birth / feminism / midwives / waterbirth / women's rights

Birth & Baby: Know Your Rights!

My brain is exploding, folks. Here I am, reading the Sunday paper in my extremely progressive Northern California location and I come across an article -from less than 100 miles away-that is so backwards, it is still sending fireworks straight from my heart to my brain and hopefully, landing eloquently in a series of effective points via my keyboard. So, what, prey tell, ignited this early 4th of July in my insides? Not the heat and not celebrating our freedom, I’ll tell you that much. It’s this story about a Doctor whose son’s delivery put him at odds with his own Folsom hospital. Here’s what happened:


“Simone Morin, wanted a natural childbirth, even refusing ibuprofen after nine hours of labor. His father, Dr. Daniel Cooper, is the hospital’s former chief of staff who proudly delivered his son that morning.” 


High five to Simone! She gets the Progressive Parent gold star! I felt the same way with all four of my pregnancies and labors. What a special privilege and an honor to have the father deliver the child, especially for this one, as a doctor.

“Their celebration didn’t last long. Within hours of his birth, the newborn was at the center of what the couple describe as a dispute between them and the hospital over the medical treatments that parents can refuse for their children. The dispute escalated, the doctor and his wife said, when they left the hospital with the baby – 12 hours after he was born – against medical advice. Alarmed staff called Child Protective Services to report the child was in potential danger, they said.”

Whoaaaa-ho-ho. Wait, what? The good Doctor himself says it best:

“What was supposed to be a wonderful day turned into a very stressful one,” said Cooper, 53. “If this could happen to me, a doctor with privileges at the hospital, how is an 18-year-old who may not know her rights treated?”

Well, I know almost exactly. If you’ve read my first post, you know that I am impassioned about birthing. I suppose you could say it got started when I got pregnant at 20 & started going to an OB and reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” like everyone else in America. In my bookstore perusing, I ran into a book called Gentle Birth Choices that included a section on Waterbirthing. My entire pregnancy, I had naturally been drawn to the water in both hot baths and cool pools to alleviate my symptoms. Laboring and birthing in the water seemed perfect! I was hooked. Upon my next visit, I immediately asked my OB, to which she responded, “Oh, we don’t do that sort of thing. I’m pretty sure no one does- birthing pools require too much attention. We have a job to do. We’re doctors, not waitstaff.”

My heart sank. Then immediately, I thought, “What if I need attention?” I had never had a baby before. The movies made it sound a little scary and we all know it’s pretty damn painful. I always known I’d wanted a natural birth. I knew I wanted support and, God forbid, attention from someone familiar with the process while it was happening to me. I didn’t feel like I was going to get that from my OB and now, I really wanted a waterbirth. So, I started Googling.

I found midwives that were more than willing to do a waterbirth- so long as I provided the tub, (like the ones at AquaDoula) but I wasn’t sure where to use it, as I was living with my parents & teenage sisters at the time. I pressed on and found out that there was a Birthing Center in town that did waterbirths. (Hallelujah!) They didn’t accept my insurance, (Curses.) but I agreed to take a tour- I just wanted to see where one could experience this seemingly magical experience, even if it couldn’t be mine.

I was blown away by the intimacy, the comforting surroundings, the natural feel and energy of the place. The women weren’t charging about with clipboards, scrubs and furrowed brows; they were in clothes of their own choosing, bustling about their business while exchanging questions and jokes with relaxed smiles. Maybe that’s why I felt comfortable firing of most of the ten thousand questions I had to ask, having never experienced (or even really heard of) anything of the sort before. The midwife happily, patiently and easily answered each one, supplying information sheets and offering other resources that I could use to continue to supply myself with answers as my questions arose.

