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Who Is Really Ignoring the Needs of Birthing Women?

By Danielle |

I recently came across a blog post written by an former OB/GYN basically pointing the finger at natural childbirth advocates and activists insisting they are a community as a whole ignoring the basic needs to pregnant and birthing women. While on occasion I find these kinds of pieces from the other side to be amusing, or sometimes flat out ignorant… this time around it caught my attention so much that I had to give my two cents from the other side.

As someone who prides myself as being a childbirth advocate, or sometimes being lumped into the category of a natural childbirth advocate, I found a lot of the information or I should say, opinion of the author to be nothing short of biased.

One of the original statements in this post, that nagged at me most, was that birth, or “natural childbirth” advocates, try to discourage women from opting for medical pain management during labor because pain during labor is normal. There’s a reason for the pain; it’s “natural.”

But why this bothers me so much is, as someone who identifies myself as a true birth advocate, I do not push one side of the pain relief fence, or the other… I push for what is right for that mother, and education on all of her options. Telling a pregnant woman that something like an epidural carries no risks would be lying, and as someone who advocates for education, and informed decision making, that would be wrong. I would expect providers to take the same approach, unfortunately women do not have that luxury all over the country, and researching their own procedures is something we must do.

When it comes down to it… the only people who are ignoring the needs of birthing women, and pregnant women are those who are not taking the time to actually listen to her, and what she actually wants for her birth. Not the natural childbirth advocates, or just the hospital staff, or providers… It is any person not listening and respecting the wishes of that mother, no matter what they are.

If she wants to hang upside down from a ceiling fan while she is in labor… that is her right.
If she wants to have an epidural… that is her right.
If she wants to birth at home… that is her right.
If she wants to have an episiotomy… that is her right.

We need to stop imposing our personal views, or preferences on women, and recognizing that women have rights, including the right to decide what kind of care they feel is necessary, or right for them!

photo: flickr.com/molly_darling

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Danielle

Danielle Elwood is a straight-shooting Florida based mom of three and emerging indie author. Read bio and latest posts → Read Danielle's latest posts →

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31 thoughts on “Who Is Really Ignoring the Needs of Birthing Women?

  1. Jenny B says:

    Absolutely.

  2. Amy Tuteur, MD says:

    If you are going to write about one of my posts, the least you can do is link to it and let people read it for themselves:

    http://skepticalob.blogspot.com/2011/01/natural-childbirth-and-invisibility-of.html

    From the post:

    “Natural childbirth advocates employ a variety of strategies to render invisible women’s need for pain relief. The first strategy is to insist that a mother’s need for pain relief is insignificant when compared to the “risks” of epidurals. This strategy is all the more remarkable when one considers that the “risks” of epidurals are not empirical, but purely speculative. Presumably, the baby has a need and a right, to avoid any potentially harmful effects from epidurals that might be discovered as some unspecified future time. And that need (even though theoretical) trumps the mother’s need for pain relief, despite the fact pain of this magnitude would always be treated if it were from any other source.

    The intellectual sophistry of such a claim is all too apparent. The natural childbirth project involves invoking risks that may not even exist and inflating both the severity and the likelihood of such risks. And it rests on the assumption that no matter how theoretical or how small these risks may be, they automatically trump a woman’s need for pain relief. A woman’s need for pain relief is therefore of no consequence and not even worthy of consideration.

    Even when natural childbirth advocates concede that women might feel a need for pain relief, they employ a variety of strategies to diminish the importance of that need. These strategies involve

    Blaming the woman for her own pain – if she did it “right,” childbirth would not be painful.
    Blaming the woman for not using “natural” methods of pain relief – regardless of their questionable value in providing adequate relief.
    Blaming the woman for not embracing the pain as an “empowering” aspect of her biological destiny.

    Simply put, according to natural childbirth dogma, a woman’s pain in labor is irrelevant, of no importance compared to the baby’s need to avoid theoretical risks, and her own fault.”

