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.

baby

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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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Kara October 31, 2011 at 9:15 am

We do deserve better. And so do our babies. Thank you for posting this woman’s story. The more we know…

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Brittany October 31, 2011 at 10:43 am

Thats so horrifying. I pray mom and baby are doing well now. I agree that OBs don’t realize how ignorant they make themselves look 99% of the time. Obviously, not all women are educated on natural birth, but those of us who are are SCREAMING it from the roof tops and doing our BEST to help other women realize THEY know what’s best for their baby.

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tara potter October 31, 2011 at 11:05 am

Wow! all I can say is wow!

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Erin October 31, 2011 at 11:15 am

I’m so horrified and saddened by this story, how can anyone (medically trained or otherwise) think that that is a humane way to treat a woman and unborn child?? My heart goes out to their family. Knowledge is power and our only defense – keep bringing it BWF!

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Jess October 31, 2011 at 12:44 pm

This is why I’m birthing at home!!! And I’ll have two strong advocates for me in case I lose the ability to be my own advocate: My husband and my best friend. I know what doctors think they can do in an emergency. I grew up in emergency rooms (my mom is an RN).

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Momzoo October 31, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Sounds a tad like twilight sleep….

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Kate October 31, 2011 at 9:44 pm

momzoo thats what I thought too

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Kellie Bradley November 7, 2011 at 10:17 am

I agree with article. I am mother of four. I will be having number five in 6-8 weeks. I would love to have my birth at home. I don’t know where to begin though. How and who do I contact to do this and supplies? Where do u get them?

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Haylee November 9, 2011 at 8:28 am

Kelly, first off you find a midwife and figure out what the laws are in your state. If you need assistance doing that email me and I will help. Haylee.larson@gmail.con

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Katie November 14, 2011 at 7:53 am

I just read this article and found it not only interesting but very true. My labour was eventually induced after going 20 days over my due date (I was quite stubborn that I didn’t want to be induced). Prostin gel was used to induce labour. After around 14 hours of climbing up the walls in agony, not being checked by the midwives and being told I wasn’t in labour because Prostin Gel never works the first time, I was going to be transferred 30 miles away by ambulance for an epidural. Before they moved me, my husband insisted they check me and lo and behold, I was 8cm dilated. That’s when the problems arose! I was then taken to a delivery suite, given gas and air and pethidine. When my son was born, it took him a full 3 mins to breathe unassisted and I was on another planet. Overall, it was a terrible experience.

My daughter was born a year ago at home, and what a difference. I didn’t use any pain relief (although I had a supply in the event that I needed it), I had a dedicated midwife and my husband was by my side. Baby Sophie Emily Katherine was born at 9am on a Sunday morning by the sofa in front of the TV. Now that’s the way to do it!

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Jillian Mark Higginson January 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm

This sounds way too much like twilight sleep era. I am astonished about the sedative. Spend the few cents extra use cervadil or some other drug approved for mothers in labour. The only reason to use cytotec is if your asking for uterine hyperstimulation and all the risks that go with it (uterine rupture, intense pain etc.). This poor Mom. It literally sounds like my grandmothers’ birth stories…circa. 1960s. Waking up in the height of an augmented contraction would be horrible. This is all women of this era remember…nothing about their babies first breath, the delicious feeling of mastery at having done this work for your baby. Ughh… I am an RN student and I will be advocating for my patients against anything that even remotely resembles this inhumane treatment.

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ashley April 20, 2012 at 9:45 am

i wish you the best of luck on your journey! i will soon be studying to be a doula, i want to help and encourage women to deliver naturally :)

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ashley April 20, 2012 at 9:02 am

my first three babies were all c sections, and this post explains So much for me. while i was in labor with my first, all i wanted to do was walk around..but they wouldnt let me, they had me stay in the bed, and then, between the drugs and the position they had me in, i could not push at all…when i was in labor with my second, i told my husband on the way to the hospital, “the first thing they will make me do is lay down, and i Dont want to”..ofcourse this is what happened. and at 8cm, they said my babys heart rate dropped and brought me in for the c section. with my 3rd, it was a scheduled section… i want another baby, my youngest is 6 months so i have to wait a little while, and i want to do a water birth in the hospital…and next time, i wont let anyone boss me around :)

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ashley April 20, 2012 at 9:06 am

when i went into labor with my first, while we were waiting at home i felt fine. my stomache hurt a little obviously, but i felt fine..a little while after getting to the hospital i was stressed out..and with my second, i waited a while to go to the hospital because i felt fine and i wasnt sure if i was in labor. by the time we got to the hospital, i was 6cm dialated…the dr and nurses couldnt believe it, they were asking why i waited so long, and i kept telling them i felt fine and relaxed. and after a few hours, once i got to 8cm, like i said before babys heartrate dropped and they did the c section…i believe if i had just stayed home, the birth would have been faster & natural…

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Stacy April 20, 2012 at 10:29 am

And this type of story is why #2 will be an HBAC baby!

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BT Doula April 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I think also something forgotten is the influence of insurance companies on the ability of women to choose to VBAC. Also, the Ambien given to women during labor reminds me of what doctors would induced twilight births in the 40′s and 50′s.

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Wendy April 22, 2012 at 10:57 am

I’m Domesday for mom and baby. We are preparing for the birth of our 3rd child this August, our second home birth. My husband was not completely on board with our first, but after he has because quite the home birth advocate!

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Bonnie B Matheson April 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Women simply MUST make waves when this sort of thing happens. The doctors have all sorts of reasons why this or that is used but it almost all boils down to covering their own “you know what”s rather than what is best for the mother. They all seem to operate on the “At least you got a healthy baby out of the experience.” as if that was not something EVERY WOMAN wants. Of course we want healthy babies. But we want an empowering and memorable (in a good way) birth that will be calm and peaceful for the baby, bonding for both mother and baby and leave no emotional scars due to heartless treatment by staff and doctors.

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Amanda April 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm

I was induced with my first 5 children. While laboring with my 3rd the anestisiologist told me while leaving the room ” by the way, I put a mild narcotic in your epidural, you may start to feel sleepy.”. I hated the feeling of not being able to arouse myself. I vowed never to do that again. While in labor with number 5 they decided to induce me because he was a week overdue. Otherwise there was no reason for induction. Baby ended up being posterior and so the ephodurals weren’t working. Once again the same anestisiologist gave me the same news about the narcotic he had given me as he left through the door. My husband looked at me and said “I am so sorry”, but there was nothing I could do. They finally decided my ephodural wasn’t working. They left me for two hours hooked up to pit with no way to deal with the pain. I was out of control! Thankfully he was born without complications. After that we decided to have #6 at home. 16 days overdue I had a beautiful baby and an amazingly relaxing labor. I almost cried when I realized that you get breaks between contractions! We are expecting number 7 and are looking forward to another calm, at home, delivery.

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Blessed5x May 22, 2012 at 8:28 am

Our baby #5 is due in a couple weeks and this will be our first homebirth. I’m still fearful about those really rare unforseeable occurances: cord prolapse, placenta previa, bad presentation, placenta retention. I know there’s nothing I can do to control these things, but I wish I could feel confident and strong as we approach this awesome day. WHY CAN’T I GET MY HEAD IN THE GAME?

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