Friday, October 7, 2011

National Midwives Week

I have been fortunate enough to have all my boys with midwives, and actually, all were born in a freestanding birth center, outside of a hospital, in the same room. How cool is that?

I am flat out scared of hospitals. Utterly terrified. The idea of someone else being in charge. The hospital policies. The risk of infection just from being IN the hospital. IV catheters. Somebody coming in and out of my room all the time. The smell of a hospital. Not for me.

Then there are all the women I know who seemed perfectly healthy who went to the hospital, were told this or that was happening with their labor, various interventions were done, and many of my friends, with many different OBs in many hospitals and states, had C-sections.

I could not understand why more than half of women couldn't seem to have a baby without medical assistance of some sort, with a third of the total requiring a surgical birth. That just makes no sense to me as a veterinarian. Animals reproduce all the time, and the veterinary profession's C-section rate is nowhere near that!

So, to minimize my chance of ending up with a surgical birth, I chose to use a midwifery practice when I discovered I was pregnant with my first child.

When my first birth arrived, it was a long and drawn out process. The baby descended very slowly, and I pushed for hours. The midwife patiently held my hand through every push for three full hours, while the second midwife encouraged me through every strain. She could tell I was getting very tired, having been pushing hard for so long and having been in full labor for 24 hours with prodromal labor for several days, and suggested we transfer to the hospital for assistance.

I asked for a few more minutes, gave it all I had, and finally, I pushed out the largest baby ever born to a first time mother at that birth center. Unfortunately, that big baby caused some severe damage as he passed out of my body, a severe fourth degree tear along with hemorrhaging. The attending midwives conferred, and I was transferred to the hospital for surgery.

The OB who came in to repair me at 3 AM screamed at the midwives who had attended my birth, telling them they should never have allowed me to have that baby. He told me he would have done a C-section if he had seen me, even with the baby's head halfway out. The midwife leaned over to me and whispered she wouldn't have allowed it, but as he ranted on about all the complications I would likely suffer as a result of this birth and that I would never be able to have another baby vaginally, I wondered if she would have been able to stop him.

Two days in the hospital post-op cemented in my mind that I would never have a baby in the hospital if I could help it, and I would always have a midwife attend my births. The nurses were less than helpful, and I rapidly realized I could have taken better care of myself at home. Establishment of breastfeeding was rapidly undermined, and, looking back, it is amazing I managed to nurse that first child.

I went on to have three more children, two more with very little drama. One was born in the tub because he came so rapidly, surprising the midwives. The third I caught while the attending midwives watched quietly; he was even born with a nuchal cord. This was not treated as something to be scared of. We simply slipped it off and gave him a little oxygen.

The fourth had a little more drama surrounding his birth. He was diagnosed antenatally with a cleft lip by the specialist (yes, midwives refer clients to specialists when needed) at 18 weeks, and a cleft palate was suspected when the midwives' back up OB decided I could not use the birth center when I was about 28 weeks along. Fortunately, the various specialists I saw felt differently and ran interference for me with the backup, and I went on to have a wonderful and joyful birth, with the fourth baby being born on the same bed as my first and third babies after an uneventful labor and delivery.

The complications the OB swore I would suffer...they haven't happened. Honestly, the only complication I have specifically related to what happened during that birth is directly related to what HE did as he sutured me up, but it poses no problem to me during my everyday life. Every time I see my subsequent babies' photos, I wish I could tell him his predictions simply were not true.

I am so grateful for the care my children and I have received from midwives. It is a personal care, one with my needs and desires in mind, without fear and the "what-if" at the forefront. I am profoundly grateful for the empowering experiences I achieved with the help of women who believe in the normality of birth.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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