Throughout the 7 months of pregnancy so far, we learned a great deal on pregnancy and birth related topics in the US. We find it most helpful talking to moms and pregnant women, which we never took an interest in until now, and there are so many controversial theories out there. However, once we do our homework and question the reasoning behind each issue, it is not difficult at all when it comes to making decisions.
Having an OB and a midwife is like having the best of both worlds. OBs go through the medical training system and they are good at fixing problems, midwives are trained more in providing a smooth delivery for a normal birth. What’s interesting is, a normal birth in America seems to be not that normal any more. Medical interventions such as pain medication, fetal monitoring, ultrasound and even surgical delivery seem to become the norm these days, and the routine at the hospital managed by the nurses actually becomes my biggest fear now, not the actual labor and delivery. OBs apparently lack of skills in preventive prenatal care, compared to midwives, they do not know or communicate with their clients what diet and nutrients a pregnant woman should follow, which is really the most important part of pregnancy. This came up when I conversed with Linda Arnold yesterday, she’s a very experienced midwife and she reminded me how much more important pregnancy is than the actual delivery. I completely agree, non of the tests or ultrasound that are routinely conducted by OBs can beat good advice from the beginning of the pregnancy and proper guidance and knowledge on nutrition. I can say that because I have been under great care of Dr. Gil, who I am very appreciative of. Even though every pregnant woman probably thinks she’s eating well or properly, when you scrutinize what they are actually eating and drinking, its scary. Take prenatal vitamin for example, most OTC prenatal supplements are synthetic, which can’t be absorbed by the body; another example will be, it’s better off not to eat conventionally grown strawberries (and a dozen other fruits and vegetables), that are filled with toxic chemicals than eating them. While thinking we are eating fine, an average placenta contains up to 300 different kinds of chemicals.
The problem is, 90% of the births are normal, and a reasonable C-section rate should be around 6% according to WHO, so close to 25% of the women in the US got C-section unnecessarily, not to mention forceps, vacuum extraction, etc. I was shocked to learn that only a very small percentage of women have pelvic bones that are too small for the babies to get through, and many of the “stuck” situation are actually from babies facing side-way (thanks Audrey for that tip), and it can be simply fixed by walking around or changing positions. As a matter of fact, a great example is the idea of having women laying flat on their back during delivery is simply stupid – that’s when the pelvic opening is the smallest (largest opening being on all fours, which is a technique to deliver babies presenting shoulder dystocia). This is one of the “norm” that Michael and I still don’t understand – why not let women be in a standing, squatting or whatever position they are comfortable with to deliver and let gravity help? I guess the reason may be they might be drugged or wired down by the fetal monitoring at that point and just can’t move.
This is the fear I have going into the hospital, once you are in, you are on a timed delivery schedule, before you know, you are wired with fetal monitoring device, a stint that’s put in your hand (which makes moving and pushing on hands impossible), no water or food for the next 12 or whatever hours, then you are exhausted, stressed and frustrated, then Pitocin is recommended, then the pain Pitocin causes makes you beg for epidural, then the labor slows down to the point that you have to follow the order “push” instead of following the urge of pushing signal sent by your own brain. Before you know, the babies are in distress, and in some cases, you are moved to an operating table with a team of people delivering the babies surgically. Then the babies are taken into the NICU, some with maconium (babies go into distress poop, just like adults do), some just for 48 hours precaution, and you, facing a painful recovery, but in the same time, being thankful to the doctors who save the day. When you see your babies finally, they are bottle-fed already so it becomes extremely hard for breastfeeding.
We’ve seen so many natural birth videos, in different cultures, we didn’t know birthing could be such a beautiful process, having the people who are supportive and letting you and nature take its course, waiting for the cord to stop pulsing then cutting it, and immediate skin-to-skin that enhances bonding (babies usually have no problem latching on), they were such beautiful and empowering scenes!
We are writing our birth plan today, unfortunately, a twin pregnancy isn’t considered by anyone, OBs or midwives, as a normal delivery and I don’t have the luxury to deliver in an LDR, instead I will have to do it in the OR in front of a team of medical staff, even if it’s a quick, natural delivery. Since there’s no way to know how and what the nurses will do in the hospital, we just have to do our best, pick the battles and make sure that we can get most of what we want, even though knowing that a birth plan really doesn’t mean too much once we get admitted either. Since once get admitted, the general waiver goes into effect, and the hospital policy takes over, an interesting example is, Vitamin K and eye ointment are “required”, but in fact, there’s no law that mandates them.