Birth: Educate Yourself

Talking about birth is tough. If I tell one mother I want to do things a certain way she may respond excitedly because she believes the same thing about childbirth. But the next mother I talk to may feel like I am inferring that my way is best, and her way is deficient somehow. It may seem like my choices indicate that I judge her for not doing what I am planning.

I don’t object with any way a mother chooses to have her baby. Really I don’t. C-Section, Induction, Epidural, Vaginal, Hospital, Birth Center, At Home. I believe there is a time and a place for almost everything, and all of these things can have immense benefits when used in the proper context.

I do object with women who don’t make informed choices based on what is best for both the baby and herself. I don’t believe either beings, baby or mother’s, morbidity and mortality has to be placed above the other excluding the most extreme of situations. Most importantly, I object to women who don’t learn ALL of their options, the complications and benefits of each option, and take charge of their own health care.

I am 100% for doctors and hospitals. That should be obvious from my own past, as someone who had a breast reduction three years ago, and most recently had major back surgery. Those were both times in my life when something was physically wrong with me, and I needed to turn to a trained and qualified doctor to help me resolve the issues. When I announced I was going to have back surgery I had family members telling me about the non-surgical means they had used to treat their own back pain, but I had looked into my options, received multiple opinions from different surgeons, and came to the conclusion that major surgery was the best option for me. Now that the experience is over and the problems were visible to the surgeons naked eye, I can rest assured that I made the right choice in my unique situation.

The key in these situations is that I did my research. I read several books on breast reductions, scoured the internet, and got opinions from two different surgeons before I went under the knife. When I was experiencing back pain I sought chiropractic care, and went through multiple tests (including several x-rays and an MRI), working with three different surgeons in all before I decided to go for surgery. I felt educated and confident. I knew the risks and I also  knew my other options if I wanted to choose other means that might provide satisfactory results.

Most pregnant women I know don’t seem to be doing this. They work with one doctor their entire pregnancy and they do everything he says because they believe that doctor knows what is best for them, and has only the pregnant woman’s best interests in mind. You know what? I don’t  have my photography clients best interest in mind at all times. Most of the time I’m thinking about myself, how I can stay sane and keep my business afloat. How I can continue to be profitable so I can still do this thing that I love so much. I end up looking out for myself first, clients second. And I don’t think doctors or other professionals are immune from the same way of thinking.

Freakonomics labels this as “responding to incentives”:

As the world has grown more specialized, countless such experts have made themselves similarly indispensable. Doctors, lawyers, contractors, stockbrokers, auto mechanics, mortgage brokers, financial planners: they all enjoy a gigantic information advantage. And they use that advantage to help you, the person who hired them, get exactly what you want for the best price.


It would be lovely to think so. But experts are human, and humans respond to incentives. How any given expert treats you, therefore, will  depend on how that expert’s incentives are set up… In a medical study, it turned out that obstetricians in areas with declining birth rates are much more likely to perform cesarean-section deliveries than obstetricians in growing areas–suggesting that, when business is tough, doctors try to ring up more expensive procedures.

Could this summary of the data be an extrapolation? Possibly. But I think it would take an incredible amount of willpower for each and every doctor out there to always act in your favor despite the incentives provided to him, not just in the form of monetary compensation, but also those incentives found in avoiding the possibility of malpractice at all costs. Doctors deliver at, and follow the rules of, the hospitals they practice in, and I can’t imagine anyone could deny that hospitals are a business, with their focus directed toward being as profitable as possible.

The only person who has your best interest in mind 100% of the time, is YOU.


