I have a doula who once shared that she had been supporting a mom in labor for a couple of days who eventually ended up having a cesarean. Another doula- not in my company- asked her, “Don’t you wish she had just gotten the epidural much earlier and they had called for the cesarean hours earlier? When I heard that I was aghast! NO! This mom had a journey she was choosing to play out to the very end until there were no other options. And my guess is she is glad she did. And this doula, the one in my company- was happy to have been there supporting her the whole time.
I had a mom recently tell me the story of having her first baby by cesarean due to the suspected large baby. She had been so disappointed that the baby was found to be of only average size. She said that no one supported her through the consideration of having the baby select her own due date and for the mom to labor. Her husband who was a larger man, her mom, her mother in law and her friends all agree with the doctor. And now she was struggling with finding the right care provider to truly honor her desire for a vaginal birth after a cesarean with her next. And guess what, her friends and family are not supportive of her having a VBAC this time either. I think folks forget it is her journey not theirs!
A mom to be sat in my class recently and shared how she was not going to be fully forthright with information about her birth location with her mom. She felt it would upset her and bring harm in doing so. So instead of being able to share in the joy of their decision to have a home birth, she was going to keep it to herself. It made me sad that her mom’s response would not be one of support. Sure there may need to be some educating for the mom to understand the choice, but in the end I was sad that this young mother did not feel her mom would be able to “hear” it. I am glad this woman does not feel compelled to change her mind to please her mom- but it makes me sad that she has to keep it private as to avoid the conflict.
In that same class was a mom who really wanted to make decisions for her birth that would not make her partner feel good. I don’t mean decisions that would bring harm- I mean personal decision that are right for her. Whether that is for one woman, hiring a doula. Or for another choosing a different birth location. She should be able to decide who to have with her in labor. (I suspect some moms are angry when I am included, and not them for instance.) Or something as simple as what she will wear in labor. These are her decisions to make- it is her birth- the baby is coming out of her body.
I had a mom who made a decision to fight to have a natural- organic birth. She selected midwives who she felt would support her and had lots of conversations with them about what she wanted. She did not want to be induced. She did not want to have augmentation to her labor. She did not want to have any pain medication. She labored prodromally for three days- with little or no sleep. She consented to getting low dose Pitocin when her contractions proved to need assistance in the last hours of her labor. She consented to getting an epidural in a last ditch effort to see if a bit of relaxation to her body and specifically her pelvic floor would make a difference. In the end it did not. She had an ounce short of a 10 pound baby that had been trying to come through her body decline to be able to do so. She has to be proud of her journey. She worked for so hard. She was at the hospital for over 26 hours before the birth. Her two midwives had been so patient- beyond what is the norm at this hospital.
But guess what, her mom was angry. Angry she had a midwife instead of a doctor. Angry that her daughter had somehow bought into this whole “journey” idea. Angry that her daughter had been trusted to labor with this huge baby inside of her. Angry that I had been supporting her daughter in this foolish suffering. Angry that folks had been cavalier with her grandson’s health- he was born by the way perfectly healthy. I sat there while she was indignant with me wondering whose journey this had been. She certainly did not trust the child she had brought into the world to be able to make the right decisions for her.
We may not understand or approve of someone’s choices. But in the end, it is their journey to choose. If they are not being cavalier with harming others- it is time we remember that. Birth is a personal journey. It is not up to the partner, the doctor, her friends or her mother to make these decisions. I support women making personal decisions that are right for them, especially when it comes to their birth choices. It after all is her journey, not theirs.