Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Mother's Rantings

Avram and I are trying to figure out where to go for Maternity care for our baby. I love having midwives, and that's what I used both with Lydia and Elisheva. Actually, I just love England's approach to childbirth. Everyone has midwives, unless you have a high risk pregnancy, and the whole country approaches childbirth as a natural experience, that is not a sickness. Of course, I do not mean natural here as in they don't let you have an epidural if you want it, since pain medication is totally up to you, but rather that it is not a disease to be treated. And they are very supportive of natural births, and are not pushy at all about many things.

Imagine yourself in America, in an American hospital, while I describe this. So, I needed to have an antibiotic administered to me every four hours while in labor with Elisheva, or after my water broke. So after my water broke at five am one Monday morning in England, we went to the hospital and got there at eight am. It was a busy day, and so I was lowest priority, so they never got around to giving me my first dose of antibiotic until noon. But meanwhile they did bring Avram and I lots of toast and jam, and offered us tea as well. After the first dose of antibiotic (intravenously, but I had a heperin lock, and also the needle used was a thin one, not the same iv mark I would need at all for getting a fluids IV, which are so standard in the States. ) No one mentioned induction to me. No one was worried in the slightest that my water had broken and I hadn't gone into labor yet. So after my dose, they assigned me a bed up in a room they kept for women who had pregnancy complications and so were in the hospital before birth (seemed like mostly for multiple births). Then Avram and I were free to walk wherever we wanted to in the hospital, I could eat whatever I wanted to, and we were as free as larks - except I did have to stay inside the hospital itself since I had the hep lock.

Then, after dinner at seven pm, no one had still mentioned induction. No one had given me a time limit on how long I could go with my water broken before having a mandatory c section. It was the very absence of a stressful situation. And I did go into labor around seven, and I did have Elisheva two hours later. And I had her while kneeling (on a yoga mat) on the floor. And my Midwife, who had an apprentice with her, thanked me for having a natural birth, and not giving birth lying in bed. She was grateful to me, so that she could show her apprentice a natual birth done well. During this time, they did intermittent monitering, but it was a hand held device that the midwife used - no being strapped to anything, including a bed moniter (which did happen with Lydia, and they forgot I was still strapped to it when I started pushing, and I couldn't move, and it was bad. Until Avram figured out what was happening.)

Now, in America. I would have shown up at the hospital, and they would have strapped a ton of gear on me, and probably done internal monitering too. Then they would have induced me. And given me a time limit on how long I could go with my water broken before I needed a c-section. And I would have given birth probably on my back, if I'd had a doctor (my midwife with Lydia did let me kneel, but told me afterwards that I should be grateful that I had a midwife, because a doctor never would have let me give birth in that position - note that it's me who's supposed to be grateful in the States, not the other way around).

I feel like America is stuck in the dark ages as far as it goes for Childbirth. I want to have all my children in England. Luckily I have short enough labors that they don't have much time to harass me, but that's another problem. Because the only midwife group at all that is covered by my insurance I do not like. They have an 18 % c-section rate, which is rediculous since Midwives only can take low risk patients. They are with a group of doctors, which is fine, but then since they cover three hospitals, only one of which I can go to because of my insurance, if the midwife on duty is at on of the other two hospitals, they'll call a doctor to come and deliver me. My labor with Elisheva on the official records - when the hospital decided I was in labor - only took an hour and fourteen minutes. There is no way unless a medical personnel is already there that I'll even be delivered by their docter. Which means some haphazard nurse will deliver my poor baby. And I'll probably still have to pay the stupid doctor anyway.

And I was talking to someone training to be a nurse this last week, and she was saying that in her experience with the labor floor, that the nurses really push for epidurals, because they don't want to have to deal with natural labors. Great. And my hospital, the OSU hospital, is a huge one, with lots of specialized care. Which also means they'll have lots of routines. Smaller hospitals are much more willing to work with individual wants. That's why when I had Lydia in Utah I didn't pick the main Provo hospital, but a smaller one in Orem that was very friendly to birthing. My nurse was even a hypno-birthing instructor, which I had not done, but she did help me with laboring a lot. (Plus she turned out to be my second cousin once removed, or something. Welcome to Utah).

It's enough to make me just want to have a homebirth with a midwife, but that's another $1500 extra than what it would be to have a baby on insurance. And my labors are short enough that I'm currently just planning to grit my teeth and bear it, to save the money (which we don't have to spend anyway).

I'm quite riled up with the Medical maternity situation in Ohio. I feel like Bones in the Star Trek movie where they go back in time to a hospital in the 1980s - where he keeps on making comments about the Dark Ages, and the Spanish Inquisition. That's what I'm stuck in, here. The Dark Ages.

