I recently witnessed a small miracle — or was it so small? While working with a couple to help them find a birth path that both felt comfortable with, I sensed a sudden shift in the energy in the room. It changed from resistance to openness in less than an hour. I often work with couples who are in conflict around the where and who of birth. The what is also up for grabs. My goal is to get them both to a place where they can work together. I believe that I was able to create an atmosphere in which they could express their beliefs and concerns about their birth options, as well as listen to each other. Leading them to being open to all the possibilities and being willing to gather the facts for themselves (vs being told what was right for them) is the model I use. Most often beliefs are built upon rumor and inaccurate information.
Birth is tricky business. There are no guarantees. Just as there are none in life. All we can do is stack the odds in our favor. We do that by learning as much as we can and finding practitioners we can trust. It starts with trusting each other so that we can be open and come from a place of love instead of fear. I often tell parents that these decisions are head and heart decisions. Sort through the information, gathering as many facts as possible. Then ask your gut what feels right.
As consumers of health care, parents have the right to expect to have their birth process respected. They need to feel respected on a human level. Women’s bodies have been doing this for a very long time. Women’s bodies and babies know how to do this without much help most of the time. With support and faith in the process, the pain is manageable the vast majority of the time. I urge parents to be responsible consumers and question any and all procedures and practices. This will go a long way toward keeping you from becoming a statistic. Birth places and practitioners can vary a great deal in philosophy and practice.
Parenting begins with the first thought that a child might be a wonderful addition to our lives. There are so many decisions to make. We all do the best we can with the information we have at the time. I spoke to a parent who told me that her friend had three C-sections and two repair surgeries. That was five major surgeries when quite possibly none were necessary. The World Health Organization suggests that a C-section rate of 10–15% would be reasonable. There are several facilities in the Chicago area with a rate of over 50%! This information is available and the public has the right (and responsibility) to know both the facility rate and the practice rate. I have also heard that vaginal birth is becoming so rare that some people are calling it “natural” even when many other interventions have been used to “manage” labor.
We must weigh the possible risks with the possible benefits of any treatment. Consumer beware! Practitioners, please educate your clients!