Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Birth is not a business!

Me, a year and a half before my first birth.
My readers may not know this (unless they have read way back to the beginning of this blog), but I have had two very different birth experiences. My first birth, back when I was a teen was a horrorshow. Because I was giving the child up for adoption and I was an inexperienced, awkward, young person; I did not know to advocate for myself and was taken advantage of.

Far too many women suffer pathologized births like my first one- I was brought into the hospital (I was not in labor) forced pitocin to induce (very painful, non-productive) contractions and when my cervix did not cooperate with the doctor's plans, I was given an unecessary c-section. No one listened to me or explained to me what was happening and it left me with some very serious PTSD. (Decades later, sometimes I would cry involuntarily during a pap smear, even when done by a caring professional.)

There is a better way.

Judi, my my midwife,
interacting with Rowan the day after his birth.
And when I decided to have a child of my own, I was hellbent on getting a better experience- on my own terms. I went to a midwife at a birth center. Not only did she spend hours with me explaining everything and my options, but she also gave me referrals that helped me. For example, I went to a therapist who specializes in folks with previous birth trauma and sex abuse and uses EMDR to repattern the feelings around what happened to make way for empowerment. I have no earthly idea how the EMDR worked, but I can tell you that it did. When I thought of having to give birth in a hospital again (which was a distinct possibility because of some complications that I was having), I would stress out and get gripped with panic- not exactly conducive to giving birth, ya know?

I know for a fact that my midwife saved me from a second c-section. Under her loving care, I was not only to have a healthy happy baby, but I was able to overcome years of trauma around birth, my uterus and vagina, and hospitals. I urge everyone to seek out a non-pathologized birth. It is healthier for mom and baby. As I mentioned, I had a birth team. This included my partner (the baby's father- who went with me to childbirth classes and has been a full co-parent every step of the way), a midwife (who did my prenatal visits and advocated for me when I was transferred to a hospital) and a doula (who did everything she could to take care of me during labor before heading to the birth center, in the hospital, and at home afterwards: dishes and cooking and fetching things for me- so I could just BE with my baby and sleep). This helped me feel secure and well cared for- which did not happen at my first birth.

One of a series of photos,
taken by my doula in the
hospital after Rowan came to me.
I urge women to listen to their feelings and determine their needs before engaging with the medical establishment. I knew that I needed to have lots of support and fierce advocates. We created a birth plan and everyone knew what we wanted and what their roles were before during and after the birth. Since the birth itself is a huge unknown, this helped put my mind at ease and allowed me to focus on giving birth, knowing everything else was covered.

What was/were your birth experience(s) like? Were they positive or negative? Did your experience affect other parts of your life? What would you change if there was a "next time"?


  1. I think it also depends on your OB-GYN and the hospital you're at as well as the staff. My mother has been a labor and delivery nurse for over 30 years now and I've never heard her tell any stories like yours. She's talked about some difficult patients, but that's mainly because they were extremely rude and had rude family, not because they had a team of advocates or wanted to do things one way or another. The only other bad experiences were complications during delivery and babies/moms almost dieing. Her hospital hasn't lost a baby in the 20 years it's been open. She's gotten so many compliments from her patients.

    Yes, they do induce a lot, but that's with the consent of the patient and is scheduled ahead of time with the OB-GYN. The patients have a right to tell the OB-GYN no. I'm not sure what their policy is on C-Sections, I think that also depends on the OB-GYN you have. If something is going seriously wrong, I know they'll go to emergency C-Section.

    I'm sorry you had a bad experience. I completely agree with you about advocating for yourself and doing what is best for you.

  2. This is why I'm studying to become a midwife, the medical establishment here in america doesn't do our women any justice, it is of the belief that American women 'can't birth' and all labor must be augmented, which is so wrong. My aunt was a midwife in the UK and she says she sees them doing some stuff here that makes her cringe, doctors pulling on babies before they have finished pulling themselves out the birth canal, the fact that American doctors, nurses and medically trained midwives don't know how to birth breeches, they become c sections automatically. It's a crazy system if you watch the movies Pregnant in America, and the Business of Being Born they highlight all of this. it would be one thing is it worked and American women and babies had higher survival rates, but they don't and American women actually have a higher rate (especially after a c section) of post partum depression,
    Great topic check out to learn more on how to advocate for Midwife led birth system

  3. With my first, there were truckloads of Pitocin involved. I didn't want an induction, but they were telling me she was late and didn't have enough fluid. Thankfully (but painfully) I was able to avoid any other complications or medications. Phew! I would not do that again under the same circumstances. Their reasons were self-serving, weak and detrimental to my baby and I. However, I do feel her birthdate was the one she was meant to arrive on...

    Three years later, I was in the driver's seat my entire pregnancy (and birth). I told my midwives how I felt, what I wanted, what was going on with my body, etcetera. They agreed with everything all the way through and let me be because they trusted my judgment. I planned a waterbirth, but there wasn't time. Baby showed up soon after I arrived at the hospital. Wish I'd stayed home and hopped in the shower instead!

    Thank you for sharing your stories. I'm glad you were able to overcome your past trauma in the end.

  4. I'm wondering if you've seen the birth stories over at There's some great stuff there.

  5. Unfortunately, Hailey Marie, the stats show that women in the US have an alarmingly high rate of intervention and intervention leads to more and more ending in a C Section. The math doesn't lie.

    All this medicalization of birth in healthy women with healthy babies. In other countries, OB-GYNs do not deliver babies, midwives do. Doctors are ONLY called in when it is necessary for a non-natural birth, which is statistically LOW. Most of the time, given time and patience, women and babies do fine without medical intervention.

    I know that there are wonderful doctors out there that care about their patients, I am not disputing that. But the hospital is set up for a very different experience than bringing a life into the world in the natural way and shouldn't be used in that way, in my opinion. If I could have had a birth center or home birth, I would have.

  6. @Artricia: Thanks for the plug! is a great site, one that you'll see some Witch Mom contributions for very soon.

  7. Thanks so much for the video! I'm completely surrounding myself with all things birth right now, being an apprentice midwife, doula and working on a childbirth education class. You are right, the numbers here do not lie. Birth in America (and other places of the world) is in shambles. It is incredibly sad that people don't know the truth.

  8. When I was a teenager, I got pregnant and had an abortion. They were illegal where I lived, so beyond the choice I was already struggling with, there was the worry of the law. I could rant and rant here, but enough to say I am deeply pro-choice because of it.

    When I chose to have my own children, years later, it was a tumultuous decision. What gave me the right after having an abortion to change my mind years later and have kids I thought? Beyond that I was terrified of any reproductive doctors as the one I had had since the abortion had been cruel towards me and my teenage choice. But I deeply felt the calling to become a mother and I followed it.

    When I conceived my first I went to a normal OBGYN. I felt totally uncared for, I saw her all of once in my first six visits and she completely dismissed my desire for a natural childbirth ("Well. You can give it a try I guess." were her exact words.) That was the end of her. I had heard some of the people in my natural childbirth class were using midwives, so I found my midwife.

    Oh my goodness, I have never met a pair (these two midwives worked together in their practice) of more amazing more enlightened gentle but firm souls in my life. They did not judge me in my past choices, in my faith, in my worries. Stunning empowered women, I was beyond blessed to find them. I had my first child with one in their small beautiful birth center and my second with the other at home in my living room.

    I am at peace now with the choices I made (partially due to those amazing women) and I wouldn't want my birth experiences to have been any different.


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