  3. Danielle625 says:

    @Amy – Should women not be given risk free options for trying to lower their pain during labor if they decide the risks of medication pain relief is not right for them? I mean, it certainly seems fair. But alas, that is NOT the point of the post.
    Women should be able to make their own choices regarding their births, period.
    And trying to lump birth community extremists into the category of advocates is extreme and ignorant. Which is the entire point of my post.

    We need to trust women to make the choices in their own care. Period.

  4. Amy Tuteur, MD says:

    “Should women not be given risk free options for trying to lower their pain”

    Would you counsel women in the midst of a gall bladder attack that they ought to try other options before using pharmacological pain relief?

    Would you counsel women undergoing surgery that they ought to try other options before anesthesia?

    Would you counsel women with cancer pain that they ought to try other options before using pharmacological pain relief?

    Labor pain is EXACTLY the same as all other forms of pain. There is no justification for pretending that it is different.

  5. Danielle625 says:

    @Amy – You are barking up the wrong tree considering I am in the middle of a lodged kidney stone with no relief in sight until I deliver my child in May.
    Although again, that is besides the point. I would encourage women to make their own decision. If they are not comfortable with pain relief through medication, that is their choice.
    I feel as though you completely missed the point of my post, which was women need to be able to make their own choices regarding their care, whatever those choices may be. Get it?

  6. Amy Tuteur, MD says:

    “I feel as though you completely missed the point of my post, which was women need to be able to make their own choices regarding their care, whatever those choices may be. Get it?”

    And you entirely missed the point of my post, which had absolutely nothing to do with rights or choices.

    My post was about the NCB philosophy that promotes childbirth without pain relief as safer, but would never consider enduring a broken bone without pain relief safer.

    My post was about claiming that psychological techniques are the first and best way to manage the pain of labor, but would never consider recommending psychological techniques as the first and best way to manage surgical pain.

    My post is about claiming that the pain of unmedicated childbirth is “empowering,” but would never claim that the pain of cancer was empowering.

    In short, my post was about the double standard that NCB advocates promote in regard to the pain of women in labor. They recommend methods and maneuvers that they wouldn’t dare to recommend to anyone who had pain of a similar magnitude, but from a different source. Why? Because they think that women’s need for pain relief in labor is less important than just about anything else. NCB advocates deny that pain, discount that pain and delegitimize that pain.

    I certainly cannot speak for what your personal beliefs about pain in labor, but it is foolish for anyone to deny that NCB advocates try to discourage women from using pharmacological pain relief. That claim is simply absurd.

  7. Meagan H says:

    “We need to trust women to make the choices in their own care. Period.”

    The problem is there is so much mis-information out there its hard for women to make truly informed choices. There is also the fact that labour isn’t the best time to be making these decisions sometimes you have to trust your caregivers to make the right choices for you. labour is by its very nature beyond our control somethings aren’t so much a choice as the best of bad options. The episiotomies you mentioned are not an evil men thought up to torture women they’re simply a better alternative to tearing your clit in half. Doctors need to make choices sometimes too, its not their fault if your body simply won’t co-operate. The one thing that certainly needs to change is that liability laws need to protect Doctors so that they can make choices based on experience opposed to case law.

    Labour is one place where choice feminism fails because we can’t predict or control it. Our bodies make our choices for us most of the time when it comes to labour so there is no empowering choices to be made. Homebirth advocates play into that by making it seem like that what their offering an “alternative” but you still wind up facing the same outcomes. What we need is a system that supports women emotionally and physically and that is open to everyone.

  8. deepsouthdoula says:

    I think some women desire a Med free birth because they don’t want drugs in their baby. Other surgeries & treatments don’t compare since they only involve the mother. I wouldn’t be allowed to have anesthesia at the dentist while pregnant because it could potentially harm the baby so I either do without or put off treatment until after delivery. Women who want a natural birth should not have to fight for it. It blows my mind that you have to plan ahead to make sure you don’t get DRUGS pushed on you the second you get to the hospital.

