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.

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19 Responses

  1. I’m not sure why you were worried about this post! (I saw on Twitter that you were). It is beautifully written, cogent and makes good sense to me.

    In my case my husband supported all of the birthing choices I made – we were *both* steamrollered into a c-section with our firstborn, but that was not his doing at all. I opted to try for a VBAC in a hospital-based birthing centre with no. 2 and he was right there with me backing up my choice. He was also willing to support me when I was considering attempting a VBAC after 2 caesarians with our third, but late complications in the pregnancy meant that I myself decided against it and opted for a repeat c (which I now regret, as it was the only one of my three births that I would class as traumatic, but that is a story for a different day and in no way due to my husband).

    • Thank you!!!

      That is so wonderful that he was there with you. That is how mine has been. Helping me make choices and talking me through things. I love when spouses are so *there* for you when you need them to be 🙂

  2. I am seriously crying over this. Even though I had an amazing hospital birth and the only time the midwife was there was to catch the baby (my husband was afraid to) and clean up, I had a deep desire to birth at home. My husband wouldn’t. “allow” it because our daughter was born a little blue.

    • Oh sweetheart I’m so sorry I made you cry 😦

      That truly wasn’t my intent 😦

      • Oh, no! Don’t be sorry. It’s something I haven’t allowed myself to work through yet. I need to address it. I’m just not sure how I’m going to yet.

  3. No reason to be worried over this one!

    Well written and great thought provoking material. I’d sooner birth alone, without telling anyone over being forced into a situation I am not comfortable with to appease someone.

    End of the line for me. By body and birth needs to feel protected and safe, and if my support person isn’t on my side, I will find a way to be safe.

    Luckily, easy for me to say, I have an hugely supportive husband who when asked about UC had said, “Well how else do you think we’d have them?”.

    Thanks again for a great one!

  4. Love it! And totally agree. Steve was scared of having a homebirth at first… scared of having a midwife… but after I discussed with him more of what I was feeling and going through, we agreed we didn’t want that to be a possibility ever again. And then we researched homebirths and he is SO completely on board and actually excited about it and has told his parents and everything (yea, for this baby we’re not even preggo with yet lol). I’m so glad he has changed his mind and supports what I want, but it took talking to him and making him see exactly how I felt about it. I can’t even imagine him not backing me up…
    Thanks for the great post!

  5. my first birth was great, the afterwards sucked, the next three were great too, and hubby was with me every step of the way, for number 4 he helped birth her, he held her as she came out and it was amazing, he cut the cord with the first three and let my sister do it with our last baby.
    we have a great system in NZ where you only have an ob/gyn if you are considered high risk, most of us have midwives who work independantly, its great and I have had 5 awesome midwives support me and my choices.

    Awesome post by the way

  6. I think the key is communication. It’s important for the husband and the wife to clearly communicate what they want and why and to come to a decision together. A lot of women I’ve known did all the research and made the decision and in some cases the husband was either upset with the decision or just didn’t understand it. I feel like if the man would have done research as well, talked with people, especially other fathers, it would really help. I don’t think it’s good for the relationship for either party to be bitter over how the birth is going to go or how it went.

    I say all of this while not being pregnant or ever having a baby. However, we’re one of the last of our friends or even family to have a baby. We’ve seen lots of other couples work through how they want their births to go and we’ve been able to talk a lot about what we will want. I think we’re in a good place because we have talked so much about it and want to be able to come up with a plan together. Ultimately, we just want a healthy baby!

  7. I read this post last night and have thought about it a lot and I totally agree with you, but I can understand why women are so eager to include their husband in making a birthing decision.

    In most healthy relationships, major decisions are joint decisions. The husband and wife weigh their options and decide together. I think it’s only natural for a woman to want to include her husbands wishes into the decision they make for the birth of their baby. It’s a major decision!

    That said, it is the woman’s body and she is left to deal with the scars and the trauma if things go wrong. Ultimately it is her decision, and it should be. Ideally, birth should be a joint decision and I am jealous of the couples that are able to decide together so easily. But, if conflicting opinions occur, the woman should then do what she feels most comfortable with, regardless of how her husband feels. (easier said then done!)

    • Exactly! It should be a joint decision. I didn’t say it shouldn’t be.

      However, the woman is the one left with what happens. the woman could be cut or knocked out, and the husband will have response to that, but he doesn’t have to live with it daily.

      Someone shouldn’t ever tell you how to use your body. That is why it is *your* body not theirs. Even if you marry them, take their name, bare their children. It is still yours.

      It should be a joint experience if that is what the couple wants. But in the end, it is the woman’s body. She shouldn’t be forced to do something with her body she isn’t comfortable with all because someone else is afraid.

  8. This is the reason I think that child birth and rearing should be a conversation that couples have BEFORE getting married.

