What do you think is the number one issue surrounding birth today?
This was a question posed on a birth professional group I am a member of online. I wanted to share the top ten things that birth professionals- midwives, doulas and educators had to share.
(One person said it was hard to pick just one since there were many issues.)
- staff was shared- the lack of education on their part and the lack of desire to support laboring women.
- many said it was the lack of education on behalf of the woman- about her choices, her options and even the birth process itself, leading to a lack of informed consent. And women not knowing what they do not know until it is too late- and women not taking responsibility to make sure they know.
- induction was sited by many, the lack of trust women had in the birth process and allowing someone else to intervene in the process.
- profits and lies was mentioned- lies between women talking to women, lies between medical professionals to women, lies between parents to children.
- laziness, passiveness and apathy- it is easier to just show up- get the epidural or the planned cesarean than it is to learn what you need to learn to actually labor to birth- looking for a reward without putting in the work.
- power over instead of power within- women giving up their power.
- fear- fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of not being accepted, fear of being treated badly if you do not obey.
- fear mongering by pharmaceutical and medical professionals- and preying on this ignorance of the consumer.
- lack of support- being more focused on machines to tell us how a woman is doing rather than looking at and supporting the woman.
- the medicalizing of birth and women no longer being taught to trust birth and own their birth and their decisions.
I do realize that all women do not want a non interventive natural birth. but as a birth professional I will say that often we say many women do not know what they do not know. Now this is not every woman- but I will say it is the majority of women today. They may read a few books- many of them instilling more fear with a splash of comedy but no real truths revealed. They may watch some youtube videos and maybe even get one from netflix but they do not really seek out information about their particular community from those who will reveal the truth. Birth has become a business. Women are looking for quick appointments with no waits. They want a fancy office decorated beautifully. They want a local hospital to be a close drive that is beautifully decorated with the newest of all the gadgets. They want to be directed by their doctor and told what to do so they do not have to take much if any responsibility for the outcome of their births. They want a nursery with the highest level of NICU for the just in case, not realizing that many of the interventions is what causes their babies to be in the NICU. They want someone to help them perfect breastfeeding with one quick visit since they did not take the time to take a prenatal class. They want a comfortable bed for their partner and great food for them both while being taken care of in both labor and postpartum. The idea and benefits of getting home quickly are not something they would fathom.
What we do know- for a healthy mom- the fewer interventions the better outcomes for both her and her baby. The shorter the stay, the better outcomes with breastfeeding and less intervention for the baby. Healthy mom and healthy baby relies on less intervention not more.
Birth will not change until women change birth. Doctors and hospitals cater to the consumer. If you demand a different experience, they will begin to listen and offer you options you desire. Birth will not change until women take back their birth responsibility. Preparation is up to the woman. You can not expect an outcome without putting in the effort to make that ideal birth happen.
Change is happening. Inductions were at such an increase that cesarean rates rose so high insurance companies started to look into the situation. Why was birth costing so much more? Women were getting more drugs, having more surgical birth and babies were spending more time in the NICUs across the country. When the cesarean rate is upwards to 40% something is really wrong. When women begin to believe that an induction at 37 weeks gives them a full term baby to only find that baby born prematurely and needing NICU support for weeks, something is really wrong. When women elect to have major surgery after their first birth ending in a surgical birth, not realizing the risk to their bodies and their baby’s because of the fear put in them to have a VBAC, something is wrong, especially since the rate of rupture increased only due to doctors fiddling with a woman’s body after having done so the first time leading to that cesarean.
If you want to change your birth experience from the “normal” birth today, you have got to take responsibility in doing so. Take a childbirth and breastfeeding class that is taught by an independent educator- not where you pay the hospital or your doctor. There is control over what those educators can teach. Get your team together- your partner needs some classes too! Hire a doula- not just a friend but someone who is trained to help you have a better chance for a better outcome. Eat a nutritious diet, growing a baby with a healthy diet and get exercise. Learn about optimal fetal positioning and help your baby line up for an easier birth. Choose your care provider wisely. Does he or she listen to you in a respectful way? Do they guide you to explore options that are right for you? Do they encourage you to investigate choices that are available? Choose your location for birth carefully. Every hospital is not right for every woman. Find out what the stats are at that hospital. It is great if your doctor has a low epidural rate if you want a natural birth, but if the staff only sees medicated births, how supportive will they be or even know how to be for you?