Thursday, December 30, 2010

Experiences with Birth

Let me give you a little background about my first birth experiences.
When I was 16, my mom was planning a homebirth. I was horrified, and had no problem expressing my displeasure about her plans. She would only smile and say "That's okay. You're not invited to the birth anyway."
Then one October morning my dad woke me up before he left for work. He told me that my mom was having some light braxton hicks and he wanted me to check in on her every now and again.
I walked into my parents bedroom and the first words out of my mom's mouth were "Go get dad we're having this baby today!"

I ran out of the house like a possessed crazy person. My dad's car wasn't in the driveway. I ran to the street, but it was empty. I slowly made my way back to my parents room. There mom was in full mode. She was frantically scooping clean laundry into a basket. "I never got these put away. Just throw them in the closet and close the door. I don't want to look at them! Oh and I need you to make a lasagna I haven't done that either!" In a rare moment of teenage wisdom, I decided I should just go with the flow. I threw the laundry into the closet and closed the door. When I turned around my mom was kneeling on her bed, moaning softly. All of a sudden there was a baby head. My mom moaned again and said "his shoulder is stuck, I need you to look." I sat on the bed and shifted the baby's shoulder just a little, all of a sudden I was holding my baby brother.
The midwives showed up a few minutes later. They cleaned the room, did laundry and made sure baby and mama were both fine.

When I discovered that I was pregnant, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to have a homebirth. I was young, I knew very little about pregnancy and birth, so I went with what I did know. I scheduled a prenatal appointment with the midwife that my mom had used.
My midwife was WONDERFUL. She took time to answer any question that my husband or I had. Not only that, but when she found out that my mother-in-law was worried about the safety of homebirth, she not only openly discussed worst case scenarios with the three of us, but gave my mother-in-law her email address so that my mother-in-law could contact her anytime she had a concern.

Like my mom, I labored fast, and before I knew it I had a baby boy in my arms. My birth was a wonderful experience, that really set the foundation for our family. My son was premature, so we transferred to the hospital as per state law. Our hospital experience wasn't as nice. I was 18, I had a planned homebirth and I was adamant that I was going to breastfeed. The hospital staff was not pleased. They didn't believe that I had had any prenatal care. I had to call my midwife to verify for the hospital that I had care, and all of the testing done had come back normal. I had to meet with social services so they could evaluate whether I was fit to be a parent. I was cross examined multiple times about whether I was a drug user, smoker or had alcoholic tendencies. I was told breastmilk had no real benefits for preemies. The pediatrician didn't want to release my son because he wasn't formula fed. My La Leche League leader had to stop coming to the hospital because of the harassment she received from the nursery staff.
I realize that experience is not necessarily typical. Not all midwives are wonderful, and not all hospitals are terrible.

I'm not anti-doctor by any stretch of the imagination. I'm currently receiving prenatal care from an OB, and not a midwife. OB's have their place, just like hospitals.

However, I am anti- the mcdonaldization of pregnancy and birth.


  1. That's really well written, Ireane. Thanks for sharing an interesting and nicely tempered glimpse into your life.

    A friend just had her first baby, and I was appalled at the details. She was 1 week overdue, they induced labor. (Brilliant, 1 week!?) She did not dialate enough, so they did a cesarean. And all for a regular sized baby. Makes me think bad thoughts about the medical business.

  2. Oh Irene, that LC for you... Loved the blog.
    miss you