    • The problem with that is that I didn’t know I would want this before I got married. A lot of people don’t know they have options before marriage, and don’t know different ways they can do things. It should constantly be an open discussion, never something that is closed. It should be discussed often and in a non-hostile way.

  9. I believe that people should talk about it BEFORE linking up too, but one thing that came to mind was….

    Previous experiences. Like, they planned all the homebirthing for the first, ended in transfer, now one is scared. These emotions cannot be talked about before they reach them.

    I think people people need to fully dive deep into their fears, and their roots and meanings. Many times (for myself) my fear means I need to research and fully understand all angles and possible solutions. Afterwards, I am not fearful.

    Fear isn’t bad. Fear can be motivating.

    It is a tough one, and I don’t know if there is a right answer for all, but a good one for many. Be honest with yourself, your partner and your feelings and fears. Investigate, stay open and don’t lose touch of ‘feelings’ and ‘facts’.

    😀

  10. Thank you for your words, you very eloquently put your point across. I’ve had four children & five miscarriages. I’ve reflected much on my attitude, support, and treatment throughout that long period of time.
    Throughout the pregnancy of my first child, and indeed my other pregnancies, I was surrounded by a very fearful culture around birth. Home births were virtually unheard of, only occurring if mum could not get to hospital fast enough. I know now that I took all of that fear on board and allowed others to make choices for me. I gave my power away.
    At 39 weeks, I suffered from oedema, my ob/gyn recommended I be induced. In hospital they ‘broke my waters’ and then left me saying that nothing much would happen for several hours….I experienced a great deal of back-pain within 45 minutes – an old injury in my pelvis was exacerbated by my baby’s presentation. I asked my husband to call the midwife, she told him that I couldn’t possibly be feeling much yet & not to worry! I walked around, stretching this way & that, my husband massaged my back, nothing relieved the pain. Finally a midwife came & examined me & was very surprised to find that I was already fairly dilated. She took me to a birthing room, I could find no way of relieving the pain, so she gave me an injection of pethidine. From that point on my birthing experience was totally out of my control. I literally left my body. I had neither the energy nor the connection with my body to push in the final stage. My ob/gyn was summonsed & performed a forceps delivery – I was torn, & they performed an episiotomy. I lost a tremendous amount of blood.
    My baby was very alert & active, & fed immediately – surprising since he would have received the pethidine too. Luke is now 20 years old.
    My second baby was born 15 months later, I was warned to come into hospital as soon as I was experiencing painful contractions – again I took on everybody else’s fear. During the actual process, I felt very calm. I had a ‘show’ in the ‘wee’ hours, woke my husband & my mum, (staying with us to look after Luke). Joe was panicking, got me to the hospital in a rush. Lovely senior midwife met us, tried to calm him down! She suggested a nice warm bath after she’d examined me….but when she did, saw that i was 8cm and marched me straight to delivery room. This time I was much more in control, no pain relief, & Jodie was born about 40 mins later. She fed loads & went to sleep. My midwife told me that she would probably sleep for an extended period and not to worry, she had arrived in a hurry. She slept for nigh on 20 hours! Younger midwives tried to get me to wake her but I refused & trusted my intuition. She had lost some weight when she was next weighed & the staff were concerned at this. I wasn’t, & continued to feed on demand. She was very happy & contented….& still is.
    My two younger boys were born very quickly also – in hospital too. I am aware now that I didn’t speak up about having home births because I didn’t feel supported. My husband had been totally freaked out by the birth of our first-born.
    On the two occasions that I went into hospital for a ‘d & c’ I was totally unsupported, & felt violated completely. During what was a grief-stricken time
    for me I found myself alone, Joe having just dropped me off outside, and the nursing staff & doctors completely dispassionate about what I was going through. I received no support subsequently & it is only now years later that I have finally found support & been able to release all those feelings.
    Three years after the birth of my 4th child, I underwent a sterilsation, my tubes were tied, because my husband was so fearful of me falling pregnant again but was unprepared to have a vasectomy himself because he was scared to.
    I agreed as I felt it my only option for us to move forward as a couple. What a sacrifice!
    Now, i am divorced & have lived with my four children exclusively for the last six years. I do not regret anything that has happened as my experiences have helped shaped the person who I have become. I am slowly overcoming my own fears of standing up for myself and stepping into my power as a woman.
    I’m now a biodynamic craniosacral therapist & want to go on to work in the pre & perinatal field educating and helping families to plan & give birth to babies consciously and with minimum intervention.

    I apologise for posting such a long reply, your post just triggered this response in me.

    With love,
    Amanda

    • Thank you so much for the reply!! I am so sorry you were treated so terribly at the D & C’s. I hate when they think they don’t need to be passionate with women during a loss. It makes you feel less than you are.

      That is so cool what you are doing! You would be amazing helping families have the births they want and so they feel supported! That is wonderful!!

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