Who Controls Childbirth?

[deleted account] ( 32 moms have responded )

There is so much I could say about this article. I'll just post and see what you all think before I give my opinions. If you don't have a lot of time, the last page sums up the article nicely.

"A holistically minded movement says women should—and that doctors are going about it all wrong. An expectant mom reexamines which side she's on.

That I am pregnant again is an act of either incredible optimism or mind-blowing amnesia. As the sonogram technician squirts jelly over my abdomen for my 20-week checkup, I think it's the latter. Watching this baby, who the tech tells me is a boy, I am not caught up in visions of his future; I'm caught up in visions of mine. All of a sudden, I know with a certainty I haven't allowed myself to confront before: Somehow, I am going to have to deliver this baby.

Obviously, you say. But my first birth was traumatic, and although my son and I emerged fine, I lost a year seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and all the depression, fear and anger it brings. I imitated mothers who seemed normal to me, cooing and tickling my son. In truth, I was a zombie, obsessing about how I had ever let what happened happen."

Read the rest here:


Ez - posted on 07/04/2010




Most of you probably know that I am passionate about natural birth. So much so that I am going to train as a doula as soon as I get some practicalities sorted out (probably early next year). I didn't get my natural birth. I laboured naturally for 20hrs, including pushing naturally for 2.5hr, but ended up getting a spinal for my eventual forceps delivery. There were several times during my labour when I was pressured into interventions that I'm convinced made things worse, not better. The biggest mistake I made was allowing them to break my waters when I stalled at 5cm for a couple of hours. From there it was a domino effect. The sudden onset of closer, harder contractions had me vomiting and fainting. They scared me into staying in the bed because they told me OH & S policy said that if I collapsed on the floor they couldn't help me up. My daughter was big, and pushing on my back was the absolute WORST position to be in, but my only option after the previous intervention. Such a long second stage meant my daughter was having moderate decelerations, which meant forceps or C-section. I ended up with an episiotomy, 3rd degree tear, and was bedridden for a full 24hrs after birth because the spinal took so long to wear off. I then got recurrent UTIs for weeks afterwards form having the catheter in for so long.

My baby was perfectly healthy, and for many that is the only thing that matters. But while it is obviously the most important thing, it was not all that mattered to me. I was disappointed in my birth and regretted allowing myself being pressured into the artificial rupture of membranes.

Medical intervention can be a wonderful thing. It saves plenty of women and babies every day. But it is not necessary in a normal birth for a healthy woman. But following on from the Sara's question above, I really think it's all about informed choice. If we are going to argue that women control birth, that has to extend to all choices. I will personally never understand a woman choosing an elective c-section. I also don't understand women walking into delivery and screaming for an epidural at 2cm. But as long as they are aware of the risks and prepared for any possible consequences, that is entirely up to them.

What happened to this women is appalling. That doctor violated her, and is an example of why some hard-core natural birthers refer to their hospital births as 'birth rapes' (not saying I necessarily agree with this term).

Joanna - posted on 07/04/2010




Her stories and stories like it make me very sad. I almost cried reading her story. I can't believe the way her doctor treated her.

I have been VERY lucky with my 2 births, so far. Very quick and pretty easy, one with epidural and one without, both at a hospital. But I know that they are not always easy and something can always go wrong. That's why I choose to give birth at a hospital. With my first, she had mecconium aspiration, so thank god we were at a hospital, they had to call in a bunch of doctors and nurses to help. Remembering that moment humbles me. Sure, we as women were built to give birth and do it naturally. But with all the medical technologies available, why fight it? I say, do it naturally as much as you can, but don't hesitate to use the tools given to you, to ensure a healthy birth for your child!

Sharon - posted on 07/03/2010




Some women are just HYPER "gotta be in control" types. They annoy me. Pregnancy, labor & delivery - there are so many factors, so many unknowns.

Ultimately I placed my faith in doctors. Considering my potential complications, I had to relinquish control EARLY on. There was a very real possibility my badly injured pelvis wouldn't open up for the birth.

I discussed potential outcomes with my doctors, all three times. Surgery, anesthetics, epidurals, etc. My doctors all promised that nothing would be done without telling me first and getting my consent. But we agreed that could possibly come a moment when my consent would be rededundant.

