Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Eating a Not-so-tasty Helping of Crow

During the last days of my pregnancy with Elizabeth, I was pretty outspoken with all my non-interventionist birth "theology".

  • Babies come on their own if left alone.
  • Too much fear is propagated when a mother is "overdue".
  • Breaking water is a risky intervention.
  • Cutting the cord too soon causes problems for baby by forcing them to breathe on their own immediately rather than transitioning more slowly.
  • Having cut the cord too soon, babies often need oxygen because they turn blue because they weren't ready to breathe on their own.  Pure oxygen, however, basically fries their brand-new lungs, often causing respiratory issues that affect them for years to come.
  • Babies transition best when right next to mom, the one-and-only they've ever known.
  • I don't need a doctor to tell me how to have a healthy pregnancy.
In this post, and perhaps in others, I somewhat vilified obstetricians and made it sound like having a midwife will assure you of having a great delivery.

Guess what?
I was wrong.

And now, I must eat some crow.

If I heard it once, I bet I heard it fifteen times when having Elizabeth:  "It's hospital policy."

Even though I had a midwife, hospital policy seemed to over-ride everything.
Even though I had a midwife, there was intense pressure to deliver once I reached 40 weeks.
Even though I had a midwife, I had a drug-free induction by sweeping the membranes.
Even though I had a midwife, an amniotomy was done to help Elizabeth come sooner.
Even though I had a midwife, she did a few routine things that are typically associated with an obstetrician, like cutting the cord immediately.  To be fair, that maybe had something to do with the hostile nurses that were there.  I don't know.  Also, applying traction on the cord while waiting for the placenta to be delivered is something that surprised (shocked?) both me and my doula Megan.
Even though I delivered with a midwife, my baby was kept away from me and given oxygen to help her breathe after her cord was, in my opinion, cut too soon.

When this all became clear to me, I likened it to my feelings about home education.  One might think that because I don't use the public school for our children's educations, that I don't like teachers.  Far be it!  There are many caring, committed, concerned and even Christian men and women who are public school teachers.  I don't have anything "against" them--it's the system I have a problem with.

As far as the midwife vs. obstetrician goes, I know that there are many ob's who would gladly listen to the wishes of the parents and would be happy to help babies be born with no "routine" intervention.
However, because of hospital policy, aka "the system", they know they must be more concerned with CYA* medical practices.
*CYA=Cover Your uhhhh, rear end

It becomes so much more about the liability and litigation.
It's disgusting.

And so, I apologize.
I'm sorry if I made it sound like midwives are the best and obstetricians are the worst.

Even though there are many ob's who believe pregnancy, labor and birth are just catastrophes waiting to happen, I believe that there are many ob's who are even less-interventionist than some midwives (referred to with tongue-in-cheek as "med-wives").

In the end, what it really comes down to is finding a care provider that you trust.
And I have--I've trusted the doctors that I've gone to with my first 8 pregnancies.
I trusted my midwife.

The hospital?

It leaves women with very few options.
That is so disappointing to me because if you're only choice is to deliver in a hospital, hospital policy will determine much of what happens unless you have done some extensive homework and are prepared to "sign-off" on what you don't want done to you or your child.

Many things are presented as "law" or "required" that just plain aren't--are not law and are not required.  Strongly recommended, perhaps, but not required.

Regarding Elizabeth's birth specifically, it's not so much about me not getting what I wanted, but about getting so much of what I didn't want.

All of that wasn't because I had a midwife and not an ob--it was very much about where the baby was born.  Hospital policy...

I don't know if this makes any sense to any of you, but I just needed to get that off my chest.
edited to add:
Ironically, I came across this post tonight.
Pretty much my thoughts exactly.


  1. Thanks for the link. I'm all about this right now of course :)

  2. Theresa--I was going to email it to you, and then thought maybe it would seem too forward of me...I thought of you right away when I read it! Praying for you!

  3. Well said Melissa! It is hard to have a completely intervention free birth in the hospital. I have definitely worked with some midwives who were far more intervention minded than some OB's. It is kinda how most nurse midwives are trained now :( Too bad there isn't a birthing center close yet!! Maybe for the next one there will be one. I have been hearing some talk of one opening soon!! I am praying it will!

  4. that's it, with #10 you HAVE to birth him or her AT HOME! Ok?

  5. and then you can say, This is the "Melissa Policy!"

  6. Ha! I love it. Crossing my fingers...

  7. We had the same midwife and with birth #1 it was very much so hospital policy ruled, but she also had issues with her heart. #2 was a whole different story, Jen let me do whatever I wanted and the nurses listened to her! Sorry that your experience wasn't like that! :(


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