Wise Words from Improving Birth


Sometimes when we sit down to write, we find that someone else’s words perfectly describe what we want to say, without having had to search for it.  Today, while I sat down to do some research for a new mother who I am working with, who experienced birth trauma at her recent birth less than a week ago, I found the perfect words to describe what optimal care in childbirth can look like.  I want to share those words with you here, from the website, Improving Birth.

“Evidence-based care for you means freedom of movement, freedom to eat and drink as you like, intermittent auscultation to monitor your baby’s heart rate during labor, one-to-one continuous support by someone who is educated in childbirth, water immersion for pain management, privacy so you can focus, no vaginal exams during labor unless there is a specific reason for it or you want to know your dilation, and freedom to push in whatever position feels comfortable to you.  It includes interventions when medically necessary and not before, and, if medical interventions are recommended, full and accurate information on their risks, benefits, and alternatives, and support of whatever decision you make.  It also means that labor and pushing go as long as you feel comfortable and you and baby are doing fine.

BUT Routine hospital care usually looks more like: strapped into bed with belts for continuous monitoring of your baby (this kind of monitoring has an over 99% false positive rate), no food or drink allowed (they might give you ice chips), no one-to-one support, maybe a tub for water immersion, but you can’t get in if you’re on monitoring belts, an automatic IV into your hand that hurts and makes it hard to move, lots of interruptions by people wanting to give you vaginal exams (that usually serve absolutely no medical purpose, but increase your odds of infection down there), and constant pressure to “hurry things along” with medication or “give you a break” with an epidural.  It’s unlikely that anyone will tell you the significant risks of medications that speed things up (Pitocin causes fetal distress, which is a #2 cause of C-sections) or the downsides of an epidural (primarily, that you won’t be able to move around to get baby positioned better, which makes it much harder for him or her to descend through the birth canal and can result in a need for episiotomy/forceps or vacuum or even surgery!).

You are free to choose any of these things!  There is no judgment here.  The thing is that most women don’t choose these things–they’re just done to them–or they “consent” without all the information about what’s being done.  I don’t want that to happen to you.



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