Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Don't Hate, Let's Educate {Birth}

Stop the Mommy Wars is derived from the concept that the only choices we have control over are our own. What another mom chooses is her decision – who are we to judge that?  We are each free to make our own decisions and we should support another mother in her own decisions, creating a stronger community.  While I fully believe this is an excellent idea to stop the growing trend of pop culture pitting moms against each other, I also feel we have other battles placed in front of us that must be confronted. So should we fight one another, insisting that each person is in the right? No: Don't Hate, Let's Educate.

Your birth, your way. I firmly believe that and as a doula abide by that; I support whatever kind of birth my client chooses.  Here's the catch- I educate my clients. They are making informed choices.

The problem lies, once again, in our misinformed culture. Fear is rampant!  Less than half of all expectant mothers will have taken a childbirth preparation course by the time they give birth. A good majority of those who do take a course take one in a hospital setting. In a hospital course you learn how to be a good patient. You learn some basics about the stages of labor but not what you need to know; not evidence based birth. You'll learn what your [medical] pain management options are but most won't tell you all of the risks of an epidural or that a doula helps to relieve your pain naturally and is associated with a more positive birth experience. They'll tell you the process of admitting you to the hospital but not tips to keep your labor from stalling; they have pitocin for that. They don't work to undo the fear that has been bestowed upon us by our pop culture and the collective memory we've built from that culture.  It's easy and cost effective when birthing mothers can be put into the system, boxed up and released.

But we are each individual mothers with unique births, bodies and babies- we deserve to be treated as such. Don't Hate the system because it treated you unfairly, Let's Educate and spread the word that this is a human rights issue; autonomy of choice. This is what I'm talking about!
home birth, gentle birth, birth quotes
A cause that directly affects the health and well-being of millions of women around the world. That cause is human rights in childbirth.
You, mother who doesn't research and just does as your told in the birthing room, I judge you. I judge you and I apologize for that but if we are to take back birth then there is no room for mothers who don't care. We need all the support and advocacy we can get because birth matters.

So is this OB vs Midwife? Hospital vs home? Technology vs nature? No! We can all respect one another. I will respect your choice to birth in the hospital with an epidural if you respect my choice to birth at home without drugs. I respect yours because I've researched yours. Have you researched mine? I'm not asking if you believe it, I'm not asking you to achieve it. I'm simply asking you to be informed. Understand that home birth is a safe option for a healthy, low-risk mother. It's OK if it's not the choice for you, I don't judge you; I simply want you to know that pregnancy is not an illness. I want you to know the epidural is not free of risks. Do you know the benefits and joy of natural birth? Or are you overwhelmed by fear of the pain we have been programmed to expect in childbirth?
"So many North American women have experienced the pain of labor, and then had an epidural, that our collective memory about birth is now full of hurt but is missing the feelings of ecstasy and success that natural birth provides." -Cynthia Gabriel

Our culture has been programmed to fear birth. When birth moved out of the home and into the hospital it became a mystery. Little girls no longer see birth as a normal part of life but as an illness that needs medical care. Everywhere you turn you see complications and pain and no mother wants to be the only woman in the birth circle talking about her blissful or ecstatic birth. Are you getting your information from the media? Are your friends, coworkers and complete strangers bombarding you with horror stories? What would happen if you surrounded yourself with positive birth stories? Have you considered finding a birth circle? Do you have a doula or other caring support persons?
childbirth education, preparing for birth, doula, midwife, 

Midwives may provide an excellent source or childbirth education but if you're getting your information from an obstetrician, you must understand that they are trained surgeons; they are trained to manage complications in birth! Don't be ignorant when choosing your care provider. Do you know your care providers birth philosophy? This should be one of the first questions you ask when in search for a care provider. You shouldn't have to settle or compromise. [<--Trigger warning]
Why is it that we get pregnant and call the surgeon! 

The United States spends $98 billion annually on hospitalization for pregnancy and childbirth, but the US maternal mortality rate has doubled in the past 25 years. The U.S. ranks 50th in the world for maternal mortality, meaning 49 countries were better at keeping new mothers alive.

So what's different here than in those other countries? Do they have better technology than us? No. What's missing here, in the United States, is the midwifery model of care. Only 8% of mothers are seeking a midwife for their prenatal care and birth. When are we going to catch on? When are we going to realize that birth is a normal life event. Not only does birth matter, mothers matter! It's not enough to merely say "the baby's healthy, that's all that matters."

There's not near enough of a concern for the rising cesarean rate. Can a cesarean save lives? Yes. Are all  these cesareans we're having necessary- not even close. The WHO recommends a cesarean rate below 15%; anything above that and our outcomes are not improving alongside of the rise in this major abdominal surgery. We are at a national average of 32%.

Take charge of your birth. Know what interventions increase your likelihood of a cesarean.
It is NOT ok that we are using pitocin to elictively induce labor.

Daily Med Plus

Don't Hate, Let's Educate. Surely, a mother who knew the risks of induction to her baby and to herself would not choose this. But as a culture, we have made pitocin far too permissible in birth and ignored the dangers of it. Roberto Caldreyo-Barcia, MD said,

Pitocin is the most abused drug in the world today.

We are disregarding the importance of mother nature and creating detrimental affects.
Infographic courtesy of Plumtree Baby

Beyond all of this, it's more than just this moment, this birth; pitocin impacts so much more. Michele Odent, MD first began exploring the desensitization of oxytocin receptors.
Oxytocin is the hormone of love and bonding and human connection. If the oxytocin system is damaged, or a child’s oxytocin receptors become desensitized, the ramifications are huge. Click here to read more about how pitocin impacts can be life-long. 
A recent ACOG survey found that in 43% of malpractice suits involving neurologically impaired babies, Pitocin was to blame. Is this really a risk you want to take because you're uncomfortable towards the end of your pregnancy? Of course not! But mothers are not being told of the risks and so we are overly seeking convenience. This "convenience" is affecting us as a society. This is what I am so angered by. I don't know your circumstances, I don't judge you; what I judge is ignorance. What I am enraged by is the lack of knowledge and respect for choices made surrounding birth. Why is this risk such an easy option to obtain but to VBAC you have to fight? You'll be told the risks of that and you'll be told in a way that makes you fearful, regardless that a vaginal birth may be a safer choice.
Fear mongering is not ok! Ever!

In conclusion: we must respect each women in the choices she makes for her birth and understand that she made the choice she felt best with the knowledge and support she was given. Don't Hate, Let's Educate. We need to stop bashing one another for the choices the other has already made and start reshaping the way our culture views birth. If we can influence the way we think about birth- trusting mother nature, understanding this normal life process- we can begin rethinking our choices and positively influencing future generations. But with so much negative influence from pop culture and a lack of prevalence in the midwifery model of care, where is a simple consumer to begin improving birth? [<---The answer here.]

Previously in Don't Hate, Let's Educate: Vaccinations and Baby Feeding
For more in evidence based birth to help you make informed choices, follow the Journey of Life.

What's important for your birth ?

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Jennifer Valencia | Labor & Postpartum Doula | 928.300.1337


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