This is topic Scared of Obstetrics in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Okay, I'm up in the middle of the night because I'm afraid of what the OB doctors will be like. My daughter was born almost 7 years ago in a Birthing Center, and I had a wonderful birth experience. However, due to changing insurance crap, I'm stuck with a local doctor and can't do what I did before.

My biggest fear is that the doctors will make me do things that make me feel unsafe.

So, my beloved and trusted Hatrack medicos and others, can you help me assuage my fears? They are legion.

[ April 05, 2005, 04:40 AM: Message edited by: Jenny Gardener ]
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Fear: Needles. Most of the people I speak to and the books I read tell about how OB doctors want you to have an IV "just in case". What the heck? Can't doctors and nurses do an IV rather quickly in an emergency? Isn't that like Basic Training for medical personnel? Why do I need to have something poked in me just because I'm giving birth? Also, I DON'T WANT it to be easy for them to slip chemicals into my veins.
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Fear: Strep B antibiotics. One of the main reasons they force you to use an IV. If I remember correctly, when I had my daughter there was a test. 50% of women have this microbe in their vaginas. Yet an incredibly small amount of babies actually have horrible complications from it. My husband, an engineer who knows a heck of a lot about statistics, agreed that the risk was incredibly low. Also, I'm deathly allergic to penicillin. I AM NOT going to have IV penicillin or any of its relatives. With my daughter, I just declined the test. The nurse-midwives made no big deal about that.
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Fear: Epidurals. AHHHHH! BIG NEEDLE IN THE SPINE!!! If they make me do this, I think I'll just die. The epidural spot is my fear spot, where I feel fear and pain most acutely.

I have no fear of labor. I know what that feels like. I know techniques to make it not so bad. I know labor has a purpose, and it doesn't squick me out. With my first, I labored in squats, a tub filled with warm water and scented with lavender essential oil, and walked. It worked beautifully.
Posted by Swede (Member # 7560) on :
I don't know much about it and I am not very good at comforting people, but I'll try. I hope that it goes alright, even if I don't know you. There are many women around the world that gives birth to children under far worse surcomstances without problem. This does not sound very comforting even as I write it, but I don't know what to say.
You will be alright.
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Fear: No eating, no drinking. To me, this seems an excuse to put in IVs. Why can't you eat or drink? At the Birthing Center, I drank juice and had food available (although I didn't want any food). It kept me going. They also gave me a bit of Royal Jelly (although I don't know if this really helped or was just psychologically encouraging).

I've heard that at hospitals, they only allow ice chips. What's the point of that? Labors go on for HOURS!!

My midwives also insisted that I have food for afterward. My mom came and made me mashed potatoes (my comfort food) and a cake (for the baby's birthday). The midwives joked that if I didn't bring food, they'd make me eat the placenta like mother cats do!
Posted by Swede (Member # 7560) on :
No need to worry about something that is not likely to happen. (easy for me to say)
Posted by Swede (Member # 7560) on :
I don't know if this helps, but in Sweden everyone gives birth at hospitals. No problem that I've heard of.
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Swede, of course you're right. I've got a phobia about hospitals. I just don't want my fears to interfere with birthing. I wasn't scared with my first baby - I felt safe, and the entire process went smoothly. Dare I say I enjoyed it?
Posted by Swede (Member # 7560) on :
If you did, what's the point in not daring to say it?
Why should it be so much different this time?

[ April 05, 2005, 04:53 AM: Message edited by: Swede ]
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Fear: alcohol smell. This smell sets off alarms in my mind. I associate it with pain and death on a visceral level. When I walk through a hospital, I feel like a caged animal. Like I'm in a place where once I'm tied to a bed, I can't get out.
Posted by Swede (Member # 7560) on :
What am I to say to comfort you? I wish I knew. I try but everything sounds hollow and meaningless.

[ April 05, 2005, 05:02 AM: Message edited by: Swede ]
Posted by amira tharani (Member # 182) on :
Jen, is there any way you can give birth at home? Some areas can send out a midwife to your home, which may a) work out cheaper and b) be less scary.
Posted by Kama (Member # 3022) on :
I sent you an e-mail, Jenny.
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Fear: Strangers in Intimate Moments. From what I hear, your doctor doesn't show up until it's time for the baby to come. You have strangers monitoring your progress, strangers who haven't worked with you for 9 months. They want to do their jobs and follow standard procedures. But, of course, standard procedures bother me. So now what? Will they give me grief if I insist on following the plans my doctor and I agree upon?
Posted by Swede (Member # 7560) on :
Maybe they are strangers but they are professionals. They know what they are doing.
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Amira, I'd like that. Unfortunately, Indiana is a really conservative state, and hospitals are Big Business here. Midwives are very much frowned upon. I was lucky to find licensed nurse-midwives in Indianapolis. But we had to fight the insurance company even then. Now, I have fewer options.

I'm hoping CT and others can help me feel safer about the "standard" hospital birth, or perhaps give me advice on what I can do to feel I am still in control of what happens to me.
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Ah, but will they trust me and my body? I went into my first birth COCKY, and I was encouraged to be confident. I honestly think it helped immensely to have an attitude of power. I wasn't afraid, I was excited, and I was able to work with my body on all levels. Mental, spiritual, physical. It was the most amazing experience. But my midwives approached birth with the expectation things would go well. Current US (Indiana?) medicine is set up to "keep things from going wrong". It's set up from a perspective of fear rather than an expectation that normal births are natural and not really in need of interventions unless there are problems.

(IVs, etc. are not very natural or trusting, in my opinion).
Posted by Swede (Member # 7560) on :
I'm not good at this and I really need to go. I hope I've helped you a little. I'll think of you.

Lycka till. Det kommer att gå bra.
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Swede, being with me tonight has brought me much comfort. You've helped me by letting me know I'm not alone. Thank you for your kindness. I feel like I've had someone's hand to hold in a dark and scary place.
Posted by Kama (Member # 3022) on :
Wonderful, wonderful Andrea

[Group Hug]
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Awww.... See, if I had all my Hatrackers with me, I could face anything!
Posted by Shigosei (Member # 3831) on :
Jenny, are there actual laws requiring that a professional be present at a birth? If not, would you feel comfortable giving birth on your own, or with a non-licensed midwife? What about paying out of pocket for a midwife?

Sorry about your fears, Jenny. Remember, though, that many women have given birth safely in hospitals, just as many have given birth safely with midwives. I'm sure you'll be fine either way, though I suspect that for you, a hospital mentality will definitely make the process far more stressful. ((Jenny))
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
If I can't find any doctors to work with me, I'd actually consider laboring at home until I couldn't stand it - just to minimize the hospital experience. I'd be less afraid of having my baby alone. But finances and worried relatives/friends most likely will get me to a hospital to give birth...

I need to keep researching my options.
Posted by Shigosei (Member # 3831) on :
How does your husband feel about all of this?
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
The hubby fully supported the birth center. We both loved that. But the money thing is a big issue right now. We're building a house, and can't afford too much out-of-pocket expense. He understands my fears, and also takes issue with a lot of the things considered "standard". Especially if they aren't really necessary. We've both experienced a really natural birth, and know how it CAN be done. Perhaps that's the problem. If I'd had no other option before, I'd have already had the hospital experience. Of course, the reason we went with the Birth Center in the first place is because of this hospital phobia of mine..
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Fear: Episiotomy. Cutting things pre-emptively. Yikes! Had 3 stitches for a very minor tear before. I can live with that.
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Fear: forced breaking of water. I was with my sister when the doctor broke her water to make the baby come. When I gave birth, my water didn't break and I didn't feel like pushing until the very end. Would a doctor have broken my water early? I remember laboring and getting tired. I started slipping in and out of consciousness. My midwives said, "You've had a nice rest, but you need to get up and walk some more." I didn't want to, but I'd had great birth classes. "I know, I know". I got up and walked, supported by my husband. We went out on the porch, and my water broke, like a water balloon full of warm water. Hee! The sun was just coming up. I went back inside and said, "OH! I think I feel like pushing now!" [Big Grin]
Posted by Synesthesia (Member # 4774) on :
I'm sorry *hug*
Are there any unconventional hospitals you can go to?
Some place that isn't cold or sterile and doesn't scare you?
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Are you telling me I need to find my Happy Place? [Wink]

*sucks thumb*
Posted by Shigosei (Member # 3831) on :
Well, hubby can stand at the door and keep out the other meddling relatives then, at least! [Wink]
Posted by Synesthesia (Member # 4774) on :
You could shop around before hand, look at each hospital, get to know the staff and stuff and ask what they do, what their standard percedures are.
But, i can't blame you. Hospitals are scary. [Angst]
I haven't been in one very long since I was a cub.
Posted by ElJay (Member # 6358) on :
[Group Hug]

So when's the due date? I'll start the happy, sunshiney thoughts now.
Posted by Primal Curve (Member # 3587) on :
Jenny, I'm not one of the hallowed medicos, but I did just go through this whole shpiel and I was there every step of the way (I even had to do a little extra because a WHOLE ton of mothers were giving birth at the same time and their overnight staff was stretched thin).

