I want women to know that hospital births don't have to be filled with intervention and that moms who deliver in hospital settings can and should be active participants in deciding what goes on during their own labor and delivery. I delivered both of my children in the hospital where I am a registered nurse (on the OB unit). I labored in the hot tub, in the shower, on the birthing ball, and spent very little time in the bed. I refused artificial rupture of membranes when I felt it wasn't in my best interest, I delivered my daughter unassisted and without any medication, then got up and gave her her first bath while my son and extended family looked on. My children were immediately placed skin-to-skin, never left my room, etc. While I admit that I largely wouldn't have been challenged because I was cared for by my peers, any proactive mom could have the same experience in my institution. I chose my experience while at the same time delivering in a place that had help, equipment, and experts available should the need arise. As a neonatal/obstetric nurse I am all too aware of the fact that infants are sometimes born who need immediate intervention to ensure their well being. In fact, approximately 10% of infants need some type of resuscitative efforts. Fetal distress can and does present very rapidly, without warning. Some of the worst infants that I have performed resuscitations on have had no identified risk factors during the prental/intrapartum period. For me, delivering in a situation where help is available is a must. Medical professionals like myself don't have to be the enemy. Are there bad MDs and nurses? Sure there are. But moms who are informed and proactive can, to a very large degree, decide what they want for their own birthing experience. Educated women who form partnerships with their physician and nurses can have natural births, even in the hospital setting. As a Certified Childbirth Educator, I stressed to my class participants to be vocal to their care providers. Don't just slide into the bed as they apply the fetal monitor and stay there for the duration of your labor. Speak up! Tell the nurse, MD, or midwife what you want your experience to be like. The experience is yours, no matter where you give birth. Birth is a natural process and the interventions should be minimal and based on need. Be your own advocate, and the advocate for your baby as well. Hospitals aren't the enemy. There are many like-minded healthcare professionals such as myself who want you to have the best experience possible and who would love to help. Just seek us out!

Tags: choices, intervention, minimal, proactive, safety

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The problem with going to an institution to give birth is that it is like a pot luck; much of the outcome depends on the staff that is present at the time. Often, even the most prepared mother-to-be ends up with a staff that does not honor her wishes despite having no predetermined health problems. One mother told me that when she presented her birth plan to her obstetrician, he threw the paper back at her, saying, "This is a hospital, not a hotel, and I am your doctor, not the concierge." She quickly switched health care professionals, but it is important to remember that an institution is run for the convenience of the employees, not the patients. For many healthy women, this is their first encounter in a hospital; that is why I personally feel that a hospital is not the place for healthy women who are birthing their children without any other healthcare or medical contraindication or condition. Arguing with hospital staff over previously stated and written preferences should not be taking place during labor. The only thing that should go on during labor is labor.

I should add to the OP that since she worked at the hospital that she gave birth in, she knew the routine. Very few women know the routine before they become pregnant. For the OP, she was at home, since she was comfortable in a familiar place.

Let me also add that having a baby at home does not guarantee that everything will go your way either; I remember the loud countdown 10-9-8-7...during my pushing phase. I was in terrible pain, but that is the way my midwife and doctor got me to push. Later I discussed this with other mothers and discovered they did not like it either. So birthing at home does not mean that a mother gets everything she wants....BUT...A woman is the queen in her home...she has the home court advantage.
I guess I was lucky. I viewed my doctors and staff as being at MY service, since I was paying THEM, not the other way around. Since no doctor can necessarily know what's best for his patient at all times (that piece of paper does not make them God), I went into each of my labors like I go into a restaurant to order dinner. I'm paying for a service, so I will have the service I'm paying for. Period. I don't know what I would do if I had someone tell me "no". I think I would have to contact the AMA and proceed with legal help, because - just like any service - the customer is ALWAYS right. I simply can't wrap my head around someone letting a doctor or nurse do something against their will - it's not in my scope of understanding. Maybe women need to quit feeling like the doctor is superior? Maybe they feel like the doctor is better than them? I certainly didn't think so - doctors make mistakes and misjudge on a daily basis, just like an accountant, a waitress, a cashier.

Good luck to everyone. I won't have #5 in a hospital, but the 4-5 hours that I spent in the hospital with my other births were exactly the way I wanted them, because I DEMANDED that it be so. It's my right, my body, my baby, and my MONEY - most important of all. Everyone needs to empower themselves and demand to be treated properly.
Sandra, you said, "I simply can't wrap my head around someone letting a doctor or nurse do something against their will - it's not in my scope of understanding."

For me, the wild card was "your baby is in danger & if you don't go along with what we're telling you, your baby is going to die". It's the ultimate control trip. They probably believed what they were saying. You are *very* vulnerable & unless you have someone like a doula backing you up every step of the way, at some point, with enough lost sleep & a long enough labour, you just give in... or at least I did. That was the worst, by the way. Feeling like I had failed because I finally gave in. I hadn't slept in about 35 hours by the time my baby was born & the labour - induced - was 16.5 hours long. Every pitocin-laced contraction was hell, I was hallucinating.... (Crying again, just thinking about this. Like I said, it's still raw nearly 10 years later.) I tried using the birthing ball & was told that the fetal monitor wasn't working, so I had to get off. I got into the shower & locked the shower room door. The horrid nurse told my husband that he needed to get me out of there, so he finally talked me into coming out, even though everything in me told me to stay in the water. I finally gave in & asked for the epidural... which ended up giving me a spinal headache that lasted for months(another post for another day). Really. My baby was completely healthy. I could have had him unassisted, the birth itself was so uncomplicated. The only thing wrong was that I trusted the "health care professionals" when they told me that my baby's life was in danger. The rage I felt affected every aspect of my life for a great long time.

