Labor is such an intense, intimate, and memorable experience. Some women have a positive experience and others are mortified.
My labor was amazing. I didn’t fear whether Willow would come too late. In fact, I was concerned that she might be a premature baby. I don’t know why, but I always think of the worse case scenario and a premature child has less chance of survival than an “overdue” child. [Speaking of which, please pray for a friend’s child who is currently fighting for her life. Elina weighs 2 pounds currently and was born at 26 weeks, the week that life is generally considered viable outside the womb, one of the earliest weeks of possible life outside the womb.] Willow wound up being a week early.
“Early vs. Late”
Sonograms. A first world occupant’s favorite technological device, even though there is little evidence on the effects of sonograms. (I like them as well so I can mentally prepare for a disabled child should we ever have one, of course not so we could euthanize it as is often the case with little girls (India & China) or children with Down Syndrome.) Women have been drinking wine and having healthy pregnancies for years (and we know that over-consumption is never a good thing but I’m not concerned with that here), but we warn women to refrain from alcohol at all, even when you are stressed and the stress hormones could potentially be more damaging to your fetus’ life than a sip of wine. I digress though. My point: sonograms aren’t full proof. Unless you know the date you ovulated and conceived, you won’t know your “due date”. Sonograms can be off by up to two weeks! That means if the sonogram says you are “due” on a particular day and we are inducing a week BEFORE ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) says you should (ACOG says you can wait two weeks after a due date before brain problems might arise), you could essentially be delivering a preemie. As such, it is best to wait for an induction at least TWO weeks after a “due date” before inducing. Each baby is individual, gestates (while anatomically alike) emotionally differently, each woman experiences pregnancy differently, and each woman labors differently.
If each woman labors differently, why are we prescribing treatment the same way each time? Why are we having blanket medical practices rather than individual plans for each woman based on how her pregnancy is going? Why intervene unless she really needs you too.
Disclaimer: This post is not in any way intended to shame women who select a c-section. This is intended to educate you about the risks and common things doctors say. If you choose to have a c-section, that is your prerogative. You should, however, understand the risks beforehand. Also, understand trends that OBGYNs (and sadly even some midwives) will practice so you can make an educated choice with your provider.
Tests that might happen during pregnancy
Amnio—testing of your baby’s fluid sac to see if any diseases or life-threatening cases are present. This should NOT be routine. If you are high risk, by all means have this procedure done. It can lead to miscarriage though. Be careful. This is extremely dangerous and should only be selected when a dire need shows you do.
Vaginal exams—some doctors will perform a vaginal exam at every appointment. This shouldn’t happen. The need for a vaginal exam is rare (even during labor…it shouldn’t be performed often if at all). A vaginal exam introduces bacteria.
There are many more and I’m sure I could write about that later. However, I have somewhere to be at 6 pm and these are the only tests I can think of. Read and be educated on your own too.
Things to ask your doctor
-Induction rate (also when the doctor does it…day after “due date”, week after, two weeks, etc.)
– Episiotomy rate (slicing of your vagina to open the whole wider because the baby isn’t coming out “fast enough”)—The need to do this is RARE!!!! Also, there is a proper way to do this and a particular angle of cutting that should be used. Be very aware of these statistics. NO ONE should be wanting to use scissors on your vagina without pause!
-C-section rate (when and how often). If your doctor performs most c-sections between 9-5 pm, this is most often NOT an emergency. They want their work day to end. They want to go home too. They don’t want to work holidays. When you choose a profession in healthcare, you understand the choices you are making and the sacrifices. A true health professional will care MORE about their patient’s needs than being home in time for dinner.
The c-section rates leads me to point out trends I see in so many friend’s births.
-Induced a week after “due”
-Labored for too long (which most labor is 17 hours…could be longer or shorter, you have 24 hours after being induced without your water breaking before another course of action needs to be taken; several doctors will say an emergency c-section is needed BEFORE this time frame). Either the doctor will insist on doing a c-section or administering an epidural. Frequently, if a woman was given pitocin (drug used for induction) she will have contractions that are extremely painful and want/need the epidural.
-Pitocin is KNOWN to cause contractions to be more intense.
-How far along you are dilated doesn’t mean a thing. If a doctor expects you to be dilating 1 cm every hour, they are using general trends to you and you should be wary of them. They are likely to be using a medical model of care that isn’t specific to you but general.
-Pitocin speeds up labor. An epidural slows labor. They counteract each other. Often, a child’s heart rate will be erratic as such. This is often when a doctor will say an emergency c-section is needed.
-Vomiting in labor isn’t uncommon. Don’t be surprised there.
Oh and not moving in labor but being in a hospital bed stalls labor. Going to a hospital can frequently stall labor. C-section rates increase for women that arrive at the hospital before being 4 cm. dilated. There is so many more tidbits to know. I learned them and it helped. Move, progress. Transition is the worse part and this is when you want to rest. Pushing can sometimes be slow and this is okay most of the time.
PLEASE, YOU ARE LOVED! I WANT YOU TO HAVE A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE THAT I DID. I WANT YOU TO UNDERSTAND RISKS AND THAT A C-SECTION IS MAJOR SURGERY!!! TAKE CLASSES, READ BOOKS, WATCH MOVIES. BE INFORMED, BE PREPARED. IF YOU READ PREGNANCY BOOKS AND PARENTING BOOKS, WHY NOT LABOR AND BREAST-FEEDING BOOKS?
Recommended courses, literature, documentaries:
Movie- The business of being born 1& 2
Books by Ina May Gaskin
Class: Bradley birthing (12 weeks, in-depth)
DON’T JUST LISTEN TO YOUR DOCTOR OR EVEN ME! YOU KNOW YOUR BODY, YOU’VE LIVED WITH IT FOR YOUR WHOLE LIFE!!! TAKE BIRTHING CLASSES! YOU SHOULDN’T BE AFRAID OF THIS. WOMEN’S BODIES AREN’T DEFECTIVE AND ARE MADE TO DELIVER BABIES, CONTRARY TO MODERN MEDICINE MODELS FREQUENTLY OBSERVED TODAY. DON’T BE AFRAID, FACE YOUR FEAR WITH EDUCATING YOURSELF ON WHAT IS NORMAL AND WHAT COULD GO WRONG.
Alright, I should get going. I have an infant tugging at my shirt and a party at 6 pm (which is ten minutes from now and a 20 min. car ride away). I wanted to finish this because my heart is so heavy lately and I care about women, their deliveries, and their knowledge being in their ballpark, not a doctor’s who has seemingly more “knowledge” but is really trained in surgery and emergency scenarios, not NORMAL (95% or so of the time) births that women have had throughout centuries and in many other countries. (Grammar poor because I really should get going.)
Please get educated, prepared, and conquer any fear you may have. In all, pray. You are beautifully, wonderfully, and fearfully made—you are woman, created in God’s image. You are strong. You can do this. Don’t be told otherwise. Yes, emergencies happen and there comes a time when you need intervention, BUT THIS SHOULD BE RARE and recent statistics show c-sections, epidurals, and pitocin are most certainly not being treated as such!