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.
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!