On Choice

Lately, I have been wondering: What if someone doesn’t want an empowered and informed birth?

I have been saying that I am all about choice. I am having a hard time lately trying to figure out what my role is when people don’t want to truly choose. Some folks seem intent, comfortable, even grateful for or set on having interventions such as inductions or epidurals.

I want to both INFORM and EMPOWER women.

Risk comes up a lot when it comes to choice, and this is indeed why many women say they want/ed to birth in a hospital or why they could never birth at home. I rarely feel comfortable in these conversations directly sharing information on the risks of routine hospital interventions. I can never really find a way to do so in an empowering way for the other woman. [On that note, feel free to choose to CLICK ABOVE to read more about the risks of two currently routine practices.]

You have to be ready to make a choice.

As a mother and a teacher, I know that readiness is the key to real learning. Awareness in this case is based on information because we swim in a sea of misinformation. If there are risks involved, we should know them. Here are my recent thoughts on the subject:

it seems most people easily imagine the risks of homebirth (although they are usually less than people imagine) and too many people underestimate are uniformed or unaware of the risks of hospital births and the practices that are common in hospitals here in the US (but not necessarily at hospitals in other nations–we do not rank well at all in the world when in comes to birth for all the access to hospital technology and medical practice). there are consequences (positive and negative) to all our actions, but as a group we are not as in the know as we could be.

i would love for every woman to be able to make a truly informed and empowered choice. this sadly requires more work than many women (and parents) are willing to do or aware they might need to do in order to make a choice that is truly their own in the face of the medical system and the media. there is a lot of misinformation out there and a strong distrust and fear around women’s bodies and babies……such a shame because we are truly powerful beyond imagination!

whether or not birth comes home again for a particular woman or our society, we need to start seeing birth for the natural process it is and stop pathologizing birth as a medical condition that requires hospital intervention or knowhow. birth should be where mama feels safest, but currently, through lack of knowledge and crafty design, we don’t have full rights and access to all kinds of births and the rights we do have are being stomped on in some places and revoked in others……and that is another shame.

If you have had a birth by cesarean section and would like find community or if you want to know more on how to avoid unnecessary c-sections:

2 responses to this post.

  1. I heard recently that Ina Mae Gaskin’s new book is excellent and discusses the topic of her ideal for the state of birth in the future and it doesn’t mean everyone has to have a homebirth. I imagine that it does mean that care providers act responsibly and respect that mothers are made to birth. Also that what you do to the mother you are doing to the baby, so that mothers are treated as active participants in the process rather than just a hole that the baby shoots out of. Also, that families are born together and thats the point of birth, not just a baby coming from the womb to the outer world so families would be considered as an important part of the process.

    I find often what women don’t know is that epidurals aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. Many times they only numb half of their body and leave the other half without the endorphine rush they had because all those receptor sites are being blocked by the drugs. So its actually much more painful and in addition to that they can’t get up. They also lose control because when it comes to pushing epidurals make it much more difficult. So if a mother wants to avoid a cesarean she often gets the epidural turned down or off which then means she is feeling her contractions and all the pressure full force without narcotics or endorphines on her side.

    Another thing women aren’t told is that epidurals steal your natural high. When I see a woman who just had a normal vaginal delivery where she was rockin enough to push out her baby she is glowing! No matter the setting she is so proud of her hard work. But after an epidural she doesn’t have that glow, she looks exhausted and often just talks about how she wants to go to sleep.

    I just worked with a mom who had an epidural with her first birth because she just didn’t know that it would make it harder. For her second she was ready to do whatever it took to do it without one because she felt she could deal with the pain better and be more in charge of her birth. And she did.

    Whew. Glad you brought up this topic. XO


    • I’m glad you took the time to comment! You brought up many important points, no doubt from all your experiences with being a doula and midwife as well as a mother.

      Your point about families is so often overlooked. More is being born than a baby and birth is more than passing through a canal. Our practices and treatment should recognize that.

      Epidurals are tricky. I know a woman whose epidural numbed all the pain except for one spot. She spent all of labor in excrutiating agony over all that intensity of labor focused in one spot. It reminded me that pain and labor are complex things; there are no simple answers or fixes. I agree with you about the epidurals and pain needing to get out in the open. People are just not aware of the chemical/hormonal part of birth, and that can be the best part!

      The sleepy piece is tough, tough. There are many women who wish the feelings they had around birth and their awareness of the experience was greater. Many report feeling too drowsy, as you said, or out of it to bond with their baby. This conflicts down the line, they feel, with some of their other goals and dreams.

      Your point about turning down the epidural is exactly the kind of information people need to know. If a woman wants to birth in a hospital and has dreams about how that birth will go, she would be well served to know tips like that to help her advocate for herself and have others do so for her and the baby as well.

      Thanks, again, for commenting. Always appreciate hearing your thoughts.


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