Here I am sounding like a doctor/hospital hater, the exact opposite of what I wanted. But I’m not a hospital hater. I’m an education advocate. I’m fighting for women who believe in do-your-research, take-charge-of-your-health care, know-your-options . If the doctor wants to induce before your due date ask her about TTN (wet lungs) and research it on your own. If you’re thinking of an epidural, do you believe that gravity and movement can help with the pains and progression of labor, and are you willing to sacrifice that?  How can pitocin negatively affect you and your baby? What do you know about the correspondence of epidurals with low blood pressure, shaking, itching, effects on the newborn, a higher incidence of maternal tearing, and an increased rate of c-sections? Do you want to eat or drink during labor (whether you are going natural or having an epidural), and is it possible at the hospital you are planning on delivering at? Do you want your baby sent to the nursery for tests directly after birth, or do you believe in skin-to-skin contact? Do you believe introduction of formula/pacifiers/bottles by the nursing staff can interfere with breastfeeding later on? The nurses are going to administer shots, ointments, and other procedures while the baby is in their care, do you want drops put in their eyes, the vitamin k shot administered, a bath and a rubdown right after birth? Do you know the statistics regarding the safety of out-of-hospital birth (where in a birthing center or home birth), and have you considered that you might feel more comfortable in a setting where you have more control over the way your childbirth experience goes?

Your body and your baby are not meant to be treated like the birth before you, and the birth before that, and the birth before that. Know the risks, the benefits, the alternatives possibilities for each option. Know your rights. Stand up for yourself (even when faced with an authority figure) if you don’t agree with proposed action. Know what you want done to you and your child.

Take charge and make it happen.

49 thoughts on “Birth: Educate Yourself

  1. I totally agree with you! Especially with something as important and with the magnitude of birth, you should know your options and what you are getting yourself into. I’m pretty sure that if you do sound research and ask your doctors as many questions as possible, you’ll be even more so respected. There’s sort of a mindset that woman have got into that says, “Well, it’s worked for hundreds of other woman before me. Why should I be different?” But that’s basically the point. Everyone is different and you need to decide what your options are and decide what is best for you and baby.

    Just a quick question for you Jenna. Did you start looking all this up before getting pregnant or after? I’ve been wanting to research before I get pregnant, but I definitely DON’T need more “Are you pregnant?!”s stuffed in my face. So, I’m just curious how you went about it. Thanks for these posts! They’re great!

    Kelli Reply:

    I know you directed this towards Jenna, but I’ll answer it for me too :). I’m not even married, but I’ve been researching birth and pregnancy since I was probably about 15 when my first nephew was born. It started with my sisters’ pregnancy books and spread. I’ve been subscribing to pregnancy and parenting magazines since I was 17 and have a collection of books. At one point in high school I wanted to be a neo natal nurse, and at another point a pre-school teacher. Maybe people would think I’m a little extreme, but it’s just an interest of mine and I like to be educated and know what’s out there. There are things I haven’t researched fully and won’t until I’m faced with having children as things may be different when I start having kids, but I don’t think it’s strange at all to start researching before you even plan on getting pregnant! 9 months may seem like a long time, but any additional time to study and research will always be beneficial! Plus, you don’t have to tell other people you’re researching if you don’t want to :).

    Jenna Reply:

    Well, as I said, I learned about alternative choices about 4 years ago, but things have really just been festering since then. I didn’t get hardcore about things until I was pregnant but I don’t think there is anything wrong (or weird) with doing so beforehand.

    I think most women don’t know this stuff because they never think to question. They submit to test after test after test without asking why the tests are administered, usually breezing by the listed dangers as well. If you don’t do anything about it until you get pregnant, don’t worry! You’ll have time. The information is incredibly easy to find, no matter your belief system about what is best. I think books like Your Best Birth are a great place to start though, books that detail ALL of the options in the least judgmental way possible.

  2. Agree wholeheartedly! Figure out what you really want and won’t compromise on and also figure out what you are willing to be flexible on should the situation change.

    Funny story: With Grant, I had taken a few parenting classes and one childbirth class. I get to the hospital trying the breathing techniques I’d read and been taught a few times. The triage nurse tells me “Didn’t you take a childbirth class? You’re doing it the wrong way – breathe like this” and proceeds to show me the ‘correct’ way. I do it because I’m in pain, this is my first, etc.

    Then when I get to the L&D room, I’m breathing the way Ms. Triage told me and the L&D nurse says – NO JOKE – “You’re breathing wrong – breathe like this.. Didn’t you take a childbirth class?” :) At the time I didn’t tell them how silly it was that they both gave me completely conflicting breathing advice within 10 minutes of each other. I was I had more presence of mind at the time to tell them I’ll do whatever the heck I want that helps me feel better and more in control. They were both nice enough though.