To my knowledge, you can refuse all pain medications. We chose to have an epidural because Jess was going through a lot of pain (Ella decided to put her arm up and come out like Superman) and the epidural helped some. But anyways, I believe that, if you don't want any pain medication of any kind, you can say no.

You can also refuse Pitocin and any other drug that will enhance or speed up the birthing process. Honestly, if this is your second child you shouldn't have any problems (especially if you were able to have a natural childbirth the first time). Just make sure your husband is around to watch the nurses. Sometimes they don't read the charts and start doing crap you don't want. You'll need someone there who knows what's up to ask what they are doing and correct them if it is something you don't want.

They may make you take a saline drip though- if just to keep you hydrated. I don't know the policy on this. I knew Jess needed to take it because she doesn't drink enough and she couldn't keep fluids down enough anyways.

Also, I'd wager my wife has you beat on the needle fear front. It took me probably a half hour each time to coax her into taking any sort of needle. It sucked.
Posted by ClaudiaTherese (Member # 923) on :
Hiya, girlfriend. [Smile]

Congratulations! Yay! [Smile] [Smile] [Smile]

I'll try to answer some questions for you today, based on my own experiences from "the other side." First, though, let's get this clear: I am pro-Andrea, pro-my-Jenny-G. I think it is great that you are working through this stuff early on, and I trust that you are smart and savvy enough (and enough of an expert on your own body) to make good, sound decisions for yourself and your baby.

Okay? [Smile] I'll just do a sort of FAQ, but I support you in any and all decisions you make now or later.

Let me get some thoughts together, and I'll write in between work duties this morning.

And again, yay! [The Wave]
Posted by peterh (Member # 5208) on :
I have a degree in Child Development, with an emphasis in infancy. I also am the parent of 2 + 1 one the way children.


The most important thing for you to do as soon as possible is come up with a birth plan in writing. You know exactly what you want and don't want in regards to the birthing process. Once you have that birth plan, take it to your doctor. If he doesn't agree to it, in writing, find another one. I know that can be difficult with some insurance plans, but it's your body. You are entitled to have it treated how YOU choose. Don't take any crap from the doctor. Let him know that you are perfectly aware of your condition and it's ramifications. Most experienced OB doctors realize that they are there to help out, mostly in case of emergency, and that in the long run, they have very little control or influence in this process.

BTW, I'm personally not going to address most of your fears, because I'm confident CT is about to do a much better, more thorough job than I.
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
Two words: Birth Plan. Have one, be absolutely certain that your doctor has signed off on it, and use it as a defensive weapon.

"Here, honey, just let me put in this IV."

"Standard IVs are not part of my birth plan."


Now, this requires a few important things: Most importantly, a good OB. I had a really great one, who actually encouraged me to have a birth plan (I never did, and while with the first it would have been largely irrelevant, since I was induced; and with the second one it was unnecessary because my labor was quick and my nurses were great; it would have been a Very Good thing to have with my third), and really listened to my concerns, and supported my choices. IMO, it helped a lot that she was also a pregnant woman. [Wink]

Secondly, someone (sounds like your husband might be a good candidate) -- preferably, two or more someones, to allow tag-teaming -- who can act as an advocate for you. Once you're in hard labor, odds are you will not want to/ be able to object to any "standard" procedures you dislike. You need to have someone there who can and will do so (if necessary) for you, so you can relax and focus on laboring.

As for your specific concerns:
Fear: Needles. Most of the people I speak to and the books I read tell about how OB doctors want you to have an IV "just in case". What the heck? Can't doctors and nurses do an IV rather quickly in an emergency? Isn't that like Basic Training for medical personnel? Why do I need to have something poked in me just because I'm giving birth? Also, I DON'T WANT it to be easy for them to slip chemicals into my veins.
As long as you are not a high-risk birth, this should be possible. I didn't have one with my second birth until after the birth, when I was hemorrhaging. (I did with the third, since they were concerned about a repeat performance -- but not until fairly late.)

Fear: Strep B antibiotics. One of the main reasons they force you to use an IV. If I remember correctly, when I had my daughter there was a test. 50% of women have this microbe in their vaginas. Yet an incredibly small amount of babies actually have horrible complications from it. My husband, an engineer who knows a heck of a lot about statistics, agreed that the risk was incredibly low. Also, I'm deathly allergic to penicillin. I AM NOT going to have IV penicillin or any of its relatives. With my daughter, I just declined the test. The nurse-midwives made no big deal about that.
Make sure your allergies are noted in your birth plan, medical records, and your advocate remembers this issue. I have no idea if I ever had this test, but I wasn't given any antibiotics. [Dont Know]

Fear: Epidurals. AHHHHH! BIG NEEDLE IN THE SPINE!!! If they make me do this, I think I'll just die. The epidural spot is my fear spot, where I feel fear and pain most acutely.

Unless you are having a c-section, NO ONE should have any reason to "make you" have an epidural, or ANY kind of pain meds. You can put on your birth plan something like, "please don't offer pain meds" or something like that. (Personally, I recommend going in with the pain meds as an option, even if one you have no plans to use. But each labor is different, and it was useful to me to know that if it got really bad, I had choices. But there are options besides "big needles in your spine." [Wink]

Fear: No eating, no drinking. To me, this seems an excuse to put in IVs. Why can't you eat or drink? At the Birthing Center, I drank juice and had food available (although I didn't want any food). It kept me going. They also gave me a bit of Royal Jelly (although I don't know if this really helped or was just psychologically encouraging).

I've heard that at hospitals, they only allow ice chips. What's the point of that? Labors go on for HOURS!!

This one may be a sticking point. However, I'd recommend staying home as long as practical anyway (after consulting with your OB about what's reasonable). But yeah, once you're in labor they don't like you eating. Makes you more likely to puke all over their floor. [Wink]

My midwives also insisted that I have food for afterward. My mom came and made me mashed potatoes (my comfort food) and a cake (for the baby's birthday). The midwives joked that if I didn't bring food, they'd make me eat the placenta like mother cats do!
They will almost certainly be absolutely fine with you bringing food for after the delivery, and should also be able to provide you with a meal pretty shortly after delivery.

Fear: alcohol smell. This smell sets off alarms in my mind. I associate it with pain and death on a visceral level. When I walk through a hospital, I feel like a caged animal. Like I'm in a place where once I'm tied to a bed, I can't get out.
Can you bring some essential oils with you, and use them to scent your room -- maybe apply them to pulse points that are out of the way (neck, for instance); scent the sheets, maybe?
Fear: Strangers in Intimate Moments. From what I hear, your doctor doesn't show up until it's time for the baby to come. You have strangers monitoring your progress, strangers who haven't worked with you for 9 months. They want to do their jobs and follow standard procedures. But, of course, standard procedures bother me. So now what? Will they give me grief if I insist on following the plans my doctor and I agree upon?
One: find out if any of the hospital nurses give Lamaze (or similar) classes. You still might not end up with a nurse you know, but you'll get one who knows the one you know, most likely.
Two: take the hospital tour. Most offer these for expectant parents, and they can help you feel comfortable with the hospital and personnel. Three: that's why you have a written birthplan. Anyone gives you grief, just keep repeating that you have a birthplan ok'd by your doctor. Four: in my experience, and that of most of my friends, the majority of L&D nurses are wonderful. There are the occasional exceptions, but that's why you have your advocate(s). They can go to bat for you, and if necessary (this was for me once), insist on a different nurse.

