Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Birth Choices

Every time I am pregnant, the question of where and how I will give birth looms large for me. During my first pregnancy, I mostly studied how to have a natural birth; I didn't want any unnecessary medical interventions, and especially I did not want to do/have done to me anything that might increase the risk of having a c-section. I believe operational deliveries can save lives, but I also believe many are not necessary, or would not have been necessary, had it not been for a cascade of prior interventions. I didn't really have an option at the time, or didn't know I had options, regarding where to give birth. I assumed my autonomy as a patient would be respected in the hospital setting. It turned out I was only partially right. I had a birth plan, and things I specified on the birth plan were generally respected--but only things I had spelled out specifically. Otherwise, the medical personnel apparently felt they had free reign to manipulate my body however they pleased--at least that was how I felt when the Dr. who attended the delivery reached inside me five minutes after the baby was born to manually remove the placenta, a procedure that was both extremely uncomfortable for me and a potential source of problems such as infection or partial retained placenta. I was astounded that someone would take such liberties with my body without consulting or even informing me. The experience made me much more cautious regarding future births, and taught me a lot of new questions to ask--and new things that might need to be included in my birth plan!
Now with every pregnancy I carefully evaluate my options. I tour hospitals. I interview OB's. I interview homebirth midwives. I need to go into labor feeling confident not only that I have the medical support I need to birth my baby safely, but also that I will treated both supportively and respectfully through the labor and birth process. I am not comfortable checking my autonomy at the doors of a hospital.

5 comments:

Catherine Agnes said...

I'm astounded that a doctor would manually remove a placenta when there was absolutely no indication that your body could not take care of that on its own. That seems deeply disrespectful!

Paula said...

As I learned that day, doctors do not necessarily look at patients as people. This particular doctor was in a hurry, so he did was was fastest.
And doctors wonder why women are choosing home birth in spite of the unavailability of immediate medical help in case of emergency...

liahonajourney said...

I wish more women were like you, willing to truly take responsibility for the choices they make in regard to where and with whom they birth. I'm glad that you understood what that doctor did was wrong, and decided to make sure it wouldn't happen again. Prayer will most certainly help you in finding just where and who you should birth with. There is a really wonderful book called Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Your Growing Latter-day Saint Family that I recommend.

Maile said...

It is great that you took so much time to look into options. I'll admit I was totally naive going into my first child's birth. I feel lucky to have finally realized that women have so many more choices than doctors want them to think about. I was always so sure that authority figures were right growing up (teachers, parents, etc.) and I think that carried over for a while as I "grow up" but I'm glad to now know that a lot of what doctors put forth as fact is really opinion or a matter of convenience for them.

Kelley said...

I think thought is the most important preparation a woman can make for her birth. Good for you! I'd be astounded, too, if a doctor did something like that to me.