    Moral of the story: Breathe however YOU want and if standing on your head (though fairly impossible:) makes you feel better and do better do what you need to do and don’t let people/nurses make you feel like their way is the 100% correct way because – as you know – there are many different opinions and methods when it comes to childbirth.
    (but I know you already know all this!)

    Kelli Reply:

    LOL. You’re breathing wrong!?! Geez, didn’t your mom ever teach you to breath?? Women these days…

  3. Hear, hear! I very much agree with this post! I don’t care what birth choices other women make, but I do care that they know ALL of the pros and cons of those choices! Rather than just blindly following the doctor’s orders because they must know, we would all be so much better off if we researched and educated ourselves on our bodies and the birthing process, as well as all the options involved with giving birth to our children!

  4. I have suddenly realized how little time I have to read up on everything….and I’m not even pregnant yet!!!
    When did everything get so complicated? 100 years ago, you learned everything about giving birth from the women around you. No one worried about these things.

    Can you list some of the resources you found helpful in developing your own plan? Have aspects of it changed now that you are pregnant and perhaps are receiving more information than ever before?

    Jenna Reply:

    I’m going to write extensively about my birth plans (yes multiples!) and how I’m going to approach them, but as far as finding the information? It’s out there and it’s incredibly easy to find. My best advice is to cross check claims when you find them. The ACOG (who has an obvious bias) says that birth is ONLY safe in the hospital, but they seem to be the only organization in the world that says so, despite numerous studies saying otherwise. On the flip side, I read all kinds of crazy claims on pro-home birth websites that have no data to substantiate them.

    So if you’re doing your own research, my advice is to soak in both the empirical and the anecdotal, weigh them against each other, and make your decision based on what you’ve learned.

    Katherine (a.k.a. Sparkles) Reply:

    I have no idea if this book is good. But it looks like something I would definitely read to weigh it’s opinions…
    Obstetric Myths Versus Research Realities: A Guide to the Medical Literature by Henry Goer.

  5. This series is fantastic! I’m so glad you are writing about this. I’m not a mother or even pregnant yet, but I have definitely spent some time thinking about this topic.

    I was all about a medicated birth and maybe even a planned C-Section, until a friend of mine did a natural birth and I watched the Business of Being Born.

    I definitely agree that there a time a place for Drs and hospitals — for high risk births and other complications. But Drs are often trained to treat disease, and being pregnant is not disease.

    I think educating yourself and having a birth plan is key. But also, picking your dr. is key. I’ve heard horror stories of drs that flat-out reject a lot birth plans saying that they won’t committ to not giving pitocin or letting women have a natural birth in a hospital. And the sad thing is less and less hospitals are allowing midwives so it leaves people who want a natural birth to do a home birth or a birthing center birth. kind of sad.

  6. I agree completely. After researching our options and meeting with different midwifes (some home-based, some hospital), we decided to go for the home birth option. The more I read, the more confident I feel that this is the best option for myself and my family. I, too, wish that more women would educate themselves and take control of their own pregnancy and labor and ultimately feel more empowered by this amazing and life-changing experience.

    And to Kristin: there are so many wonderful resources out there, but I would start with “Ina May’s Guide to Child Birth.” It is research-based with plenty of real birth stories as well.

  7. I have to confess that I am kind of torn about this, because I understand both sides. On one hand. a woman should ALWAYS have the final say. It is HER child, HER body… she gets to pick. If she wants a natural birth, the doctor should respect her wishes up until either she or the baby is at risk — if she doesn’t want an epidural, no epidural. If she wants a midwife to do the delivery, midwife. But, on the other hand, my husband is a physician, and I know while he was on L&D during med school, there was a huge case when a baby was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, the doctor tried to jump in, the midwife refused to move, did not act fast enough, and the baby died. Could the doctor have prevented the death? No one knows for sure, but it is a possibility had he been able to get in there. Doctors are less and less keen on midwives and doulas when they are not able to act as fast as they need to in an emergency situation.