Fear: Episiotomy. Cutting things pre-emptively. Yikes! Had 3 stitches for a very minor tear before. I can live with that.
Discuss with your doctor. Most should be ok with no episiotomy unless absolutely necessary. Have in the birth plan. And look into perineal massage.

Fear: forced breaking of water. I was with my sister when the doctor broke her water to make the baby come. When I gave birth, my water didn't break and I didn't feel like pushing until the very end. Would a doctor have broken my water early?
Another thing to discuss with your doctor. I'm fairly certain you can also say no when they ask if you want them to break your waters. Now, it was always helpful to me when they broke mine -- it would revive my labor, which had an annoying tendency to slow down as soon as I walked inside the hospital ( [Wink] [Razz] ) -- but I know that's not true of everyone.

Jenny, make sure you find an OB you trust and who listens to you, and you'll be great. *hug*
Posted by Taelani (Member # 7562) on :
<Agrees with Rivka.>

I had all 3 of my boys in a hospital, and it was probably a good thing, all things considered (complications, jaundice etc). My OB's were really good, and listened to me from the start of things. The main point is to interview different Ob's and find one you're comfortable with, and will listen to your concerns. Most good Ob's won't force you to do anything you are not comfortable with. You can refuse pain medication if you choose, however the IV is pretty much SOP if you're going to use pain meds.

Food: not sure about during labor, though there has been a trend away from the no food during labor, but they definately feed you after birth. I drank plenty of juice during my last labor, but no food. I wasn't hungry so I don't know if I would have been allowed to eat anyway. My sister in law was allowed to eat during child birth, and her children are younger than mine, so I will assume this may be dictated by hospital policy, but you may be able to put it into a birth plan.

The most important thing is to make sure you talk to your OB about your fears and come up with a plan in writing that you are comfortable with.
Posted by TMedina (Member # 6649) on :
“...Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Oops, sorry - wrong genre. [Big Grin]

Rivka, as always, has some great advice.

All I can tell you to do is face your fears - be strong for your baby and yourself. Do not let your child's entrance into this world be clouded in fear and doubt; you have that power.

Believe in yourself and know you are greater than the sum of your fears.

Posted by ClaudiaTherese (Member # 923) on :
When I worked as a pediatric resident, I worked at a local hospital that is both breast-friendly and has a history of advocacy for women. On the main website for the birthing center, there is now a link to a Birth Plan form which pregnant women (and partners, if they are involved and the woman choses to keep them involved) are heavily encouraged to fill out.

Free snacks are provided for women in early labor and their advocates/caregivers: a refrigerator stocked with sodas and juices, some cookies and crackers, cheese, yogurt, breakfast cereals, bread (and a toaster), hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, the whole shebang.

Birthing balls are available, as are other forms of natural birthing assistance. (I don't think they do water births there, but I trained as a medical student at a different hospital that did support and facillitate water births.) They are delighted to maintain a 100% approval rating from recently-pregnant patients for most surveys. It is a good place.

Nonetheless, there are times when an IV is encouraged, when an epidural is considered a good idea, when the mum is told "try not to push!" at the very end ( [Smile] ), and so on. I'll try to explain some of the reasoning behind these for you. Part of it has to do with a different perspective, part of it does have to do with different concerns, and a lot of it (I think) makes more sense when you understand the rationale behind it.

Doesn't mean you still shouldn't be the one in charge of what is done to your body, and the one making the decisions. In all but the most life-or-death situations, I've always, always seen this honored. There was one case I saw, however, when a woman did not want an IV but suffered an abrupt total separation of the placenta, went into shock with the baby dying, and yes, an IV was put in. But that is certainly an extreme example.

[ April 05, 2005, 10:45 AM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]
Posted by Space Opera (Member # 6504) on :
(((Jenny))) I completely understand where you're coming from. I was terrified of finding a dr. for this pregnancy because I didn't want to forced into the "birth mold" by a practice with 7 doctors. It *is* possible to find a good, natural-leaning OB. My dr. rocks. She's in private practice, and is as close to a midwife as an OB can get. I will deliver in a hospital (no birth centers around here) and am very confidant that I will have a natural birth according to my plan - which means no IVs, no giving birth on my back unless I choose, no pain medication (unless I ask for it), no constant monitoring, etc.

My first suggestion would be to ask your family dr. for a recommendation. He/she might know someone who would fit your needs perfectly. Also, do you have a choice of hospitals, or are you stuck with one? We were able to choose one that we know is much more natural-leaning. I second *many* of rivka's wonderful suggestions. Definately labor at home as long as possible. You are right in the fact that your dr. is not there the entire time, and you'll have to deal with "well-meaning" nurses. I also loved the idea of essential oils. I'm planning to use aromatherapy to help relax me during labor, but they will also work wonderfully to reduce that hospital smell.

I think the main thing though is to find a dr. who is on board with how you want to give birth. Doctors develop a reputation at the hospitals they deliver at, and if nurses know you're a patient of Dr. X, and that your dr. said it was fine for you to do XYZ they will be much more accomodating. Also, have your dr. sign off (physically) on your birth plan.

Take a deep breath and start researching doctors. You *will* find a great one, I'm sure of it. I was incredibly open on my first OB visit, and told my dr. that I wanted to make sure we were on the same page before I continued my care under her. If the doc had been one of those "everybody gets cut, you labor and give birth on your back, etc." I would have made that my last appointment. Thankfully she's very open, and I'm sure with some work (and believe me, I researched 10 other docs and came close to tears before finding this one) you'll find a dr. who will suit your needs.

Hugs again, 'cause I know how stressful this is!

space opera
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Jenny, don't be afraid to switch doctors. I switched 3 times (!) while I was pregnant with Emma, including the last switch when I was six months pregnant. But I ended up with a doctor I was comfortable with and confident in.

They will not make you have an epidural if you don't want it. I wanted it, and they wouldn't give it to me, despite recent research which says that it does not slow down labor. In fact, I did not progress until I said my pain was at 9 out of 10, with ten being the worst pain I could imagine (I was being pumped full of Pitocin), and then I progressed so fast, the doctor almost didn't make it. Which brings me to my next point...

Due to the way hospitals work, you will almost certainly be spending more time with the nurses than the doctors. Yes, you need to discuss your preferences ahead of time with the doctor. But when the time comes, your husband needs to be ready to advocate for you (because you know you won't be in much shape to do it for yourself, at least not nicely.) Make sure he knows what you want, and he can duke it out with the hospital staff for you. It may help to have a paper or two on the research that has been done about no eating and drinking, no moving around, etc. available. You can also have a tour of the hospital beforehand, and duke your questions and preferences out with them then. Do this before you're too far along, so if necessary you can change hospitals and/or doctors, as referenced in my first point.

I know it will be fine, honey. (((hugs))) Remember that no matter what you have to go through on the way, you will have a baby at the end of it.
Posted by Farmgirl (Member # 5567) on :
Okay - I haven't read every reply (because there is a lot of them!) but Jenny I wanted to say that as long as you are very vocal about your wishes, most of them should be complied with, no problem!

I have had three children. All were born in regular hospitals - two were born under "public assistance" funds, so it wasn't like I had my pick of cream of the crop doctors or hospitals. Never did I have an IV at all. Never did they force break my water - never did I have an needles in the spine (I never used pain medication).

Only on the last one did I even have a "monitor" for contractions (and I asked them to take that off). I don't like lots of tests -- I don't like lots of sonograms - so I simply refused most of them. They can't do much about that.

I totally ignored their requests that I not eat and drink, and in fact, when starting labor with my first, on the way to the hospital I insisted on a stopping for a meal, because I didn't think they would let me have food in the hospital. (although I think my husband would have been willing to sneak me some if i had requested it.)

Of course, I have very easy labors and easy deliveries - so every person's experience is different. None of my decisions did anything detrimental to my personal experience.

Yes - it would be great if you could use a midwife at home -- that would alleviate lots of your fears. But I doubt your insurance would pay for it.