  9. Sandy L, Lamaze certified childbirth educator says:

    I chose not to use drugs for my 3 births. The pain of labour WAS different to me than other pain because 1. I got breaks in between contractions and their was a rise and fall of intensity 2. The pain was gone immediately after delivery 3. The very fact that I knew it was normal to have pain helped me accept it and it did in fact EMPOWER me with each birth. I believe women need to make informed decisions but they need all the facts, risks and benefits in weighing their decision. I believe their is a point in some womens labour that can be recognized as suffering and that should never happen. But I believe women need to hear that natural birth is possible because 90% of what they hear now is “go for the meds” regardless of risks!

  10. Heather says:

    Unfortunately, there is no voice for birth moderates and pregnant women are left to suffer the consequences of the ideological warfare between the natural childbirth extremists and medical practitioners deeply entrenched in the status quo. It’s become typical of most of the public dialogue in this country. There are no books published by natural childbirth advocates that talk about a “Plan B” when you don’t have the dream birth you imagined and doctors treat patients looking for less invasive births as a threat, rather than as a challenge to be met – something to cause them to reexamine established practices and procedures. Why is every other form of medicine seems routinely pushed to advance and reflect on itself – but hospital birth, with the epidural, the pitocin, the denial of food, the delivery on your back to make things easier on the doctor, etc. even when it leads to poor outcomes – why is that written in stone? No one is willing to forge a middle ground that acknowledges that modern medicine has a very important role to play in safeguarding the lives of mothers and babies, but that its application in a natural physiological process should be kept to a minimum and that those interventions can have unintended consequences.

  11. Danielle625 says:

    @Amy – I understand what you are saying, and what you said in your post, but it has absolutely nothing to do with my post above, and why I wrote it.

    @Meghan H – There is a lot of misinformation out there, on both sides of the fence. That is why women need to research, and learn before they walk into the labor and delivery room. If they want no pain medication, that is something that should be respected, if they do not want an episiotomy again that should be respected. If she chooses to have a doula or partner with her, same goes. If she wants to birth at home, that choice should be respected. Get what I am saying?

    @Heather – There are a lot of moderates, and in between’s today in the childbirth field, except they are often over-sighted by the loud bantering back and forth between the routine medical establishment, and the extreme advocates. I am one of them, there is also a great OB/GYN online that authors a blog called “The Academic OB/GYN” who is a great moderate. You just have to weed through all of the ones who make the big stink to get through to those who are really level headed on the subject.

    All-in-all this is not about who is right or wrong… or what sides should or should not be advocating for… this is about the mothers right to informed consent and refusal, and how that is being denied nationwide to women.

  12. Amy Tuteur, MD says:

    “@Amy – I understand what you are saying, and what you said in your post, but it has absolutely nothing to do with my post above, and why I wrote it.”

    Really? How can that be true if you referred to me by name and referred to a specific blog post that I wrote?

  13. Danielle625 says:

    @Amy – I referred to one specific example. That’s it. No need to take credit for more than that. One specific example came from you. Period.
    I will say one more time, this post is about women being trusted to make their own decisions, whether they are educated choices, ignorant choices, or something they simply want. That is all. Women making their own choices regarding their own reproductive health care.

  14. Natalie St John says:

    @Amy where did she refer to you by name? I think you are seeing things.

  15. Amy Tuteur, MD says:

    “@Amy where did she refer to you by name? I think you are seeing things.”

    Danielle just removed the tag “Dr. Amy” to make herself look less foolish. I guess she thought no one would notice such a childish tactic.

    1. Danielle625 says:

      @Amy – I removed the tag because simply by tagging you, you automatically assumed the entire post was about you, which it was not. Simple as that.

  16. Amy Tuteur, MD says:

    Danielle,

    Are you TRYING to make yourself look even more childish?

    I found this post because of a tweet which YOU sent out explaining that you wrote this post “in response to an ignorant piece by Dr. Amy.”

