My plan was to have a home birth, without drugs. I was excited for it. I wasn’t particularly scared of childbirth, in fact, I think I was just very naive to it all. I had never seen a birth before mine except for the few I had seen on video. It never occurred to me before getting pregnant how important this is and how much of a disservice it is to humanity that we don’t participate in this huge part of life more often.
Regardless, I planned for my birth with this very common level of naiveness. The home-birth-no-drugs part of the plan was easy… to plan. It felt simple enough. Actually, all of the plans of what we expect to do as a mother or parent feels pretty easy before it’s actually in practice. Yet, there were still all these other practical decisions that were quite exhausting to even think about. For example:
Some Decisions for Before:
Some decisions didn’t require much of a decision, but rather just require some forethought and organization. But others do necessitate some information gathering. For example, for me, I wanted to know the science and theory of having a home birth. I didn’t just assume I would have a hospital birth and I am glad that I began to question it because in the process I learned more about how stress affects labour. No animal wants to give birth when they feel threatened. So they often won’t. I actually knew this from an animal behaviour perspective, given my background as a behavioural neuroscientists but I hadn’t actually applied that knowledge to humans before lol! The stress hormones can halt birth until a safer space becomes available. If someone feels safe, then it helps promote birth. Knowing where you feel safe is important. For some people a hospital offers that sense of safety. The hospital offers a safeguard against the millions of things that could go wrong, even if they often don’t. For others (like me) the thought of being at the whim of medical personal who would impose their fear-based practices on me during labour, did not feel right.
In order to make decisions, ideally one should be making informed decisions and ultimately giving informed consent to the procedures being done. But being an informed patient is not only difficult, it is virtually impossible. As a scientist I can very well appreciate that we rarely deal with absolutes in science and, by extension, neither so in medicine. Instead, we deal with probabilities. So as a patient, we’re expected to make decisions that are informed by these probabilities. Most people have a difficult time thinking in probabilities. And then having to weigh probabilities is even more difficult. All of this makes being “informed” a relative concept.
The decisions for us started early as we began to plan our ideal birth. Midwife vs OB/GYN? Home birth, birth centre, hospital? Epidural? Actually, that wasn’t a real decision… an epidural was just not an option for me… until I got one. Hire a Doula? Hypnobirthing? Prenatal classes? The list was long and at times it felt like as soon as one decision was made, 5 more crept in that needed resolution. What I really needed was a few doubles of me who thought exactly the same way as I did, who I could task with researching and then picking between all the options. I just didn’t have enough brain power or time to do it all. This makes me somewhat appreciate those who just don’t want to think about it at all. But I’m not like that. And you probably aren’t either, which is why you are still reading this. So the decisions never ended until they came and went.
Some Decisions Immediately After:
I think the idea of having a plan, generally speaking, and the process of generating the plan can be very educational. So in that way, I totally recommend it… if you like knowledge. But if someone doesn’t want to make these decisions then by all means, the possibility to defer to the professionals is legitimate. Many people will tell us that we should be empowered when giving birth. Yes, I think we should always be empowered, when possible. But the problem with the decisions around birth is that they can easily lead to feeling disempowered and defeated by a tremendous amount of information that we can’t possibly understand well enough to make truly informed decisions. So maybe the question is “are we informed enough?”. That will vary from person to person. Inevitably, something could come up that hadn’t crossed our mind, even with the best and most supportive Doula and/or Midwife and even with the most curious of brains. I thought I knew a lot but in the end, I was unprepared to know what it meant in key points at the end of my pregnancy.
Skin-to-skin after C section: http://sunnybrook.ca/media/item.asp?i=1125
Kangaroo care for preterm infants: http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/kangaroo-care-for-preterm-infant
Breastfeeding is encourage: http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/baby-friendly-initiati ve-breastfeeding
Eating Your Placenta: http://www.mamabrain.ca/s2e2s
Are hospitals the safest place for healthy women to give birth? An Obstetrician thinks twice. http://theconversation.com/are-hospitals-the-safest-place-for-healthy-women-to-have-babies-an-obstetrician-thinks-twice-42654