    I do have an acquaintance that did a total home birth — as in, just her and her husband, who works in business. Neither have any medical degree, and they opted to go totally alone. I cannot fathom in this day and age deciding that the best option for you and baby is denying ALL assistance — not even homeopathic birthing center with midwives. That would TERRIFY me in the event something went wrong and an ambulance wasn’t able to get to my house in time.

    Starry-Eyed Barefoot Bride Reply:

    I suppose there is something to the fact that women all over the globe still have babies at home with no medical help. But I’m with you, NO medical preparedness? No thanks! Current plan (though years off and I haven’t done near enough research yet) is a birthing center that is right near a hospital. (But then, Im a military wife, so who knows?!)

    Julie Reply:

    I think if you think about third world countries which lack medical care, women often band together to help each other… they may not have training, but if women in a village gather for births, then they see many, and probably learn from experience what to do… much like a modern-society midwife. Of course, I am not denying the education of a midwife, but that is how midwifery started; women who just went from birth to birth to assist local villagers, and I’m sure it continues in the remote areas of the world. I’d much prefer that to just my husband… and my husband is a physician!

    Kelli Reply:

    Just so you know, you’re referring to an unassisted homebirth (or uc homebirth…not sure what the c stands for). I’m with you in that I personally would never ever choose that and in my opinion it’s irresponsible, however, I still completely believe that it’s still the mother’s choice and no one has the right to take away her choice. But yeah, I can’t imagine not even having a midwife there (though, actually, my boyfriend’s cousin had 4 homebirths, the last one was uc).

  8. This is such a hot button topic! I’ve rewritten my comment three times because it keeps sounding angry. I too started researching pregnancy and birth years before being pregnant. Its something I am so passionate about and it infuriates me now that I am pregnant when people ask about different things and then get all huffy at ME because they think my beliefs or choices are outrageous or dangerous or that I’m just uninformed… most people go through their pregnancies doing less actual research than they do before buying a car. Sad.

    Starry-Eyed Barefoot Bride Reply:

    When people get huffy at you for your choices, it would make me wonder if the reality was that they are feeling less well informed and thus a little scared so they try to discredit you. Congrats to you for all your well done research, and good luck with your pregnancy!

  9. I think research is important. I just heard of a friend have a totally medically created birth — pitocin, epidural, induced, etc. and I never realized I had an opinion until I was horrified by her choices. Not that I necessarily judged *her* but knew it wasn’t for me.

    I’m not sure a home birth is either though, I’m pretty sure I want a doctor around.

    I think its just all about creating the way you want it. And your opinions are definitely coming through in that post, whether you like it or not! :)

  10. I agree with you!

    On a side note, I am curious to hear about how your back handles the pregnancy. I had the same surgery and like you did my research and knew it was the best option for me. While it has been years since the surgery, carrying a child is scaring me since I am not sure if my back will hold up.

    Keep up the great posts and I look forward to a new chapter in TW!

  11. I’m not pregnant yet (don’t plan to be anytime soon) but I’ve been “researching” births for my whole life- my mom had multiple home births that all went perfectly, and my older sister had a c-section when she gave birth to her breach-positioned twins. Now she’s fighting every doctor she’s been to in order to have a VBAC. The more I look into it, the more I want a home birth- but so did my sister, and the best choice in her situation was obviously surgical. Watching “the business of being born” and reading “your best birth” really made me see all the options that are out there. Great post. Keep them coming!

  12. P.S. Just had to add in response to an earlier comment about a baby’s death due to a midwife not responding- my little brother was born in a hospital, attended by a doctor. The doctor placed my naked baby brother in the heating bed and didn’t turn on the light- he got hypothermia and nearly died. The unfortunate truth is that no title (that of midwife OR of doctor) keeps people from making mistakes.

