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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Yes, we recorded both births. Of course all hospitals have rules and policies, but my institution isn't at all like those that so many women discuss here. We don't take healthy babies to the nursery after vaginal deliveries; the entire admission process is done in mom's room. We encourage rooming in, etc. When people on this forum talk about being "made" to get an epidural or make reference to being "held down" for vaginal exams, I can assure you this business does not go on where I work. I don't know where these institutions are, but they aren't any place near my community. I'm glad that you also had a good experience in a hospital setting:)
I agree that of course not all hospital births are bad experiences, but again you can not expect a woman in labor to have to fight for everything that she wants. I did not have a good experience with my daughters birth and that is what actually made we wait longer then I had planned to start TTC-ing for #2. home birth or a birthing center is no longer an option for me (because of complications after the birth of my daughter I am not longer considered low risk) but now that I know better I will hire a doula for the next time. In my situation the nurses were not very supportive, would not let me walk around and told me multiple times that I was being a baby about the pain. Not the best atmosphere. I was able to avoid pit because my labor was very quick, but I would have given anything for a more supportive medical staff. But my lesson has been learned and next time I will hire one.
Regarding recording a birth, my best friend had a baby at Cedars-Sinai in October, 1984. She filmed it.

The early part of the labor shows her hooked up to the monitors and intravenous feedings while she is smoking a cigarette.

Times have certainly changed!
You are lucky to have a hospital with such a flexible staff, willing to let the mama make her own choices. I can't say for the rest of the US, but the 3 hospitals in my town are NOT like that. In some cases, our medical professionals are the enemy, sorry to say. I was assertive duing my first labor and was told I wouldn't be allowed to birth there if I didn't obey their commands. I wish all hospitals were like yours.
I have many friends who keep trying to tell me that hospitals aren't horrible, and based on my experience with my first, I'll never go to a hospital or a doctor again. I went to appointments for 8 months straight, without ever getting a solid answer, from nurse-midwives, doctors, OBGYNs, etc, etc, etc. I finally told my doctor to sit down, that he HAD to take more than 10 minutes with me, and answer my 2 pages of questions because we'd been beating around the bush for so long! He was extremely frustrated about that, and gave me short answers to the tune of:
1. Can I eat and drink during labor? No way.
2. Will I be able to walk around during labor? No.
3. Can I refuse the IVs? Possibly, but you still have to have a hep-lock and other shots.
4. Will you pressure me when it comes time to push? Yes.
5. Can I give birth in a tub or in the shower or on a birthing stool? No.
6. Will you turn down the lights and make the environment relaxing? No, it's not 'safe'.
7. Will you perform the absolute minimal vaginal exams possible so I can avoid infection as much as I can?No
8. What about c-section? Well, we'll see what happens, could be, could not be.
9. Can my husband deliver the baby? No.
10. Can I leave the cord attached until it stops pulsing? No, our policy is to cut immediately.
11. I would like to bathe my baby myself, after a few hours, and no tests until we have breastfed and are bonding? No, we need to do the tests quickly to make sure the baby is okay, and we will also need to get the baby clean as soon as possible.
12. Do I have any say in how my baby enters the world? Of course! We are not Nazis.

Umm, yeah, so you can see why a woman 8 months along would suddenly quit her doctor and search high and low for a wonderful qualified and trained midwife, who then helped this woman have an AMAZING home birth- 5 hour labor, baby totally healthy, mother happy and healthy, and father crying tears of joy, not tears of frustration.
And lest you think this was a backwards hospital in a poor area, it was a top-of-the-line new, "progressive" hospital in an upscale community, and all of their claims of "gentle birth" and "birth choices" were moot.
Remember YOU are PAYING for a service. If you're hungry, you can eat. If you want to walk, you walk. Refuse monitors, refuse IVs, you name it. YOU ARE IN CHARGE, even in a hospital. Really, you are. I had four natural hospital births and I was in charge, because I'm the one paying the bill.
If I had to birth in a hospital, I'd love to have you around for support :)
I do agree that this can happen(I work as birth doula for mainly natural hospital births), but depending on the hospital and the area you live in it is not as easy as you made it out to seem. When my clients refuse epidurals, or constant monitoring or only want a help lock the nurses usually get angry(not putting down nurses I am in a BSN program) and it causes a lot of stress on mom. I live outside of Chicago(about 30min) and our birthing options are very limited. There are no birth centers in the state and hospitals that offer water therapy for comfort are few and far in between and the ones that do have it usually do not have many tubs. I know for my own suburban area 5 of the 6 hospitals closest to me have c/s rates over the national ave of 32%. For many women a natural hospital birth is much harder to achieve than many think.
I think its great that you work in a hospital where women are allowed/considered to be an active participant in their birth. This is not the case in many hospitals (including the one I delivered at). I found that while I also "refused" certain treatments and "demanded" certain freedoms my care and the way I was treated as a human were detrimentally affected by it. I long for the day in maternity care where we don't even have to throw around the words refuse or allow and medical decisions are referred to as just that decisions.

Sadly though, as evidenced by the nationally high rate of interventions in Maternity Care, the hospital where you work and delivered, and the care providers you had are in the minority of standard of care and practices regarding treatment of women and management of L&D. I totally agree that hospitals nor OB's are the enemy. The enemy is the Maternity Care System as a whole and the media that portrays and condones medicalized birth with such high intervention rates as the norm. Since you work in a climate where this is not the case, what advice would you give a woman that finds herself in a hospital with a care provider that is not "like-minded" and pressures her into interventions that until that moment, as an informed consumer, she felt comfortable in refusing? How can women "arm themselves with the information" to combat this when most of the information widely available and the majority of media outlets support this type of birth? And they are vulnerable and in pain while trying to "fight the fight, and speak up for what they want?

I appreciate your post because the experience you have described underscores what it could be like if most hospitals/caregivers had the same practices as the one you work for :) The only way to "fix" the system is to stop playing the blame game, quit with the "us" versus "them" mentality and come together to demand certain changes, regardless of what type of care provider you chose or where you plan to/would like to have your baby.

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