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Saturday, March 26, 2011

If I Could Turn Back Time

If future me could go back in time and talk to myself while pregnant with Ri, this is what I would say:

1. Read more than just "What to Expect When You're Expecting". There's some helpful information there, but it doesn't go in depth about the process of birth, pros and cons of tests and procedures, etc. I recommend watching "The Business of Being Born". It's a documentary with a lot of helpful information. I would also recommend "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth"

2. Hire a doula!!

"The presence of a doula can be beneficial no matter what type of birth you are planning."

"Numerous studies have revealed the benefits of having a doula present during labor. A recent Cochrane Review, Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth, revealed a very high number of positive birth outcomes when a doula was present. When a doula was present, women were less likely to have pain relief medications administered, less likely to have a cesarean birth, and reported having a more positive childbirth experience.

Other studies have shown that having a doula as part of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40% and the request for an epidural by 60%." - source

3. Don't assume everything your OB tells you is true...even proven statistically. I was told at 30-something weeks that Ri was a bit over 7 pounds based on an ultrasound. What I wasn't told was that late ultrasounds can be off by a pound or more in either direction. (source) The truth is, there's no way to know how big your baby is until he/she is born. I was also told that induction would be my best option to avoid a c-section. What I wasn't told was that statistically, the "use of labor induction (whether elective or not) increased the odds of having a C-section by more than 2.6 times." (source)

4. Don't wait to become educated after your first baby due to fear of the unknown.

I remember saying, "I'm very interested in natural child birth, but it's just too much to learn about right now" and "I'm just too scared to try it with my first".

Sure, everything might go just as you dreamed it would...contractions hit, arrive at the hospital, labor progresses, perhaps get an epidural, baby comes out fairly quickly, minimal to no tearing, everyone is happy and healthy.

But what if it doesn't go that way. It didn't for me. (If you haven't heard about how everything went, you can read about it here.) I suppose if everything had gone differently, I'd be all for using an epidural again in a hospital setting.

5. Check with your OB to see their induction rates (and reasons), cesarean rates (and reasons), as well as the hospital you plan where you plan to deliver.

I had NO idea I was seeing an OB practice that has one of the highest cesarean rates in the area. Part of this is due to the fact that they see a lot of high-risk patients. But I wasn't high-risk. So why put myself under care that's almost "over kill"?

6. There's truly no way to know for sure how any medical intervention affects a baby in utero.

A drug was used for over 30 years (from 1938-1971) called diethylstilbestrol (or DES) because it was thought to help prevent miscarriages for pregnant women. Turns out, it didn't help prevent miscarriages at all. And even worse, it negatively affected the reproductive system of the growing baby - causing abnormal cells later in life for the child. (source)

It's just a little scary to me that this drug was used for SO long and it took more than 30 years for them to realize the negative effects. It just makes me wonder what other interventions are being used today that may later be shown to have negative effects as well.

So, I've learned that I view birth differently now. After researching, I feel it's not to be treated as a medical condition. It's to be treated as a natural process (that granted, sometimes needs medical intervention - yet the majority of the time, that's not the case).

I've learned that because I wasn't educated with my first baby, I'm now limited to my birth options with my subsequent babies. Yes, I'm planning a vbac. But it's not been easy.

Please let me say again, I do NOT feel women who choose a route other than natural child birth are harming themselves or their babies or are uneducated. I'm saying I was uneducated and because of that, my options now for subsequent births are more limited - not what I had planned and not what I wanted.

So if you're pregnant for the first time or thinking about becoming pregnant, let me encourage you - don't wait! No matter what birth experience you're looking for, educate yourself as much as you possibly can!


Jen Knox said...

I liked the book "From the Hips." A pretty balanced perspective and very rational. I didn't care for "What to Expect" in general (-; Too preachy!

Gina said...

Great blog, Susan! What OB were you using with Rilynn? I've been doing a lot of reading on some preferences that we have, but we will not have much choice in a lot of things. This birth will have to be a scheduled c-section due to the size and location of the large fibroids in my uterus. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for csection recovery and life at home after?

Susan Sene said...