Posted by Sharpie (Member # 482) on :
I think you are on the right track, already, Jenny. I would add to the great suggestions so far: make the nurses your advocates. As you are checking in, tell them you are afraid. Ask them to help you by explaining everything they are doing. If there are procedures that must be done, tell them again how afraid you are. Ask them to help you. They will. Unless it is an emergency, you will be able to take things at your pace, under your control, with their help. I had four babies in hospitals. I found the maternity nurses, by and large, to be wonderful and very willing to engage with me.

I’m not phobic about hospitals. For me, it is dentists. This is exactly how I cope with dental procedures. I tell them when I call. I tell them when I arrive. “I’m afraid of this.” They sometimes look amused, but they always respond. It does help, because it turns THEM into my advocates.
Posted by beverly (Member # 6246) on :
Jenny, I feel for you!

With my first two, I went with OBs. This last I went with a nurse-midwife. I tell you, I will never go back if I can help it. But our insurance looks to be changing next month. I may not be able to go to the same group of midwives. I tell you, rather than go with an OB, I would travel the extra 10-15 minutes to go to the next closest group!

There are no birth centers around here though. That makes me very sad. In fact, if I had the means and the heart of an entreprenuer, I would start one myself! I live in Utah County where there are *tons* of births. I don't know why no one has thought of it yet.

So, while the midwives were *wonderful*, I had to deal with the "policies" of my favorite hospital. It was a small, personable hospital, like a little cottage almost. But they are strict about having an IV "plug" put in and no food or drink. That was frustrating. I wonder what would have happened if I fought vehemently. What would they do, kick me out? It just wasn't that worth it to me, to fight like that.

I remember my midwives confirming no food or drink, but then winking and saying that if I snuck some in, they would turn a blind eye. [Wink]

I was seriously considering birthing at home myself. But, after going to the hospital I was glad. I was glad to be in a place where I didn't have to deal with my other 3 children. [Wink] But I was also glad just for the resources they had for me. Fortunately for me, hospitals do not scare me. Probably because I haven't really had any bad experiences.

But being in a small hospital was definitely the way to go for me. There was a more homey, personal atmosphere. Less like being cattle-driven.

I'm sorry that you aren't able to go with a midwife right now. I feel for you there. Even when it is subtle, doctors tend to have the "I know what's best for you" attitude, while midwives are all about respecting you and being what you need most. They will actually listen to you when doctors only go through the motions of listening.

Yeah, and OBs are pretty useless in labor. They mostly just catch the baby. [Wink]

Best of luck to you in your choices and options!
Posted by dread pirate romany (Member # 6869) on :
Lots of great suggestions here. Are there any doulas in your area that can advocate for you?

Find a doula

I would go to local Bradley classes , and ask the other moms who they had for their OB and what their experince was like. The forums at Mothering have a providor locator.

Best of're looking at it in advance, so you have months to research!
Posted by Jim-Me (Member # 6426) on :
Agreed on the Birth Plan, thing. It really helped us get what we wanted... and like someone else also said, don't be afraid to switch doctors. In fact, ask for recommendations on one that's likely to be sympathetic. Also, maybe keep your eyes open for DO docs instead of MD's. They would be more likely to be sympathetic to your desires. Our insurance wouldn't cover our last home birth and we simply paid for it out of our pockets... at $2000, it was very do able... and probably cheaper (out of our pockets) than an insured birth at a hospital. You might do a comparison on what it would cost, out of your pocet, to have a home birth with a CNM, just paying for it outright, versus the 20% of the bill + deductible + co-pay of an insured hospital birth. Again, I'm almost certain we would have paid more out of our pockets if we had gone with an insured provider.

I just skimmed so I apologize if someone already said that and I missed it.

Edit: YES DPR! a Doula is also an excellent suggestion!

[ April 05, 2005, 12:37 PM: Message edited by: Jim-Me ]
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Oh, about the allergy: I don't want to scare you more than you are, but you do need to be forceful and remind them often. I am allergic to rubbing alcohol. I know, it's weird, but I have a very bad reaction to it. Even though it was in my chart, I informed the nurses, and was wearing a bright red allergy-alert bracelet, three nurses and the guy with the epidural almost used it anyway. I had to speak up every time anyone came near me with a swab to ask if it was rubbing alcohol. (Once I asked, "Is that alcohol?", though, the nurse was very good about quickly making sure they didn't get it near me.) Not one person who came near me with an IV ever checked my bracelet for an allergy alert.
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Also, maybe keep your eyes open for DO docs instead of MD's. They would be more likely to be sympathetic to your desires.
Not necessarily. My last switch was from a DO to an MD, and the MD I ended up with was much more flexible and listening than the DO.
Posted by Space Opera (Member # 6504) on :
Ooh, I totally agree on the doula idea. I'd like to hire one, but quite frankly I think it would be a waste of money. Doulas are wonderful, but my last labor was under 4 hours with Operaetta being born 40 minutes after we got to the hospital. Though I realize every labor is different, with my history of quick labors (Boy Opera was under 6 hours) I'd hate to hire a doula only to have her get there and go, "Yep, there's the baby!" [Wink]

Here's my fear - delivering in the car. [Angst]

space opera
Posted by jeniwren (Member # 2002) on :

Have you talked with your doctor about your concerns? My OB was wonderful and listened to everything I was concerned about. I agree about the birth plan.

Re: Epidurals...I didn't have one with my 12 year old son and was fearful of them. With my 2 year old daughter, it became very clear far into labor that I wasn't going to make it without one. My girl friend/coach tried to talk me out of it at the time -- she knew how I felt about them -- but I was in enough pain with no end in sight that it made sense. It was no big deal.

Re: Needles and everything else. Remember, this is for a very short period of time. I had a *wonderful*, incredible, fantastic birth experience with my son and had every anticipation that birthing my daughter would be similar. It wasn't. Health issues made the birth more complicated than I would have otherwise chosen. It ended up just being one day out of many in my life -- significant for the event, and not ruined despite unmet expectations. Try to work through your concerns, set them aside in your mind, and be willing to take the experience as it is. Definitely defend your preferences, but try to be willing to roll with it if your preferences will risk your life or the life of your baby -- that was an issue in my case, though I didn't know it at the time. (That sounds stupid now that I've written it...of course you and your baby's health will come first.)

I didn't know you were pregnant, but now that I do, I'm so happy for you! You must be blooming beautifully! [Smile]
Posted by Belle (Member # 2314) on :
Here's the best I can do to soothe you - I've had three hospital births, and all went very well. I also was very, very glad I was in the hospital with #1 because there were complications, and only the quick thinking and quick action of my doctor saved her life, I truly believe.

First, do any of the doctors approved by insurance have nurse midwives that work under them? If so, maybe they can oversee your pregnancy and delivery and it will be much more like what you have experienced before.

Number 2, before you do anything else, make an appointment with the doctor you are going to use and talk to him, in his office, with hubby there. That gives you a lot more power - to be facing him fully clothed, as an equal. When we're vulnerable in the exam room, we tend to let the doctor control the situation.

Explain to him (or her [Smile] not trying to imply all doctors are male ) why you feel the way you do and how you want things to go. The IV may be optional. I don't know, but it well might be. The drugs are most certainly optional - you must give your consent before any drugs are administered and if you don't want an epidural, no one can force you to get one.

As for them being able to start an IV in an emergency, that's not really all that true, dear. Sorry - but most nurses aren't as experienced with starting IV's under emergency circumstances as you'd like to think. And, in an emergency, if your blood pressure is falling, and/or you're under a lot of stress and in a lot of pain, they are much, much harder to start.

Consider this - 90% of all emergencies that come into a hospital already have IV's started. The paramedics do it. Even most ER nurses don't start IV's under emergency circumstances. In cases where there are emergencies, my husband as a paramedic has been asked by the ER staff to start the IVs for them - because he was much, much more experienced getting an IV under difficult circumstances.

My sister-in-law felt the same way you did. She didn't want an IV, but the doctor insisted. So, she allowed them to put in the port, but she didn't allow them to hook her up to fluids. So the port was there in case of an emergency, but she wasn't tethered to anything.

The episiotomy - this is something you can discuss with your doctor. I had one with number 1 because hers was an emergency birth - the doctor yanked her out before she was ready, in order to try and prevent an emergency cesaerean. With #2, I didn't have one at all. Since this is your second birth - you may well not have one either. I didn't need one with Daniel, but after he was born, Abigail had to be turned, (she was breech) so I wound up having a small one then too, but it was no big deal at all.