    1. Danielle625 says:

      @Amy – I am not sure how many more times I can say the same thing. I took an excerpt of your post. Which I addressed, and added my own opinion, and my own take on the subject of the rights of women birthing.
      I am not going to go back and forth with you explaining the same thing repeatedly. You can continue to argue with yourself if you would like, but it is clear you simply do not get it.

  17. Selma says:

    I’m absolutely amazed that Dr. Amy put the word “risks” in quotes when refering to the risks of epidurals (in her first comment). EVERYTHING has risks: narcotics for pain, getting a gall bladder out, even pregnancy itself has risks (gestational diabetes, morning/all day sickness, bloating). Its up to the mother to make the best EDUCATED decision for herself. I don’t think that, as a childbirth educator, presenting the mother with the stats and facts is all that crazy of an idea! I mean, why should it be so horrible to tell her that an epidural can have some risk?

  18. Danielle625 says:

    @Selma – The American Pregnancy Association, and even The American Association of Anesthesiologists acknowledge there are risks of epidurals.

  19. Meghan says:

    Here are several books which incorporate the medical and midwife models of pregnancy and childbirth. I haven’t read all of them, but if anyone is interested, they might be a good place to start.

    Ask A Midwife
    http://www.amazon.com/Ask-Midwife-Catharine-Parker-Littler/dp/1405331100/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1296575823&sr=8-1-spell

    Better Birth: The Ultimate Guide to Childbirth…
    http://www.amazon.com/Better-Birth-Ultimate-Childbirth-Hospitals/dp/0470255617/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1296575783&sr=8-10

    Homebirth in the Hospital: Integrating Natural Childbirth with Modern Medicine
    http://www.amazon.com/Homebirth-Hospital-Integrating-Childbirth-Medicine/dp/1591810779/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1296575783&sr=8-1

  20. Lee says:

    When I read her comments I am reminded what a blessing it has been that Amy Tuteur had such a brief career in medicine. The comments section of a prgnancy blog is as close to pregnant women and their unborn children as she ever needs to be.

  21. Sarah says:

    Cool beans! I love when my midwife & OB said “we will help u can stand on ur head if ya want.” problem was fighting off all the suggested interactions to ensure a safe natural vaginal birth.

  22. Christina says:

    @ Dr. Amy Tuteur: While I agree with you in principle that women should not guilted and shamed into choosing natural childbirth, I sincerely hope that you are not comparing childbirth, a normal, natural physiological/biological event, to a broken bone, cancer, or a gall bladder attack.

    As an educated Harvard graduate and instructor, you should know that those conditions are NOT normal or natural! A broken bone is a result of high force impact or stress. Cancer cells are mutation-an anomaly. A gall bladder attack is a modern illness, most commonly associated with poor diet, obesity, diabetes, etc…Procreation is at the core of normal biological function, whereas the examples you’ve used are certainly not required for an organism to reach it’s full biological potential.

    CHILDBIRTH is not a physiological anomaly, nor a high force impact, nor is it a pathology, and therefore, should not be lumped into the same category, and by doing so, you severely compromise your credibility as an Harvard-educated OB/GYN.

    I hope you are not as reckless in your future commentary use your doctoral privilege to conflate childbirth with pathology and trauma.