That’s when it really struck me. This woman cared not only about giving me attention- and it was kind, knowledgeable and patient attention she cared about giving me information… she cared about me. There is no way she shows up to a birth thinking it’s just “a job”. The sinking in my heart turned to singing! Followed by two thoughts: “Why isn’t this the standard practice?” and “Please-oh-please, let me find a way to have my baby here.”
It turned out that the staff at The Women’s Health & Birth Center were just as patient, passionate and knowledgeable about helping find a way to birth there as they were about helping me achieve my birthing goals on my own. I found out that In California, Medi-Cal will pay for a Birthing Center birth as well as pay 3 months medical care retroactively. This gave me access to immediate care and time to jump through their hoops. This is a truly priceless piece of information that I would not have known, had I not been an advocate of my own birth choices; despite my already being 7 months along, despite what my doctor sad was possible, despite having never heard of it before and despite the fact that it seemed to alarm the crap out of everyone I told… in fact, they seemed to react in similar fashion to the hospital in Sacramento.

My determination got me this: warning, if you operate on facebook-level of acceptable nipple viewage, you’d better miss out on this; one of my favorite pictures, ever.

 10 Seconds Into Motherhood Photo taken by my father R.I.P. Daddy. Thank you for everything.  Fuck Big Medicine & Fuck Cancer.


10 Seconds Into Motherhood
Photo taken by my father
R.I.P. Daddy. Thank you for everything.
Fuck Big Medicine & Fuck Cancer.


If people can be THIS bass-ackwards in the Capitol city of the most renown progressive state of the arguably most progressive nation, there has
got to be a gap in the information being put out there! So, here I am, once again, waving my little flag from my tiny speck in the corner of my fluff of a universe, just like the Whos in Whoville, shouting my truths: Birth is yours, birth is yours! BIRTH IS YOURS!

“Birth is yours! Birth is yours! BIRTH IS YOURS!”
Did you know that the US is lagging behind nearly the entire worldincluding 3rd world countries in routine midwifery care? Nearly 80% of births in European countries are overseen by midwives. No doctor, no hospital. The percentage in the US? A measly 6%. (Maybe because it could warrant a call to CPS??) I made the point int my first post that “Midwife means, “with woman”. Obstetric means, “to stand in front of”. One sounds like companionship, the other sounds like an obstacle- and rightly so.
Simone Morin didn’t use a midwife, as her husband is a doctor. (And a progressive one, if I do say so myself!) But she wanted to choose her birth, and as a healthy female who has received prenatal care and has a healthy baby inside her, there is NO REASON she should be denied that right. She chose a home birth, something that is slowly creeping its way into the mainstream- even though that is the way it has been done by literally every woman, everywhere up until around 50 year ago. If you want more information on birthing at home, I encourage you to read Is Homebirth For You?, a fantastic e-pamphlet written by another Northern Californian midwife, who states;
“Most plan homebirths because they believe that most of the time pregnancy and childbirth are normal functions of a healthy body — not a potential life-and-death crisis that requires the supervision of a surgeon”
“In fact, study after study has demonstrated that for the majority of child-bearing women in the U.S., the homebirth/midwifery model should be the standard for maternity care”
There’s no doubt medical care is big business. The 2007 documentary, The Business of Being Born makes light of the industry behind birthing in the United States and the differences in prenatal & postpartum care for women between here and other mostly European) countries. In fact- I’ll do the for you- you can watch it right here. No, really. Go grab some coffee and watch it.

I’ll wait.
Okay, so you kept reading. But you know where to find it and that it exists, if you didn’t already. Big medicine is big business. (Have you seen Sicko? It’s kinda sad- my copy is my deceased father’s. He died less than two years ago from lack of a drug there is now, but wasn’t then, enough money behind to fight the BRAF mutation of Metastatic Melanoma. Can you see how I really care about big business in medicine? This shit is real.
The control of doctors over patients is alarming and unfortunately, doesn’t always bear the best intent OR accurate information. A couple of days ago, a read a story on one woman’s account of Birth Rape– or forced/coerced Cesearean, and this story about a woman who, like me, has baby who is low on the growth charts. She was told by the nurse in her doctor’s office to stop breastfeeding because it was “causing problems with brain development”, which is the exact polar opposite of the truth, since study after study has shown that breastfed babies have higher IQs. She refused to stop breastfeeding and she, too, had DCFS (Division of Child & Family Services) show up at her door, citing “potential neglect and abuse”… for breastfeeding her son, you guys. 
What is happening? How and why?? It can’t because no one cares. These are our bodies and our children! There is HUGE debate about a woman’s “right to choose”  to end the pregnancy during first trimester- but shouldn’t the “right to choose” extend to when the pregnancy ends when it is supposed to- and beyond?

