Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Unwanted Birth (Guest post)

At Connected Mom it's no secret we are pro-homebirth, but above all else we recognize that birth is a personal experience and that providers have a responsibility to listen to women.  A wise person recently told me that if you are uncomfortable birthing in the hospital, it is irresponsible to birth there, but likewise she pointed out if you are uncomfortable birthing at hime, it is also irresponsible.  As women we have a responsibility to trust our instincts regarding birth, and when care providers prevent us from from following our instincts unnecessarily it can have long-term psychological consequences, including birth disappointment and postpartum anxiety disorders.  One of our readers in the Netherlands shared how her planned hospital birth turned into an unwanted homebirth and her best advice for all women regarding their birth desires.

To give some background I'm from Finland where home-births are very rare. My husband is Dutch and I have lived in the Netherlands since 2002. I had my first baby 2008 at the hospital but assisted only by the midwife. My second child was born at home against my will.

The Dutch system is very unique. I found this article that sums it up quite well. In the Netherlands 30 % of women have their baby at home. The midwives are very pro-homebirth. If you don't have any complications the midwife is the only one you will be seeing during your pregnancy and birth (so no doctors involved). 

With my second pregnancy the midwife told me at the first appointment that I should be prepared to have the baby at home since it was my second pregnancy and with the first one I was in labor only 8 hours. I told her that I did not want to give birth at home. I could feel that I was not taken seriously. At the next appointment I had a different midwife and I told her again that I did not want to give birth at home. She put an exclamation mark on my records next to the field were I have stated my preference. Again I could feel that I was not taken seriously. 

When the labor started it did indeed progress faster than the first one and when we called the midwife I was already having heavy contractions. They should have send me to the hospital right away, but they insisted that they come to my home first. The midwife took her time and when she finally arrived she decided that there was no time to go to the hospital. I was devastated and panicking. After one and a half hours a beautiful baby boy was born. Everything went fine. Except that I was emotionally in total shock and felt horrible. 

I was so disappointed. I had my 19 months old daughter downstairs with my in-laws who had took 2 hours drive to babysit her. This was not how I had planned it. I wanted to be in the hospital. I wanted it to be just me, my husband and the baby. Not us, my daughter and my parents-in-law. I wanted to sleep one night in the hospital in peace and quiet. Instead my daughter was crying for mommy that night. It is so hard to describe what I was feeling. I was disappointed, but everybody around seem to think I had no right to be since the baby was healthy.  

I don't have strong opinions about home-birth. I think it is wonderful that if you wish there is a possibility to give birth at home here in the Netherlands. But I didn't wish for it. 

No matter what kind of birth you are wishing for, when somebody decides that their preferences are more important than your wishes, your power has been taken away from you. The only reason I had baby at home was that my wishes were not taken seriously. There was no medical reason for it. They should have offered me the possibility to go to the hospital right away instead of insisting that the midwife have to check first at home. That would have been very easy to arrange, but they choose not to do that. 

I did not connect with my son right away. I was too confused and devastated. And I will for ever feel guilty about it. My husband was filming right after the birth and I don't think I ever want to look at that footage. All I do is talk about the bed getting bloody. 

My advice for all pregnant woman would be:
- think what kind of birth feels right for you
- if you feel (and trust your intuition on this one) that your practitioner is not supporting your wishes, try to find one that does. It is that important!

1 comments:

amy said... [Reply to comment]

My advice would be to be prepared for ANYTHING! You can have the greatest practitioner who respects your wishes (like we did) and have everything just the way you want it except that your body has a different agenda. Obviously it's important to stay positive and visualize your birth exactly how your want it, but it is equally as important to know that things may not go according to plan. I had no idea a baby could travel BACKWARDS during labor - that is what happened to me. We went in engaged at -1 and by the time they cut me open she was curled up in a ball as high as she could go under my ribs. I don't think this is common at all so I don't want to scare women but anything can happen. Even my doula agreed after almost 24 hours of labor this baby (at 42 wks + 1 day no less and I was NOT induced!) was NOT coming out on her own. The last thing I wanted was a c-section, and not only did they lay that on me but RIGHT before they wheeled me away they told me that because I had gotten a fever during labor my baby would be taken to NICU for the first 2 days of her life where I would barely see her. I think if I had prepared myself for any of these possibilities it would've been far less traumatic.

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