. She consented to getting an epidural in a last ditch effort to see if a bit of relaxation to her body and specifically her pelvic floor would make a difference. In the end it did not. She had an ounce short of a 10 pound baby that had been trying to come through her body decline to be able to do so. She has to be proud of her journey. She worked for so hard. She was at the hospital for over 26 hours before the birth. Her two midwives had been so patient- beyond what is the norm at this hospital.
But guess what, her mom was angry. Angry she had a midwife instead of a doctor. Angry that her daughter had somehow bought into this whole “journey” idea. Angry that her daughter had been trusted to labor with this huge baby inside of her. Angry that I had been supporting her daughter in this foolish suffering. Angry that folks had been cavalier with her grandson’s health- he was born by the way perfectly healthy. I sat there while she was indignant with me wondering whose journey this had been. She certainly did not trust the child she had brought into the world to be able to make the right decisions for her.
We may not understand or approve of someone’s choices. But in the end, it is their journey to choose. If they are not being cavalier with harming others- it is time we remember that. Birth is a personal journey. It is not up to the partner, the doctor, her friends or her mother to make these decisions. I support women making personal decisions that are right for them, especially when it comes to their birth choices. It after all is her journey, not theirs.
I had a dad attend the Meet the Doula Tea last week. He had interviewed one doula already and had come to meet the doulas in our group. He said he was on the fence on using a doula. He said that he understood we talked about teaming up with the partner but he felt it was a subtle way of saying that partners were inadequate. It made my heart sink. Oh my, why does this dad feel like having a doula would mean he was in adequate?
It made me quite sad that he felt that having an experienced guide with him meant that he was incapable of being a great support to his wife. I wondered if he felt that way in other areas of his life. If you had a mentor at work who was to teach you how to do something at work, does that mean you are inadequate? When he had professors or teachers sharing information with him, did he feel inadequate? When his neighbor who was a plumber offered to come over and help show him how to fix a pipe and use his tools, did he feel inadequate?
If this is a place you have never been- or even been involved with but understand having an extra hand and heart to support, how does that make you less of a partner? How do we expect those who are so personally involved to not allow their emotions to overcome them? Why do we expect someone to sit in a class series and come out an expert to the information received? We don’t do that in any other way or situation.
I love supporting families- not just the mom in labor- but her family- her partner- her mother- her father- her sisters… I love being there to help all of them. I love seeing them step up into a role they may have been afraid to do but with a little guidance feel much more capable. I love taking pictures of partner’s supporting their lover. Rarely are there pictures of me- since I am the one taking the photos. Instead the memories will be filled with her power and their support.
I hope this dad reconsiders the added support of a doula for him and his wife. I hope their birth goes gently and he will feel more than adequate and fully supported.
I hear women say, “I had an emergency cesarean.” I have attended well over 500 births and I have to say there have only been three that were real emergencies. If you have time to discuss things with your care provider. Time to get your partner dressed for the birth, and time to have them pack up the room, time to make a phone call, etc… then it is not an emergency situation. Emergency cesareans happen quickly. The room fills up with staff- your bed is unhooked from the wall- they are shouting orders as they wheel you down to the OR… if your care provider is not there they will snag any doctor available… that is an emergency cesarean. If you don’t have an epidural then you are put under general anesthesia and your partner is not invited into the OR suite at all. So, unless that happened, note that you had an unplanned cesarean. And according to the statistics those will more likely occur between 8am and 5pm, next likely between 5pm and 11pm and rarely between 11pm and 7am… why? Because there is less “management” of your labor and your care provider is sleeping or may not even been at the hospital. Then you have to ask yourself was my unplanned cesarean really necessary at all?
After all as in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, you are probably not qualified to know how to birth!
Recently a doctor wrote an article Top Ten Signs Your Doctor Is Planning To Perform An Unnecessary Cesarean Section On You to forewarn parents of the signs that your doctor really does not like to wait for natural birth to occur. His honesty is profound. I consider this a must read!
Surprises come in all forms and we can never get too comfortable. But if we begin to look at birth as a mysterious journey that will unfold in unpredictable ways we may be able to be more comfortable with surprises. I believe if a woman is well prepared and has done her homework on events and options, has a great support team around her and care providers she trusts, then she will be okay with the turns and twists her labor and birth may be accompanied with. I think it is when a woman is ill prepared, is bamboozled and manipulated by those around her who should be supporting her but have their own agenda – then the mystery is not a mystery at all- it is a coup from others to overtake the journey with their plans and underlying issues.
Are you prepared? Do you have your team in place? Is your tribe supportive of your desires for your birth? Is your care provider one you trust and you feel has your best interest at heart? Are you birthing in a location where you feel safe? Then dream the dream you have for the vision of birth you desire and let the mystery of your birth experience unfold with excitement and wonder and without fear and anxiety.
I recently had a birth at a satellite hospital in North Forsyth. It was my first birth here. I had hoped it would be a great facility that supported natural birth since some of the doulas with my company have had good births here. The mom had vacillated about moving to a different facility but due to insurance reasons, made the decision to stay the course. She took a childbirth class with friends of mine and felt really prepared. We had discussed being prepared to have to stand firm in some areas if she wanted the birth she desired.
She started out with on again off again type contractions that had started Sunday and continued into Monday. She had had an exam in the office on Friday. (Vaginal exam 3- she had had two prior to this appointment) Often times labor gets a kick start by having an exam. But sometimes the exam causes a start that is not quite ready to get going and thus leads to an on again off again irritated uterus. The mom had knowledge of the risks.
I was in touch with them on and off. I met them at the hospital early on Tuesday morning. She was concerned that she was not yet in active labor. And then we met our nurse, Tammy. She came in and announced we were lucky since she was not only a nurse but a previous midwife. She then told my client that if she was wondering if she was in active labor, she most certainly was not. BOMB!