I wrote the hospital's ombudsman afterward. They sent me a reply that basically said, "We're sorry that YOU FEEL (emphasis mine) that you had a bad experience. Not our fault."

Last year, I went to a conference where Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PH.D., IBCLC was the keynote speaker. She - has done loads of research onto depression - post-partum & otherwise. I bought her book called "The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood". More than anything, that helped me. She talks about how to process what happened & forgive yourself.

What I've been trying to say is that the onus should not be on the woman. She can be as knowledgeable as all get out BUT when a woman is giving birth, she is at her most vulnerable. She needs to be cocooned. She needs people around her who know her wishes & will ABSOLUTELY respect them, and not people who will wear & tear her down until she just gives in. Telling women that "you just need to stand up for yourself" & making them feel responsible can cause horrible harm if the birth goes poorly & the woman ends up feeling responsible when she was just as much the victim as a rape victim is, whether or not she was wearing "the right clothes".
I agree that not all hospitals are horrible but I am still afraid of having another child in one. After one trip to OB Triage while I was pregnant and then the 5 days spent at the hospital for my c/s I can't say very many good things. Yes there were a few good nurses but 70% of the medical people I came in contact with were unkind and didn't seem to care about how I felt about anything. It was my fault for not saying anything, but I was a first time Mom that didn't know what to expect going into the hospital. I figured they knew what was best but they didn't and yes that was my mistake. Now that I am planning for a VBAC I have fears of being in a hospital because I can just imagine all the fighting I would have to do to get things my way. I would prefer to not have to battle with nurses/doctors etc. while I am attempting a unmedicated birth. I dont' want anyone to threaten me or treat me like a ticking time bomb.
Your birth experience sounds amazing but I wonder if someone like me, especially a vbac patient, would be able to achieve that without a LOT of resistance. I guess a lot of it depends on the hospital, Dr, ect. It seems there are a lot of unknowns until you actually get there and that is what I am afraid of.
*Just my two cents*
I also wanted to add that maybe it would make for an easier experience if a woman could request a nurse that is supportive/familiar with unmedicated birth. Is this something that is feasible or that you would recommend? If I knew that my nurse would for sure be on the same page as me than I know I would feel so much better. You can choose your Dr and hospital but can you really choose your nurses?

Thanks:)
My original nurse was swapped out with each of my daughters - the first one hooked me up to pit without consent and the second one my OB swapped out for me! This time around we again won't hesitate to ask for another nurse should she not fit our (third) med-free birth.

Course i am in Canada where things go a little different. In our province, even midwives delivering in hospital, at home, or in a birthing center are covered under our healthcare.
Can I ask how it's possible to have a nurse insert an IV needle and hook you up without your consent? That seems so odd to me - when they were going to insert a heplock, I said "NO". That was the end of it. No way could they have given me anything without my consent.
Oh I already had an IV for antibiotics for GBS (a whole other can of worms there ! :-) ), all she told us was "your contractions need to be farther apart and stronger". We both thought uh-huh and how are you gonna tell my body to do that...? and Dh said she fiddled with the IV and it was only after she left that we realized it was pitocin that she added. Thankfully it was never increased - nor did she come back in - or we would have had words with her. The next nurse questioned why anyways, and my OB freaked out when she came and saw I was already hooked up. That labor was my longest at 5.5 hours. lol
Ahh... I won't even let them do the GBS test on me, so it's a non issue... Glad they didn't increase it, though. Next time, don't even let them put a heplock in - no worries about meds then!
seriously it was quite useless to even start the abx, I never got the 2 doses they wanted me to have so we STILL got to be closely monitored. I will be questioning my doc again on this tomorrow...
You can request a different nurse, but so many are inexperienced in non-medicated births. I for one am a nurse that would love it if pts requested me if they wanted to go unmedicated.


MJ said:
I also wanted to add that maybe it would make for an easier experience if a woman could request a nurse that is supportive/familiar with unmedicated birth. Is this something that is feasible or that you would recommend? If I knew that my nurse would for sure be on the same page as me than I know I would feel so much better. You can choose your Dr and hospital but can you really choose your nurses?

Thanks:)
I desperately hope that I find a nurse at my hospital who is as positive about med-free moms as you are. I plan to go in with that request front and center. Nurses have the same opposing opinions on childbirth that expectant moms across the country do. Do they want to have a high-maintenance mom who is all over the place, taking off her monitors, going to the bathroom, etc., when they have a half-dozen other patients they are watching simultaneously? Its a gem if you can find one who'll be "supportive' of a naturally laboring mom. Best advice is to take your own support in a doula...a trained professional who can be your support and fight for your wishes.

Because as time goes on, most moms can't battle the propaganda. Sure, the requirements aren't set it in stone, but for a first time mom who is told her baby will be "at risk" if she doesn't comply, she's not going to have the power or the self-confidence in her knowledge to up and leave if she's in labor. They have power in numbers and in medical degrees. I have the confidence, now, on my 4th child to up and leave if I'm not comfortable. But I most certainly did not for my first...or even my third child.

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