3.01.2008

The Business of Being Born: For Every Mom

I never gave much thought to giving birth until I was pregnant with my first. In my preparation, I read many books on natural childbirth and was confident I could go this route. I fortunately was living overseas and my Libyan doctor, who was a private doctor outside the socialized medicine of Qatar, was open to following the lead of those willing to pay. So she and I had an agreement on the pitocin and epidural from the beginning.

On my due date at 8 p.m., I found myself at the hospital with-- what I now know to be--light contractions, but about 10 minutes after my arrival, my water spontaneously broke. The only bad part was I was no where near ready to have the baby in terms of dilation. So I waited, but I knew the clock was ticking. Moms know you have about 24 hours from the time your water breaks until doctors start to worry about infection if baby hasn't surfaced. But I was happy to wait. The contractions weren't bad and I thought this would be a easy ride. After hours of waiting, they decided I needed the pitocin. And then we went hours on pitocin and no epidural. Ummmm....painful, for those that haven't tried that. I finally begged for the epidural and they relented. Within an hour I was ready to push and 45 minutes later, Alex was born sunny side up.

My birth experience was nothing like I had wanted, but on the flip side, I felt my doctor overseas was more thing willing to oblige in whatever I asked and take it well past what a doctor here in the U.S. would allow. My second birth experience turned the tables at bit in my favor since I'm convinced doctors treat moms delivering their subsequent children differently. They've all 'been there done that' and they are more willing to trust the patient who's already gone that route. I lucked out with baby #2 and came in fully armed with the minutiae of what happened in my first, and my doctor took me seriously.

So after all my research and my own personal births why would a mom want to see the latest documentary The Business of Being Born? Well, I think every mom (and dad) should be armed with all the facts. While this movie is certainly geared toward the natural birth, specifically home birth, I think women should understand that a hospital is a business. Most doctors--not all--are there to make a livlihood and are ready to go home at the end of a long day too. Hence the reason many C-sections happen at 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., according to this flick. (I haven't done the research to verify it. I'm assuming it's true.)

This movie is a must see for every mom-to-be. Not because I think the natural method is for everyone, but because I think moms need to be informed about their choices in childbirth and what the doctors' and hospitals' responsibility are to their patients.
I think being attuned to one's body even during a hospital birth is important. A doctor certainly can save the life of a mom or baby when necessary, but a doctor isn't able to feel what a mom-to-be is feeling. Doctors in general need to do a better job and listening to their patients. But that is an entirely different post.

So based on this movie, what would I have done differently about my own two births? Well, my second birth was pretty smooth. I ended up with the epidural towards the end for an entirely different reason than pain management, but had a much easier go with contractions the second time through. I am certain I could have done it naturally. If I go for a third, would I try and go it naturally? You bet. In fact, I would throw in some acupuncture for the pain management. (Another post to come on that.)

4 comments:

Ainsley said...

Interesting about U.S. vs. overseas doctors being more willing to oblige and wait - it makes sense. You really can't blame doctors for wanting to go home... they're just in the wrong medical field.

I have similar birth stories to yours, although my second was completely natural and unmedicated. Definitely worth trying for again! =)

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful for your post. During my first pregnancy, labor was induced at 36 weeks, 4 days due to severe pre-eclampsia. I had taken 12 weeks of natural childbirth classes (Bradley method) and was completely gung-ho for having a natural birth. After 9.75 hours from the beginning of the maxiumum amount of pitocin doctors are allowed to pump into a body at any given time, I gave birth to a healthy, thriving baby girl - with no complications (thank goodness). While I was able to make it through without an epidural, there was a point where I was BEGGING for one (my husband wouldn't let me give in). Natural childbirth is POSSIBLE, even under the most extreme circumstances. I truly believe women need to listen to their bodies and not necessarily their doctors telling them what their bodies are doing or are feeling. I politely asked my doctors to mind their own business once my contractions began and my husband and I took it from there. I am now expecting my 2nd child and know I will make every attempt possible to have another "natural" birth, or rather birth without epidural and hopefully without pitocin or other medical intervention. A wonderful book that outlines potential complications, how and why doctors do what they do when we are pregnant and have health issues, and where to give birth is, "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth," by Henci Goer. This is my second bible. I carry this with me to EVERY O.B. appointment and consult it often. It was sitting next to my bed when I gave birth to my first child. I highly recommend this book if you are pregnant.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Being informed and knowing exactly what you want- and then being willing to go with the flow and unpredictable changes of labor!- is so important- no matter when or where you give birth!

Steph

tricia said...

I don't disagree with anything you said, and I am glad to see women being encouraged to have natural births and making informed decisions. This is just an aside to say that it is unfortunate that in some situations, doctors are really receiving a bad wrap. I do think there could be some adjustments to the way our healthcare system is run, but so many ob's and nurses are in that field precisely because they care, and I have known many wonderful doctors who are not out to take the easy or most financially beneficial way.