What’s a Woman to Do? {Choices Ripped Away}

by Mrs. BWF on May 8, 2013

Supporting all women in their birthing choices and being inclusive does not mean there are not issues within maternal and infant care, especially in the U.S. We can not deny that the care most women get in our country is sub-par. Women are still railroaded everyday, backed into corners, strapped down onto tables and told by their care providers they have to do what they say…’for the safety of their child’.

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Let me give you a few scenarios that I have recently encountered.

Scenario 1

Mom is pregnant and learns baby is breech. So she goes to a chiropractor to receive adjustments and Webster technique. She waits out her whole pregnancy and baby is still breech. She is supported and told baby can turn up to the last minute. Her doctor on the other hand does not have that faith or patience. The doctor schedules mom for a cesarean at 39 weeks. Mom doesn’t really care one way or the other.

Mom goes in for the planned cesarean and the doctor does NOT CHECK if baby is still breech. Mom is prepped and surgery begins. Surprise!!! Baby is head down. Oops. Not only did mom have an early cesarean due to breech birth (which does not have to be cesarean), but baby had turned head down in preparation for his/her birthday that was now chosen for him/her. That is negligent care. That is NOT OK.

Scenario 2

Mom plans a natural hospital birth with the support of her doctor. Mom goes into labor on her own and goes into the hospital when the staff tells her to. She is in very early labor (and now regrets going in too soon). Why? As soon as she gets there all of her preparation and wishes for a natural birth were ignored. She is told she has to be monitored and lying down. Mom wanted to try to labor in different positions that felt comfortable to her. She is told no. She feels confused, sad, lost, angry and doesn’t know what to do.

Labor is painful as mom is restricted and come to find out baby is in posterior position. Instead of moving around to help change and optimize baby’s position, mom is told she needs an epidural. Confusion, vulnerability, alone, angry. But mom is told for the safety of her baby she must do these things. Mother is lied to, bullied and disrespected. “You have one hour and if no baby, we will need to do a cesarean.” Mom prays her heart out that she will not be cut open. One hour passes, “We need to do a cesarean.” Every tells her it’s fine. Mom does not feel fine.

Cesarean birth, no support, traumatized. Now what? There is no VBAC support for her. No one understands her pain. This is NOT OK.

Scenario 3

I need to schedule your induction at 39 weeks, because my family has a vacation to Disnyworld planned the next week.

What?!

But the number one thing said about this doctor…she has great bed side manner.

What is a mother to do when she lives by a hospital with doctors ONLY like this? How does she fight for her rights when NO ONE LISTENS. She is told she is unreasonable? We need to support women in being courageous enough to say, “NO! This is not OK. My body, my baby, my birth!”

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We need to search out care providers who have enough decency to respect a woman (pregnant or not) and her choices for her own body and birth. Share your wonderful midwives and doctors with other women. Listen to mothers when they tell you that no, they were treated badly, they did not birth how they knew they could and to stay away from a midwife or doctor who is incompetent or disrespectful. Women need to demand to know their options and push to have evidenced based care from their doctors.

Only we can be the change. It won’t happen externally. It needs to come from us. From birthing women.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  {Margaret Mead}

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Thank you to those that shared their pictures for this post!

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Cherie May 8, 2013 at 4:22 am

That is absolutley beautiful and so true! Thank you for your constant sharing of encouragement for so many women, worldwide, in one of the most incredible and amazing experiences of their life! I’m currently pregnant with baby number 2 and I must admit that until I found your blog, the anxiety was starting to get to me a little. Thank you for deflating that balloon and helping me to find the confidence I know I have :D

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quest May 8, 2013 at 10:24 am

You are so right! Scenario #2 happened to me and im still trying to find a way to be thankful because it help open up my eyes and inform me but I will always try to prevent that from happening to someone else by informing them before they have kids or before baby is born and do my best to respect their decisions because it is not body or my birth. I just want to make sure that I do my part ad that’s all I can do and hope we can all one day embrace each other with our differences.

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Emily May 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm

This is one of my favorite posts. We have been so conditioned to just accept everything that happens as long as there is a live baby at the end. To speak up and say, “this happened and it was not okay,” marks us out as difficult, or complaining, or ungrateful. Birthing mothers are the only ones who can change this system. We should do it now, so that our daughters can have the births that they want and know they can have.

