Monday, November 05, 2007

Birth messages

Anyone who's given birth or worked with new mothers knows how open to suggestion we are at and around the time of delivery. Women who are told how strong they are, how well they are doing, that they CAN do this respond. And not only in labor. Birth satisfaction is positively linked with less postpartum depression, increased breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, and increased confidence about parenting abilities.

So why was a colleague of mine told after the Cesarean birth of her child, "You should never labor again. Your body is just not designed for it?"

The circumstances of the birth were that she had been leaking fluid for days but not having contractions. Her doctors brought her in to induce labor (she was maybe a few days overdue). Twice they tried cervadil, but the applicator wouldn't stay in place in the vagina.

Guesses anyone? What next? Yes, cytotec. Except, of course, as she described it, "then they tried this little pill." No explanation of what it was or what the risks might be.

Subsequently, she went from 2-10 centimeters in about an hour and a half, with them placing an epidural as she got the urge to push. Once the epidural was in place and she gave her first push, the baby's heart rate dropped to the 60s. I'm guessing this was a late decel because they took her immediately to the OR for her to try the next push. With this push, the heart rate fell again and did not recover, so they put the gas mask over her face and hurriedly cut the baby out.

DO YOU SEE ANYTHING IN THIS STORY THAT DEMONSTRATES HER BODY CANNOT LABOR?

I see lots of intervention -- merited or not, I cannot say. I see possible overreaction. I see a woman who, if anything, responded too well to induction.

Nothing in the story makes me think she couldn't or shouldn't try labor in the future. Except maybe that in their hurry to cut the baby out they compromised her uterus in some way that makes her at risk for VBAC?

It doesn't matter. She heard the message and considers herself defective now. She "can't" labor.

And apparently it doesn't matter that this is her second child and her first was born vaginally after a perfectly normal labor.

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6 Comments:

Blogger mm said...

Must stop banging my head on the table...
Okay. Howls of frustration here.
THIS is why when someone says 'don't be stupid' at my comment of A full one third of birthing women are being told they can't'... I ask them what the 30% cesarean rate means to them?
Oh I am so sad for this mama. I was told that my uterus was damaged and would never labour properly =( I still thought of those words during both my hbacs...
I hope she can see that this isn't the case, should she want to have more children.
I don't think doctors always realize what damage they can do with their words.
I have told one woman that if her doctor was so scared of the suture job they did with the (iotrogenic) c/s two years ago... why allow them to do another surgery? Especially if she is submitting to a scheduled surgery. Don't allow them to make you worry through another pregnancy.
*especially as she has said they want three children... sigh....

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

That makes me feel sick. How can those horrible things be said to women?

I have a great story though - one of hope! One of my best friends is 35 weeks pregnant and near the beginning of her pregnancy, I lent her "Birth: A Surprising History of How We Are Born" (Tina Cassidy) and encouraged her to read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. I spoke to her today and was asking how she's feeling about labour - and she said she's actually looking forward to it!! She said that she thinks the positive birth stories in Ina May's book as well as the honest look at how birth has been happening for AGES has made her not afraid of the process. It made me so happy to hear =)

5:34 PM  
Blogger Alwen said...

I can hardly stand to read your blog sometimes, I get so mad. *sigh*

But just to give you a little hope, I was a 34-year-old prima who went to a midwife practice for all my prenatal, showed up at the hospital at 10 cm after about 3 hours of hard (whoa nellie, hard labor!), and gave birth after about 2-1/2 more with one of the midwives from the practice and an OB-gyn nurse.

When I asked for the squat bar on the delivery bed, they got it for me.

No drugs except for a local afterwards for a tiny skin tear. APGARs of 10 and 10. Held my son for 45 minutes on my skin before they took him and bathed him. [gets all emotional, and the child is 8 years old]

So it's not all horrid.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Morag said...

Makes me wild (and not in the good way).
Another cytotec induction results in cesarean, and broken confidence.
Sigh.

12:51 AM  
Blogger cooler*doula said...

It's so troubling that laboring women are showered with interventions sans information, under the assumed blanket consent extracted with the all-powerful "medically necessary".

No doubt there are times when they are, but I don't know how to empower pregnant friends for their labors. They're always so sure their wishes and plans will be accepted and followed. And they never are.

And they are left, like your friend, doubting not the care the received, but themselves.

Bah.

7:35 AM  
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5:27 PM  

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