I guess what I'm trying to say is - you do have rights and the ability to affect your own birthing experience. You can tell them what you want, and they will do their best to accomodate you. Doctors don't go into the profession, usually, hating people and not wanting to please them. Especially obstetrics.

If you find the right doctor - like the one I had, you can get a working relationship you're comfortable with. For example - my doctor met me at the hospital and never left me, and informed the nursing staff that no one was to check me except him. I had twins, which are normally an automatic cesaerean. One of the twins was breech - another call for an automatic cesearean. Yet my doctor delivered both vaginally, because he cared about me and didn't want me to go home with four children recovering from a c-section. There was a long line of people who wanted to be in the OR to watch it - they had never seen a vaginal birth of twins with one breech. Of course, Ted was in charge, and told them they couldn't crowd around and disturb his patient. [Smile] He also broke the rules about no jewelry in the OR, and let me wear my cross necklace that had been a gift of my husband's. And, it's hospital protocol that twins go to the NICU to be checked out after birth, Ted told the pediatric team what they could do with hospital protocol, because both babies were perfectly healthy and so they stayed with me and never went to the NICU.

Granted, a doctor like Ted may be hard to find, but they're out there. Find someone who will work with you, and you'll feel much better about the whole thing, I promise. [Smile]


And, I do want to put in a plug for modern obstetrics - I think Natalie could well have died without me being in the hospital with a good doctor. Emily, I could have had at home, it was an uncomplicatd birth. With the twins - had I been pregnant with them 100 years go I have no doubt I would have died in childbirth. Daniel could have been delivered safely, but Abigail turned transverse, and would never have been delivered.
Posted by ClaudiaTherese (Member # 923) on :
So much good advice on this thread. [Smile] What a wonderful resource. I'd echo what has already been mentioned about interviewing physicians (clothed and with support by your side, if possible), looking for nurse midwives, arranging for someone familiar with the birthing process to be with you (an experienced friend, doula, what have you: someone disengaged enough to do piddly uninvolved things, but engaged enough to care and advocate for you -- it may be useful to have someone along with your husband, as if things get crazy he may be dealing as much with his own stress as yours).

Before we puzzle through specifics, I wanted to talk a little bit about why medical professionals may have different prioriteis than patients, and why some professionals will have different concerns than others. This is not to say that you should adapt yourself to make anyone else happy or comfortable; rather, just more information to help you put comments in perspective and make the best-informed decision.

At the hospital I worked at, I'd guess we covered 20-30 births per day (roughly) -- somewhere around the 10,000+ per year mark. This is in stark contrast to the number of births any one woman will see, or indeed what any one midwife will see. Also, the pregnancies that are delivered in hospital are sometimes different from those that are delivered at home or in other non-hospital areas. That is, if you have a high-risk pregnancy, you are less likely to have the choice of a non-hospital birth. So midwives tend to see uncomplicated births, and any one woman is unlikely to have a very-complicated birth (some stellar exceptions on this thread [Big Grin] [Wink] ).

However, hospitals are going to see a lot of uncomplicated births as well as some very complicated ones. This means that rare problems will show up. This also means that people who work in hospitals know that it isn't a matter of if they will have to deal with an emergency sometime, but when. That's a very different perspective.

Hospital caregivers are also more likely to have either seen for themselves how badly things can go wrong, or have heard at close hand about something that went drastically wrong in an unexpected way. So sure, that effects how they practice. It can't not, at least not if you care at all about the people you are working with.

What this means is that while your own risk of something going haywire with your birth experience is pretty slim, the people who will be working with you are pretty much guaranteed to deal with haywire stuff on a pretty regular basis. They just don't know which person is going to lose that lottery, [Dont Know] , so they try to prepare in all cases for what they would do if something went wrong -- so that they are ready when it does.

Next: IVs (hint: Belle is right)

[ April 05, 2005, 02:58 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
I have to echo Belle on the IVs as well; they had to get a nurse anesthesiologist in to do mine, because apparently, pregnant woman veins are hard to get (especially mine, which are usually hard to get to begin with. I went through a period at about 4-5 months when I had the easiest time ever getting stuck, and then after that, it went back to very difficult.) Anyway, I was stuck twice before they called the nurse anesthesiologist in to do it, and then when they did, they forgot to tell her about the rubbing alcohol, and I had to remind them again...
Posted by beverly (Member # 6246) on :
I wanted to be at home for as much of labor as possible. For many reasons. I planned to go natural, and I felt I could cope better in my home than in a hospital. Maybe I was rebelling a bit since I secretly wanted a home birth and I knew it wasn't going to happen. I also knew that being "monitored" by nurses is way expensive. The less time you spend on their watch, the less money you spend.

Unfortunately, I kept going into "false" labor. Dialated to a six, and the contractions never *really* went anywhere time after time after time.

They kept telling me that if ever I wanted to give birth, the staff wouldn't turn me away. But I didn't want to deal with pitocin.

So after several times *not* going to the hospital, I finally decided to just go and get it over with! It was only 2 hours later she was born.
Posted by Belle (Member # 2314) on :
Another thing about IV's - I've experienced that too, where they were unable to get one started on me. I've been stuck over six times before they finally got a good vein.

But, I wanted to let you in on what happened when I went in to the hospital in labor with the twins. The nurse tried to start the IV and failed. She then told me that she was going to go get someone else who could probably get it, and told me to relax, and stay comfortable - then she wrapped my arms with heated blankets.

The more relaxed and comfortable you are, the easier it's going to be. A lot of anxiety is only going to make things worse. So, I relaxed for about ten minutes, warm and comfortable, and when they started the IV I didn't even feel it.

Relax, use your breathing techniques, and request some warm blankets if they seem to be having trouble. I don't know if the warmth helped make the veins easier to access or if it was just part of helping me relax - and I don't care - it worked!

Try not to think about the medical personnel as people who are interering in the type of birth you really wanted to have. Try to look at them as caring professionals who are dedicated to the health and safty of you and your baby. These people all want you and your baby to be safe and healthy. Everything they do is dedicated toward that end. Yes, it may be inconvenient, it may be frustrating and most of the precautions they take may not be necessary - but you don't know that for sure going in and neither do they. As CT said, they will have been there and seen what it's like when something goes wrong - and they don't want that for you and your little one.

You and the doctors and medical staff have the same goal - for you to leave that hospital safe and whole with your precious child in your arms. Try to remember they really are on your side. [Smile]
Posted by ClaudiaTherese (Member # 923) on :
Gee whiz, I think Belle is like the expert on IVs. [Smile]

At any given time at the hospital where I worked, you might have ~10 nurses on the floor. Maybe 2 or 3 of them would be fairly new, another one might be having a migraine (but couldn't get a replacement in, as the float nurses were covering other floors), another 2 would be involved in another birth right at that very minute, one would have called in sick, one might literally have no depth perception ... you get the picture. There might be 1 or 2 nurses that are really really good at regular IVs, if you are lucky.

When the IV is put in in a non-emergency situation, you can wait until the best person available can give it a try. You have time to use a warm wrap first to dialate the blood vessels, maybe even some numbing medication first.

On the other hand, if something is going wrong and you need an IV right away, then you are going to have whoever is handy trying their best to get it in. Your body, if going into shock, will have dropped the blood pressure so that it's hard to find the vein -- instead of being plump and blue, it will be flat and pale. Your skin will be cold and clammy, so if you have veins that "roll," it will be harder to stabilize one for the poke. You'll already be stressed and afraid, causing pain to be harder to bear. If someone has to do a "blind poke" (when they can't see the vein), then all the surrounding vessels will clench up from pain and be even harder to find.

It's just so messy. Mind you, in my experience, there was always some way to get in an IV if it was an emergency. As a last resort (and I only did this once in three years: this for a 3-month old having a seizure), someone can use a large-bore needle that can be screwed directly through the shin or sternum to access the bone marrow. This hurts like the devil and it doesn't last as long for access, but it is there in an emergency.

