Thursday, July 14, 2011

BIRTHING:- At Home or At the Hospital?

Composed and contributed by: Empress Lisa ~ 
Edited by: Anaiyah~
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Gemini Eyes aka Empress Lisa


I was in the library the other day checking out the movie selections when I came across a film called “All my Babies, “A midwife’s story. 

The title of this film naturally piqued my interest as a mother and a doula so I decided to check it out. This extraordinary film was about a midwife from rural Georgia named Mary Coley also lovingly known as “Miss Mary” to those who knew her. 

The music, very spiritual in nature, the black and white background, and Mary herself would forever be etched into my memory. She was a lovely woman, warm, genuine, and so caring! 

There was an actual birth recorded in the film and was amazing to see especially being that it took place in the 1950’s. This film flooded me with memories of my second child’s birth, which was attended by a midwife at home. 

My girls had watched the film with me and I was so happy to be able to share such an experience with them. I talked a little with them about birth and my experience with their entrance into the world.  They had questions of course, the first one being, “Mommy, does it hurt when the baby comes out?” To that I replied, “Yes, but you forget all about the pain once your baby is placed in your arms.”

Seeing the film also brought out some questions from within that I have had over the years such as why do hospitals routinely treat birth as a medical event also will more women begin to choose midwives for their care providers in the future to assist them during labor? My first child was born by c-section due to “fetal distress,” and I had a VBAC 
(Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) with my second daughter. I really enjoy talking about my experiences with birth…as a mother to other mothers and as a doula to my clients. 

I have been pregnant four times, having gone through two losses but nevertheless having four very different birth experiences. Many people look at me like I’m crazy when I say that I had my second daughter at home, and many others are intrigued! 

I tell others it was the best experience I could have ever asked for in regards to that rite of passage a woman goes through in becoming a mother. The freedom to walk around, to eat, to drink, to relax with my family, all while in labor was irreplaceable. 

Some women have shared with me that they were told that they would have to have another c-section if they get pregnant again, because they had one before! I would have believed it for myself had I not just had faith in my ability to birth my baby the way nature intended. 

I’m truly thankful for all of the experiences that I have had as a mother and doula, because they have made me the woman I am today.

I truly don’t have a major issue with hospitals, there are many instances when going to one may be necessary. However the fact is that most hospitals treat birth as a “medical event.” Yes that is my opinion, but unfortunately it is also a fact!  

I do understand that some mothers may be what is considered “high risk,” (unable to birth without the use of a hospital setting and equipment).   Of course more intervention may be needed. 

However,  these cases are the exception and not the majority- 

Lets discuss~ The first time mom who plans to birth at a hospital and according to her birth plan, would like to have the freedom to walk around during labor, eat a little, drink fluids, have next to no intervention, and breastfeed immediately afterward? 

She may want to look into delivering at a birth center because most hospitals will act as if they support such wishes but their actions prove otherwise. This is coming directly from my personal experience with clients who have delivered at hospitals. 

Mom goes into labor spontaneously(usually), calls the doctor, is advised to go and get checked at the hospital and is either sent home or given a room based on what her status is. If she ends up getting admitted, which is usually the case she gets settled in a room and prepped for her stay in the hospital. Now here is where things can get a little tricky! 

Mom gets into her room, is administered an IV for “fluids,” and is tucked comfortably in bed and given a fetal monitor for the baby’s heart rate. Now that this is all in place how is she supposed to walk around? Rarely have I arrived at a hospital to see a significant number of mothers walking the halls in hopes of helping their labor to progress. 

I may have seen a few mothers, but not many. And chances are it is not something that is encouraged because if it were then surely more mothers would be walking those halls! 

 One would think it would be because doesn’t gravity encourage a baby to descend into the birth canal? I know that the IV is usually able to be taken along with mom if she decides to walk, but a fetal monitor is not portable and most nurses and doctors are antsy when it is not attached to a mother during the whole time she is in labor. 

Obviously contractions will be getting stronger, but to a mother lying in bed and not really able to move around, she is about to hit another bump in the road with labor which is pain. 

Some mothers have made up their minds that they will not take any drugs for pain during labor, and really do a wonderful job of ensuring that they don’t! 

But not every mother who opts out of pain medication will follow through and understandably so if she is restricted to her bed. She begins to get uncomfortable with the contractions, she may not have a doula or someone there to let her know that she can get through this, and that she is strong. 

The nurses are coming in and out to check on her “pain level” to see where she is on a scale of 1 to 10. Where would anyone be with impending pain; being told that they cannot eat anything but ice chips and cannot walk, or maybe they can but not for very long because the fetal monitor must be attached. 

I had a client once who used the birth ball I brought along for her during labor, and while the nurse was okay with her using it, she kept interrupting her to assess the fetal monitor, and to readjust it every so often. So the answer to the pain level question slowly but surely becomes a 10 being the highest in how bearable the pain is.  So, by now mom is not feeling so sure about going all natural anymore because she feels it’s becoming too difficult to follow through. She begins to think about her options, with an epidural being at the top of the list. 

As previously stated some mothers stick to their game plan in the hospital and go without any pain meds, but in such an environment it can be difficult.  Changing positions in bed sometimes helps, squatting, leaning against a partner with hands clasped around the neck is great for taking the pressure off of mom’s back and so is rocking on all fours. There are definitely ways to manage pain in the hospital that are drug free, but are those options even considered? 

If a mother had not read up on such vital information, would the nurses or her doctor share it with her before they said anything about getting an epidural? No, because most doctors and nurses are trained to treat birth as a medical event, something to be controlled. 

Most midwives on the other hand are trained to treat birth as a natural event, something that is not to be intervened with, unless absolutely necessary. When birth is imminent, a mother is comforted by her midwife, she is held, she is caressed, she is encouraged to walk to bring the baby down, to eat if she wants to, to keep hydrated, to rest, to laugh, to cry, to breathe through her contractions and to believe in that strength that she possesses, to believe in herself, in her ability to do something as natural as breathing. 

Because that is what birth is; a natural event that has been going on since the beginning of time! Once her baby arrives, mom is given all the time in the world to bond, make precious eye contact, have skin to skin contact and breastfeed. Her baby is not given to her for all of five seconds only to be whisked away to the warmer 
(forgive me if I’m wrong but I couldn’t think of a better source of warmth than the newborn baby’s mother!) 

Her baby is not washed of all the remnants of birth which basically leaves him/her without much of their natural smell that mom will remember from that special moment. 

Mom decides when she is ready to wash her baby… Her baby is left with his or her mother and father to just take in, and fall in love with. Birth is like a fleeting moment and should be respected as the miracle that it is, and that it always will be. 

This should be the case in all hospitals as well as with all midwives who assist with delivering babies.

*** We hope you enjoyed our birthing article :) Always check with your doctor or mid-wife before making any decisions. 

The best advice is to do lots of research, reading and asking questions to other mothers.. Examine their experiences both home and at the hospital. 

Which ever you choose.. Live and Be Happy enjoy that new Baby!!!! 

For more info check these links:- 

Composed and contributed by: Empress Lisa ~
Edited by: Anaiyah~