I've half joked with Avram that if we dawdle when I go into labor we can just have the baby here, and he can deliver it. Both Avram and his brother were born at home because they came so quickly. But I don't really want to have that kind of birth, besides which I'd still have to go to the hospital afterwards, anyway.

It's not fair. If we are supposed to have such great Gender equality and all that jazz, and have such advanced Women's Stuff, how come we treat birth so awfully? It's demeaning to me to have to go through the American Medical System. I'm not against pain medication, nor doctors, nor large, specialized hospitals. England managed to have all of these, but also had managed to keep the humanity of childbearing. I wish it was because of their National Health System (ie, Socialized Health System), but that's too much to ask for. I'm sure if America had Socialized Health, it wouldn't solve this, just standardize it further.

I don't have anything profound to say at the end of this besides, "Grump. Grump. Grump."


  1. You'd love giving birth in Poland. My water broke with Aaron and they just checked me in and put Greg and I in a "family" birthing room where there was a birthing tub and stuff like that. They came in every hour or two to see how I was doing. Checked me once I started getting closer, but the did lay me down. Oh, and I hated the laying down, but I believe I would have hated sitting up or kneeling or any position at all. And the midwife was there and kept asking where the doctor was, and he finally came just as Aaron was being born, but didn't help at all. But my midwife was very nice. Except that she told me there was nothing they could do for the pain because childbirth has to hurt. Which I happen to know isn't true. :)

    I hope you find a place that will fulfill all your hopes! Good luck with that.

  2. Have you thought of having Certified Nurse Midwives? They have hospital privileges. That's what I had with Sam and they were great.

    I think with Sam I had a bit more intervention than I originally thought I was going to have, but all the choices in childbirth were compltely mine - whether to induce, whether to have the epidural, etc. They didin't do a routine episiotomy, and I was able to labor in a hot tub for a lot of the time.

    The hospital had rules about not eating while in labor, but my midwives said that I could have as much apple juice as I wanted, which is a far cry from "ice chips only."

  3. I had Benjamin at the Utah Velley Regional Medical Center, and they totally treated me like I was crazy for wanting to go natural. No one was helpful. They wouldn't even let me use the tub until hours into my labor- right before my water broke. It is wierd how child birth is treated more as a problem than a natural process here. England sure sounds nice! Maybe we'll have to move there...

  4. if you are strong willed and voice it you can usually get away with more at the hospital. While in labor with my boys i ate full meals ( even when induced with pitocin when i had theo) i also unhooked myself from the monitors and took nice long showers and walked around. I have found that some nurses get anoyed at you, but they are not going to kick you out of the hospital so there is not much they can do about it. Also i labored on hands and knees alot and pushed in a squat, and sitting up. With my last baby i did a half squat sitting up and held my own legs and threatened to kill anyone that dared do a countdown to my pushing or instruct me on breathing.

    I have found you can get alot of what you want, just be prepared for the nurses and dr's to be anoyed with you.

  5. Bravo Thora. You are so right about the way they treat birthing in this country. It is ludicrous! You make me want to have my babies in England. Camilla is totally right. If you throw your weight around. (haha, pregnant belly waddling around...) they will let you do what you want (They will possibly fight you about it though and be very unhappy. But in the end, you will get your way.) And if a nurse starts to get snappy, you can request that she not come in your room anymore and she won't. They do all the annoying things they do because of procedure and hospital rules. Blah, Blah, Blah. I'll have to share with you Joseph's birth story sometime. A horrible example of U.S. Nursing. Emery's was a much more enjoyable experience. However, since Joseph was an emergency C-section (very avoidable if you ask us.) I will forever be high risk.

    Grump, Grump, Grump!

  6. Get a doula. She'd be a little extra money, though less than a midwife home birth, and she can be your advocate for making sure you get your way in the hospital. 'Cuz heaven knows you're usually not in a state to right for your rights when you're having an unmedicated birthing.

  7. I had two kids overseas and one in the States. The last one overseas, with a British midwife, was definitely the best. I could be in whatever position I wanted and she didn't make me be on my back just so the monitor could tell me how much pain I was in. I didn't get an epidural for any of the births - it was not an option. But I sure would have liked one. At least Avram has some experience at this birthing stuff now, and he can help advocate for you.

  8. As of yet I don't have any personal experiences with child birth that I can share (give me four months and I will). I don't think the American Health Care System in regards to child birth will be changing anytime soon. With fewer people having families and giving birth, most Dr.'s and nurses are leaning towards more convenient forms of birthing so they can make it to the golf course on time.

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  10. I remember what I was going to say before. If you get a midwife, just be sure she's not from Scotland. As one who learned the hard way, the Scots are tough and just expect you to suck it up if you are in pain. No pain meds, not even hot water bottles or massages. But our midwife born in Jamaica and raised in London was the very best of the best. Soft spoken, gentle, encouraging, willing to work with us. It's amazing what a difference it made, even at the same hospital.

