“It’s not your birth.” by Charlie Rae Young

postpartum    

      “It’s not your birth.” This is a phrase I hear quite frequently from other birth professionals. Whether they are childbirth educators, doulas, or midwives. That statement seems to be an automatic reply in the birth community when a women chooses something that we know, on a professional level, is an unhealthy choice. Whether it be birthing in a hospital, allowing interventions, or choosing not to breastfeed. Are we, as a birth community, standing idly by while mother’s make uneducated choices because it is politically correct?
     As a doula, I feel it is my duty to educate women on the options they have regarding their birth. With my daughter I desperately needed someone to educate me. I needed someone to say that the hospital is not the place for a healthy woman to give birth. Someone to explain that out of hospital births are just as safe, if not safer, as hospital births. I wish someone would have told me my choices were not the best. I wish someone would have been brutally honest with me. Sure, it was MY BIRTH…but doesn’t every mom want what is best for themselves and their babies? Don’t we all as mothers want to give our children the best start possible?
      I understand a natural, intervention free homebirth is not the right choice for every woman. However, shouldn’t we encourage all women to do their research on what is the best birth? Shouldn’t we be providing them with good information and not leaving them at the hands of a Google search? Midwives, you should be shouting about your good outcomes from the rooftops! Doulas, tell every pregnant woman you meet about what you have to offer! Give them the numbers, the facts, book recommendations. Childbirth Educators, give women the truth. They have come to you because they WANT to learn. They need to know what really lies ahead for them at the hospital if they choose to birth there. They need to know that interventions during pregnancy are not always necessary. They need to know what to expect out of a homebirth. Lets teach women that it is their body and their choice to birth however they choose.
     I will say, that if after we all do our jobs to adequately inform parents, that it is ultimately their choice to choose what is their best birth. Like many other things, we take all of the information we have acquired and apply it how we feel is appropriate in our lives. At the end of a woman’s journey into motherhood she should be able to say, “I made the best educated choice for myself and my family, and I do not regret anything about it.”
      We, as a community, need to stop making the excuse of “its not your birth” and start reaching out and sharing valuable information with childbearing women. No, It is not my birth…but it is my job as a fellow human being to stand up for what I believe in, what my quest for information has taught me. It is my job to make sure there is never another woman who crosses my path who will end up with a traumatic birth experience because she simply did not know any better.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to ““It’s not your birth.” by Charlie Rae Young

  1. I agree, for the most part. Or should I say, I wish it were as simple as that. In fact the movie the other night inspired a blog entry about why education is so important. And why I feel we need to make sure women are directed to take a class before their births. And not all women come to a doula for information, they may feel secure in their choices, but are looking for support. Its a thin line between sharing the good news we know, and potentially undermining their confidence in their chosen place of birth and caregiver.

    The challenge to this is of course fear. Her fears, her partners fears, her caregivers fears, her families fears. Then the strange amount of trust so many women have in their Drs and hosptials, but not in their bodies or the process. Or even the honest information put before them (who to trust, the doula with her facts or the Dr standing with ACOG and the AMA). And visibility. Do women even know they have other options?

    I know in my personal childbirth curriculum Im working on, one of the subject to be taught in the first week is “birthing options”. Had it not been for learning about birth centers and midwives in the childbirth class I took when pregnant with my 1st child, I would not have even know we had them here, let alone that they are a safe option. I was seeing an OB, was online CONSTANTLY reading all I could, and still didn’t know.

    Besides a good foundational knowledge of the birthing process, the class I took also painted a new image of what normal birth was, what natural birth was, and reshaped my thoughts for my own birth. Thus saving me for a cesarean and trading it for a beautiful water birth.

    A friend is working on a course, designed to be taken by expecting families at the begining of their pregnancy. To discuss nutrition and excersize, their options for giving birth, and local resources to continue their educaton, also introducing ideas like the concepts of attachement parenting, BEFORE a woman has gone so far into her pregnancy that either she is obligated to a caregiver due to finaces, or the developed trust, or the fear of making a change late in the process.

    My journey into birth work was set into motion by my birth, after seeing how, by just taking class, and gaining knowledge, I was able to make the critical choices that shaped my birth, and in turn the rest of my life.

    So do we stand by as we watch them make poor choices because its “their birth”. Yes and no, yes we support them, if not we need to find them someone who can (and I don’t feel this is a sign of a bad doula,we all have things we can and can’t work with) and no in thank we can provide them options, make sure they are giving true informed consent (this is my biggest goal in my work), and I find by just asking small questions, such as-“So what is your plan for relaxation or natural pain control if the epidural doesn’t work well or at all?” Which often allows the conversation about epis, the pros and cons, and often opens a womans eyes- especially when they hear the word catheter!! Or if someone mentions the safety of hospitals, Ill ask them something like ” So have you toured your hosptial? Did you also see the birth centers yet?” sometimes just acting as though its something all moms do. But asking the small and simple questions, not even putting our views on them, but gentle guiding them on their path to self discovery.

    Even if its just one mom at a time. But your not alone in how you feel, that you want every woman to have what you know is available, and safe and beautiful.

    Sorry to get long winded (a special talent of mine LOL) I just liked you blog and wanted to chime in!

  2. Im so glad you wrote this Charlie. You are a constant inspiration to me, I am so lucky to have you as my friend and business partner. RIGHT ON!

  3. There is a difference in sharing knowledge and overwhelming a mother to be. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink type of thing.

  4. Erica

    Beautiful! Pregnancy, birth and child-rearing are all so personal. What works for one family, may not work for another. Education is key in a world where childbirth is something to fear. If this inspires one woman to research her options and truly know what birth looks like for her, is empowered by this event and looks back on her pregnancy & birth as a positive and joyous time, it will all be worth it!

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