Talking to Friends who Totally Trust the Birth Industry

I am not a birth professional, just a friend who wants to help my pg friends.

I need your input!  I know a lot of Moms who want to "go natural" at the hospital with their first baby (the holy grail!)  I also know many, many more who look forward to maximum pain relief with great anticipation.  How do we who have "wised up" through some eye-opening birth experiences lovingly approach these Moms with resources in a way they will be interested? 

When I try to open the topic for discussion, too often their reactions make me feel like a jaded kook with a pocketful of conspiracy theories.  They seem to think I am foolish for respectfully questioning my doctor, which instantly discredits me.  I am well aware that most Moms just don't want to hear about it, so I don't often assert myself except with close friends and family.

Many first-timers or those who have not yet had a cesarean that they question in hindsight trust their OBs implicitly.  They have no healthy skepticism about the birth industry; no idea how the OB/patient power differential will be used to control them.  Worst of all, they don't yet realize that the system in place prioritizes health of mother and baby much lower than they might expect since there are so many unseen players.

To assist those parents who do not yet cringe when they hear the red flags "allowed" or "not allowed"...  How can we get them inspired to question and learn?

Shari W

2003 Son, Cesarean: induced nearly 42wks, "failure to progress"
2004 Daughter, VBAC: induced at 41wks, draining battle with staff but worth it
2009 Son, HBAC: gestational diabetes, age 41. Switched to home birth plan at 36wks, labor started with acupuncture near 42wks.  Healthy and peaceful!

Tags: cesarean, first, hbac, timers, vbac

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The Cochrane Collaboration is a "clearinghouse" of informaiton. They do systematic reviews of all related reviews and studies.

"Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. They also assess the accuracy of a diagnostic test for a given condition in a specific patient group and setting" (from Cochrane website). It promotes scientific-evidence based medicine. Most reviews are available free on the website. You cannot get the full text articles unless you buy them or have access to an institution that has a subscription.

Browse the free reviews by topic at their website http://www.cochrane.org/cochrane-reviews
just curious, i know this is an old thread. but, how is pain helpful to get the baby out, exactly.
thanks
Naima - Still an active thread! How is pain helpful? It provides feedback about where the baby is, what is working, and what is not working. If it is severe or unusual, it might alert you to a more serious problem. Pain is expected, but it is manageable. You can learn to expect it, notice it, assess it, and let it pass. Birthing has cycles of riding through some uncomfortable bits as you tell yourself to relax, and then enjoying a little break as you bring your strength back together. The pain carries important information, and it doesn't have to be the enemy.

Taking away pain is stealing a sense that is necessary to do a job well. It's like wearing two sets of gloves while trying to play a piano concerto, or walking around blindfold while trying to navigate through New York city for the first time, or like telling a story with your tongue all numbed with novocaine! You can just do so much better with all your senses intact.

That's my opinion! Anyone else?


Shari
When you recognize pain as a signal and respond by changing position or by getting into a tub of warm water, it is different than the pain experienced while sitting in a bed with restricted movement.

When I began attending home births I was amazed by how well women coped with pain. They were able to change position, sway their hips, get on all fours. Birth attendants helped with massage.

The other aspect to consider is the effect that fear has on pain. If the environment is fearful pain is generally intensified. Stress and tight muscles increase pain. What kind of environment will assist relaxation?

