Friday, December 7, 2007

Assisted Cesarean: Bridging the Hormonal Gap?

I am not sure how I feel about Assisted Cesareans. I guess the proof is in the pudding and if there is a doctor willing to go this far to give a woman a more humanized c-section experience, then I fully support that.

I mean, it is right there, all over her face, how strong the bonding is with this woman and baby

and how different that is contrasted with these cesareans:

Having never had a cesarean, I can't begin to imagine how this view must seem from the perspective of the mother. Looking up at a blue curtain, often restrained because of shaking and the need to protect the sterile field, some tugs and pulls and then suddenly the cry of a baby. Is the cry recognized right away as that of their child? Do we need both the visual and the aural in the first few seconds after birth to recognize our child? Or in fact, do we need the picture, the sound and most importantly the hormonal release in order to instantly identify and protect the child that is ours and ours alone?

Mom up there in the first picture is oozing with love hormones. Mom down below, a little dazed, happy but bewildered. I have seen this look at natural births as well, especially when labor is very fast, but the first touch usually resolves the shock and hormones start flowing. I have also witnessed moms take hours, sometimes days to fully come to terms with the reality of the baby that has been born via c-section. Where is the experiential proof of the birth of this child?

At least if women are able to experience assisted cesareans, they have the proof, there touch has a memory that will last a lifetime.

For a very clear and concise view of women's birth experiences as told through pictures,
It is quite amazing and you can't dispute what is captured on film.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Birth Choice is a Feminist Issue

Finally some discussions are happening about birth and feminism. I feel like feminists have covered so much over the years, and I benefit from the hard work of amazing women on a daily basis...but where is birth in all of this? Our rights as birthing women have gotten worse and worse and there has been very little discussion about birth as the other choice among feminists.

Now birth is my work, so of course it is the topic I eat, breath and dream about. I understand that we all have our focus and very little room in our already packed brains to branch out most of the time, but birth should be important to everyone. After all, it is the one thing that we all experience. It sets us up for failure or success for the rest of our lives. Birth makes the world go round, literally. No matter what your spiritual beliefs, the planet was born and we along with it.

Birth is the quintessential cause of our time. We have finally figured out the process of birth, for the most part. Contrary to what we believed for centuries, we now know that babies feel pain, so the world seems to be a little more empathatic to the baby's needs and feelings, and now we have effective ways of dealing with the very real, but not as common occurance of *true* childbirth emergencies. So why in the world are we still ignoring the physiologic and emotional needs of women during childbirth?

Monday, November 26, 2007

If I can help just one...

I have been thinking a lot about how best to help my clients work through a difficult birth. Because attending difficult labors/births take me to close to the emotions surrounding my own birth experience, I have a tendency to suddenly lose all of my energy after a birth, once I am home and with my family again. If it were possible, I would just wipe my hands clean of the woman's trauma and hold my son tighter, thanking whoever, that it wasn't me birthing that baby in that way.
This is just not the right way to go about healing trauma, I know that from experience. What I want to do is hold my clients against my chest so they can feel how similarly our hearts ache and beat with mourning. I want to get angry and rage and bring the same out of them. I want to write letters and start movements and pursue the birth machine with these mothers fighting along side of me.
I don't though, or can't. I feel all too often that my hands are tied and the best thing for both mother and baby is the ensure that nursing goes well and make sure that I follow up with visits and a few phone calls and lots of praise. The need to fill in the blanks for them is so great, but it is best if the process unfolds at a pace that is right for each woman.
I want to scream when horrible things occur at births and women go back to their providers for the their next child. But I get it. I understand how easily one can forget the pain, helplessness and fear that accompanies too many births in this world. Once you hold your baby and smell their head; Turn them over and look at their little butts; clean their bodies and relax into their nursing patterns; it all goes out the window.
I get it, I just don't want to sit back and allow it to happen anymore.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Who Am I? How Did I Get Here?

Inspired by an MDC post, SO: Midwives, Birth trauma and Conclusion for the parents..., I have decided to put it all out there. This blog is my release of emotions about my birth, your birth, upcoming births, any birth that I have an inkling to talk or rant about, including the birth of me as a hands off, non-interventive, fun loving, balls to the wall midwife.

I am 30 years old. A mother, wife, doula, apprentice/primary under supervision midwife, non-creating artist, reader, and lover of nature.

Almost 5 years ago I was faced with a stressful, very difficult decision put forth to me by my then midwife and her partner. I lived in Washington state where the regulation of midwifery and homebirth is both thorough and oppressively strict. Some may argue that this makes it safer, I believe these laws restrict birthing women's choices and allow the state to dictate the ways in which a midwife can provide care for their clients, often at the expense of both mother and baby's well being. I was 42 weeks in my pregnancy and told that my midwife could no longer attend my birth at home because of state law. After several unsuccessful attempts to induce "naturally", including using acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy and finally the dreaded castor oil, my baby and were definitely not ready for labor to begin. By this time I was under a lot of stress and felt completely defeated. My midwife discussed the issue of me being what she considered post dates with her consulting OB. Without ever meeting me in person, looking at my chart or reviewing my perfectly normal, healthy non-stress test results, of which I had 5, the OB told me he had "not had any woman go past 42 weeks since 1984 and it wasn't going to happen with me." I was advised to report to Tacoma General the next morning for induction with cytotec. My husband and I pushed this date back two more days to give me time to go naturally and weigh the pros and cons. I couldn't even think at this point and just died, right then and there. With fear, reluctance, loathing, anger and sadness, I went to the hospital and started the induction on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2002. I was given no information about the possible side effects of cytotec, pitocin, epidurals or narcotics, not by the nurses, doctors or my midwife who came along to act as my doula, though I had my acupuncturist and a good friend in attendance with that role. Though I was told the entire time that I couldn't do it, that he was too big, that I was too tired, that I was selfish, that my uterus was too weak, and finally that I would kill him if I didn't consent to a c-section right away, after 3 1/2 days, the firing of one doctor, and an epidural on the morning of the 3rd day, my son was born vaginally with a nuchal arm and big 2nd degree tear at 3:11pm. He weighed 8lbs 9oz, was 21 1/2 in. long and the hospital pediatrician on call evaluated him and said he could not be any older than 39weeks, tops.

Now here is where my frustration comes in most. My husband and I knew my dates were not accurate. I have always had irregular, anovulatory cycles, we had been trying for several months to get pregnant and had stopped charting to help the spontaneity. When I met my midwife I made it clear to her that my dates were just guesses based on when hubby and I had sex. I agreed to an ultrasound to try and date the pregnancy but it was after 20 weeks, so the accuracy of the revised date was unreliable, even though I know now that it would have been correct. I didn't know this because no one told me at the time. I agreed to non-stress tests because I intuitively knew that my dates were off, my baby was fine and the tests would prove this. What I didn't know was the the consulting OB would not accept the revised due date or the NS test results. He went off the original date given and treated me like a cow. I felt like he couldn't wait to get in there and pull that calf out.
No one told me how important that due date is in a state where the midwives wear shackles. No one told me I could birth with a non licensed midwife or drive down to Portland, OR and have my baby with a midwife who followed her intuition instead of her politician. Most of all, no one told me that the decision was mine and mine only and to listen to my heart and my baby. If I knew then what I know now I would have birthed unassisted and had by beautiful son at home.

So that is who I am now and how I got here. The birth of my son defined me and will shape the rest of my life. I am the midwife that I never had. The keeper of birth justice. The voice of informed consent. The holder of memories that drive me to be better.