THAT would be a loss of control. I was ready to let that go. But I wanted to stay informed. I was ok with that.

What the authors doctor did was HEINOUS and he ought to be forcefully sodomized after being promised that no harm would come to him. Then he should have look at a video EVERY DAY of himself being sodomized, so he could NEVER forget.

Was this her fault? Not really. We should be able to count on respect from our doctors. We should not have to fear that what the doctor wants trumps what we want. Apparently - her doctor felt that he had put in enough hours on her and it was time for this to be over.... for him.

No one gets to be in control of a pregnancy, labor & delivery. The doctor & patient need to work hand in hand with one another.

And that tripe about if a baby can't survive a natural home birth then its an evolutionary fail?? OMFG.

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Kimberly - posted on 07/22/2010




i love how some of the biggest proponents of natural childbirths are people who will never actually have to experience them themselves, lol.

Isobel - posted on 07/21/2010




I missed this whole thread while I was away...let me start by saying...the finale of grey's was the BEST finale of all time!!!

Anyhoo...My first child was born in a hospital after 22.5 hrs, labour was induced, I trusted the doctors in every decision they made...even when they went against what I had read (like labouring on your back in stirrups which I did not want) I took the pain killers that they recommended (which made me throw up)...but when I wanted an epidural, a) I had to wait 2.5 hrs b) the nurses panicked trying to get me into the correct position because if "god almighty himself, the anesthesiologist" showed up and I wasn't "presented correctly" he would leave.

His only question to me was..."you know this could kill you or your baby right?" I swear to god...the nurses told me later he was a big proponent of natural births and resented being forced to give epidurals...

So I told him I don't care if that's a brick for my head...GIVER! he wasn't impressed.

God, I can't even keep track of all the drugs and all the issues...I was soooo exhausted. But she DID have the cord around her neck, and the minute before she cried was the longest minute of my life!

My Second was born naturally, I happened to be at the hospital, having a non-stress test, when the doctor who delivered Eve walked into the room....SPLASH! I was wheeled upstairs to maternity, told the nurse not to worry about me cause my first had taken so long (did I mention this was during a snow storm)...by the time I got my gown on I was 2 minutes apart, I called my best friend (cause my husband was busy taking my baby home and trying to find a sitter), she showed up just as I told the nurses I was going to push

you can't push on 3 centimeters...as it turns out...when there are no drugs, pushing is not an option. They rechecked and started calling for the doctor (I believe he arrived JUST in time to catch him)

My experiences differ these ways...my nurses were godsends...my doctor tried to refuse me my epidural (while I was in shock and panicking)...I don't think that all traumatic birth experiences are for the same reason...it's unfortunately something we cannot plan for (really), and no matter how much we wish it were different, in the heat of the moment, we HAVE to rely on those who "know more than us"

Kimberly - posted on 07/21/2010




OMFG. i hope that doctor lost his medical license for practicing without her consent!

Tanya - posted on 07/05/2010




My job is safe because I can put a babies arm back on- Alex

The article made me sad. I honestly couldn't finish it.

Joanna - posted on 07/05/2010




Oh man, don't even mention Grey's Anatomy right now. Today I just *thought* of the season finale and started crying, lol.

[deleted account]

But Sharon, what about that episode of Grey's Anatomy where the intern sliced the baby's arm off because he cut too deep...gqtm

Sharon - posted on 07/05/2010




Regardless of who is in charge, there needs to be some limits.

Doctors forcing a baby to be born on their terms is like rape for the woman. Forcing drugs on a woman who says she doesn't want them is like rape too.

Those are things I do not advocate.

Women who opt for a scheduled c-section.... I have never had a personal or second hand experience where the baby wound up brain damaged or dead due to a scheduled c-section. Whereas I have TWO first hand and secondhand testimonies that waiting on baby = dead baby/brain damaged baby.

[deleted account]

I think the 'trust your instincts' mantra of natural birth advocates are forgetting one very important fact. Most human instincts are muffled by thousands of years of socialization and intellect. There are very few true animal instincts left in the human brain. The whole listening to your body generally is effective but let's remember that childbirth a painful process both for humans and many other species.

