Guest Post: Knowledge is Power!

Knowledge is Power

(Why every pregnant woman needs to read this blog)

I wish I’d discovered Enjoy Birth 2 years ago instead of 2 months ago. Why? Because during childbirth, women need as much power as they can get.

My Story

Birth no.1, a 20 hour water birth in a midwife led birthing centre in London, UK.

Birth no. 2 , a 5 hour water birth in the same birthing centre

Birth no. 3, an intense. 2 hour water birth, again at the same centre. I remember shouting at the midwife, “I thought the water was supposed to make this easier!” but was secretly smiling as I knew I must already be in transition. I was an experienced mum! I’d got this childbirth thing sorted!

Birth no. 4, well let me tell you about birth no. 4…….

Knowledge of a new country

We’d moved to Saudi Arabia, the land of camels, black clad ladies, and shiny malls, 18 months previously, with our, by then 7 year old daughter, 6 year old son and our 6 month old baby son. By the time I was pregnant with no. 4, I’d visited the shiny private hospital several times for routine checkups.

Knowledge of a new hospital

I had the feeling, from searching for a doctor, who didn’t prescribe a sack full of medicine for a child’s common cold, that money making was the number one agenda for this hospital. This was confirmed when one doctor wrote a prescription for me for a drug which could cause an irregular heartbeat in breastfeeding infants, as a sat in front of her, breastfeeding my son! After asking around, I found an obstretician who I was comfortable with, but knowing that, unless I was having an elective caesarean (which I wasn’t) then I would be delivered by whichever obstetrician was on duty.

Knowledge of a new system

My friends and neighbours all assured me how good the shiny hospital was, but all had given birth lying on the bed with an IV in their arm. My OB was a pleasant lady, but she insisted on: performing an ultrasound during every visit; testing for group b strep On the hospital tour, I didn’t have a comprehensive list of questions to ask, but did enquire about the caesarean rate (not bad), the birthing pool (none, only a bath) and was told that all mums were put on an IV, and that their policy was to continuously monitor the baby.

More childbirth knowledge

After the tour, I spent hours researching on the internet and in pregnancy books about these policies, which felt wrong to me. I eventually wrote a birth plan, in which I stated that I wanted an active birth, no tubes, no episiotomy, unless there was a medical emergency. I had heard of hypnosis for childbirth, but didn’t want to spend that amount of money on something that I wasn’t sure would work. I wish now I’d taken the plunge, but at least I learnt that relaxation and a positive state of mind would help.

The power of knowledge

My contractions began as I was preparing the family dinner, but carrying on with the evening routine, getting the children ready for bed and ignoring the painful tightenings around my tummy only worked as a strategy for a few hours. I arrived at the shiny hospital, armed with my husband and my birth plan. The delivery suite was shiny and the duty OB I was assigned was lovely! After performing an only mildly uncomfortable internal exam, she read my birth plan and promised that she would see what she could do, before leaving the room. She returned shortly afterwards, and started trying to persuade me to lie on the bed, strapped to a monitor and with an IV in my arm.

Considering I was in labour, I managed, with the help of my wonderful husband, to explain to the OB my reasons why I wasn’t going to be persuaded to follow hospital policy at that moment.

The OB left the room and after a few minutes a different OB came into the room. She was cold and unsmiling and she wasn’t taking no for an answer! She then performed the most painful internal exam I have ever had in my short 4 birth history of childbirth, before restating hospital policy. I wanted her out of the room but was in so much pain by then (she had swept my membranes resulting in even stronger contractions) that I was worried that if I asked for the other OB, and she refused, then I’d be in real trouble! I caved in to the IV (but not the continuous monitoring) and knelt on the bed.

It was only when the OB approached me with her tray of scissors that my mental strength returned. I’m not sure who was more forceful, me or my husband, but she was soon rolling that trolley away! Minutes later, precious baby no.4 was born. No cuts or tears and a beautiful baby boy for us (although my husband tells me that the OB pulled my baby’s head so strongly during the delivery that he was worried she’d hurt him)

Knowledge is definitely power, and, thanks to God, the little knowledge I had, helped me get the kind of birth for me and my baby that the shiny hospital didn’t want to give me.

If you know anyone who is pregnant, even if it’s with their 10th child, give them some power and email them a link to Enjoy Birth!

Caroline Mukisa blogs at Maths Insider, giving tips and advice to parents of our future mathematicians, because the next challenge after childbirth and toilet training, is math homework.

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4 thoughts on “Guest Post: Knowledge is Power!”

  1. Knowledge is DEFINITELY power! but experience helps, too. I remember swotting up on everything Dr Miriam Stoppard and several others had to say on pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing but was still petrified during my first labour and birth (3 days of intermittent pain is enough to scare anyone, I think). Despite wanting a totally drug-free delivery I succumbed to a shot of pethidine in the last leg of labour-pains. That was one of the worst mistakes I ever made as it did nothing to ease the pain but made me too drowsy (not sleepy) that I couldn’t even complain about the pain. It was like being trapped in my own worst nightmare!

    Second time round, although I hadn’t ruled out intervention (pethidine not included) I still kept an open mind, ready to try more than just gas for pain-relief. Not only was the labour shorter (or did it just seem that way because I was more confident of what to expect?) but I was also much more in control and not feeling like I would die in childbirth!

  2. You make a great point. Knowledge is important, but pairing that with TOOLS makes birth easier and more enjoyable. Having real tools you can use to stay calmer and more comfortable is just as important.

  3. Pingback: 8 Essential Tips for Maths Success in Only 11 minutes a day | Maths Insider

  4. Hypnosis may be one of the most misunderstood forms of treatment available. The first picture most people get in their heads when they hear the word “hypnosis” is that of a creepy man with a goatee beard making his victims think they’re chickens. This certainly is a form of hypnosis and an entertaining one at that, however it has so much more to offer. Used as hypnotherapy it can help almost anyone achieve their goals, from losing weight to improving their confidence.

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