Sometimes a new client comes to us and tells us what type of birth they desire. They want a gentle birth with as few medical interventions as possible. But herein is where the issues come up. They have been going to their gynecologist for years and do not want to change. But their gynecologist, who may very well be an excellent one, is not a low management obstetrician. Or their doctor will only be doing births at the hospital that has the worse statistics for natural vaginal birth in the area. Or they are too busy to take classes so they have watched a few videos and skimmed through a couple of books and feel that will prepare them enough. Or they have invited their mother to attend as well. She had a horrible birth experience and talks about it often. She is unsure why her daughter does not just elect for a scheduled cesarean birth.
Do you see a pattern of issues? We have a ton of birth experience. We understand what the environment will be with these compounding issues. We want to guide them gently toward the integral keys to helping them achieve the birth they desire. We know it will take some preparation and some evaluating the best possible environment to help achieve it.
The questions are: do we just lay out the truth as we know it based on years of experience? Do we just move forward with their plans although we know it will be difficult if not impossible upward climb to have the birth they desire? Do we hope they will do the preparation in order to be able to advocate for their birth dream?
I have been known to lay it out clearly to my prospective clients. I often ask them if they want me to be totally honest. But if they say yes, I don’t hold back. I explain the 95+ epidural rates at area hospitals, ob anesthesia that needs to stay busy and therefore epidurals are constantly being offered, the nurses who rarely get to see a natural birth, therefore, are not usually equipped to support them, the 40+ cesarean rates, the docs who share call with other groups whom you will never see in pregnancy but could be with you in labor. I explain the medical model of birth vs the midwifery model. I share evidenced-based practices vs convenience based practices. I encourage them to take a non-hospital comprehensive based class which will equip them with many tools for labor and birth and even postpartum.
Sometimes they take this information to heart and do their research and change the trajectory of their labor and birth. Sometimes they do not. We can’t want their birth dreams to become reality more than they do. We can not protect them from fear being spoken to them at every prenatal- too big of a baby, placenta getting older- without any evidence, their age causing them to be categorized high risk, etc. We can not teach them the tools they need in the midst of labor. We can not help them work through fears that they refuse to have dealt with during their pregnancy. We can not make their support team truly supportive. We can not speak for them in an attempt to protect them.
I am a gardener. When I go to the nursery to buy a plant. I read the tag, I speak to the horticulturist, I read my gardening blogs. If I want that plant to do well, I need to set it up to win with the right soil, the perfect amount of water, the suggested amount of sun. I can not expect the plant to do well if I don’t follow the suggestions on how to make it flourish.
We believe it truly does take preparation and research to reach your dreams. We feel strongly it takes a gentle birth pie in its entirety to help make that work. We are there to support you- but we employ you to listen to the years or experience that we have to offer guidance to help you achieve the birth you tell us is your desire.