    Katherine (a.k.a. Sparkles) Reply:

    What EVERYONE on this blog keeps saying about the pros & cons for this option or that option… almost pointing the finger (for example; it’s the doctors- No it’s the nurses– NO it’s the midwives– No it’s the medical system itself!) that influences decision-making (because of beneficial or harmful past experiences)… Is something that has been widely published and analyzed, and is currently a topic of intense scrutiny/conversations by various initiatives & collaboratives (such as the Institute of Medicine, Healthy People 2000, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, National Institutes of Health- to name a few)…
    Get ready for it…
    TO ERR IS HUMAN. (Which is also the title of a book) Here is the synopsis: To Err Is Human asserts that the problem is not bad people in health care–it is that good people are working in bad systems that need to be made safer. Comprehensive and straightforward, this book offers a clear prescription for raising the level of patient safety in American health care. It also explains how patients themselves can influence the quality of care that they receive once they check into the hospital. This book will be vitally important to federal, state, and local health policy makers and regulators, health professional licensing officials, hospital administrators, medical educators and students, health caregivers, health journalists, patient advocates–as well as patients themselves.
    You are all talking about the same thing. :o) Which amuses me. It’s a good conversation.

  13. YES! YES! YES!!!!! You said it! I agree completely. I love doctors (especially the one I’m going to be married to!). But Pregnancy is not a health crisis. It is usually always normal. Women in America need to stand up and get educated! GO WOMEN!! know what is best for you and know the facts. Don’t just believe a person because he/she has Dr. in front of their name.

    It’s interesting to hear how things are changing in med school. Forrest has told me a few times about how they are teaching them to be more humanistic and recommend life style “natural” changes before resorting to medication. I think it’s going to be very fascinating to see what happens in childbirth and women health care over the next 20 years. It’s exciting! I hope women take control, and it’s getting easier with all the resource we have.


  14. THANK YOU!!! I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m not pregnant yet… heck, I’m 3 months away from my wedding… but I’ve been researching this for a while–just like I researched birth control for months and months before getting engaged. Women these days tend to do what is convenient and easy for them. Research isn’t easy. Seeing several doctors isn’t easy. Putting their baby before themselves isn’t easy.

    I wish every woman of childbearing age would read this.

  15. What a great post, Jenna! I’m not married yet, but I do believe in researching and being an informed health consumer. My girlfriends and I (one of whom is an OB/GYN) were just discussing all of the different choices women can make for the birth of their children and some of them were totally clueless. I am looking forward to the rest of your posts on this subject!

  16. I think one of the things I struggled with when I was pregnant was finding good unbiased resources. My mom and sister were definite natural proponents, and I was definitely planning a natural one myself, but I wanted to looked at it and research it without a medicine-hating or natural-hating perspective.

    I would love to see a list of recommended resources! =) And if you haven’t managed to read The Birth Partner yet, I totally recommend it.

  17. One, I have to say how much I applaud you for writing this series of posts. You have a voice out there in the blog-o-sphere, and that you use it to encourage women to educate themselves is wonderful.

    I’m a pretty big natural birth plan myself– I saw “The Business of Being Born” out of sheer boredom (and a bit of curiosity) and then became obsessed with learning about birth.The movement I’ve seen start — bloggers, TLC shows (although those can biased), research, intiatives– is a social change that I am 100% for.

    I’m very excited to read the rest Jenna!

  18. Great post. You hit the nail on the head. Not only do you have to educate yourself on your options, and not only are professionals sometimes persuaded by incentives (and deterrents!) but every body is different and responds to treatment differently. Learn to listen to your body and express what you find intelligently to your healthcare providers.

  19. I think what frustrates me is that women don’t get educated because they’re scared. They tell each other horror stories of a birth gone wrong, “Oh my friend tore from one hole to the other!” or, “Oh my sister’s baby’s cord was wrapped around it’s neck & the doctor saved it!”

    Those personal experiences are terrifying for those women, so they suddenly attribute ALL births as unsafe & risky. This simply isn’t true. Most births (yes, MOST) in the U.S. are NOT high-risk and will end normally. When you begin adding interventions (such as Pitocin or an Epidural) – the RISK. GOES. INCREDIBLY. HIGHER. A matter of fact – epidurals are VERY risky for the mother & baby, but those statistics are ignored for pain relief. Yet the mother complains that she’s having a hospital birth because she’s worried something might happen to the baby? Yet she’s having an Epidural which is risky to the baby?

