I’ve just been thinking more and more about pregnancy and birth, and how I believe pregnancy and birth should be treated.
Pregnancy is treated like an unnatural function. Something to be “proven” and “tested” and “followed” and “attended”. I believe that NONE of this is necessary, or desired. The more I look back on my pregnancy history, the more clearly I can see that the more intervention I had, the worse the outcome.
I’ve had 4 miscarriages.. The first three before I had my first child. They were ALL the same. I suspected I was pregnant, went to a clinic to have my intuition “proven” (because I can’t *possibly* be trusted to know what my body is doing) and as I left the clinic I started to bleed. This happened three times. The last time – I felt the bleeding start as I grabbed the handle to leave the clinic. It wasn’t the test, it was just a urine test. It wasn’t anxiety, I believe it was that I interfered. With the next pregnancy, I waited, and then took a home pregnancy test, but still had threatened miscarriage. My “best”, easiest pregnancy, was the pregnancy that I didn’t “prove” (well…I did finally take a test…but just for a lark, I was 14 weeks by the time I tested).
Every prenatal intervention (and I believe that measurement, checking for “correct” position, checking for heart tones and vaginal exams are interventions) I had was followed by some sort of distress, either by me, or the baby. Measurements were always “off”, which led to worry and concern at the minimum, and further medical intervention at the worst. Heart tone checks were worrisome, because my son kicked and thrashed with each one, and with my daughter we never heard her (though she moved a LOT, so I was “spared” further medical intervention). Vaginal exams were followed by concern over abnormalities and wanting to strip membranes, or do MORE vaginal exams. Even the act of refusing to do prenatal testing led to more intervention (worry and concern by midwives – and more medical “treatment).
Measurement and “due dates” are also interventions, which have led me down paths to inductions (and herbal supplements, EPO, stripping membranes, vigorous exercise, and castor oil ARE inductions), and to not simply trust that my babies will be born when the time is right.
Birth is followed by more interventions. I’ve been “spared” any traditional interventions (c-section, pitocin, epidural, episiotomy), but I’ve had a host of others. Heart tone checks (because I can’t be trusted to know how my baby is doing), vaginal exams (because I need someone else to tell me how I am “progressing”), forced movement (stand when I want to sit, walk when I want to stand, get in the tub when I want out, stay inside when I want to go for a walk .etc), perineal “support” when I don’t feel the need and more – too many to mention.
Even after the birth of my babies I have not been safe. I am a “bleeder”, and have to be “monitored”. I am given a time limit to push out the placenta. Asked to nurse or not nurse the baby. Had the cord cut too soon, or too late. With my last baby, the interventions were SO extreme (in my homebirth) that I literally tried to run away. I birthed my daughter, handed her to my husband, and turned and tried to leave (she was still connected).
I grieve for the choices I have made. I am so saddened that I have not trusted my body to KNOW what it already knows, to do what it already knows how to do. I hope that by the next time I am ready to give birth, I will be strong and powerful, and ready to trust fully – and simply immerse myself in the JOY of life, and pregnancy and birth, and to NOT view it as an event to be managed. I hope to be strong enough to not have a pregnancy test, or ANY prenatal (s)care. I hope to be in a place, where I honor my body and myself enough, that the NORMAL care I have for myself, will be healthful and nourishing for my baby. I look forward to watching and listening to my baby grow, unhindered by outsiders. I look forward to being able to let my baby feel safe, and choose it’s own birth day, and NOT one of my choosing. I don’t think I’m there yet, but we have a while before we want to TTC…and I am positively tingling with excitement, and what the future holds for us.
- You pretty much summed up the state of mind I’m trying to develop. The more I pursue UC and take it seriously as an option, the more I’m realizing how deeply rooted the negative messages are that surround birth – even with midwives. I am writing this amazing article (or at least I *hope* it’s amazing LOL) about how birth is really the ultimate feminist issue and how womyn have been completely fooled all these years into giving up their power over their own bodies during pregnancy and birth.DH urprised the hell out of me when discussing UC by getting to the root of it all. When it became clear that we just could not afford a MW and our only options were hospital or UC, I told him that I simply could not voluntarily go to a hospital and hand over all of the sanctity of my body to someone else. And my very astute DH said, “Well if you truly believe that the sanctity of your body is so important and you really trust in the safety and naturalness of birth, how is having a MW any more empowering than an OB?”I’m sure not everyone will agree with that, but putting UC in that perspective changed everything for me – it went from something I HAD to do due to circumstances to something that I really, truly believe in.
Like many people I too have years and years of negative messages about my body to unlearn. I curse the day that I was diagnosed with PCOS – I was certainly lacking self-esteem or confidence in my body before then, but the doom-and-gloom messages I received about what is essentially a bullshit diagnosis set me back so far. I am very certain that the reason my birth with DS was such a techno-nightmare was because I did not believe in my body, and I did not believe in birth as a natural process. And I am still not completely “there” yet – I am currently trying to decide whether to get equipment to do heart-tone checks during labor. I would normally say no absolutely, but given that the clearest way to detect uterine rupture is with decels (though still an incredibly remote risk even with VBACs), I’m just not sure. I’m meditating on this one. J is thinking we don’t need it, which shocks me since when I first mentioned wanting an HBAC 2 years ago he thought homebirth was too risky for anyone let alone a VBAC. I guess he and I have come a long way together.
I’m also in complete agreement regarding even natural interventions. There will be no EPO, castor oil, cohoshes etc for me (yet another thing I disliked about the local midwivess I interviewed was that they were all very hyped up on PN6 and EPO, etc). I am not even drinking RRL tea anymore because I would get strong BH contrax every time I drank it and my gut instinct was telling me that I didn’t need it. Birth and pregnancy are completely natural processes that don’t need any intervention from anyone.