  23. Brooke says:

    In an earlier comment the MD said would you ask someone if to take an alternative to pharmacological pain relief if in any other kind of pain aside from childbirth. The answer is – yes. If you really want to equate the pain we feel in childbirth to the pain of a gall bladder attack, which while our bodies communicate that pain in much the same ways, I can’t deny that there are very distinct differences.
    But, back to the question. I suffer horrible headaches, monthly. I cannot leave my bed. When they are at their worst, I feel like they could kill me. I do take rx medicine for them. I hate it everytime I have to swallow that pill, and I am diligently searching an alternative to that medicine by trying to address the cause of the headaches instead of masking symptoms with medication. If I have to keep having these headaches, then I hope I can find an alternative form of pain relief that will keep me off drugs. Drugs have side effects, that I do not want to subject my body to when there might be a safe alternative. I approach any kind of healthcare in that way.
    I learned this lesson again and again by suffering through medical decisions I made without proper knowledge of alternatives, including a cesarean surgery which caused me pain for more than 8 weeks, infection, more medicine, etc… I, before my baby was delivered via surgery, watched my sister give birth naturally, experiencing pain (yes), but never suffering. She worked with the pain, and her baby came healthy and bright eyed. After birth, she was joyful and able to walk about, breastfeed, and take care of her newborn with nothing but a bit of soreness.
    There are times when medicine is necessary, and the best option. Plenty of scenarios for the necessary use of medicine. Thank doctors it is there for us when we need it. But, never again, would I ever accept a medication or medical procedure without exploring alternatives or fully informing myself of the risks and benefits of medication or procedure. I don’t believe we can advocate for the routine use of anything until we work on our informed consent practices, and malpractice insurance for maternity care providers. If, for example, I had been fully informed about the risks and benefits of cesarean, I would have never accepted one for my first birth. Never for the reasons it was presented to me. However, I have consented to c-section as a fully informed birthing woman who realized she needed one to birth safely for a subsequent birth.
    Now, to mention pain. The pain of the headaches I have are immensely more horrible than the 10 + hours of intense back labor I experienced in my second birth. For one, I am not functional with headaches. I cannot talk. I cannot make decisions. Sometimes, I feel like dying. While laboring, I never once lost the ability to make decisions, to talk, to laugh, to walk…. Between contractions I rested and felt normal – tired, hard working, but normal. There are no breaks with headaches. The pain of childbirth is the pain of the body working hard. It is not a signal that something is wrong. Sure, it is strong pain. Some of the most intense pain I’ve experienced. But, I could move, moan, focus, and find a space to be in until that contraction was over. I worked with my body. You can’t work yourself out of a broken bone, a gall bladder attack, a bad headache. You can’t get in a tub or shower and find wonderful relief in these cases of acute pain. You can during labor. Among many of the other wonderful alternatives to artifically and chemically drugging your body during one of its normal life functions.
    Am I a natural birth advocate? Sure. Am I an advocate for women who desire to birth using drugs for pain relief? Sure. When they are fully informed of risks and benefits. So, I’m not here to slam doctors, nurses, or anyone else who believes in medicine. I have seen medicine work great wonders for laboring women, allowing them the opportunity to avoid surgical delivery, to rest when things weren’t going normally, and to ease their fear. I have also seen it complicate a birth, and cause a mother and baby to suffer. It is wonderful we have this option as modern women. Medicine saves lives. But, losing our knowledge about the inborn capabilities of our bodies is dangerous. Routine use of medicine in any form of healthcare is not to be taken lightly. We suffer for it. We risk our life for it. My doctor for my first birth ignored my need to be fully informed, and skipped going over with me very important information. There was plenty of time for decision making because I was not in labor, nor was my baby or myself in any danger at all. However, I was made to feel like surgery needed to happen ASAP. I don’t know the motive, and I’m not saying that other doctors practice like this. But, my life was put in danger, my baby suffered side effects of being born a bit early and not coming through the birth canal. All for no real reason supported by ACOG or anyone else for that matter. My medical records read – she had a change of heart and really desired a cesarean. I cried while signing the consent form. I had to be sedated twice before surgery because I was so upset. I never desired surgery. Who ignored my needs? Not my L&D nurses, not my childbirth educator, not my husband or sister who were there with me… no one there who was ready to spend the time it would require to support me through birth – whatever turn it took. I have experienced another OB during birth who treated me very differently. Who waited (because there was time) until I was ready to accept his form of help. He was an advocate for my rights and my decisions in my own healthcare. So, I must ask that before deciding what a womens’ needs are for birth, you talk to them individually because for each of us it is different, and during our labors it can change. So, if you want to be an advocate for women – in general – it is best not to blanket opinions one way or another and try to apply them to women as a whole.

