Monday, August 06, 2007

First Timer's Remorse

"but thanks for addressing the frustrating, sometimes infuriatingly helpless feeling that is talking to a primip about homebirth!!! Arg! "

This comment from Housefairy got me to thinking (a dangerous pasttime I know). Most folks, even those who might agree with most of what I have to say and read this blog, have no idea how permeated with fear the hospital is. The fear of birth is literally paralyzing. The fear keeps the docs (and midwives and nurses, et al...) from acting on a woman's best behalf- heck the fear keeps the docs from even knowing what is best for her, because all they can see is their own liability. This is why its so difficult for moms (especially first timers) to fathom their doctors not having their best interest at heart. They cannot fathom the fear that these people operate under. The way they see it, each birth is a lawsuit (or at least catastrophe) waiting to happen. They don't have the luxury of viewing each woman and her baby as a unique unit. They can't afford to care about the supremacy of her birth experience. All they know is they gotta have a live baby and live mamma at the end of it all, and if they can accomplish that without losing a whole lot of sleep, so much the better. Fear negates the value of hand holding, fear eliminates autonomy and individuality. Control is the antidote to the pervasive fear that inhabits the birth room today. Controlling every aspect of the outcome is the only way to choke down the fear and operate through it. I almost feel sorry for the poor bastards- almost. Then I remember, that the price they gladly pay for peace of mind and comfort, comes at the expense of a woman and her baby.


The Rogue Midwife said...

First time moms....most doctors and midwives fear them. I love them! Think I'll blog about it :) So glad we found each other!

I am a Monkey's Momma said...

I love this post. I have a girlfriend who is expecting her first and just moved care from a birth center midwife to a randomly chosen OB at a local hospital with a 40% c/s rate....

If she only truly knew what she just gave up... But most of us have to learn by our own experience, right?

Laborpayne said...

Unfortunately Monkey Momma,
Most of us have to learn the hard way. I'd be interested in knowing why she made such a radical change.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your intelligent and honest comments about birth.

Control begins with needing to know that one is actually pregnant, and when that occurred so that one can make sure it happens "on time". No one respects the baby's timing, the mother or the overriding intelligence of the Great Mother.

I thank Her for her Wisdom to spare me from a catastrophical birth from which to heal. I knew I had to be home and it was wonderful (even pain-free, but I don't tell everyone that simply because they don't believe me)!

Keep up the good work.


mother of one
homebirth 24 years ago
not much has changed

Laborpayne said...

You bring up an important topic- the whole issue of timing. Perhaps we can examine that topic in my next entry.

emjaybee said...

I do remember how hard it was to believe the warnings I had about hospitals. I truly had no way of understanding that even though the people that worked there were no worse than people anywhere else, and many of them are wonderful, the system itself works against the patients and healthcare workers alike. Bad practice is rewarded, and good practice is punished. It is hard to believe until you've been through the meat grinder yourself. Or seen someone else go through it up close.

I remember how odd it was to me that so many women really won't talk about their birth experience. At the time, I was afraid that meant that all birth was so horrible that no one wanted to tell me about it. Now I know that they'd been through the system and were traumatized by it.

Laborpayne said...

Emjaybee is right. Traumatizing mom and baby can't possibly lead to 'good outcomes' but there is not a space made in our culture for women to voice these traumas and of course babies have no voice.

Celeste said...

I too was a lamb to the slaughter; that is exactly how I see it.

The feeling I got from it is that they pit the mother against the baby, and essentially they work for the baby.

I have to wonder how somebody thinks that treating the mother badly is good for the baby; babies don't get very far without their mothers.

My biggest remorse is that I was a first timer who won't be having any more babies, so there isn't any way to "get it right" the next time.

You can also count me in as one who just won't talk about birth experiences because frankly, I know that nobody wants to hear anything outside of the typical propaganda.

I feel like our society is going backwards, in so many ways.

Laborpayne said...

At least when it comes to birth, we are certainly going the technocratic way. But take heart dear Readers- when you speak out as you are now, you are changing things...

I am a Monkey's Momma said...

Her laundry list includes:

-who is going to deliver my baby if I start to have her in the car during the 30 minute ride to the birth center

-she didn't like the assistant the midwife uses

-she didn't see what the big difference was between prenatal care from a midwife vs an OB

This is what I can remember off the top of my head... You might want to read "All That I Want to Say, but Will Not" on my blog. It's basically a response to all this nonsense...

Makes me feel like dry heaving...the ignorance *kills* me.

Andrea said...

I enjoy your blog. This one baffles me because the moment I got a vibe about how things would be with an OB, I went to a homebirth midwife and never looked back.

Every cell in my body saw what was wrong during one OB office visit, during which time I only saw a nurse practitioner. It was all talk of all the things they would "check" to see if they were wrong -- GBS, Gestational Diabetes, all that stuff -- as though they were pretty certain something would be horribly awry with my quite healthy self. There was also a ton of talk that visit about genetic testing, a handout about my statistical likelihood as a thirty year old of having a Down's Syndrome baby, scrutiny of my and my husband's family histories for birth defects. What a nice welcome to pregnant! There was also scoffing at my use of a chiropractor ("we'll want you to see our physical therapist instead"), and when it came time to discuss important things, like nutrition, there was a rush through several handouts that were less helpful than stuff I'd already read on the internet, and a summing up: "Just stay away from Taco Bell and Burger King and you'll be fine." Any questions I asked were answered poorly, curtly, and with annoyance and my desire to be better informed. Finally, there was a prescription for pharmaceutical prenatal vitamins that made me feel like death for the two weeks I took them. My homebirth midwife couldn't have been more different, more thorough, more respectful of my body, my self, my brain, my experience, and my baby.

How can intelligent women feel reassured by such negligent care? How can they fall prey to such blatant fear mongering? How can they not question why their OB's insist on finding what is wrong, rather than helping them make it right?

The experience of pregnancy (and now childrearing) has really taught me how upside down and inside out our perception of reality is in American culture.

Laborpayne said...

You are on to something. The birthplace is so permeated with fear that it is that fear that informs the physician's practice. They HAVE to tell you everything that can possiby go wrong, in case something does, then they can say they warned you and you chose to or not to do anything about it. (ie,turned down the amnio, or refused the genetic testing...) That way, when something goes awry, its your fault not theirs- see? You better believe if you refuse whats offered, it goes right into your chart- which is a legal record. So you see, its not about you and your baby, its about who's right and who's wrong and whose got it in writing to prove it.

Xakana said...

I must say that I've enjoyed reading your blog. I came across it by accident when I was attempting to find (legal) midwives who do VBAC in my area and what their success rate is. I'm still too much of a coward to have my baby at home (such a change from my determination to have a home birth with my first child--a decision I have mixed feelings about abandoning). I knew all the risks, knew all the statistics and still became one in the end. Admittedly, I had a lot going against me (massive meconium in the water, face up presentation, head that didn't want to mold down, etc.) but I still feel some shame for not even attempting to give birth at home when it was something that once was non-negotiable to me.

Thank you for creating your blog--I hope it has the intended effect you're seeking.

Your son was born only shortly before my daughter it seems, as she will be ten months old on the 15th. He sounds adorable.

Laborpayne said...

Thanks for reading, I hope you find something of use in my words. Congrats on the birth of your lovely daughter.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, this post made SO much sense to me. I have just discovered your blog, what a breath of fresh air. :) I look forward to reading it from beginning to end!

Laborpayne said...

Thanks anonymous,
what a nice compliment.