Childbirth Education - Why I Became a Midwife
28 YEARS AGO, I gave birth to a healthy happy baby boy. In the months that preceded his arrival I read everything I could read to prepare myself for both raising him and preparing myself for childbirth. I had a great doctor, whom I trusted and I assumed that everything would go according to `The Plan'.
Unfortunately, `The Plan' was not written down, and the `What If's' weren't even considered. And there I was, not knowing why I was agreeing to the things that I agreed to.
IT STARTED WITH INDUCTION. Yes, my baby was late, however, stress tests showed a perfectly non-stressed baby. I was uncomfortable and my doctor wanted to help me to feel better. He also was concerned that I would not be able to deliver a big baby. What did I know; he was the guy with the alphabet soup behind his name. I went in and started induction.
It didn't work! I went home. They brought me back in a day later to try again. This time they did an amniotomy (braking of the water bag). Eventually, several hours later, I did go into labor. All at once! No time to get used to the contractions, the Pitocin that was given to generate labor was making the contractions stronger than normal, lasting longer and my uterus was not contracting correctly.
The pain was unbelievable! I did what I could to use the breathing techniques that I had learn in my classes, but I just couldn't cope.
In came the anesthesiologist. The epidural went in my back and within a few minutes I was OK. However, my labor slowed down, and I was making little progress. There were many people going in and out of my room. A female janitor even emptied the garbage while I was spread eagle. I felt like a non-person. Nurses that I'd never seen before would walk into my room and tell me that they were going to check me. I didn't even know there names. They didn't ask permission to enter my body. I was humiliated.
My doctor came in and was very disappointed with me that I was not progressing. I asked if I could sit up to help the baby come down. He said it would be better if I rested.
The next time I saw my doctor he said I had run out of time, and he had to get the baby out. I asked if my baby was in danger and he said that he would be if he didn't get him out right away. There was nothing that was indicating this from the monitors. But he was my doctor and I did not want to do anything to hurt my baby.
Into the operating room I went, to be shaved, catheterized and both arms bound in a T-Cross. The epidural anesthesia was making my legs bounce without my control and the nurses would shout at me to hold still. After several minutes of tugging and pulling I heard the sound of my child. I began to cry with him. They held him up for me to see, but I couldn't touch him or hold him. They took him away, I could still hear him crying, and it sounded like he was in pain. It was different from when they took him out of my stomach. I couldn't go to him; I couldn't protect him from the same people who made me feel so bad just a few short hours before.
Even in recovery the nurses wouldn't bring my baby to me. It was as if the baby was the property of the hospital, I was just the mother.
I asked that no bottles or pacifiers be used, because I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I also asked if they could wait to poke and prod my newborn until I could be with him.
The next day they finally brought him to me. The nurse said that he had had all of the new born protocol already, so I didn't have to worry. Worry? I just wanted to be there, he was already over a day old and this was the first time I had him in my arms. I tried to nurse, my baby wasn't interested. The pediatric nurse said he had just eaten.
That's when I knew that no matter what I said, I couldn't protect my baby or even my self inside this place.
I checked myself out, in tears, and took my baby home.
If it wasn't for La Leche League, I would not have been successful with nursing my baby. They came over one night at 3am to help me. The charge, $0.
I started attending their meetings, and over and over I would hear my birth story coming from other women. Many women. I new there was a better way… Why would any woman choose to have more than one?
I began my quest: I spoke to over 100 elderly women and heard their beautiful birth stories, they trusted themselves, the ones that gave birth with the family physician believed that he was there, `just in case'. And mainly he just watched. I then started researching birthing practices in other countries and learned that our morbidity and mortality rates for mother and baby are much higher than one would expect for a country that has all of our technology. It seemed clear to me, the countries that did the least during the birthing process had the best outcome for both mother and baby.
I went back to the hospital and received a copy of my medical records. The reason for my `Emergency Caesarean' was Failure to Progress and Cephalo-Pelvic Disproportion. In other words; I was taking too long and my baby was probably to big to get through my pelvic bones!
I helped to start Caesarean Prevention of Los Angeles, CA. And I started keeping statistics on hundreds of the Obstetrician's in that area.
A lot has changed in the last 15 years. Most doctors would not even consider delivering babies in this way. However, there are still huge problems with malpractice insurance costs and hospital protocol, which make it difficult for doctors to be the kind of doctors that they want to be.
The good news: After doing 3 years of hands-on training I earned my own certification as a Direct Entry Midwife. When my son was ten, I hired a Natologist/Family Practitioner/OB to come to my home and `watch' me give birth to my second child. Although in my first delivery I never dilated more than 3cm, there was no failure of progression here. Of course, this baby was also late (3weeks late!) And no I didn't have my dates wrong, and I had a sonogram to prove it! This baby was 9#6oz. a full pound bigger than my first. So, I don't think the Cephalo-Pelvic disproportion thing was valid either! She was born at home with peace and quiet, soft music in the back and candle lights. My Physician, The Home First Family Practice, here in Chicago land area, brought back my dignity. And through this birth I was finally able to heal from what I missed out on the first time.
My last child was born a year later 10# 4oz. My easiest birth, again at home, on my feet, with peace and quiet. I do realize that birthing gets easier each time, but only if your body dilates. There is no medical reason that my second natural drug free birth would be so much easier than my first birth, if I never dilated over 3 centimeters.