How Much More Is There?

Social Media has done so much.  You can get information at the click of a button.  You can make friends with people on the other side of the world.  You can “like” someone or something just by sitting on your couch.  You can spread your message in your underwear and people will come read it.

And yet, how much are we truly accomplishing?

I mainly work with the birth community within social media.  I follow all the birth blogs, I read, I comment, I learn.  But, how many of the non-crunchy crowd are doing the same thing?  How many of the people that aren’t radical like me are even caring what we write?

The cesarean rate is going up daily.  Regardless of what I write on this blog, or my twitter, or my facebook.  The number of women being induced is going up.  Again, regardless of what I write.  The number of epidurals or pain medication being used is going up.  Women that want these things don’t read my blog.  They don’t read the birth books or blogs I do.  They are sheep.

They believe that the things we write are done out of spite.  That we hate hospitals, OBs, midwives and everything they stand for.  They think that we make up risks, that the movies we recommend are just to scare them.  That we are hippies who don’t know any better.  That their way is right.

Over the last few hundred years, we as women are bringing ourselves down.  First we let men push us onto our backs for birth so they could help better.  Then we took their drugs.  Then their idea that the hospital was safer.  Then we let them knock us out to drag out our children.  Then they told us that once we had a cesarean, that was the only way we could birth, that vaginal is unsafe.  Now, we are doing everything we once did.  We are letting others control our bodies.

Over the last 100+ years, we have demanded change.  We didn’t want to feel pain.  So they answered.  We didn’t want to have a wrecked vagina.  So they answered.  And now, we want to birth.  Now we want to feel.  And because of our past ignorance, no one takes us seriously.  We are the minority.  We want change.  And yet, we aren’t listened to.  After all, we are the hippy nuts that want to feel the pain and stretch so our husband’s don’t want us anymore.

We preach empowerment and informed consent and refusal.  We try to educate women that their choices have a profound impact on their confidence as a mother.  We try to inform on the risks of procedures, that they aren’t safe like we are told.  That nothing is the same as what your body can do naturally.

And yet, we aren’t being listened to.  Women that are doing these, don’t care.

After all, it is their body and their choice.  They know what they are doing.

The thing is, they really don’t.  They talk about how a healthy baby is all that matters.  That it doesn’t matter how the baby gets here.  It makes you wonder, why don’t they think they matter?  Why don’t they think that their choices are important?

Even women with dementia and those so old they don’t remember their names, they remember their births.  They remember how they were made to feel.  They remember how they were treated.  They remember.

Choosing an induction or a cesarean isn’t about information.  It is all about impatience and fear.  Impatience that your body will never start.  That you just want to be done.  Fear that you will tear, or be cut, or need an assisted delivery.  Fear that your body is flawed.

1 in 3 women leave the hospital with an incision in their abdomen.  1 in 3 women are told that this was the way their baby had to be born.  That their body did something wrong.  70% of women are told that their body doesn’t know what to do and they need labor induction or augmentation medication.  That their body is stuck.  That it needs help.  Even more are told that they don’t know how to push, that the better way to push is on their back, that the epidural is completely safe and won’t interfere with the birth or after.

And we believe it.

We are sheep.

All because we don’t have a medical degree and they do.

How bad will this have to get before all women see what is happening?  Will 50% of women need to be cut?  85%?  100%?  How many more women will have to die before we say it needs to end?  How many babies?  How many women need to have problems from their cesarean for us to admit it isn’t the better way to birth?  How many women need to be told they can’t do it before we all begin to question?

We as women have lost our power.  We have lost the goddess within ourselves.  We have made it so when we are pregnant, even if we have never needed help before, are automatically in the mindset we need tests and ultrasounds and pills.  We are thought to be sick and weak.

We put ourselves on a clock.  40 weeks and we are done.  Anything over that is dangerous.  That we are overdue.  We imagine that the baby is ready at 37 weeks and is just late coming out.  We never think that there is more to this process than just their lungs being ready.  No one ever questions if you labor prematurely.  They know the risks then.  But if you are 37 weeks, things should be fine.  We don’t question.