  24. mamahery says:

    As a former doula and now International Certified Childbirth Educator and mother of two small childre, the largest obstacle that stands in any birthing women’s way is lack of knowledge! If they educate themselves, no matter the direction, then they take back any power than lost or gain more power to be the one the drivers seat! No matter a women’s decision, we should support her, and inform her of the pro’s and con’s of the situation, letting her make a fully informed decision. One thing modern OB’s tend to forget or get too busy to present is the “informed decision” model. It is sad women have to be proactive in their care and more professionals don’t present the pro’s and cons as they should in any part of medical care.

  25. kathleen says:

    @Amy—what I find the most interesting in this whole stream is that you compare birth to actual ailments that cause pain. As a first time, pregnant mom, I have been doing a lot of reading and talking to my other mom friends. It is simply a matter of being informed. I want to know what the risks are before I take them plain and simple. I don’t want to be made to feel “like a wacko or an extremist” because I ask questions. And—of course—a woman with gall stones or cancer may want pain medication!! Of course those are not to be taken lightly. But those are diseases, and it seems that you are equating pregnancy and birth with the treatment of a disease—a much larger issue here in the United States.

  26. Mia says:

    You, Amy are the most childish blogger I have ever read. You have no respect for women, their rights and you attack and call names when someone doesn’t agree with you… Funny you are so critical of others when you engage in the slander and mud throwing and think it makes you look smart or right…
    For all you others trying to make her see reason, don’t bother. She is the most closed minded person I have ever encountered and just lives to pick fights. Save your time and knowledge for someone who can at least listen and engage in an intelligent debate, not the crap she slings…

  27. Heather says:

    I do have medical issues that normally are handled with seizure and pain meds such as narcodics. i refuse to take all of that. I work with an herbalist to control the seizures and migraines. This Amy character probably would think I am nuts when i have a migraine for eating shrimp and pasta to fight off the headache then go soak in a warm tub with some epsom salts. Or take a natural herbal supplement that was orignially marketed as a natural alternative to viagra (watch out honey when my migraine is gone!)
    It gets me when people are afraid to try eating foods when they hurt or feel bad but have no problem popping a pill.

    When they won’t eat a piece of toast with some local honey on it to help with alergies but are quick to pop a couple of sudefeds for the alergies. Sto and think what is the main ingrediant in Meth and you want to take this for your allergies….it was a local meth cook and dealer that asked me that question (my uncle)

    OK I will shut up for now!

  28. Anne says:

    When my oldest was born, I was in a hospital I hadn’t planned on being in, which I hadn’t researched, and was unfamiliar with the staff of. As such, I went through a lot of things I shouldn’t have had to (being yelled at by a nurse for yelling during labor pain, for instance, after waking up from a narcotic-induced sleep in a dark and empty room; being catheterized; being told I couldn’t even stand up when that was all my body was SCREAMING for me to do … ) As a result, although I’d read up as much as I could beforehand, I had no support, and opted for an epidural I hadn’t wanted, because I was unable to withstand the pain. It made my delivery much more difficult for me, as it made me unaware of what my own body was trying to do. When my daughter was born, the doctor didn’t even fully deliver her before suctioning her, leaving her body still in the birthing canal. She ended up having to be put on oxygen … something I was not even made aware of until days later, by her father! I was nothing more than a body, I felt, a walking baby oven. My needs weren’t important, only getting that baby out of me. Yes, that’s part of the point, but only part … I wasn’t respected as a person, and barely as a patient. My wishes were superceded by “hospital policy,” and what was easier for the doctor and nurses … and even for my husband, after the birth!