Gina - I found this resource and I'm sure there's others...I don't know how comfortable you are with having a c-section but if it were me, I'd avoid it as long as it's safe to do so (your OB may or may not tell you the entire risks involved with a c-section as opposed to vag delivery):

I would ask if they'd allow you to try laboring to avoid a c-section and ask what the rates are of women in your situation who give birth naturally and what are the actual risks of you doing trial of labor instead of a scheduled c-section.

Also, there are a lot of doulas and midwives who could give you some actual statistics and advice regarding this. I've found them to be extremely helpful to me as resources of information. I can give you a few names on Facebook if you'd like. Who knows, it may be the best option for you to have a c-section. But I wouldn't trust the opinion of just the OB. Do your own research and talk with other doctors, midwives, and doulas to get a good idea of the overall consensus.

Best wishes!!

fosterheartsathome said...

way to educate yourself! this gives you an entirely different perspective and the confidence you need! well done!

Gina said...

I have to have the c-section. Two of my largest fibroids are at the bottom of the uterus and to have a vaginal delivery, I'd be risking a fatal hemorrhage. I've sought more than one dr's opinion on this and the consensus is the same. I am okay with it. After I have the baby, I'll be having surgery to remove the fibroids, hopefully once and for all. They have caused a myriad of problems for me in the last year or so and I've done a lot of research on what would be best...still a lot of conflicting opinions out there though. =)

Are doulas expensive to hire? Is it even necessary if I'm having a c-section?

Thanks for the link - I'm reading it now! =)

Terra Jones said...

Ok, I had this whole long thing written and blogger didn't like me lol

I'm going to butt in (directed towards Gina, hehehe) ;-)

As a doula in training, who has had a c-section and two VBACs. HIRE/ACQUIRE a doula!! Even for a c-section, and ESPECIALLY if you've never had a c-section. She can meet you at the hospital the day of your c-section, typically, only one other person is allowed with you in the OR, but, after baby is born, she could be able to take your husbands spot (because being alone in the OR, point blank, sucks. Sorry. It does). She can assist with breastfeeding, if you desire that, as nursing after wards can be difficult and awkward. And she can help with recovery- at the hospital and at home.

Cost: varies. Doulas typically charge $200+ (may be different for something scheduled...), but many doulas who are working on their certification offer their services free or very low cost. You might want to check with your hospital as well, as they may have a doula program in place with volunteer doulas (you wouldn't meet the doula beforehand, but she would be assigned to you upon arrival and stay with you every step of the way).

ICAN is an INCREDIBLE organization that raises awareness about c-sections and VBACs. Local groups provide amazing resources and support. Anywho, they have this article on their site about "Family Centered C-sections" (essentially, making a c-section as 'natural' as possible, not so medical).

Sorry, this is something I'm pretty geeky/passionate about :)

...::butting out now:: ;-)

Susan Sene said...

I agree Terra - and sent Gina a Facebook message...but being in the OR is a whole different experience and having somebody there just and exclusively for you, would have been awesome!

thethorners said...

Hey girl! My labor wasnt like yours but i regret what i "didnt" do just about everyday. I always told myself that I would be a good advocate for myself but when that time came, I didnt. I'm like you, in that I will hopefully get to do it differently next time. I know my body better than the docs.

Joy@WhenDoesDaddyComeHome said...

Gina - I LOVE this woman's blog! She has had five cesareans. She has amazing tips and information for planning and recovering from a cesarean. Sometimes a cesarean is necessary and that's okay - sounds like you've made peace with what is to come and that you're educating yourself as much as possible about the birth you'll be having so WAY TO GO!

Susan - I'm applauding this post!!! Yes, yes, yes! Spot on! Amazingly the majority of women giving birth at birth centers or at home are women who have GIVEN BIRTH IN THE HOSPITAL BEFORE. Unfortunately too many of us learn "the hard way" and blindly trust our OBs (and even some midwives) without really trusting ourselves or doing the extra research. Sometimes the outcome is okay, sometimes there is trauma and sometimes there's unnecessary or emergent cesareans.

I know you get all of this! I just get so worked up about it and am so excited that you're going for a VBAC! I've meant to touch on a comment you left for me a while ago about it because I loved the comment and I've gotten distracted.

Great post!!!