On September 3, 2012, men, women, and children are gathering all over the country to rally for change in what is becoming our country’s standard birth practices. What’s wrong with maternity care in the United States? As Amnesty International states, “It’s more dangerous to give birth in the United States than in 49 other countries.” With the U.S. spending more than any other country on health care, why are our mamas more likely to die from a pregnancy-related complication than moms in South Korea or Kuwait?
It doesn’t make sense. We have education. We have money. We have technology. We should have more choices.
The National Rally for Change is an attempt to encourage medical providers to practice evidence-based care. That means taking care of their patients based on what science and research shows. That means not ordering an induction because the baby seems like he might be too big. That means preparing moms for childbirth with evidence-based classes. That means letting labor begin on its own and allowing labor to continue for as many hours as necessary as long as mom is cool with that and there is no medical reason not to.
I’ve read about an OB who told a mom who was 9cm dilated for several hours, “We need to think about a cesarean section. You don’t have any other options from here.” I’ve heard three different labor and delivery nurses give a mom three different answers when she asked about eating during her labor. I’ve heard of OBs threatening moms with an immediate cesarean section because even though everything was fine at the moment, “You don’t want it to become an emergency, do you?” I’ve heard a nurse shout, “She’s been complete for hours! Why haven’t you started her on the Pitocin?”
I’ve even been quite happy with my two births, even though they both involved Pitocin. But looking back, knowing what I’ve learned since I gave birth, I might have done things differently. Looking at some of the National Rally for Change photos of women holding signs that read Question Your Induction, I felt a little twist in my stomach, because even though I had two great hospital births, I made decisions that may have been different if I was laboring in an atmosphere that involved less pressure to get things over with quickly and less fear of malpractice lawsuits.
With Baby T, I labored for about 19 hours. Not bad for a first birth. I agreed to Pitocin at 9.5-10cm, probably about 4 or 5 hours before I delivered him. I was tired. I had been told that I was almost complete. I was assuming that my body’s urge to push would kick in at 10cm and that baby would come flying out. And when things started to feel like they were dragging and people started talking about how I could get this baby out quicker, I consented.
With Little M, my water broke and contractions didn’t start. I went to the hospital almost 24 hours after my water broke. I was induced with Pitocin. My body took a long time to react to the medication, and I didn’t feel a contraction until 3 hours after the drip was started.
If I were to do it all over again, what would I do differently?
I would wait. I would wait to feel the urge to push. I would have more confidence in my body. I would know that sometimes my body takes time to get going. (Hell, you think I would have realized that from the amount of time it takes me to get out of bed in the morning). Because of the maternal health care situation in our country, I would have my next baby at home.
Why? Because I feel like I would have more freedom. I feel like I would be able to say “no” a lot less and “yes” a lot more. It’s not because I felt pressured by my provider. I had absolute trust in my midwife. I think we all just feel pressured by the system.