Friday, May 02, 2008

Stop whatever you're doing right now and watch this movie. "Business of Being Born" is now online and free to watch. It's a little less than and hour and a half long, and it is so, so, so informative. Now, keep in mind that I am 36 weeks pregnant as of today (yay!), but I was actually in tears for most of the movie. Some tears were because of the beauty and utter joy of normal birth, and some tears were incredulous angry tears over the way women and babies are treated/have been treated and the completely illogical and disrespectful way birth is treated in this country.

I had a wonderful birth with Joel. He was born in a hospital with no medical interventions (except I needed some oxygen during the second half of pushing - I'm a flute player who is trained to use every ounce of air in my lungs, what can I say?). It was perfect and wonderful. He was born 5 days after his due date (there is a reason they call it an "estimated due date"), which was perfect and lovely. I was attended by midwives. I labored how I wanted to, with no monitoring, not lying on my back, moving and walking as I chose to. Had I been with an OB/GYN, I would have been offered to be induced either early or on my "due date", everything could've gone upside down and followed the checklist of interventions, and I could be writing this birth story as, "thank goodness for modern medicine, or I wouldn't be alive today" while meaning, "if they hadn't messed with me in the first place, I wouldn't have had such a screwy birth".

I appreciate and applaud the OB/GYN community for the intervention they provide when it is necessary. For 90% of pregnancies and births (not sure on the percentage, just a number I hear kicked around a lot in this case) that are completely normal and wonderful, however, please, please, please go with a midwife.

"You're going to birth in a hospital, right?"
"What if something goes wrong?"
"But then you won't be allowed to have any pain medicine!"
"Honey, the first thing you'll say when you get there is, 'get me my epidural!'"
"Have they changed your due date? Are you measuring bigger?"
"You don't have to be a hero/martyr."
"I had it, and everything was fine for me."
"Oh, okay, so you're going to be one of those 'good moms'."
"What if you go overdue?"
"When will you be induced?"
"I'm going to X hospital, everything is fine now, but what is something happens?"
"How dilated are you? Are you effaced? You're 37 weeks, what do you mean you don't know?"

These are all things that have been said to me since we first made the choice to go with midwives for my pregnancy and birth with Joel. And they haven't stopped. Ugh. Seriously. Labor is no picnic. But it is not scary, it is not dangerous, it is not an illness. Well, I take that back. It is scary and can be incredibly dangerous for parents-to-be who do not take the time to educate themselves on what birth really is. Expectant parents probably on average spend more time researching the type of stroller they will register for more than the birth process.

One of my closest friends had a miscarriage very early on in one of her pregnancies(I think 5 or 6 weeks). She had made an appointment with a group of midwives to begin her care at the normal 10 or 12 weeks. When she miscarried, educated and intelligent people were telling her that this is what you get when you choose to birth alternatively with a midwife instead of a doctor. Oh. My. Goodness.

For the record:
-some midwives attend births at hospitals, some at birthing centers, some at home; all are completely legitimate choices
-if something goes wrong and you are birthing at home or in a birth center, you get to a hospital and have an OB/GYN, who is a highly trained surgeon, attend to the situation at hand
-most likely, however, this simply will not happen
-you are "allowed" to have pain medication whenever you wish; but it is your complete responsibility to understand the effects of your various options - anytime you start intervening with a natural process in a regular birth, you are going to have side effects
-I did not, nor did many others I know, ever have the words, "get me my epidural" ever spring from my lips
-due dates should not change for people who know approximately when they conceived; gestation is usually around 280 days - of course, you may be wrong about when you conceived, and there are ways of figuring that out
-no one is being a martyr, no one is being heroic by giving birth - it is simply based on the type of reality you want to experience when undergoing such a life-altering experience
-induction is not a pretty or good thing for normally developing babies; my midwives would begin talking about induction at 42 weeks, no sooner, if there is no medical reason attached to it
-with Joel, I was checked at about 39 weeks for dilation/effacement, and that was only because I requested it; this time, I don't plan on requesting it; I walked around at 1 cm for a week and a half before he was actually born, and it was a really uncomfortable procedure for that late in pregnancy; one of my midwives said, "it's only done so that doctors can say, 'hey, you're starting to dilate, do you want to induce next Tuesday?'", and I believe her

So, there's my birth PSA. Thank you for your time. Now GO WATCH THE MOVIE! And get educated about what birth really is.


At 5/03/2008 8:02 AM, Blogger kannie said...

Yeah, it is surprising how many people are seemingly incapable of taking a rational approach toward pregnancy & childbirth ... whenever we have another successful pregnancy, I'd prefer things to go more naturally, and the odds are that they will.

All those "helpful" comments are an unfortunate side-effect of late pregnancy, LOL - it'll be so nice when that's over, right? ;-)

[personal note: I would have DECKED - well, hopefully not, but I would've wanted to - what I would term the "otherwise intelligent" person who made the m/c comment, right before I burst into tears and right after I lectured them for a few minutes about how OBVIOUSLY ignorant they are... even medical studies don't support that idiotic assertion.]

At 5/04/2008 11:50 AM, Anonymous Scott said...

Women have been giving birth to babies for millions of years. Without pain meds, without c-sections, without fancy hospitals, and without measuring dilation.

A fundamentalist approach to pregnancy and birth is both smart & reasonable.

Go Anne - she's my smart sister...even though she doesn't sit on command as well as my other sister did.

At 5/24/2008 7:50 PM, Anonymous Molly Rodgers said...

I did get a chance to see this movie (online) as well, and i completely agree with what you've said! Even while being considered a 'high-risk' pregnancy because of my diabetes, im so glad to know that i get to at least see a Nurse-Midwife as part of the ob/gyn group that is taking care of me and baby. hope everything is going well for you!! (but im guessing baby is on it's way by neil's status on facebook) you are definately someone i look up to just as being a super awesome person! (and i totally suck at writing thankyou notes, but the cookies were AMAZING and we love the canisters!)

-Molly Rodgers


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