Thursday, August 20, 2009

I feel like I've been saying the same things for years about the vast difference between the medical model and midwifery model of care that I'm at risk of sounding like a broken record! Yet, women all around me are completely unaware of the differences and are expecting something different from their OB/Gyn not knowing that they are trying to squeeze lemon juice from an apple, so to speak! Here's a recent story; my friend is going the conventional route with her pregnancy and seeing an OB for her care. She will deliver in the hospital, but yet feels as though her doctor is out of touch and very impersonal. After a few afternoon chats with me she went online and wrote up a birth plan. Excitedly, she took it to her next appointment with her doctor and he said, "What's a birth plan? I've never seen one of these!" Without further adue she put the papers away and nothing more was said. She was shocked and it was an eye opener for her and she wondered how open he will be to her natural childbirth desires at the time of labor! When I heard this story I just shook my head knowingly! Sadly, this is very common and as consumers of childbirth we are choosing time after time medical personnel who don't know anything other than epidural, medicated birth! We're expecting something 'fairy-taleish' from our care providers when they are unwilling to listen or come around to "unconventional" ideas and wishes. Women keep choosing the medical model of care and expecting the midwifery model out of their doctors! It doesn't work!

I went over recently to check on this same friend's baby; mom was unsure of movement and being overdue she was a bit worried. I arrived with my Doppler in hand and started palpating (feeling the position of her baby) her tummy. She asked me, "What are you doing?" and I was surprised her doctor had never done this before to her! I explained how you can feel the position of the baby, see how they react to your touch and find the position of the head all through simple touching. She was surprised! Another eye opener to her quality of care! We listened to the baby's heartbeat...all was well. She just needed some reassurance and education on going past dates and how it feels and what to expect. A quick 15 minute visit gave her more information and assurance than her previous appointments with the OB.

She complained that her Dr. always has to pull out her chart to remember her when she goes in to his office and she related the lack of trust or intimacy with him. How can you expect to have the birth experience you want when you don't feel comfortable or close to your care provider? What are we, as women, expecting from standard American prenatal care in the medical world?

I live in Southern Utah where the options for pregnant mothers is very limited. Either you can deliver in the hospital with a doctor like I've described or you can choose a midwife who delivers at home. There is no go between in this part of the state. It makes women's choices very limited and you can understand why these women continue to hope for something better with their traditional doctors but receive the same, on your back legs in stirrups, treatment. The epidural rate for our local hospital is near 90%! The cesarean section rate is nearly 35%! Knowing these statistics women should expect to receive a numerous amount of interventions during their labors and births and not be surprised. Sad as that is, it is the cold hard truth!

Which is why you can feel my frustration when I relay these stories, time and time again, and yet nothing changes in our area. Doctors still deliver many hundred medicated babies per month here, and do so, without much opposition from their patients. Once the experience is said and done and moms are holding their bundles of joy the frustration falls off and in comes a rush of hormones and moms look to the doctors and say "Thank you." How can the doctors know what women really want if they are unwilling to say so??

As an advocate of natural childbirth and one who practices the midwifery model of care I have to put these stories out of my mind and continue blazing the trail I'm on. Yes, I feel the sadness and loss of empowerment when women relay these experiences to me, but yet I can't change them. Only until women agree that the current prenatal and labor care is less than acceptable and speak to their doctors about it and demand a change, it will remain the same. I'm only one person and sadly, cannot change the world, but I can change the world for one family, one mom/baby at a time with a natural, nurturing childbirth experience.

To those moms who take the road less traveled and who do so, time and time again, I salute you! You are the pioneers of natural childbirth in the 21st century. Why can't we learn from history...we've already been through this at least twice before. Take back your rights of womanhood and reproductive choices and demand what you want! You are the only ones who can change the tides.


Krystal said...

Well said, Lori. And THAT is why I love you! :)

Emily said...

I feel the same way - frustrated by the lack of birthing options in our community. The chances of change happening any time soon seem slim when I talk to friends/neighbors about their views and experiences about birth. The majority of women seem to accept the medical model without question or even awareness that there are other options. Sigh. Thank you for our local hospital's statistics. Although it's somewhat terrifying, it's good to know. (I finally watched The Business of Being Born by the way - loved it!)

jenbruggeman said...

You are my hero. I couldn't have done it "naturally" without you!!!

Lori Wrankle, Traditional Midwife said...

Thank you ladies! You are all heroes in my book! Strong, passionate women and great friends, too. Thanks for being so kind to me and for reading.