Friday, October 12, 2012

My Thoughts on Hospital Births

I don't think hospitals are bad.
I think hospital policies are bad.
I don't think O.B.s are bad.
I think O.B.'s policies are bad.
Anything that can not differentiate between the needs of the whole and the needs of an individual, and the risks of the whole and risks of the individual are bad.

The midwifery model of care understands the needs of each of the individual women and the safety of both mother and child.

O.B.s have a lot to learn from midwives; compassion, normalcy of birth, trust of a woman's body.  And Midwives are lucky to have the resources of O.B.s for higher risk pregnancies; more fetal monitoring options, suctions and forceps devices for complicated deliveries, and cesarian sections for moms who NEED them (only, maybe 5% of women truly need them. source.).

I think every woman should be well educated on her birth choices and options, risks and success rates of her birth plan along with a well established support system for immediately following a birth.  My understanding of O.B.s and Hospitals is that, they do not fully inform their patients of risks and success rates of various procedures in the same way a midwife would.  I know my O.B. experience resulted in a total of 20 minutes out of 3 hour appointment with the actual O.B.. Whereas, my midwife appointments are about and hour long with 100% of the time with the midwife discussing concerns, risks and success rates of various topics regarding birth.

I think misconceptions need to be addressed along with fears about women's bodies.

From various conversations I've overheard...
A 10 pound baby is big but healthy and completely do-able by vaginal birth, contrary to one woman's opinion.
Working out does NOT create a larger baby. On the contrary, it strengthens the uterus for a faster recovery and less of a chance of bleeding to death via hemorrhage.  Also, repeat cesarian sections are more dangerous than vaginal births after cesarian.  In regards, to hemorrhage as opposed to uterine rupture, women are less likely to have a uterine rupture than serious hemorrhage with repeat c-sections. (source 1, 2, 3)
Drugs and medications are NOT the only, nor most successful, pain relief options for laboring women. A doula is a professionally trained labor suport person and known to reduce the use of drugs and epidurals for laboring women.  And there are many more positions, procedures {like acupuncture, massage and TENS}, and techniques to elevate pain.
Pain in labor IS purposeful.  It allows the mother to know how far along her body is progressing.  It is a message from the body to the brain that something important is about to happen.  It is beneficial to the mother's mental health to be present in the pain {as opposed to "checked out" via drugs} to bond with the baby, the baby's birth is what stops the pain.
Women will often defend their doctors by saying they {the O.B.} knows what's best.  But what is best isn't being restricted to a limited diet during one of the most energy using experiences of a woman's life.  It's neither safe, nor easy, nor comfortable.  Yes, if someone happens to NEED a caesarian they will need anesthesia and they may vomit.  But, in any other EMEREGENCY surgery the patient is rarely rushed in with an empty stomach.  That is just one of the examples where the policies for the whole, restrict the needs of an individual.

In short, I think each birth is unique and each requires unique circumstances.  Unfortunately, I've yet to see or hear of an Arizona hospital that is truly mama and baby friendly. I think each birth choice is completely the choice of the mother, sorry dads!  I just wish women were consistently informed of true risks and I wish more often than not they would choose the safest choice for themselves and their babies as opposed to what someone tells them is the easiest yet safe enough option.

That is my problem with hospitals; their myth of ease and safety.  What women compromise for safety and ease is actually safety and comfort.

All birth is work, all births are difficult and to pretend otherwise is setting up a mom for defeat.  Wether it's postpartum depression or the difficult recovery of an unnecessary surgery, the effects of a emotionally painful birth are much worse than the pain of childbirth.  No women gets an easy birth unless, maybe, she's worked hard during her pregnancy to ensure one.  So, when I hear women talk about their choices for a hospital or planned c-section; because "it's going to be easier {because of drugs or lack of pushing}" I just want to shake them.  They have no idea what they're in for.  Even if they've experienced the process before, they're still at risk for all the complications of their choices, choices few of them have been fully informed of.

So, to clarify though all my rambling; my problems with hospitals are their myth of ease, myth of informed consent, myth of choice.  If hospitals can take note of these concerns and rewrite policies, I think we'd have a lot more happy mamas.  I also think if you've found a hospital that supports you and your choices, no matter what, you're lucky; and I'd love to know where these places are!  Please, share them in the comments.  I also know mom's who are thankful for the hospitals that helped make their delivery a safe one.  I know I would/will be thankful for a hospital if an emergency transfer is necessary with my next baby.  But I do not plan on starting off at one, for all the reasons listed above and more.  I think for a healthy family, the home is where a birth should be, and hospitals, like for everything else, should be reserved for emergencies and complications only.

Disagree with me? leave a comment.  I'd love to hear other opinions. I know I ramble sometimes, but I just needed to share MY thoughts on hospitals and why I don't want to birth in one.  I hope anyone reading this understands I'm not judging a women who chooses a hospital birth, I just hope she's being treated with respect and care, like every mom-to-be deserves.


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