    It’s like… I never get where it starts making sense.

    I also get frustrated when women brag about getting an Epidural… like “Yeah! I can’t wait to have another one with ALL my kids!” Okay, that’s fine, but do you understand the risks? Are you willing to accept those for pain relief from something that is temporary anyway?

    Anyway. I can probably piss a lot of people off, but it’s not because I think they’re bad mothers (and hey – I might end up getting an epidural myself if I can’t handle the pain but I doubt it) but the thing is… I feel like women are missing out. Of course many of them say they aren’t… but it’s because they don’t know the other side of things, usually.

    Give me a mom that has had a natural, peaceful birth & then a birth with interventions in a hospital & if she says the hospital birth was better, happier, more comfortable, and fulfilling – I’ll be shocked.

    All that aside yet again… if you *have* to have interventions, that is fine. And you should still be proud of your birth, because things were out of your control & you did what you could.

    I love your message of education. I wonder if anyone will listen.

    Regina Lynn Reply:

    Oh, I SO agree with you! I keep my mouth shut, but the praise of epidurals from my friends drives me nuts! I mean, I’ve been through labor and there WAS a point where I just wanted the pain to stop because I didn’t think I could handle it one. more. MINUTE! But I did, and I got through and experienced the biggest high of my life because of it!
    “Yet the mother complains that she’s having a hospital birth because she’s worried something might happen to the baby? Yet she’s having an Epidural which is risky to the baby?”
    Oh! That bugs me too! Also, when they’re all so careful not to take any Tylenol, etc. throughout their pregnancy and then as soon as the going gets rough in labor, they jump for the biggest painkiller of their lives! HOW does THAT work?!?

    Cristin Reply:


    you said you can piss people off. The only thing that annoyed me about your post was the dramatic capitalization and tone of expertise from someone that hasn’t yet given birth and failed to cite her passionate statements presented as fact.

    You’re quick to assume that every woman with a pain intervention hasn’t educated herself, but how can you know that for sure? My mother had a hospital birth plan for me, with a pain-intervention… I’ve gotten through college & grad school on academic scholarships and my mom is my best friend. No ADD, no missed bonding, no health fallout. She weighed the risks and we’re both fine.
    No offense, but it’s easier to take Jenna seriously as a well-informed woman because she cites facts and can separate herself from a know-it-all tone. It’s even fine to sound know-it-all… if you’ve proven your statements through citations of research or through sharing your credentials as an expert.

    kay Reply:

    Cristin – I didn’t intend to have a know-it-tone, and unfortunately experience giving childbirth doesn’t make you more educated about it. Those two things don’t necessarily go together. That’s like saying a heart surgeon can’t do heart surgery or know what he’s talking about unless he’s *had* heart surgery.

    In my other posted I listed a list of resources. I’m not going to use proper citations in a website comment, when all of those things can be Googled by you within about 10 minutes. There are research studies EVERYwhere. A good forum to start asking questions & finding up to date studies is, for example.

    I didn’t assume women who choose pain interventions don’t educate themselves about it – I posed a question, which was “Do they know the risks?” If so & they accept them, than I think it’d be horridly hypocritical to make any type of comment about how unsafe homebirth can be, don’t you?

    I’m not an expert – I’m a reader of available knowledge, out there for everyone to educate themselves with. I will not apologize for speaking firmly on an issue that is widely misunderstood. Sorry.

    kay Reply:

    The “sorry” was facetious, and I take it back. Cough.

    Cristin Reply:

    There was no need for an apology. My comment was only to say that if you are trying to educate others, it is easier to take you seriously if you say where you got your information from. Yes, we can all google it, but as has been said, googling produces studies of varying quality, which is why citing can give your posts more credibility. If you don’t want to cite, that’s fine, but, as I said before, its easier to believe that Jenna knows what she is talking about because she links to articles from reputable sources.

