Is Education Enough?

January 26, 2008 in Birth, Birth Care Provider, Cesarean, Childbirth Education, Choose Wisely, Doula, Pregnancy

This post is somewhat prompted by reading a blog entry about how it bugs this mom when people say educate yourself about birth, because she educated herself but still didn’t have a good birth experience. The birth environment today is not always accepting of normal births, so it can be a challenge to have one. Education alone may not get you the birth you want. You need to know who the good care providers are (the ones who TRUST birth) and the good hospitals/birth centers (who are flexible in their routines). You need to make choices before and during the birth and have support for those choices! I try to share tame but telling stories in my Hypnobabies Childbirth Education classes to demonstrate the importance of and to motivate my students to seriously question their care providers and to find out what they really feel about birth, what their care providers are supportive of, etc. But a lot of a birth experience comes down to the fact if you birth in a hospital you often have less control over who will be caring for you and you will have to fight to avoid their normal routine procedures. You can read some of these stories at this post.

I find it personally interesting/scary to read these nurses blogs (ReBirth and House of Harris) about all the things that go on at hospital births and how it really bothers them to see it. I am not anti-hospital birth, but I am pro-educate yourselves about what really goes on there, so that you can be proactive in choosing what YOU want for your birth and finding out if it is possible in the hospital you are planning on birthing at and with the care provider you have chosen.

Talk to your care provider and birth location about what you want and see if they can provide it. Are they full of scare tactics* (more on this in a future post) to get you to do what they want? Do they want to hear what you are asking? Most moms go along with whatever they are told, so they may not be used to moms asking questions.

I think that part of me wishes more moms would read these “scary” blogs, but only if it would cause them to say, “Holy Cow, I don’t want a birth like that!” Then using that motivation they learn how to be proactive in their births. To educate themselves on what their choices are, from where to have their baby; to different interventions and their pros and cons. Then take that information and instead of becoming fearful of it, become empowered by it and make choices before and during their birth to create the best birth they can.

I will admit that this is not always easy in the typically medically managed birth environment in America today. Most moms are not going to have the time to go on 6 different hospital tours to find out all this information, or interview numerous OBs and Midwives.

Please take advantage of the doulas and Independent Childbirth Educators in your area. We are here to help you. Even if you don’t hire us or take our classes we are so happy and excited to share our knowledge of care providers and birth location options to help you have a more enjoyable birth! We have the inside scoop on what is going on in your area. Get our recommendations for hospitals and care providers and then check out 2 different hospitals, OBs from the hospital you like, a birth center and midwives; both hospital/birth center and homebirth midwives. Then you really will know all your options! It is never too late to change (well until the baby is actually emerging.)

For instance where I am, there are 6 hospitals in my immediate area. There are only 2 that I would really recommend to an expecting mom. If you called me I would share my reasons why these 2 are the best, which cover many different things such as typical routines, nurses, how moms are typically cared for after a cesarean.

In many hospitals after a cesarean moms go to the recovery room and babies go to the NICU. Moms are separated for hours from their babies. At other hospitals moms and babies recover in the same room. Mom can hold the baby ASAP. This can make a huge difference in how a mom feels about her birth. This is not something most moms would think of asking about, especially if they are not even thinking about having a cesarean.

Sometimes in order to know what we want, we have to know what we don’t want.

I have taken somewhat similar paths to 3 very different births: emergency cesarean, VBAC with epidural and an un-medicated VBAC. By making a few extra choices, my last was a lovely un-medicated birth in a hospital setting. I am now in a place where I would choose a homebirth for my next baby. For me it was having a comfortable un-medicated birth using Hypnobabies that made me realize I could do a home birth. (Fear of pain made me want to be at the hospital). But now I know I can be comfortable at home and for me that will be the next logical place to have a baby.

We are all on our own paths to our different births. I can’t tell you which path to take, that is up to you! Remember you have the power to make choices along the way which can help lead you to a more enjoyable birth. Educating yourself is just one of the things that will help you along the way. It may take some sacrifice and courage to go on a different path but it will be well worth the effort.

*** I specifically use the word care provider (CP) because choosing a midwife does not guarantee a certain type of birth… it isn’t as easy as OB or Midwife. Each care provider is different, just as each birth location is different. There are wonderful flexible OBs who trust birth and Midwives who are very routine based and don’t trust birth. I tend to refer to hospitals instead of hospitals/birth centers because it is too long to write the whole thing. There are birth centers which are just as stuck in their routines as hospitals! It isn’t as easy as birth center or hospital either.

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