I didn’t question.  A NICU stay later, I wondered.  And then I knew I had failed my child.

Does it only take a bad experience to let you know something is wrong?  Does it only take being battered daily with birth information to realize there is something better?  Does it only take being open to the idea to know the system is flawed?

When will we as women stop holding ourselves back?  Pregnancy, birth, and raising children are some of the greatest things we can do.  Why are we being told by doctors or midwives that our bodies forgot how to do it?  And why are we believing them?!

Pregnancy and birth used to be sacred.  Something only women could do.  The highest form of respect to the next generation was a supported birth.  Back when we believed in the goddess.  Back before we lost our power.

We need to take back our power.  We need to take back respect.  We need to take back our births.

Even if no one reads this that doesn’t agree, the great thing about social media is it is out there.  Sure, it might never help anyone.  But either way, my words are there.

We need to change the way we birth.  We need to do this now so that our daughter’s aren’t facing something worse than we are.  We need to control ourselves.  We need to know that we aren’t sick.  We need to know that we as women hold the power over ourselves.

No woman should ever be told her body is flawed.  No woman should leave the hospital with an incision, whether in her abdomen or her perineum.  No woman should have to wonder what might have been if she had just said “No” that one more time.

No woman should be used.

Educate yourselves.  Empower yourselves.  Inform yourselves.

If not for you, then for the next generation of birthing women.  They need a better birth than what we have settled for.

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Waiting

Waiting

Dear Baby, here beneath my heart,
I thought that you might come today;
The timing seemed just right.

But the stars are out
And the moon is high
And sheepishly I wonder why
I try to arrange the plans
Of God.

For now I know
You will not come
Until the One who holds eternity
Rustles your soft cocoon
And whispers in tones that I will not hear,
“It’s time, precious gift.”

“Now it’s time.”

-by Robin Jones Gunn

Your baby knows when it is time to be born.  No one else but baby can decide.  A lot goes into it.  Yes, it is hard to be patient, but in the end, if you are, your baby will come out and be healthier than if you rushed it.

Enjoy this time!

Make It or Break It

When I was pregnant with Glade, I knew that head down and breech could be checked for with hands.  I knew that those two were important.  My mom had a posterior baby (me) and I just thought that was something that happened.  Something that couldn’t be checked for, and either didn’t matter, or was just something certain people had to endure.

I didn’t know that you could check fluid level, baby’s position or weight, find where the heartbeat was and all that without an ultrasound.  I didn’t know that ultrasound wasn’t accurate at finding any of those.  Ultrasound was like a gift from God.

Then I met (let’s call her) Sandy.  The first homebirth midwife I have ever met in person.  When we went to the prenatal together (my first one), I had heard of palpation, but didn’t know what it told, or even why it was important.

She felt around for a few minutes, identifying parts of the baby, figuring out baby’s position, estimating weight/fluid, and then she knew exactly where she would find the heartbeat.

I was in awe.

This baby was posterior.  I knew what that was, but didn’t know it could be changed.  She had the mom sit differently throughout the next week, be a little more active, and we would see if the baby would turn around.

Amazingly, at our next appointment, baby was ROA! Right Occiput Anterior.  Baby’s spine (basically) was on the right side of mom’s belly button.  The best position for labor is either ROA or LOA.  Baby just glides down.

At that moment, I was hooked.

I was then so upset that more midwives and doctors didn’t do this.  What an amazing tool.  You take a few minutes, feel around, find out position, and go from there! No ultrasounds, no machines, and your hands do all the work.  Plus, who wouldn’t want to feel baby’s position??  I got to do it and I still think that was the coolest two minutes of my life.

This, has become the make or break point for providers for me.

First, how many cesareans would be cancelled for low fluid from a bad ultrasound reading?  Or a small birthweight baby?  Or bad positioning causing no descent and eventually a cesarean??  How many women would be spared an incision in their abdomen if a provider just figured out of baby was anterior?