    Re: Giving birth versus reading about it -Without having given birth – you have no idea how much pain birth may cause. That’s all. Obviously there are male nurses and doctors that assist with birth, so of course giving birth isn’t a requisite for having knowledge.

    I’m certainly sorry that you were so offended.

    kay Reply:

    I wasn’t offended.

    I don’t have to know how much pain it causes to give birth because I’m not afraid of it. It’s natural and billions of women have done it & I’m confident in myself – so the pain level is actually… the least of my worries. Pain can’t kill me, therefore I don’t factor it in. We simply have different views in that area.

    Here are some of the books I’ve read & videos I’ve watched concerning this:

    -Ina May’s Guide to Child Birth
    -A Mother’s Intention (full of research)
    -Home Births
    -Home Birth
    -Gentle Birth Choices
    -Business of Being Born
    -Orgasmic Birth

    Most of the articles I like are found @ in various sections, though I will warn you that of course that site is biased toward natural pregnancy/parenting. Anybody (member or non) can read the forum, to my understanding.

    Midwifery Today often has up to date studies as well.

    I’m not saying things don’t come up unexpected, because they do, and that’s a part of childbirth too. So don’t think I think I know-it-all. And once I give birth, I hope that my experience will merely back up all of my excitement and passion about natural birthing.

    bekapaige Reply:

    Ok this phrase: “my friend tore from one hole to the other!”

    OW. I mean, I know it happens… and I’ve never had a kid so I don’t know- maybe it’s not as painful as it sounds- but… OW.

    Crossing my legs very tightly here at work… lol.

  20. Maybe you can post about how to “stand up for yourself” in medical situations. As someone who has felt like she has had to fight really, really hard in the past, I don’t think that I’d be up for it while pregnant.

    Evelyn Reply:

    It is hard! I had to when I went to see my OB for one of my first visits and he attacked some of my desires and basically told me that I wanted my child to be stillborn(!).

    I think when you make a plan you should have reasons for the things you desire. If you are educated and know the facts, when you are in such a circumstance when you need to “stand up for yourself” you’ll be able to recall the facts and your reasons and do it. It’s amazing how even the mouse-iest of us can become a lion when safety and health are at stake! =) And you can change from mouse to lion in seconds with all those pregnancy hormones!!! =D

  21. I think one reason that we have such a strong reaction to midwives and home births is because we are one of the few countries- not just third world, but developed countries- that *doesn’t* use midwives for normal, complication free pregnancies. In New Zealand, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, all the Scandinavian countries, Canada, Japan (the list goes on) 80% of pregnant women use midwives. Norway has one of the best infant and maternal mortality rates *in the world* and 1 in 3 people are born at home with a midwife. I think sometimes we let our cultural myopia take over. It’s not like we’re talking about birthing in a malaria infested mud hut in a third world country. We’re talking about something every other developed country does, with better rates than us. We’re not going blindly into the dark, there are literally mountains of evidence that in low-risk mother- about 80% of mothers- midwives and birthing centers/homebirths are not only equally as safe, but sometimes safer.

    Marianne Reply:

    Would you mind sharing where you got the stat about 80% of women in Canada using midwives? I live in Canada and anecdotally, I would completely disagree – hospital births are very much the “norm”, although midwives are becoming more accepted. Just curious if my perception differs from good research findings!

    Sophia Reply:

    From what I understand, it’s not a percentage of home births specifically, but rather the percentage of women in those countries who are attended, primarily, by nurse midwives during their pregnancy for things like regular checkups. The births can take place in hospitals, but the idea is that an OB/GYN is unnecessary for low-risk, normal births, and that nurse midwives can supervise and attend the births, even in hospitals. The number wavers somewhere between 70%-80% in most industrialized, first world countries from most of what I’ve read/seen. However, it’s always possible that Canada was lumped in with all the others, I’ll have to do more research on it specifically :)

    Meg Reply:

    I’m wondering about the term “nurse midwives” as it relates to the stat and Canada. In some parts of Canada, particularly rural areas, a lot of our medical care is done by Nurse Practitioners- Registered Nurses who have further medical training and are able to do an extended amount of care, such as writing prescriptions, Physicals, pap tests, etc, but I wouldn’t refer to them as midwives.

