Why Women are Leaving their Doctors and Birthing at Home

by Birth Without Fear on October 31, 2011

This a guest post from a fellow BWF woman and mother. Rachelle Hansen is a mom of five, who had her most recent baby at home! After 4 hospital cesarean births, she knew there had to be a better way and dedicated herself to learning as much about birth as possible. Her successful home birth after 4 c-sections was a tremendously healing and life-changing event and has prompted Rachelle’s desire to help educate and inform all women about birth. A self-proclaimed “birth junkie”, Rachelle hopes to someday become a doula to further be able to encourage women to trust their bodies, give birth naturally and most importantly, birth without fear! ~Mrs. BWF

I believe there is a subtle shift happening. More and more women are leaving their obstetricians, foregoing the hospitals, and going back to birthing at home. I also believe that obstetricians are largely responsible for this shift. Unbeknownst to them, OBs are working themselves right out of a job.

An acquaintance I know recently went in for her 39 week prenatal appointment. While there, it was discovered that her blood pressure was elevated and that she was spilling protein in her urine. They immediately sent her up to the OB floor and scheduled her for an induction. Even though I am usually anti-induction, I do understand that sometimes, inductions are necessary for the health of the mom and her baby. Sometimes, the benefits outweigh the risks. However, HOW they went about this induction left me speechless.


Let me set the stage:

At 10:00pm, nurses give Mom a drug cocktail of misoprostol and zolpidem. (I will explain these drugs in a moment.) At 2:00am, the nurses wake Mom and give her a second dose of miso. Mom falls back into a deep sleep and wakes at 6:00 with intense contractions. Baby is born 2 hours later and is not breathing. Baby was also slightly stuck at the shoulders upon delivery and has some nerve damage as a result. Baby is rushed to the NICU and spends the next 6 hours there while Mom, alone and missing her baby, wonders what went wrong.

For those of you unfamiliar with these drugs, misoprostol (brand name: Cytotec) is a drug being used to induce labor, even though the FDA does not approve of it for this use. More information about it and its controversy can be found here: http://www.midwiferytoday.com/cytotec

Zolpidem (brand name: Ambien), on the other hand, is a drug used to induce sleep. More information can be found here: http://www.webmd.com/drugs/drug-9690-Ambien+Oral.aspx?drugid=9690&drugname=Ambien+Oral

Did you catch that? These doctors simultaneously put this mother into labor and put her to sleep. There are so many things wrong with this scenario that it is making my head spin, but I will try to list just a few:

1. First of all, as mentioned above, neither of these drugs have been approved for use during labor. Women and their babies are currently being used as lab rats. In case you don’t have the time to read the links above, here is one quote from the Ambien article that I feel is significantly important:
“During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Infants born to mothers who have taken sedative-hypnotics near the time of delivery may have undesirable effects such as breathing problems or withdrawal symptoms.”
I don’t believe induction falls under the  “clearly needed” category.

2. The Ambien article also states:
“Do not take a dose of this drug unless you have time for a full night’s sleep of at least 7 to 8 hours. If you have to wake up before that, you may have some memory loss.”
Memory loss? Really? Doctors don’t think women would want to remember their children being born into this world??

3. When we birth, the pain we feel actually serves a purpose. Pain triggers our bodies to release endorphins – our bodies’ own built-in pain reliever. As the pain intensifies, more endorphins are released. As more endorphins are released, we are able to tolerate more pain. It is a beautiful cycle. If one part of this cycle is disrupted – in this case, Mom not feeling any pain while she is in a drug-induced sleep – her body doesn’t know to release endorphins. When she suddenly wakes up, she is bulldozed with tremendous amounts of pain that her body has not been prepared to handle.

4. It is well-known that a mom who is able to be up and moving around during labor facilitates her own labor. It makes sense, right? If Mom is upright, gravity is on her side and each subtle move she makes helps baby slide lower and lower, past all those bony structures and allows baby to twist and turn and get into the optimal position for exit. If Mom is put to sleep, how is this natural process supposed to occur?

So, the answer to Mom’s question of  “What happened?” is this:  your uterus was forced into unnaturally intense contractions while your body lay motionless in a bed. Baby was not able to maneuver through your pelvis effectively, so while your uterus just kept clamping down, baby got crunched lower and lower into a bad position in your pelvis, resulting in shoulder dystocia and a baby unable to breath on her own because of the known side-effects of Ambien.

Is this really the care we women are willing to settle for? Don’t we deserve better? DON’T OUR BABIES?

I actually think that many women are starting to answer these questions by bringing birth back home. And I hope that someday, hospitals and obstetricians get the message.


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