Comment of the Week: Erin Becomes an Informed Consumer

Bookmark and Share


By Jill

We get a lot of interesting comments around here, so I thought maybe we could start giving them a thumbs-up.

This week, Erin’s comment on becoming an informed consumer caught my eye.

I know what you guys mean - sometimes it seems like a miracle that there are any hospital vaginal births at all! I think it’s testimony to *how well women’s bodies work* that they can take so much unnecessary stress and inference and still function. I had a cascade of interventions in my first birth, but I have to say in my case that while I think they were avoidable, they were not the fault of intrusive practices, only some “bad” decision making. The epidural I finally agreed to was one of the few that we might call medically indicated - one where the benefits outweighed the risks and permitted me a vaginal birth, though of course because of exhaustion and the epidural, my pushing stage resulted in a vacuum-assist delivery. I like the idea of “trying on choices”.

When I was pregnant the first time I wanted a water birth and was so intent on my midwife-birth center natural birth that I only read natural childbirthing books. Then I was confronted with a situation in which I probably needed an epidural, and then the vacuum, and I didn’t know anything about these choices (except that they were “bad’). I was angry with myself, so the next time I bought “The Big Book of Birth” which is a great choice for looking at all options. The author favors normal birth, but provides neutral information on pain relief and interventions. Not educating yourself about interventions won’t protect you from them! I thought, in the very rare event I might need a C-section, I want to know what’s going to happen, and what it will mean, and what I can do to make it the most positive experience.

Luckily, the second time I had the unmedicated birth of my dreams (in a hospital! but with an awesome midwife, and in a mother-baby friendly hospital - they do exist! You can tell because they have a snack room full of food and drink for laboring moms). It was a really beautiful and peaceful experience, in spite of another long pushing phase (an occiput posterior baby - the L&D nurse later said in her nearly 3 years there she’d never seen a posterior baby delivered vaginally; she was really moved by the whole thing, by knowing it’s possible). But anyway, my point is that I learned from my first birth not to be afraid of interventions per se, that I needed to know when they could really help or were necessary and when they weren’t, so then I any decision I made I could be proud of later, no matter how it went down.

This also exemplifies a pattern that I’ve observed, which I’m sure has been researched in various contexts and named in a scholarly fashion at some point in time. 

1. Fear and anticipation of major event or stressful life change

2. Latch on rigidly to an ideology for a sense of safety

3. Learn from event

4. Alter world view

Thanks for sharing, Erin!