So, the upshot is, if you are going to need IV access, you want it done before you get into an emergency. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't refuse an IV. Someone forcing something onto you is assault. You might not need it, but if you do, you'll be glad to have it. Only you can make that decision for yourself -- when the potential benefits weigh out the potential drawbacks. However, it's best to get as much information about the reasons behind it as possible in order to make an informed choice.

The downsides to having the IV port in place are few. It is a break through the skin barrier, and they are prone to infection if left in for many days. (Usually we would replace IVs every week, just to prevent this, in our long-term hospitalized patients. Or they would get a permanent port with infection barriers sewn in.) As long as it isn't hooked up to fluids, it doesn't limit mobility at all. Even if you are hooked up to liquids, you can still wander the halls. [Smile]

And there is no needle left under the skin -- that's just for putting the line in. All that is left is a little plastic straw to access the vein. (Again, if you don't need it, that isn't much comfort -- but if you do, it's good. )

[ April 05, 2005, 03:59 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Just ask for a nurse anesthesiologist or an anesthesiologist to do it if possible, especially if you have difficult veins to begin with, and ask that they do it, if possible, somewhere that's not near a bend in your body. They tried three times on me, as I said, and ended up with the IV in a slightly less comfortable place because when I bent my wrist, there was some discomfort. So if you do decide to let them do it, ask that they do everything possible to make you comfortable. And if it's not an emergency, there is no reason why they can't use an anesthetic, topical or otherwise, to make you more comfortable.
Posted by ClaudiaTherese (Member # 923) on :
Regarding not eating:

From being behind the scenes, I feel pretty confident in saying that it isn't an issue of control or not wanting to deal with messiness, at least not from what I can see. At our birthing center, in early labor, eating was encouraged. As I said, they stocked a fridge for free.

When I worked in the infant ICU, I used to mosey on over to the delivery floor in order to check on how the deliveries were progressing for the women there. We attended all C-sections and were called to any "difficult" births --
"difficult" including ones where the fetal heartrate was worrisome, or where there was meconium in the amniotic fluid (a sign of fetal stress), and other things like that. So it was useful to get an idea of what might be coming up in the next few hours so we could be ready. Of course, a lot of the times things went haywire, it happened unexpectedly. (On the other hand, remember that these were not the vast majority of the births -- it's just that because there was such a volume of deliveries there, you knew all the rare stuff was going to show up.)

Women were discouraged from eating in late labor. Ice chips to wet the mouth were fine, but not solids or even lots of liquids. The reason for this was, like with the IV, a practical and patient-centered one. We knew that if a patient did need a C-section for something like a transverse lie, it could usually be done with just an epidural. (Every effort was made to allow the woman to stay conscious and as much in control as possible.) On the other hand, if there were an emergency C-section (= time to first cut less than 15 minutes), there would be no time to do an epidural. It would be emergency general anesthesia.

When you are under general anesthesia, all the muscles of your body are relaxed. This includes the esophageal muscles and folds that prevent food and liquid in the stomach from reflexing back into the esophagus and possibly into the airway. An emergency C-section on a woman with stuff in her stomach virtually guarantees that she will reflux up around the breathing tube and into her lungs. That means hydrochloric acid bathes some very delicate tissues. It is a nasty thing to happen. When I left my OB-Gyn rotation in med school, there was a woman in the ICU still recovering from this, having delivered her babies weeks before.

Again, though, this is a rare rare rare thing. In three years I only attended 3 emergency (or "crash") C-sections. Any one woman's risk of having this happen is vanishingly small, but in a place where there are thousands of deliveries a year, it isn't a matter of if, but when. We just are nevere sure which one it is going to be.

So the delivery floors were easily washed, and there might be blood or stool or whatever that gets them dirty. (A lot of women may stool while pushing, and it is perfectly normal. Someone will just reach down and cover it with a fresh cloth or pad so we keep the area as tidy as possible for when the baby comes out.) Nobody really cared -- birthing is juicy stuff ( [Smile] ), and that can be really beautiful.

But when I'd make a midnight run through the nurses' room, if someone commented that a woman in late labor was eating or drinking, immediately we'd all start calculating her chances of needing a C-section, especially an emergency one. Again, vanishingly small odds for any given woman, but for us it was just a matter of when, not if. And you only had to see one to dread the next one with a fervent and abiding passion.

So for a pregnant woman getting ready to deliver, her own likelihood of having to go through this is teensy. For someone (say, a midwife) who delivers even a couple of hundred babies, her likelihood of being involved in such a circumstance are pretty small, too. Most births are uncomplicated, and so one can "play the odds" and usually make it through okay. But when there are thousands of births, eventually it will happen. And so if you are responsible for thousands of births, you know this will come up eventually, and so you try to take reasonable precautions with everyone.

Now, this attitude of "preparing for the worst" may conflict directly with how you want to experience your pregnancy, Jenny. You'd said that you went into the first birth feeling strong and powerful and positive -- and that sounds like it is so cool, and such an awesome experience. You may find that you can incorporate some of these institutional guidelines into that feeling of power and control, or you may not. Either way, you may make the decision to abide by them regradless, or to pick and choose, or to ignore them. That is definitely your choice.

But I think it's worth knowing what the purpose is behind them, anyway. It helps you make informed choices. So, for example, if your husband did "sneak" food in for you during late labor ( [Smile] ) and the very rare thing does end up happening, you and he need to know that this is going to be critical information to tell the medical team. They can try to suction as much out of the stomach as possible, and they try to wedge in a larger breathing tube in order to minimize leakage around it. Of course, these options are not ideal -- e.g., a wedged-in breathing tube is more traumatic to the surrounding tissues and likely to scar that part of the airway -- but in some cases, it is the best option left.

I don't want to scare you, but I do want to be careful and honest. There are reasons behind these silly-looking rules, and those are worth knowing. But -- in all likelihood -- they won't ever come into play for you. The people on the other side just have a different perspective, that's all.
Posted by ClaudiaTherese (Member # 923) on :
There definitely have been too many C-sections. I'm sure of that, and this was what I was taught by the OB/Gyns I worked under. One even showed me a large national study which demonstrated that the biggest predictor of whether a woman would have a C-section was the number of OB/Gyns in the immediate area who were qualified to do one. That was a part of my training -- to know what a problem this was. It was a focus of discussion for us.

On the other hand, sometimes they really are necessary.

Now, you could ask: so why not tell every woman that she shouldn't be eating late in labor so that if a breathing tube needs to be inserted, she won't choke on her own vomit?

*wry grin
That would totally kill the mood. More seriously, it would mean something different to someone who is already in labor, in a hospital, maybe feeling out of her element and not in control. "Breathing tube? I need a breathing tube??" That discussion has a way different impact in the moment.

Ideally, this would have already been discussed in a non-threatening environment, like maybe early in the pregnancy at an OB/Gyn appointment. That way, there is plenty of time to think about it and ask more questions later. I don't know if anyone does this regularly -- I didn't see it, but then I never attended every visit for a particular woman.

Also, OBs want women to have positive experiences of their pregnancies and deliveries. They do know that the nurses will tell women not to eat in late labor, and the nurses know that they have told the women not to -- and frankly, I think there is a bit of odds-playing that goes on here, too. Most women will "follow the rules," so even if something unexpected happens, it will probably turn out okay. And for the women who didn't do what was recommended (because mabe they didn't have any idea why, and it seemed totally arbitrary!), well, the blame for it is easier to shift to them. For personal feelings of guilt as well as for legal reasons.

That's my best guess about how and why this tends to play out the way it does.

[ April 06, 2005, 08:04 AM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]
Posted by Hobbes (Member # 433) on :
Obviously I have no technical knowledge in the field but I'm going to say a few words anyways, and then everyone can kick me out. [Smile]

It seems to me that non-hospital births (birthing-centers, calling a mid-wife to your home, etc...) are designed to give you, the mother, a positive experience. All the extraneous activities and "stuff" (scented oils for instance) are there to make you happy, or comfortable; which is great. If there are no major problems with the birth, and let's face it, women have been having them for a long time without hospital help, then it will be remembered as a positive experience, certainly compared to a birth that didn't take place in an environment specifically designed for comfort.

