I thought some of you would super enjoy Andrea’s story of her second son’s hospital birth. She perfectly expresses the conflicts so many of us experience when making choices about birth:
A few days before I went into labor I had a long talk with a friend who is a doula. Given that I was past my due date and feeling anxious she was wondering if there was some kind of mental block that wasn’t allowing my body to relax and go into labor. She asked me a ton of questions about how I wanted the birth to go, what my hopes were, etc. What I appreciated most was that she asked these questions without any agenda.
I had an assumption that doulas and midwives had an agenda about delivering at home, are suspicious of hospitals and generally frown on any sort of pain medication. Turns out I was wrong, and I felt so relieved when it was clear that she really just wanted to know what kind of birth experience I wanted to have. The more I talked with her, the more I realized that not scheduling an induction, not having an epidural, etc. was me trying to be good. Trying to do it right… in the “natural” way that people do it here in Berkeley.
Read Andrea’s full birth story, and then come back and let’s talk about the machinations we each go through with birth decisions.
Birth is a complex issue, made especially muddy by the swirl of emotions, medical concerns and pressures, cultural trends, and health care issues. That said, I think the goal of any one providing birth support for a friend or client should always be supporting women as they make their own best decisions, and I totally commend Andrea’s friend/doula for exemplifying that support.
Obviously, as the daughter of the midwife, I personally support everyone who wants to have an unmedicated and/or at-home birth pursuing that option. I desperately wish that the American health care system was better equipped to allow more women to pursue that vision. I think the world would be a better place if birth was less medicalized.
But, I also support strong women, like Andrea, who know their options and make their own choices. I don’t think making a choice based on misplaced guilt or a dutiful sense of what you “should do” is any better than making a choice based on pressure from ill-informed family members or a woefully broken health care system. Ultimately, it’s about collecting as much information as possible, and making the best decision for yourself that you can.