If pain relief was the evil people make it out to be - then women wouldn't have jumped at it the minute they could. I do not believe for a minute that prior to modern medicine supposedly meddling in labor/childbirth, women had orgasmic, pain free birthds. There is nothing to support this.

That being said, I do agree that sometimes doctors push for labor to finish when they want it to.

My son's labor was terribly traumatic for me. I went medicine free and did the majority of my 40hr labor at home with my husband. By the end of it,I was exhausted and hysterical with pain. I know that many women had very positive birth experiences but I wish I hadn't been so stubborn against pain relief because perhaps I would be able to look back at my son's birth with pleasure instead of recalling a horrifying debacle.

[deleted account]

I am actually heading to my Dr today. I am 39 weeks and i know he is going to try and talk me into induction for sometime this week. I have GDM and baby is a tiny bit bigger then my other 2.
That story scared the crap outta me.

My 1st child was born in a hospital and i was forced to have pethidine. The nurse at the time had it drawn up and asked me if i wanted it, i said no. Nurse then asked my mother, my mum looked at me and was talking to me about it saying she thought it might be a good idea.... next thing i know i have a needle in my leg. I was not happy about that, still i'm not. My daughters heart was stopping with each contraction and taking its sweet time returning and by the time it would come back BAM i was having another contaction. The Dr had to put a fetal scalp monitor on her head but every conraction was causeing me to sit up and he had trouble doing it. He at that point got very annoyed with me and C-sections were thrown around. Change over of midwives and they talked him out of it. About 1 and a half hours after that i pushed my daughter out. She was a healthy 6 pound 7. I am so thankful to the midwives who came on during the change over as i had previously met them and felt more comfortable with them.
Where i live c-sections aren't the normal thing to do. But inductions are.

2nd birth happened at home so fast i didn't have time to think. Had my show at 10am Diarrhea at 2pm. i had no pains until 3pm when i called my husband when he got home i was in full blown labour and by 4pm my son was born.
This was not an ideal situation and i was looked down on by pretty much ever medical proffessional who became involved or had been involved as they all thought i had done it on purpose.

Anyway i am, now as i said, due next week. and i do not want to be induced. So today we are talking to the Dr to try and make an informed decision about how he wants to induce i have a list of questions to ask. I think knowledge is power. I will not make a birthplan as i don't want to be stuck with something that may not work in the long run. I will take it as it comes cause birth is something we can never predict.

Meghan - posted on 07/05/2010




I was going to say what Erin said...my son was in complete control on this one. He was coming (finally) and he made is way out eventually.
It did make me feel better knowing that there where trained medical professionals there. My son got stuck a few times (very broad shoulders) I had a natural birth (sorry that's a lie I did have half a shot of fentenayl (sp?) but it didn't do a thing for me)...which I didn't want. If I had it my way I would have had the epidoral. I personally have no problem with it. Hell I would have insisted on a c-section if I could have. I will NEVER have a home birth. I want to be IN a hospital incase anything should arise...plus who cleans up afterwards during a home birth??

[deleted account]

I agree with you then. I just wanted to clarify that in every situation it's not as easy as, "trust your instincts." Attitude does play a huge role, but it's not the only thing that determines success or "failure" (in quotations because how can it be failure if you have a healthy baby in the end?)

[deleted account]

I think it CAN be a factor but it's not all. Far from that actually... sorry to be so blunt but "shit happens" even if you are completely relaxed and believe in your abilities to give birth, so many things can change in a very short amount of time...

I just think that not believing that your body can do the work is one added stress that can make things go wrong but it's definitely not the only thing that can contribute to procedures being needed.

[deleted account]

I happen to disagree with the doulas that said women who can't or don't have natural births are not believing in their bodies. I was calm and happy through my labor. I did have the epidural at 6.5 cm, but I was fine even before that point. But the baby flipped. What was I supposed to do? Believe her into flipping back when I was already at 10 cm? The doc and nurses even tried to turn her, but she was too far into the birth canal. Head entrapment and brain injury was too big of a risk to take just so I could push the baby through my vagina like nature intended. I'd rather be cut than hurt my baby.