On the other hand, there's a reason for high mortality rate in childbirth (for parent and child), and this is why hospitals are here now. All of their extraneous equipment is there to keep you and your child healthy, in spite of emergencies. Having a child in the hospital can never be the positive experience that say a birthing center would be able to offer, they're simply not set up to give you that. They're there so that if anything happens you can be assured that you and your child will receive the best in medical care.

It's a trade off, and as someone who will never have to do this himself (duh [Wink] ) I would always choose the latter. However, of course the choice should always be the mother's, whenever it can be afforded, I would never try to stop anyone from that (including my own wife).

But basically alternate birth locations are designed to maximize happiness in case of a normal, healthy birth, hospitals are designed to do everything possible in the case of a problem. So there is simply no way the second one can be as "good" as the first, but when something does happen and it's your life and the life of your child, that's when the reasons for the latter choice become obvious.

My two cents is on the table now. [Smile]

And of course none of this is any sort of reason to keep anyone from trying to make the hospital the most comfortable birthing location that they can! It's more a little warning: "It's not as comfortable as you want, but remember what you're getting in exchange for comfort." [Dont Know]

Hobbes [Smile]
Posted by ClaudiaTherese (Member # 923) on :
( [Wave] Hobbes)

Just for clarity, the "birthing center" I reference above is actually a part of the hospital. They are able to maximize both safety and attentiveness that way, I think. (This is a fairly new trend, BTW.)

Perhaps one way of framing this is to think of the birthing process as a time of awesome power. Like all times and places of great power, there is potential for high wonder and danger, both. Just as one would not enter a sacred place of power casually, so one may not want to enter this place of sacred power without considering how to move in a careful (but controlled, non-passive, very engaged) way.

Kind of like doing honor to the power and sanctity of birth by acknowledging both fearsomeness and beauty. If one were to be blase about approaching a truly sacred place, one would be dishonoring that power.

Maybe just another perspective? A way of making sense of conflicting ideas and pulls on your spirit.

Regardless, I trust in you, my Jenny G, my vibrant and mystical Andrea, to make the best decision for you. You'll make sense of it in your context, and always, always, I am pro-Andrea. [Smile]

[I'll write more about epidurals and other issues, later. I have to catch a flight to Miami. [Big Grin] ]

[ April 06, 2005, 09:00 AM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
I have to say that although when I first got pregnant with Emma, I envisioned birth with a midwife in a birthing center, and that went straight out the window when I had bleeding at five or six weeks and had so call up an OB/GYN pretty much at random-- actually, it ended up being whichever one called back a new patient he'd never seen before on Labor Day-- went in for an emergency sonogram the next day, and began my journey into a "medical" birth (as opposed to a "natural" birth), I had a very positive, good experience in the end.

As I said, I switched OB/GYNs three times: the first because insurance decided not to cover my pregnancy, the next two becuase the doctors weren't listening to me. When I finally found a doctor who listened when I said "That hurts" during an exam and said, "I'm not sure why it does, because it usually doesn't, but I'll try to be more careful" instead of, "It shouldn't", I knew I'd found the right one. (This is also the doctor who took the call when the nurse said, "There's a patient who wants to switch doctors who is 26 weeks along. Do you want me to tell her no?" and, when hearing that the reason I wanted to switch doctors was "I've had prenatal care the whole time, but the doctor I'm seeing right now doesn't listen to me, and I don't trust him to make decisions, and he doesn't explain things to me when I ask, except by talking down to me," said, "Okay, why don't you come in next week, and we'll have a nice chat.")

The hospital was a positive, calm, happy environment-- no other way to put it, I walked into that L&D and thought, "I feel safe here".
Even though I was being induced, everyone was making sure that I got things as much my way as possible. The nurse was wonderful. She knew her limits, and rather than trying again when she couldn't stick me for an IV, went out and got a nurse anesthesiologist to do it. They tried their best to make me comfortable, and when I insisted that my husband stay in the room for the epidural, against hospital policy, they aquiesced. They never made me feel unsafe, even when my blood pressure was dropping dramatically and they were freaking out a little; it's only in hindsight that I recognize it as freaking out. It was a very, very positive experience. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, if I have a chance, I would like to have my next child in the same hospital (albeit hopefully without the induction and perhaps without the epidural, although I'm not one of those "no pain relief ever" people; I know my limits, and when I reach them, I am prepared to change my mind. Especially during labor.)

I think that finding a hospital environment you are comfortable in is probably the thing that makes the most impact on whether it will be a good or a bad experience. I mean, to me, places have "vibes". The other hospitals I'd been in had vibes of "authoritarian, frightening, stern, confining". This one had vibes of "joyful, accomodating, pleasant, relaxing". I much preferred it. [Smile]
Posted by Ela (Member # 1365) on :
Hobbes. It should also be pointed out that birth in free-standing birthing centers staffed by midwives has been shown to be safe, overall. There is always a back-up physician and arrangements to transfer to a hospital in case of emergency. Also, women with risk factors would not be accepted by a competent midwife for a home birth or a birth center birth. Since those giving birth in a non-hospital setting are by and large low-risk patients, there is actually a lower mortality rate in birthing centers than in hospitals.
Posted by mothertree (Member # 4999) on :
I'm just skipping to the end here, and I'll just say that my best birthing experience was with a military D.O. (which is pretty similar to an M.D.) my worst birth was with a midwife, and my other two were with doctors. The worst one for my husband was when I got an epidural (because I had a headcold I just couldn't concentrate). I've delivered with 4 different doctors, and I just feel like as long as my husband is coaching me, the doctor is there to support and take care of the really icky stuff. Bradley method is kind of the main husband coaching program.
Posted by jeniwren (Member # 2002) on :
They never made me feel unsafe, even when my blood pressure was dropping dramatically and they were freaking out a little.
kq, I had the opposite problem with the same result. My blood pressure, already too high, was climbing steadily higher. They gave me magnesium sulfate to keep me from convulsing (they didn't tell me that at the time...a good thing) which convinced me that you shouldn't eat while you're in labor. One of mag sulfate's many unpleasant side effects is that it may make you throw up....I *really* freaked out when I thought I was throwing up blood. That ended up being a bit of comic relief when the nurse reminded me that I'd just had a dish of raspberry jello.
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
CT, I have read probably a dozen books on pregnancy and/or L&D, took birthing classes and a refresher course, have discussed L&D with many moms, several L&D nurses, and at least two doctors, and have NEVER been told any reason for the not eating except the concern about vomiting. (Now, I was being facetious when I talked about the mess. It has generally been explained to me that a woman in transition with a full stomach is highly likely to vomit, which is certainly no fun -- even when you aren't having killer contractions.)

Your explanation makes SO MUCH more sense!

*feels edumacated*

I think that finding a hospital environment you are comfortable in is probably the thing that makes the most impact on whether it will be a good or a bad experience.
I strongly agree. However, the vibes of a place will vary from day to day. I had all three kids in the same hospital. I was very happy with my interactions (with one or two exceptions that were confined to specific individuals) with my first two, and very unhappy with the third.

The main difference? With my third I was there on an unusually busy day in a particularly busy month. That meant the room was smaller and had no window, and the nurses were far more stressed and overworked. Among other things, it almost certainly contributed to the fact that my doctor did not receive the call (hospital says they paged her, she says no -- who knows where the error was) to come when I suddenly went from 7 to 10 cm.

I had done fine with no written birth plan with the first two, and really really regretted not having one with the third. I was unhappy enough that even now, almost 6 years later, I would be very hesitant to have another child in that hospital -- and I would not have hesitated for a moment after the first two.
Posted by dread pirate romany (Member # 6869) on :
Oh, I also wanted to say Jenny, that when I had my first in hospital 8 years ago, I had no IV, and ate and drank the whole time.
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
You are all so beautiful! It's not so scary when I know the reasons behind things, and what I can reasonably do without upsetting "standard procedures" too much. I figure my two mantras will be "Fear is the mind-killer..." and "CT explained this. It'll be okay." [Big Grin]

My biggest fears involve following the crowd and having things done to me that I don't understand. So, you all are helping me feel better. I found out that there IS a doctor in town that uses nurse-midwives. I might check him out (he actually delivered my baby sister!). And I totally understand and appreciate the role of modern medicine in childbirth. So many babies and mothers are helped.

The discussion of the different types of services and why they exist helps, too. It helps me think of the perspectives of the people I'll be working with. Now I can see them as human rather than alien.