Labor and birth is painful--but it is pain with a purpose. There are different approaches to working with pain.
You know, this is hard for me too. I don't like to be preachy, or pushy, but when they tell me how the OB sees the birth going, I cringe. I ask if that's how the mother sees the birth going? They usually say, "Oh, the doctor knows best." Then I wait for the phone call after the birth, and the tears. Because one intervention leads to another and another....and the mother gets the birth the doctor had in mind. The baby was "saved", and the mother struggles with guilt and pain privately the rest of her life. I cry with them, and wish that I could have done something more. This system is really odd here in the US. Not sure why we women put up with it?
Amen, Sara! It's so hard to listen passively to the average birth story in progress. My dander gets up so high when a friend says "My OB won't allow me to go past 39 weeks" just because of a prior cesarean. Honestly, I'm thinking there should be some kind of nationwide on-campus seminar offering to reach girls before they are even thinking about childbearing. They are still open minded, idealistic, and have no reason to be defensive yet. Could be as simple as college screenings with a speaker of "Business of Being Born."
I agree. I dream of huge stadiums full of women and men ( a la religious revivals :), all being educated about the pros and cons, and just watching simple, real births happen on a big screen. The Business of Being Born was amazing to watch. I took a friend with me to the premiere here, and she ended up questioning her doctor later, and having a great home birth. Then several other friends came to "chat" with me, and they have all had great births at home and in a birth center. There is some bit of hope, I now get calls and emails from other states, all from women who really want to know the truth, and find out their options. I just wish we could get the word out faster....there are too many abuses happening every minute. American women deserve MUCH better care.
I went to Texas Woman's University. I have a copy of BOB and have looked into the site about how to do a screening there along with a informative seminar. I have a very grand vision of what it will be like :) It is not yet in the planning stages b/c I don't have the time to dedicate to it just yet. When the baby is a little older.
Im right with you. I have at least 5 pregnant friends and family members right now. None of whom are even considering natural childbirth. And definitely not considering home birth. I wasnt even considering it until I pulled the statistics on infant death rates from the CDC Wonder. You will see, plain as day, death rates are higher with a doctor in the hospital than with a CNM at home. very clear. Now, home births are only done with low risk woman, so i assumed that, as high as 50% of babies born in the hospital that died were from mothers considered "high risk." I think that is a huge assumption and very unlikely, its probably closer to 10%, but for the arguments case, I said 50%. Midwife at home... still has a better fetal outcome. Period. I then typed up a nice long article about why I chose to give birth at home and then published it for all to see on my facebook account. That way, people who were interested could seek me out and those who weren't could continue in their state of absolute disillusion. ;) I mean, 9 months ago, I would have laughed at the thought of someone giving birth at home. Once I looked at the published data, I was TERRIFIED to give birth in a hospital again. The risk of infection for mom and baby is so high and increases insanely with every day mom and baby are there! More moms and babies die in the hospital than at home, period.

I did the same thing when I figured out vaccine risks were not outweighed by the benefits. I simply wrote and article discussing how I discovered that. Posted links to the peer-reviewed journals and cdc/who data that showed quite clearly the risks were in no way assessed past 6 weeks after administration and therefore assumption that benefits outweight them is inaccurate, to say the least.

I haven't changed anyones minds that Im aware of. But just in case people out there are thinking about these things, I want them to know I use to be "normal" until I bothered to read about it. No one else is bothering to read, they just trust. I think that ultimately, it will just be part of survival of the fittest. aka, the most adaptable. I am willing to adapt my behavior based on new information, others are not and over centuries, those who cannot adapt will die out, just like during the thousands of years before us.
Lauren, Did you recently give birth? If so, congrats! I think there's a good possibility your facebook posts have affected people or very soon will, though they might not have told you yet. I am mouthy on facebook about this issue, and had a few short discussions with one pregnant friend who didn't really seem to think much of it all. After her birth, she told me there was one point when something I said stuck in her head and affected her decisions. The doctor gave her an ultimatum and she remembered "Shari said when you hear that don't go stampeding for the admitting room, take some time to leave the office, think it over, and come back with a decision when you're ready." I think it helped give her the extra time to labor that she needed!
Shari,
I feel the same way! In fact, my sister and I call ourselves converts to the Church of Ina May (for Ina May Gaskin, the rockstar of midwifery, of course) because I feel like I want to shout from the mountain tops how wonderful natural childbirth can be. I am saddened by the medicalization of birth and the way women are herded in and herded out. It's a shame that most of us don't know we even have the right to question what a doctor is doing. I wish I could make everyone see things the way we do - it's like now I know how people in cults that drink the Kool-Aid feel. :)
I try not to "witness" too much to people but instead let them come to me with questions and let my own experiences be inspirational to them. It's worked on some (three of my friends have had natural births so far!), goes in one ear and out the other for others. If people ask me how I did it, or why I did it, I point them in the direction of books I've read and of course The Business of Being Born. I have purchased Ina May's Guide to Childbirth for a few friends as a "congratulations you're pregnant" present. I think if there's any book out there that can convert someone, that would be it. I think slowly, but surely, we'll change people's minds. Hopefully the three friends that I've inspired can motivate others to do the same.
Amanda - Thanks for turning me on to the online pregnancy radio station through your profile. Nice service! Also I'll have to check out Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. I didn't know about it. I was lucky enough to accidentally find Spiritual Midwifery in a used bookshop when I was last pregnant. I adore that book!
Shari

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