Yes, it is fun to see baby in an ultrasound.  But have you ever heard an ultrasound tech tell you if your baby was anterior or posterior?  Have you ever had a really close guess to birthweight?  Have you ever been told exactly where the feet were or hands or butt of your baby without just guessing?

We don’t do it exactly like this, but it is close.  She feels for the baby’s spine first.  That is the best way to lead to the head or butt.  She then trails it down, hopefully to the pelvic bone area and can feel the neck, then the head from the fontanelles (soft spots).  We then to back, feel the butt, the legs, etc.  Then, because she knows exactly where everything is, finds the heartbeat first try.  Within seconds.

She can feel the amount of fluid and assess if anything feels off.  She can feel if it is a bigger baby or a smaller baby without checking fundal height (we don’t check that anyway).  She can help mom feel more informed as to where her baby is sitting and how to keep baby in a good position or how to get baby to flip to a good position.

I ask women all the time what position baby is in, and all I ever hear is head down or breech.  NEVER anything else.

Providers, this practice needs to come back.  Especially for midwives!  This is the most knowledgeable part of your arsenal.  It can tell you most everything you would need to know about how baby is doing.  And all you need is your hands!

Women, don’t settle for a midwife (even an OB) that doesn’t palpate your belly.  This is sooo important to having an easy delivery with minimal back labor.  Plus, you will know tons more about your baby and will know exactly what you are feeling if you ever want to palpate yourself.

If your provider doesn’t do this practice, talk to them about it.  See if they would.  If not, and if you don’t want to switch to someone that does, go to Spinning Babies website.  It will show you how to do a belly map, and figure out for yourself what position baby is in.  And then will help you with suggestions on how to get baby in the best position for a quick, easy delivery.

Be more active in your pregnancy.  Find someone that uses all the tools in their arsenal that aren’t electronic.  Find someone that knows which positions are best for delivery and are proactive with you in getting baby in that position.  Find someone that instead of just letting it ride if baby is head down, finds out if your labor will be easy, or you will have back labor throughout.

It isn’t hard, and truly will tell you more than an ultrasound will if you have one daily.

And if you can’t find a provider to do it, do it yourself.  You will save yourself tons of pain in labor by just finding out this one thing.

Wordless Wednesday: My Baby

Even got to see the heartbeat 🙂

It Is Your Birth

Lately, my biggest vents and angers have been based on what is done to women because that is what is pushed on them, or that is a routine thing.  Even just some of the choices made based on what is routine with their provider or they don’t know they can say no.

I went to an appointment and had a vaginal exam last week, and I felt violated.  And I didn’t speak up.  I let it happen.  How often does this happen?  How often are women used and abused and mistreated just because it is routine and they don’t know they can say no, or they are too worried to say no?

This went down an entirely different path.

I hear all the time that the reason women choose the births they do is because their partner isn’t comfortable with this or that.  A person I know chose a repeat cesarean because her husband was terrified of rupture.  Another choose a hospital birth because her husband was too scared for a birthing center birth.  Yet another consented to an induction at 41 weeks because her spouse was worried the baby was dying and overdue.

How far do you go to make your spouse or significant other happy before you yourself are doing something you aren’t comfortable with?  That you know isn’t safe?  All because of their worries and fears?

I’ve heard women talk about how they couldn’t do this because of the fear something would go wrong and their spouse would blame them forever for it.  I’ve heard women fight with their spouse for what they wanted and have it end up hurting their relationship.  I’ve heard women get the births they wanted, and their spouses are finally converted to their side.

At what point does it become about the woman carrying and birthing her child and not about what the spouse is comfortable with?  Is it ever okay to go against your spouses wishes since you are the one going through the process?