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Sammie May 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I was 18 with my first and it was horrible. They induced me (as my son was already 2 weeks “late”), epidural failed so they used a second. I had no one but my mother with me (a woman whom I barely got along with then) and as soon as I found a way that was comfortable for me (on my hands and knees) I was informed I could not lay that way. I was NEVER given the option of a bath (which we all know how amazing warm water feels on anything) and I was scared. My son was born with a heart defect and he took a long time from the medicine to even make a sound. My heart sunk because I knew something was wrong. I lost him 17 days later and I have miscarried twice since. Now I am almost 14 weeks pregnant and I am terrified. I don’t know what I want, I can’t get my doctor to agree to meeting with me more than once a month (which freaks me out) and my husband hasn’t a CLUE about babies at all…I am empowered by all the post but I am lost on where to begin to know what I want and need and what’s best for my baby.

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Ashley May 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Yes! I’ve been wondering for a long time what exactly people mean when they say ‘it’s all worth it because Baby’s here.’ Was it ‘worth’ it, or are you without regret over the final outcome? Those are different to me. To always imply maternal difficulties as par for the course furthers their normalcy when they are far from normal, as well as devalues or even invalidates the experience and condition of mothers as during & after birth.

Why is it that in 2013 we find ourselves so often choosing between unscathed babies and mothers? Why can we not have a vast majority of births where both parties come across the finish line simply tired, instead of injected, medicated, cut, incised, sutured? When will we have a healthy, patient, birth culture?

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Raechel May 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I was fortunate enough to have a friend who recommended her midwife to me because the doctors in my area do NOT listen to the woman and do NOT care what kind of birth you want, they want to C section you. That is honestly what they boil into. They just want you on their schedule. I am so glad I was able to find our midwife and that she accepted us even though I am very very far into the pregnancy. (I was full term when we called to ask her if she’d see us for an initial consult)

I am no longer filled with terror and anxiety at the thought of having to deliver in the hospital that is NOTORIOUS for doing what ever procedure they want with out your consent or just forcing you into unwanted C section.

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Chryss May 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Thank you for your wonderful, supportive and inspiring posts. I appreciate that the posts mentions that both midwifes and doctors may be incompetent or disrespectful. I had a long labor, and was in the Midwife pod of my hospital for two days (3 shift changes). My first midwife was amazing, and the third was likely amazing too (I was a bit out of it by that point), but the second midwife was disrespectful, rude, pushy, and refused to discuss options with me. When I asked to discuss why she wanted to push pitocin, she refused to – and I refused to allow pitocin. After that, she didn’t bother to come into my room again for her entire shift. Mamas – trust your instincts, have and advocate with you, and don’t allow yourself to be bullied just because someone has a title or a uniform.

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KAS May 10, 2013 at 6:39 am

I needed to hear this today. Yesterday I went to have a dating ultrasound and then a follow up with the doctor afterwards. I am obese, and I know there are potential complications due to my size, however he immediately brought up my weight and began telling me I would probably need a c-section and that my size meant my baby might die. When he spoke of my other births and brought up that they were augmented, he said, “So you’re going to want another epidural then, right?” I told him no and he demanded to know why. “I don’t want to” wasn’t good enough. Same with the flu vaccine – and after I declined it twice he told me I had to promise to at least think about it. It isn’t flu season and we don’t do the flu shots anyway. Needless to say, I’m on the market for a new doctor since a midwife is not an option for me. Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to want the best and that I have a right to feel bullied.

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Liz May 10, 2013 at 11:34 am

Senario 2, I understand her Pain.

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Elizabeth May 10, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I’m a young mom and I can completely relate to this post. I was set on natural childbirth, but my hospital experience turned into a nightmare. At 36weeks 9days my dr told me I needed to be induced because I didn’t have good “cord flow.” I asked if there was any other option and he told me no. I went into the hospital and was monitored all night. Everything seemed fine with the umbilical cord and baby yet they still induced me in the morning. I was artificially dilated, the broke my water and started pumping me full of pitocin. I started getting really uncomfortable so I asked if I could get up and move around and the doctors said no. I wasn’t allowed to move from the bed for anything, not even to sit on a birthing ball. They had my Pitocin above 40, and at 9 hours into the labor and 6cm dilated they told me I was going to need to have a c-section. I begged for one more hour, so they obliged. Frantically I looked at my nurse and asked her what I should do. She started explaining that the only thing I could do was get an epidural and see if that would help. Lost, confused, and in terrible pain I consented. My birth experience was disappointing to say the least, but next time things will be different. Next time I’ll seek the help of a midwife, who believes in my vision for my birth. My body, my birth, my baby.