It’s like taking a cake home from the grocery store on accident (somehow- just like people get accidentally pregnant somehow- hey, I’m not judging, I’ve obviously done it!) and deciding to throw it away. Fine- your cake, your choice, right? But what if the Head Clerk were somehow in charge of telling you how, when & where to slice it? Not logical. Not cool. The head clerk, just like a doctor, is merely hands to pass through for a moment this thing, be it cake or baby, on its way to becoming something of great importance to a focused group of people. Maybe that’s why people, like Simone, are choosing to eh… bake, at home.With doctors gaining control, there are more scheduled births now than the WHO says is healthy- or necessary. In fact, did you know that there are 38 other countries with lower maternal mortality rates than the US? The two are directly connected, as Ina May Gaskin, renown author of the bestselling book, “Spiritual Midwifery” points out in her acceptance speech at the 2011 Right Livelihood Awards.

“None of the countries with the highest cesarean rates can report on low maternal death rates. This is especially true of the U.S., where women now face at least twice the chance of dying from pregnancy-related causes as their mothers did. In California, between 1996 and 2006, the maternal death rate tripled, with much of the increase being attributed to an excess of cesareans.”

 
As Americans, are thoughts are under educated, misled and twisted. Somehow, along the way, we’ve forgotten that, Hel-LO?! If our bodies can completely form a human being, I think it can figure out how to get it out. It fucking hurts. You get through it. And it’s worth it, for your baby and for yourself.You don’t have to have an OB. You don’t have to have your baby in a hospital, in stirrups, or even laying down. In fact, those three specific things all make it harder for the laboring woman- the only person they make it is easier for is the doctor. You don’t have to wear that horrible ass-flap gown. You don’t have to scream (I didn’t my first birth. Just long “OOOWWWWWWWWWW“s. My following births were lighting fast- I screamed bloody murder.) If you do, you don’t have to be sensitive to disturbing anyone. Your baby only needs eye drops if you have gonorrhea that can cause blindness, should it get in their eyes. It’s arguable if they need vitamin K, and it can be given orally & doesn’t need to be baby’s first pain/subjugation to needles. Skin to skin matters more than whatever hairline fracture of an ounce their weight might vary in those fleeting moments right after birth or from breastfeeding right after. Those moments are irreplaceable, magical, priceless. They belong to you. All you have to do is claim them.

 
They way  birthing is conveyed on television is as real as the way smoking weed is conveyed on television. IT DOESN’T HAPPEN LIKE THAT AT ALL. The media is the birthplace of this twisted view of the truth and of what to expect in reality. In reality, giving birth isn’t even second nature- it’s first! This means you can do it! BIRTH IS YOURS. No one can do it for you. If you don’t speak up for yourself, who will?
 

Were you aware of your birth choices? Were you supported in them?
Is there anything you wish you had known about birth before going through it?

 

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3 thoughts on “Birth & Baby: Know Your Rights!

  1. Hi there, in your inspiring post you mentioned California medi-cal paying for a birthing Center ? I have medi-cal in Ventura County and I’m not sure how to go about getting them to pay for a birthing Center. Or do you know of any sister birthing centers in my area that could help out? Thanks so much, God Bless.

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  2. Hi Julie! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and linking up for WW! Also thank you for the invite to share my birth story as well. I did actually write one for my 3rd and last child. I will think about sharing and adding my link ~ I'm a bit shy on this type of stuff so it might take me a bit :)Paulalifeasweknowitbypaula.blogspot.com

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