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.