Yes, it is their child too.  No one is saying it isn’t.  But are they the ones that are being faced with an incision in their abdomen or perineum?  Are they the ones facing interventions and PTSD from a traumatic birth that they thought was beautiful?  Are they the ones that lie up crying at night wondering over what might have been if you had just gone with your gut?

The midwife I work with, the amazing woman she is, had a homebirth with her third child against her husband’s wishes.  He was not supportive from the start.  She had the support from her midwife and that is it.  At 41 weeks pregnant her husband told her that if something happened to the baby, he would blame her for the rest of his life.

She had a beautiful HBAC a few days later.

Some people think what she did is wrong.  That he had as much say in her birth as she did.

However, was he the one that grew the baby?  That had an unnecessary incision from their second child?  That needed to know her body could work when it wasn’t induced or cut open?

So much goes into planning the birth you want.  Especially if you want a natural, pain free delivery.  And even more so if you want it in the hospital.

Are you supposed to cow toe to what your spouse feels about birth?  Are you allowed to make your own decisions about what happens to your body?

So many women don’t know that they have a choice.  Even if you are comfortable with your provider and feel they are doing what is right for you, you still have a choice.  No matter what, you can always so no.

Why is it easier to say no to a stranger than your own spouse?  Is it because you don’t know the stranger so there is no connection?  That you don’t feel like you are letting the stranger down?

When it comes to birth, even though the baby comes from two people, it can only grow and be birthed by one.  Yes, support is grand and can make the process go by so much more smoothly, but when it comes down to it, only the mother has the choice on how to birth the baby.

And most the time, when the mother puts her foot down, the father can turn.  The birth in March, the father was very leery of a homebirth.  Their last didn’t go so well, and the first birth was very traumatic to them both.  He had a lot of worries.

And yet, he knew that this is what she wanted.  That this birth is what she needed.

And he ended up being the best labor support I have ever seen.  He was spectacular.  And when the baby was in the mother’s arms, they were both shining with love and pride.  All because his wife put her foot down and choose the birth she wanted and needed.

My husband has come as far as I have with birth.  Everything I find or get angry at, I talk to him about.  He knows how much I know, because I have told him all of it.  He knows where I find my information and where I get my choices from.  He isn’t following blindly.  And yet, he knows that I will do the birth how I want to.  He is just along for the ride.

You can’t have others make choices for you out of fear, or distrust, or anger.  Especially with something that is happening directly to you.  Birth is an amazing and beautiful event, and yet we forget that we can be in control of it.  It is the woman’s body.  She has to work with it, it has to mold her inside and out, and the baby will be born.  The man, no matter how supportive he can be, can only do so much.  In the end, it all comes from the woman.  Her innate power, her inner beauty and strength all shine through.  She is much more than a pregnant woman, or your wife, or your lover.

She is everything beautiful.  She encompasses all the hope and love for the next generation.  She is bringing a child into this world to love and care for.  Why not let her do it her way?  Why not let her make the choices concerning how her body is treated and how it brings this child into your lives?  Why not put your own fears aside and just let her be?

There is only so much that you can truly control during pregnancy and childbirth.  Why not at least let her control the parts she can?

Women, take back your birth.  Take back your body.  It was yours to begin with.  Why has that changed?  Just because you are having a child with another person?  It is still yours.  The child is part of you and him, but again, you will bring this child into the world.  Not him.

Be who you are.  Follow what you believe.

If your spouses and father’s of your children love you, they will be there.  They will be like the father in March.  Worried and scared, but at the birth, they will hold you and help you, and then in the end, they will look down and smile at the miracle you brought to them.

They will be there.

You just have to choose to let them be there for you instead of the other way around.

The Change

I have been in a super ranty birth mood lately (and yes, I am blaming the pregnancy hormones) and was listening to music as I cooked dinner, and this song came on.

I just cried.  And sang along.  And cried some more.

And yes, I see and hear birth in everything.  Welcome to my world haha.