  11. I have to drive an extra 15 to 20 minutes (in addition to the half hour it already takes) to give birth in a hospital with a midwife. I wish she would practice closer, because the road to that hospital makes me so nervous, and I really don't want to give birth on a rocky mountain pass. I'm not even pregnant right now, but I still think about it a lot.

  12. Since I had such a great experience at the Topeka birth center, I am scared now that the next place I am pregnant at will have few and undesirable options. grump grump grump. why can't they all be like the birth center (or England)?

  13. You know I'll express this thought. In the average American Women's lifetime she'll give birth to maybe 3 children, more if you come from a Catholic and Mormon background.

    During this experience which seems to be charged with hormones and with pain some things will go wrong other things will go right and this can be different from hospital to hospital and from pregnancy to pregnancy. So claiming that all of American Hospitals are horrible compared to all English hospitals based one or two experiences with both systems is an unfair judgement upon American and British Hospitals.

    I believe there are many good hospitals out there. I also believe there are many bad ones.

    However no one should be made to feel bad because of their decisions about the birth of their child. I would caution every blogger to think about their audience and how they make them feel. Many of us do not have the opportunity to have our child in another country or necessarily have access to many of the hospitals that other people do.

    Also many of us have wonderful doctor experiences that have treated birth with reverence and sacredness. It is unfortunate that you have had poor experiences in that department.

    And finally what service can many couples have when they have their children on Medicare where doctors are being payed well under the going rates for the same procedures. America is capitalist and you tend to get what you pay for even with child birth.

  14. here's a suggestion i've heard of: instead of an obstetrician, try a plain old family practice doc. they tend to be more flexible with their patients. you don't have to have either a midwife or an obstetrician.

    these days chances are, no matter what doc you pick, they won't be on call when you go into labor anyway, so you'll still end up with some random person. so yeah, i would just labor at home as long as possible.

    i've also heard that a good phrase to learn for the hospital is, "I'd rather not do X. I'd be happy to sign a waiver." i hear you can get out of anything if you are insistent enough. if they say something is "hospital policy" and you don't want it, then refuse it and ask to sign a waiver for it. of course, this is all assuming you can still talk. :P

  15. Aletha, YOu can have a family doc deliver your baby? We use a family doc right now, she sees all of us and I LOVE her because I tell her how it is with me nicely and she does not force medicine on me or make me feel guilty. I told her I have a family history of 1/4 dosing and she said Ok I havent heard of it but it is worth a try, so when I got put on meds for an infection after the swine flu, I got 1.4 dose. She was impressed that it worked, especially since I had the beginnings of pneumonia.
    I agree with both Heidi and Camilla, Look for a doula, and throw your weight (Insert Julies comment here about the belly)They will be annoyed, but you can do it.

  16. i've heard you can. i guess it depends on the doctor!

  17. I wish I was there, I would doula for you. The sisters who's births I've attended said it was really helpful.

    You could birth like Jennee (Burton) She gave birth to their last daughter completely on her own at home. Mike was overseas. No midwife, no hospital. It's called Freebirthing, I think. Personally, I think it's just a little on the crazy side, but then again I still view pregnancy and child birth as somewhat alien, so there you go.

  18. thats interesting Aletha. Thanks.
    It is also called UC or unassisted birth.
    And sometimes if you "accidently" have the baby at home and transfer to the hospital, they will check you out and release you. same day.

  19. I agree 100 % with that anonymous comment. and pookie you have super fast labors. your not going to have a c section. get a dula and then if the midwife can't make it or the Dr does not get there in time, you have the person there you want any way.

  20. The midwives out there charge waaay to much - my midwife that did both my kids charged around 1,600 and that was for the whole thing - monthly visits and birth. Someone I knew that didn't have insurance and paid the hospital said that's how much their epidural was. And that same friend was ready to have her baby and the nurses held her legs down so she couldn't push since the doctor wasn't there yet. It's true that not all hospital births are horror stories but most I've heard from all our friends are. My biggest beef is I feel everyone should be able to have the best birth experience they desire - the freedom of choice. We may live in a free country but once you sign those first papers to check in at a hospital you sign away your freedom practically. You could always go the route Carol did and come have your baby here - let me know if you want contact info for Utah midwives that do homebirth. And Thora - love you tonz!!!

  21. It's good to know what you want. Don't change your mind to please someone else - specially since you are the one giving birth. Way to go.

  22. I've always used certified nurse midwives--one of whom acted totally like a doctor in that she pressured me to be induced and didn't show up until the final moments of labor. I did have an epidural on my last one and I would definitely do it again. I'd also love a doula, which I've never tried before. Good luck to you! I agree that you and your husband can make your own "natural" labor despite whatever the nurses and hospital staff are up to.