  22. Have you read Misconceptions by Naomi Wolf? I forgot to mention in my post the other day (although I’ve mentioned it on my blog before) that played a big part in my decision to give birth at home too. It felt like the only place I would remain completely in control of the experience, and that was very important to me.

  23. Pingback: In response « Moonlight and Magnolias

  24. YOU ultimately are your best medical advocate.

    When I took the picture, above, of my fifth child coming into this world- I also had four of my other children around me. The attending medical personel, there was my midwife and she was very hands off. It was a wonderful birth only reduced in happiness with the fact my husband was not able to be there, stuck in Canada.

    That was also my first epidural. I chose to have one because my husband was not there, my mother WAS, and I wanted to hide and scream because I did not have a positive environment to birth in.

    I will say that, ultimately- birthing naturally is the BEST WAY. Everything about it, the pain included, is beneficial towards the health of your baby and yourself. I knew this at the time but I felt that, instead of torturing myself in panic knowing that I had a volitile environment, I chose to achieve the common goal of getting it done rather than getting it done right.

    8 weeks ago I had the opportunity to birth the way I knew it should be, and that was completely natural. I feel so lucky that I have the resourcefulness to know what is best and encourage others along that path too- but many times I feel like a birth Nazi, even to the point of offering to go and buy that evening primrose oil capsules to tutor this person through their doctor’s stupidity in “why not just induce- you are practically term….”.

    Im very passionate and opinionated about pregnancy and birth and regarding doctors versus midwives. The older I get the more conspiracy theorist I become because Ive SEEN it first hand and I know what works and what is just business practices railroading me into business agendas.

    Sitting here nursing my 6th kiddo knowing Ill be 33 this year, it’s hard to say if we are going to have more but I certainly would choose a midwife, and moreso choose a homebirth because it’s what REALLY is best. God made our bodies productive and efficient.


  25. Jenna,

    You really need to stop and think, because you are acting ridiculously hypocritical. The “facts” that you quote oh so often do not seem very reliable to me. Atleast the ones that deal with hospitals and doctors. You have NO idea how loving, caring, and patient oriented these professionals are. Your research has been completely biased. Did you ever give a really talented, compassionate doctor a chance? No, you have stereotyped one of the largest industries in to a small, sterile box. Your research is completely lacking when it comes to hospital births.

    I promise you, that the second you are in labor, you will be whistling a different tune. You are taking life saving resources away from your baby, just so you can have selfish comforts. There is no way you can tell me that you think your baby will be just as safe with YOU in control. Do you have any training? Did you spend years through grueling school so you would be able to make split second decisions that saves lives? No. Clearly, you have never even been involved in this process.

    You are welcome to your opinion, but for the sake of educated women everywhere, *please* do not boast of your equal education when your research is so obviously lacking on one side. Anyone can find research that backs up their own side, while disrearding others that may be juast as true. All I can say, Jenna, is that you are really showing just how uninformed you really are. Anyone that knows the inner workings of a compassionate hospital staff would agree.

  26. Love your blog!!! The problem I see with self education is that we don’t have the medical background or equal access to research that doctors do. And many of the people writing about natural medicine, if you research their background, have no medical or scientific training. The fallacies in their logic are easily passed on to a public wanting to educate ourselves (an admirable goal), but when exposed to the light of actual science and medicine, make about as much sense as religious beliefs do when they are analyzed well. And we listen to what an uneducated person says about the body versus what an entire community of MDs says… Gals with 4 years premed, 4 years med school, internship, Obgyn residency, ongoing collaboration with other medical professionals, a good number of whom are doing sound clinical research… Compare this to the background of some of the main writers of natural medicine and home birth, who literally have no competency at all to analyze medical research, and their own religious and personal biases often blaring, and there is no contest. I was very interested, but just like I also used to be a strong Christian and am now an atheist-agnostic…the truth is out there :)

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