So, here you go, for your learning entertainment 🙂

The Change by Garth Brooks

One hand
Reaches out
And pulls a lost soul from harm
While a thousand more go unspoken for
They say what good have you done
By saving just this one
It’s like whispering a prayer
In the fury of a storm

And I hear them saying you’ll never change things
And no matter what you do it’s still the same thing
But it’s not the world that I am changing
I do this so this world will know
That it will not change me

This heart
Still believes
The love and mercy still exist
While all the hatred rage and so many say
That love is all but pointless in madness such as this
It’s like trying to stop a fire
With the moisture from a kiss

And I hear them saying you’ll never change things
And no matter what you do it’s still the same thing
But it’s not the world that I am changing
I do this so this world will know
That it will not change me

As long as one heart still holds on
Then hope is never really gone

I hear them saying you’ll never change things
And no matter what you do it’s still the same thing
But it’s not the world that I am changing
I do this so this world we know
Never changes me

What I do is so
This world will know
That it will not change me

And so you can listen to it 🙂

Interviewing Your Provider Recap

I wrote a post on this a long time ago, and mainly got it from websites and books.  Now that I have learned much more, I have questions to add 🙂

I will do a separate post for what to ask a doula, but this one will be about what to ask an OB/Midwife you are interviewing for your birth 🙂

1. Before you do anything, you have to get a list of providers from your insurance. If you belong to an HMO, you may need a referral from your physician for it to be covered.  If you don’t mind paying cash or on a scale, such as you would with a homebirth or birthing center, then you don’t need this list.

2. Call at least 3 OB/GYNs and Midwives (depending on your preference) and schedule consulatation appointments. Make sure they are accepting new patients and they aren’t overbooked. (If you are going to use a home birth midwife, make sure she isn’t stretched too thin around your due date. Most choose only 3 or 4 clients a month).

3. Write down your questions before you go in. Write them in order of importance. Most consultations only last about 15 minutes, so you need to make sure you get your most important questions answered. Don’t ask about doctor vacations, call schedules, and wait times at the office until you get your other questions answered.

4. Bring your partner with you. You both have to feel comfortable, especially if they will play an active role in the delivery.

5. Give the physician the benefit of the doubt until you find out otherwise. Your job is to ask the questions, not talk about how much you know about childbirth.

6. Make them give specific answers. If you ask what their percentage for cesareans is, don’t let them answer with “it’s average”. Make them give you their percent.

-Some good questions to ask:
1. How many babies they have delivered.

2. Who you can contact in an emergency

3. Who covers if they are unavailable

4. How they handle high risk pregnancies

5. If they write a birth plan with you and help you with what you want to do

6. Ask about their percentages for:
-epidurals
-episiotomies
-cesareans
-inductions

7.  Ask what practices they use that are routine (ie: vaginal checks before labor/during labor, electronic fetal monitoring, IVs, food and drink in labor, using water as pain relief, how they want you to give birth/if you can choose your own position, what happens to baby after birth, if baby is suctioned, if baby is bathed before nursing, rooming in policies, etc).

8.  When they want you to come in when you are in labor

9.  What they do if your water breaks before labor

10.  If they are a midwife, do they transfer care for anything?  If so, when/why do they transfer care to an OB?

11.  What is done if you go to 42 weeks

12.  How long their average prenatal visit is

13.  If they give you the consent papers before labor or during

14.  If the partner can catch the baby/cut the cord

15.  Do they use ultrasound to check baby’s position or do they palpate the belly

There are so many more questions you can ask them.  Try to get a feel for the provider.  Again, make sure they give you REAL answers, not just yes/no/it’s average.  If they don’t give specifics they are pulling you along.  Also, see if you can get referrals.  Talk to other patients if you can in the waiting room before the appointment.  Talk to doulas in the area that might have worked with them.  See what they think.  Go to LLL meetings, ask around about the providers you interview.

This interview will help you choose who will be at your baby’s birth.  You need to be comfortable with them.  But also remember, you can change providers up until the baby comes out 🙂  It isn’t just a one shot choice.  You can always change your mind.