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Marie May 10, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I’ve been told of an area Dr. who will “punish” women who ask/require certain things for their labors, by doing a painful internal “sweep” after the placenta delivers. :( it’s so maddening to know there’s nothing anyone can do to “prove” the intentional punishment, and also very little choice for a delivering dr. let alone a midwife in that area……makes me sick.

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Kate May 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm

I love this post. It makes me feel so thankful that, even though I labored at home for 3 days hoping for a homebirth, when I went to the hospital for pitocin no one tried to make me labor any particular way or scare/bully me into a cesarean, and I pushed my baby out the next day. Thank you, Alta Bates in Berkeley CA.

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Breanne May 10, 2013 at 9:54 pm

For the Orlando, FL area – In the interest of sharing our resources here is an office that I have had personal experience with and they are AWESOME at supporting natural birth, doctors and midwives. Due to the midwives working so closely with the doctors they are able to handle some cases that other midwives would not be able to due being considered risky. Last time I was there the midwives were the ones on call for when anyone from that office who went into labor (regardless if they mainly saw one of the doctors in the office or one of the midwives). Dr. Sweet is the head doctor and is VERY supportive of natural birth and is encouraging the other doctors to follow suit. The midwives are AMAZING and truely support your wishes. If you are looking for a hospital environment that is SUPPORTIVE of natural birth and are in this area please check them out. Below is their website for further information:
http://www.floridawomenscenteraltamonte.com/medical-team

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Susan Courtney May 11, 2013 at 8:02 am

What scares me more is the fact that most women I know, do not know enough about pregnancy/birth to know when they are being lied to or misled by mainstream medical practitioners.

For example, my girlfriend was told she ‘could’ allegedly attempt a VBAC, but they got her in at just over 40 weeks, induced her with gel only (thank goodness they at least had the good sense not to use a Syntocinin (Pitocin for US readers) drip) and when her labour did not commence (surprise, surprise – bub obviously wasn’t ready), she was given another C-section. She feels she was given a legitimate attempt at a VBAC, I contend that she was given no such opportunity as she was never in labour.

I have had people say to me that a particular local ob/gyn is wonderful and I have been to the same guy and was given appalling advice that I know from my own research was wrong. I was recommended by him to have an elective caesarean for my 2nd birth to avoid another perineal tear (I had a 3rd degree perineal tear first time around that got infected and took 7 weeks to heal with more surgery at 6 weeks because of a non-consentual lateral episiotomy and a rough ventouse extraction) and was told that while I ‘could’ labour in water (gee thanks, like I needed his permission!!!), I would have to get out of the water to push my baby out as water birth increases the risk of a perineal tear (the opposite has actually been proven to be the case – perineal tears are less likely in warm water which makes logical sense as the warm water makes your tissue more pliable and able to stretch to accommodate bub’s head).

I had my 2nd baby in 6 hours at home in our spa with no drugs and had only a minor 2nd degree tear that didn’t require stitches and healed in a week.

I was lucky enough to be able to find a wonderful, extremely knowledgeable Independent Midwife who let us pay her fee in instalments and because my husband and I both work, we could afford this option. For many people in Australia, the $4,000-$5,000 fee is just too expensive so they are forced into mainstream medical care.

It’s no surprise then that our C-section rate is now 1 in 3 – disgraceful!

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Kandle May 17, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I know the pain of c-sections all too well- I’ve had three! I was bullied (there really is no other way to put it) into the first one. The second pregnancy I desperatly wanted to VBAC but the hospital was just too small (I still agree with this). The third time, I begged my doc and she told me no doctor would allow it. I found out later that the AMA had just started reccommending allowing women with 2 previous c/s to. This time my NEW doctor was the one who brought up the VBAC. He was honest and told me that my chances of a successful VBAC are only 50%, but I feel so empowered. I have studied natural and unmedicated childbirth like crazy, and guess what? As long as my baby is not in distress, they are NOT going to bully me again!

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