I’ve been away from the blog for a few days, taking a break, being busy with other things, being hot and just being.
We still await the arrival of our granddaughter who keeps giving mom and dad wonderful little signs that she is gearing up for the big day. She is happy where she is but the changes in mom’s body signal that her world is getting ready to change.
I have talked about my dual role as mom to the expecting daughter and also doula to the expecting couple and it is at times such as this couple has encountered in the last few weeks that both frustrate and anger me in both of those roles.
The mom wants only the best for her daughter, wants this experience to be memorable in a good and positive way. The doula wants exactly the same and both of those roles are extremely cognizant that compromising either mom or baby is out of the question. This mom is incredibly healthy, as is this baby. They are both the epitome of good prenatal care.
My couple chose a birth place and experience that they believe will allow them freedom from medical intervention. Freedom to labor and birth as nature intended. They chose this because it is what they believe. They chose caregivers who should also believe this philosophy. Caregivers who of course must be mindful of the health and well-being of their clients but who encourage a strong and positive belief in the fact that pregnancy and birth are a natural experience to be trusted.
At 40 weeks gestation, full term and showing signs of pregnancy changes and that inevitable ramping up toward labor my couple; my daughter has encountered some undeniably negative attitudes and comments in her last two prenatal visits. Empathy is lacking for the first time mom who is tired, aching, and just done with being pregnant. Obtuse comments do nothing to help when mom wants to hear how great she is doing, how great her baby is doing and who should be made to believe that this is all normal.
Of course these caregivers must do their job, and part of that job is the discussion of outcomes, options and the like in the event that this little girl is just too comfortable where she is and decides to hold her position a lot longer. This birthing place has rules, restrictions and guidelines and my couple understands that. The difficult and frustrating aspect for me as a doula comes in hearing that while not only reviewing these guidelines, a little seed was planted inside mom’s head that will nag and poke and cause self-doubt about her ability, her body’s ability to do what it is meant to do. Words like induction came up, and apparently quickly following that word was the idea that mom’s immediate response would be to jump on the epidural bandwagon and plan for the “fun stuff” of a natural labor and water birth the next time around.
Hearing this from my daughter last night made me livid. It also reminded me very quickly why I chose to stop teaching childbirth education classes and advocating patient options and non-medicalized birth procedures. The wall I faced 15 years ago is still there, still just as strong and still apparently being pushed even by those who are in the business of birthing from a more holistic viewpoint. These are the very women who should be doing everything they can to encourage, enlighten and keep their couples believing that this process is natural and normal yet in the face of something as relatively common as post-dates pregnancy, they cave to the standard medical positions while almost automatically causing defeat and the beginning of a negative spiral in their clients.
Where were the suggestions for natural labor induction? Where was the teaching on acupressure and nipple stimulation and other means to encourage labor? Most importantly, where was the attitude that this is normal, that this baby will come when she is ready and the belief that mom’s body is in full control and knows what to do.
I know this. I believe this and I want my couple, my daughter to know and believe this. I can so understand how hard it is to wait. She was early in her appearance, but both of her siblings decided to hang out in my uterus well past their due dates. Mommy wants to make it better, wants to protect her child, wants to scream at the midwife who is clearly not understanding regarding the emotional aspects of pregnancy. The doula wants to ask the midwife why? Why would you ignore a teaching moment, a chance to bring a positive aspect to this young first time pregnant couple? Why you would be so crass as to completely overlook the doubt and negativity you create with just a few words? You, the midwife, who is supposed to know better, to be a patient advocate at the most precious time in a women’s life.
C-I had to write this today. I had to express some of the frustration I feel for you and for myself as a person who has seen this so many times before and so wanted you not to have to encounter these attitudes. Believe in yourself. Believe in your baby and your body. The time will come and it will be right. Hold onto that above all else.