[deleted account]

I think that hospital births with medical staff around are fine. Home births are fine with me as long as it makes the mother comfortable and feel secure. I am in favor of natural and non-medicated birth but I would not impose this on other women. I do think that women being so nervous and pressured about having "the perfect birth" is appalling and most likely a very important factor in women getting more procedures done than necessary.

I think health professionals go overboard and make women feel like their body can't do the work. They also want the labor to be quick and over with as fast as possible no matter if it will make the birth much more complicated than necessary.

I had a natural birth without any drugs or medications in an hospital. I did not have a written birth plan to give to the doctors but I had discussed everything with my husband. I was opened to possibilities but also very adamant on doing it on my own as much as I could. To be able to do this, I studied my own methods of natural labor, got all the information I could and went with the choices I was comfortable with. I do agree with the Doulas that not believing in your body's ability to give birth can be a factor in births that do not go according to the mother's wishes and have complications. I think doctors and nurses should trust nature to do what it's supposed to do. My grand-mother did it without medication for 7 kids and she's always told me: "If you let nature do it's thing, you'll pop that kid out no problem. Trust your instincts."

medicine does save many women and children at birth but i think some doctors and nurses overstep their boundaries when it comes to interventions that are not necessary to ensure the baby's/mother's health.

Ez - posted on 07/05/2010




I don't think it has to be an extreme 'either/or' situation. Like the woman claiming that a baby not surviving homebirth is just evolution at work, I've also heard hard core natural birthers say that breech presentation isn't an adequate reason for medical intervention. I disagree with both statements... both are very extreme in this mother vs doctor/natural vs medical debate.

Just because I feel like women should take charge of their births doesn't mean that hospitals and doctors don't have a place. They absolutely do. I just wish more women would take control of their choices.

And I'm hoping this woman's bad experience is an extreme example of doctors behaving badly. I really think most of the things women complain about are caused more by hospital policy and insurance constraints than any individual OB's philosophy about birth. For example, the policy at my hospital was that they do not allow pushing to continue for more than 2hrs. Now because they were all aware of my intention to birth naturally, they let me go an extra 1/2hr before reaching for the forceps. Once they put the forceps in, she was out in 2 pushes. So theoretically, without that hospital policy, I may have only needed an extra 10 mins and she probably would have been out. I would have had the natural birth I was hoping for.

Sarah - posted on 07/05/2010




I always think that a healthy Mum and baby at the end are the main thing.
I DO understand that not getting the birth you wanted can be upsetting. Neither of my births were great! I won't go into it all now, but my first was the most traumatic thing ever! My second ended up in an emergency C-section.
I did feel down about both of them (more my first than my second) but not to the point where it affected my life or views on birth.

I never once felt pushed into anything by the doctors or nurses. The care I received at the first hospital I was in with my eldest was probably a bit dubious! Once I got transferred though, I think they were great!

The woman who wrote this had a terrible experience. However I think that people need to chill out and stop listening to horrible birth stories really!! No one birth is the same as another. I think MOST doctors and nurses and midwives are trying to do the best they can to make sure things run smoothly. I don't think you can tar all doctors etc with the same brush just from one bad experience.

I trusted the doctors, they helped me deliver my 2 girls safely. That's all I could ask for really. To me personally, that's all that matters :)

Rosie - posted on 07/04/2010




i'm not to keen on it, if it's her first birth. if however she had a very traumatic birth and doesn't want to go through that again, than i say after thorough discussions, yeah i can see having that one.

[deleted account]

Here's a question for you: The author brought up the point that some women want c-sections. I'll never understand that one. But if we allow women to call the shots in the other areas (so long as baby and mom are both healthy and not in danger) should we allow women to chose a c-section?

I know that currently in the US it is common for women to request c-sections. But should they be given that option if there is no risk in a vaginal birth to her or the baby?