    When my next two children were born (in a different hospital, in a different state!!), I had a birthing plan made up WITH MY MIDWIFE, IN WRITING. It was part of hospital policy during my preregistration! It was terrific, to me, to know that, even if I wasn’t able to convey my wishes at that point, they were already known. And my midwife, a CNM, was the best of both worlds: a “natural birth” advocate who was more than willing and able to step in and offer medical intervention if need be. With my middle daughter, everything I’d planned went out the window: I had a rapid labor and delivery, the former of which lasted three hours from first contraction, the latter lasting a minute. I was in the worst agony of my life, and THERE WAS NOTHING TO BE DONE. My body took over. I had been opposed to pain meds during my pregnancy, stating repeatedly that I wanted to go without IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. During my delivery, I begged for them, but as they were about to be administered, the nurse (my midwife hadn’t even made it, having been woken out of bed in the middle of the night) realized that I had dilated from 6 to 10 in the space of time it took to prep the shot. I had no choice BUT to be unmedicated. During no other procedure would that even be considered … An episiotomy would probably have been done, but there wasn’t time for one, and I ended up with tearing needing stitches. I hadn’t wanted one anyway, so for that I was grateful, even though the scarring sometimes still bothers me. Would I have done it differently? Yes. I’d have taken longer, and not asked for meds. Which is what I did the next time. When my youngest, my third daughter was born just over two years later, in that same hospital with that same midwife (who had arrived in time for the placenta, though not the baby, the previous time … ), I had a near perfect experience, according to my recycled birth plan. I had friends to soothe me, music to distract and calm me, a tub to ease my pain. I was induced, as my stubborn cervix wouldn’t cooperate even after my water broke, and during the entire time, during the nearly 16 hours I labored with my daughter, not once did it cross my mind to ask for drugs. Even under the pain of Pitocin, that devil’s drip, my only focus was “let’s get through this.” Had I asked, I would have been given anything under the sun (within legalities), but it honestly didn’t occur to me. At the end, as I was walking from the bathroom to my bed to deliver, I glanced at the cabinets and realized that relief had been that close, and jokingly asked my midwife if it was too late (I had just measured at 9). She stared, then, remembering my last delivery, joked back, “Sure, let me get out the Stadol and you can drop the baby right here where you stand … ” Before the song on the radio finished playing, I’d delivered my baby girl, completely naturally.

    I was amazingly lucky to have such a supportive team with me, though. My midwife was amazing; her strength, her support, her knowledge, and her humor most of all carried me through agonizing pain. There was no pressure, for or against. She knew my wishes, and she acceded to them. She had also helped to educate me, during all my pregnancies, on what my options were; pros and cons of pain relief methods; different methods of relieving pain naturally; even the types of people to have with me during me delivery. Not everyone is as lucky as I was with Margaret, and it’s sad that there aren’t a lot more midwives (and OB/GYNs!) like her, who see the woman as more than just a patient, a platform, or simply a conduit for the baby …

  29. Lesley says:

    Lee: — When I read her comments I am reminded what a blessing it has been that Amy Tuteur had such a brief career in medicine. The comments section of a prgnancy blog is as close to pregnant women and their unborn children as she ever needs to be. –

    Really?
    Because when I was in real danger of placental abruption with my twins, I would have chosen Dr. Amy over a midwife any day. Yeah, I want to feel good about the process, but more importantly, I wanted all three of us to survive it.

    I trust women to make their own decisions as much as anyone else can. But there is a reason we turn to people who have been educated in ways we aren’t.Sorry, didn’t have time to go to med school and complete several residencies in the 9 months between conceiving my babies and having them.

    What bothers me is the idea that “birth pain is good but other pain is unnatural.” Gall bladder attacks, cancer, etc are biological and “natural” as well. We have this false idea that birth, as well as life, is free from trauma and injury and all bad things of the world — when there is pain, trauma, or or injury, something “unnatural” must have happened.

    Anyway, I know Dr. Amy doesn’t need me to defend her, but I get so irritated. Yes, I want to make my own decisions about my own body and my babies’ bodies. But reading some websites and a few books doesn’t make me anywhere close to an expert. I’m the expert on my own body and experiences and I bring that to a team who knows about the birthing process. If I wanted to give birth hanging upside down in a tree, I want a doctor/midwife/whoever to smack me on the back of the head and say “Nope. That’s dangerous, dammit.”

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