I have been avoiding rereading my birth story (you can read it HERE) for quite awhile now. Today, I decided that it need to be done. I cried. I shook my head at the things I wrote and thought were ok. The International Cesarean Awareness Network calls this the 18 Month Cry. Since Etta Mae's birth, I have grown even more passionate about helping other women with their birth experiences. This has led me to do a lot of reading and research about pregnancy and birth options. I recently read an incredible piece that applies to all women, regardless of the type of birth they desire. Read it HERE.
Let me start by saying that there are a lot of amazing OBs and midwives out there. They respect birth and make sure to inform mothers about their options. Medical interventions have saved many lives, and we are lucky to live in a country where they are readily available.
Here are a few of the things I have learned and come to believe. Note that there are links to resources about birth within many of my points.
- Your birth experience matters! You will vividly remember that experience for the rest of your life. Healthy baby is not the ONLY thing that matters. I know without a doubt that my traumatic birth experience contributed to my milk not coming in for 6 days, trouble breastfeeding, and subsequent post partum despression and anxiety.
- Every woman should take childbirth classes, even if she is planning to get an epidural or have a cesarean birth. It is important to know what is going on in your body and the benefits and trade offs of any interventions you consider.
- Doctors and hospitals have certain routines that they are comfortable with. This DOES NOT mean that those procedures are best for every woman or that they are supported by evidence.
- You have the right to ask for more information about anything that is being done to your body. If you don't feel like a procedure is best for you or your baby, you can say I DO NOT CONSENT. You do not HAVE to do anything. Remember that you are paying the hospital for a service.
- It is our responsibility to to make choices for ourselves and our babies and take back our birth experiences. I feel like I was bullied to be induced. The on-call OB's exact words were "YOU AND YOUR BABY COULD DIE." Who says that to a pregnant woman????? Unfortunately, these scare tactics are far too common.
- Please, please, please inform yourself about your options during labor and after birth. There are some great resources out there. I highly recommend reading books like The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, watching movies such as The Business of Being Born and Orgasmic Birth (yes, I said orgasmic), and looking over websites like Improving Birth and Evidence Based Birth.
- If you have had a traumatic birth experience that led to a cesarean birth, seek out a local ICAN chapter. It can be very healing to talk to other mamas who have been through similar experiences.
I love Etta Mae. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me. But, it took us a long time to truly bond. I think this is the direct result of her birth. I hope that other women can find my experience helpful and have a truly wonderful birth.