Rosie - posted on 07/04/2010




i feel that women think that childbirth is going to be the most natural wonderful, easy thing because it the thing we women do, and have done for centuries. i think some women forget that doctors and medicine are there for a reason, but i also think that doctors forget taht women have been doing this for centuries as well. there is a balance that everybody needs to find. i think i found mine all 3 times. i didn't expect everything to go smoothly, and just like i wanted it, but i had a list of things i wanted and my docotrs tried to accomplish those. we talked about things, and she listened, and i listened to her. it was great, and i feel very fulfilled with all 3 of my labors. first one was spontaneous, but my water was broken, cause it had only a trickle coming out, and my labor was stalling. i had an epidural with that one. my second i was induced, water broken, pitocin, and epidural, my third was the same, induced water broken pitocin and epidural.

some women might see these as failures, but i oddly enough have never had any type of harsh feelings about my labors. i gave birth to 3 beautiful, healthy happy baby boys, and that's all that matters to me. in this womans situation i can see how a doctor breaking her water without permission would upset her, it would upset me definitely. but sometimes here on COM i see women use examples of a traumatizing birth and it's similar to what mine were and i wonder what makes it so traumatizing to them. why aren't they more open to childbirth not going their set specific way, cause sometimes things don't always go your way? they might have enjoyed it a bit more.

[deleted account]

I really feel for the lady in this article - as long as the baby was not in distress and she was ok she should have been given a choice as to what happened. Articles like this remind me that I was so lucky with my labour - despite spending 3 weeks in hospital with Pre-E and being induced at 37 wks I still felt as though I was in control, albeit a 'we need to do this, this and this' type of control I was always informed and always comfortable with following the midwives/ consultants advice.

I think that going to hospital expecting certain things to happen is asking for trouble and it is the way you will be disappointed - my pg and labour were not ideal but I can truely say I was happy with them. This maybe because my being pregnant in the first place was a miracle - we were told that we could not have children and adoption was an option for us - so actually being able to have a baby made all the things i suffered well worth it; and the fact I was very laid back with what would happen with my labour.

Christa - posted on 07/04/2010




I think women should, but doctors try and force you do to what they think. Fortunately I'm a strong/loud/opinionated/(insert word here) enough to tell them what I wanted them to do. My first I didn't want the epidural but I was so sick that I eventually gave in. That stopped my labor and then they wanted to break my water, I let them, that didn't help so they wanted to give me pitocin. I DID NOT want pitocin so I fought them on it until they said the magic words "we don't want your baby to get an infection" so I gave in and it was horrible! So with my second I was more determined then ever to do things without the epidural. Well I could not believe how hard they tried to push the epidural on me. The nurse kept asking me why I didn't want it, then tried to tell me every reason I had was unfounded. THEN the doctor came in a basically did the same thing. I stood my ground and did with out, but a more passive women would have probably given in. I'm not even sure why they cared so much.. . .I would always have a doctor present because you never know what's going to happen, but I will do what I want and think is best. But I also do a lot of research ahead of time.

I think you have to keep in mind the motivations of doctors. Of course they want you and your baby to be safe, but all they really care about is the immediate safety, they are not really concerned with long term. Like I said I don't really know why they tried to push the epidural on me, but my guesses are A( It makes me quieter and easier to deal with (although I don't think I was that bad until the end :-P) or B) It's a money thing. I think it's really important for women to research and decide what they think is best and see that it is done.

ME - posted on 07/04/2010




We knew that it was something of a miracle that I'd had a safe, healthy pregnancy. I wasn't supposed to be able to get pregnant at all. We didn't want to risk delivery without a doctor present. I also had a very good friend who was a Doula, and she was with me. When she told me that I didn't have any choice about the C-section anymore, I trusted her. I was sad and angry at first, but the second I heard my son cry all of that disappeared. It didn't matter at all how my son had gotten here...just that I got to hold him! It turned out that we were lucky we'd followed the doctor's advice and given in on the c-sect. Miles' head was stuck sideways in the birth canal...I went into labor on my own, but he was never coming out on his own! We might have caused him harm by waiting any longer (I was in labor for 23 hours before we gave in).

Jess - posted on 07/04/2010




I found myself fighting back tears as I read this article. I didn't have an OB/GYN during my pregnancy or my labour, just midwifes. I had a lot of things done to me without my consent to the point of being assaulted by a midwife !

Reading this has given me the confidence to know next time around I can change things and stick up for myself !

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