And CT, your faith in me makes me feel both humble and proud. I have faith in you, too. I wish I could have YOU with me at my birthings.

And all the ladies sharing their birth experiences/stories, thank you so much. It helps to know how things went for others and it makes me much less afraid.

I love you, Hatrack! [Group Hug]
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
I love Hatrack, too! [Wink] Just kidding.

(((hugs))) You are awesome, Andrea. When are you due? As I said in Mrs. M's thread, I really want to make something for your babiness.
Posted by Zeugma (Member # 6636) on :
My experience with medical services of any kind has been extremely limited. I can count the number of times I went to a clinic as a kid on one hand, I've never had to go to a hospital for myself, and I don't think I've ever "had" a doctor the way everyone else seems to "have" a particular doctor. However, since I've been on birth control for the past 4 years, I've had to jump through whatever hoops there are to get the pill and then the shot.

Most of my visits have been quite pleasant, when I get a nurse who is as cool as I imagine CT to be. [Wink] Sometimes, though, and more often now that I go to the Planned Parenthood for my shots, I get someone who seems to think THEY own my body. For instance, I have a lot of moles on my skin. Like mega-freckles. I haven't met a medical professional yet who hasn't commented on them. Gentle comments and suggestions I don't mind, but the people who seem to think it's their job to try to browbeat me into having something done about them piss me off to no end. It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where the overbearing mechanic eventually ends up stealing Jerry's car. Ugh!

I guess it's safe to say that I'll be pushing for a birthing center over a hospital experience someday. [Smile] I understand completely what CT is saying about the perceived necessity of the precautions, but I fully expect my strong child-birthing hips to get me through any future pregnancies just fine. No matter what that mean old nurse at PP says! [Razz]

[ April 07, 2005, 03:36 PM: Message edited by: Zeugma ]
Posted by TMedina (Member # 6649) on :

So now go and "eat, drink and give birth to Merry."

[Big Grin]

Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
[Angst] Trevor, Merry would be awfully big to push out...
Posted by TMedina (Member # 6649) on :
Maybe, but how could I pass up the opportunity to slip a Tolkein-esque pun into a general well-intended wish, especially considering the audience? [Big Grin]


PS: I debated over which would be better for the phrasing - "Mary" or "Merry". But I was trying to avoid the religious implications. [Taunt]
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Hey, when you push a person out of a hole that is normally less than the size of a dime, you are welcome to make jokes. [Razz]
Posted by TMedina (Member # 6649) on :
Yet another reason why I am amazingly glad to have erred on this side of the chromosome.

Although I gotta admit, the kidney stone was closer than I ever want to come... [Razz]

Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Yes, well, thank your defective chromosome that the kidneystone wasn't as big as your fist, 'cause that's kind of what it might be like.
Posted by Mabus (Member # 6320) on :
Out of curiosity....I'm flailing for comparison here. I hear often that childbirth is the worst possible pain, and I don't want to dispute that, but I'm trying to get a handle on the concept. So....have any of you who have been pregnant had operations on your spine? I know having my lower back fused is the worst it's ever gotten for me. If so, how much worse was childbirth?
Posted by beverly (Member # 6246) on :
I don't think it is the worst possible pain. Probably far from it, when the birth happens without complication and the woman is well prepared to cope. There are so many different kinds of pain. A burn has it's own unique agony. Intense eye-pain will drive you insane.

But most of all, I think why women talk about it that way is that it is something that your body does--and you can't really control it. It's like you've been possessed by some immense, uncontrollable force. All you can do is cope, surrender, let it go. And if you don't, the pain only gets worse. Fear brings you from feeling intense to true suffering, because you panic and go into shock. Panic in pain is one of the worst of all human experiences, IMO.

It's like getting on a tremendous roller coaster. On this ride, you know it is going to keep getting more and more intense--there's no getting off until you've run the course.

And after all that intense pressure and squeezing, you have to pass a boulder through your hips. It doesn't tickle. And men, I don't care what you've crapped, I seriously doubt it was baby-sized.
Posted by romanylass (Member # 6306) on :
I found wisdom tooth extraction much more painful than my first three labors.
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
I'm with bev here. It's not that it's painful, exactly; I had very good pain medication, at least by the end. But your body stretches in ways that you never knew it could stretch until you had to try, and it takes a while to recover, even if your labor and delivery were normal, uncomplicated, and all around not that bad.
Posted by TMedina (Member # 6649) on :
Have you ever had a spinal tap? I have it on good authority that's far, far worse than giving birth.

Posted by Belle (Member # 2314) on :
I would put having my toenail removed up over labor pain. *shudder*
Posted by Hobbes (Member # 433) on :
I would imagine it's very tough to judge, as I understand it when in labor a woman's body releases something like 9 times the normal amount of testosterone, which either reduces the pain felt or ability to cope, I don't remember.

But I'm not sure that's true, someone else back me up/know this isn't true?

Hobbes [Smile]
Posted by Mrs.M (Member # 2943) on :
When I get off the phone with my mother, I am going to read this thread very carefully, now that I have a vested interest interest in this subject. [Smile]

I'm definitely giving birth in a hospital. I've always felt safe in hospitals and I've been lucky to have wonderful experiences. Also, this is a high-risk pregnancy and I want to have doctors on hand just in case.
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Mrs. M, you should also read the thread Space Opera started on natural cold remedies. Some good advice for when you get a cold in there.

Hobbes, I don't care if it's true or not, and it probably is, don't tell a woman in labor that anything has "reduced her ability to cope". That's a good way to get smacked across the room. [Razz]
Posted by Jenny Gardener (Member # 903) on :
Just imagine pooping a pumpkin. That's the husband's family's way of putting it.

It's painful, yes. But the way it was explained to me when I went in all cocky is that it's like running a marathon. Your body cries out but there is a purpose to the pain. Having the baby is winning the race.
Posted by Hobbes (Member # 433) on :
Hobbes, I don't care if it's true or not, and it probably is, don't tell a woman in labor that anything has "reduced her ability to cope". That's a good way to get smacked across the room.
Yah well my sentance was missing a word, it was supposed to be reduce ability to feel pain, or increase ability to cope with pain.

Hobbes [Smile]
Posted by Brian J. Hill (Member # 5346) on :
Having the baby is winning the race.
Beautifully said, Jenny. As the third Y Chromosome to post in this thread, I would like to say that this thread is very informative for the guys too. You gotta love the ladies of Hatrack.
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Hobbes, you just wait until your wife is in transition. I don't care if she's the nicest woman in the world (and your future wife may well be [Wink] [Smile] ), it's quite easy to get irrational.

They were telling my husband to go to the bathroom and change into scrubs, and I was convinced that he was going to leave and not come back, because he was too grossed out and didn't want to see it. When I finally said, "Why are you trying to leave me? [Cry] " he just looked at me, looked at the nurse, said, "I'm not going anywhere, sweetheart," and put the scrubs on over his clothes, right next to the bed.
Posted by Hobbes (Member # 433) on :
Hobbes, you just wait until your wife is in transition. I don't care if she's the nicest woman in the world (and your future wife may well be [Wink] [Smile] ), it's quite easy to get irrational.
OK, but I'm not sure what this is in response to...

(And she already is by the way [Smile] )

Hobbes [Smile]
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
It's in response to you thinking women in labor can cope. [Taunt] We can, but not in the ways you might expect. [Big Grin]
Posted by Hobbes (Member # 433) on :
Increased ability to cope with pain is not equal to "able to cope". [Taunt] [Wink]

Hobbes [Smile]
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Yes, well, sometimes the increase in ability to cope with pain comes from displacing it onto the husband. [Taunt]
Posted by Hobbes (Member # 433) on :
I would love it if I could take even part of the pain for my wife. [Smile]

Hobbes [Smile]
Posted by Uhleeuh (Member # 6803) on :
And this thread has officially scared me out of wanting kids in the future. [Angst]
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Edit: to Hobbes:

That's what my husband said. If she wants to squeeze your hand, give her two fingers. That way, it's almost impossible for her to break them. (Although I came pretty close with my husband's fingers.)

[ April 08, 2005, 04:09 PM: Message edited by: ketchupqueen ]

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