Quotes from The Trenches

As a passionate birth advocate, I occasionally begin to wonder if I’m completely crazy. If a lot of the medical profession disagrees with us nutty doulas, then should we even be opening our mouths? Have we gone off the deep end?

I am grateful to receive continuing confirmation from the medical world that what I advocate for is indeed evidence-based, and that I am not obnoxious or ridiculous (at least not because of my beliefs about birth!). Here are some real quotes from nurses and doctors at births I have attended that have brought me great encouragement.

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“We used to turn up Pitocin very quickly, but now we’ve learned that it takes time for the body to adjust to its effects and so we do it much more slowly now.” -OB to mother.

“We break the water far too much these days. There’s no real advantage to it.” -Nurse to me.

“There are two schools of thought about the episiotomy, but most of the evidence does show that it’s better to risk tearing than it is to be cut.” -Nurse to mother.

“You can eat or drink whatever you want during labor if I’m there.” -OB to mother, during a prenatal visit.

“That’s exactly how a birth should go.” -Non-natural friendly OB to mother after witnessing an unmedicated, calm VBAC.

“You can tell your baby was unmedicated because she’s so much healthier [e.g., more alert, less weight loss, no jaundice, better nurser].” -Baby nurse to mother after a drug-free birth.

“I  hate to say it, but a lot of things do happen because of time, not because of medical reasons. I’m not nervous about it taking a while, but who knows what the OB’s schedule is? ” -Nurse during a mother’s labor.

“Studies show that most cesareans happen at shift change. It’s true.” -Nurse to me after a birth.

“A vaginal breech birth can be safe if it’s done under the right circumstances. And you want an older OB who knows how to do it. Most of the younger ones are too nervous to try it.” -Nurse during a discussion about normal birth.

“I would never have my baby there [at our local hospital]. I see what they do there, and it’s crazy. Next time I’m pregnant I’m having my baby at home.” -OB nurse to my husband at a middle school career day.

“Tell your story. So many women wouldn’t even know how to advocate for themselves or their birth. It’s so important that women hear what you did to achieve this.” – Nurse to VBAC mother who negotiated with her OB many times. For example, she fought to buy more time at the end of her pregnancy to avoid a scheduled repeat c-section, to gain freedom of movement, permission to consume clear fluid foods, to keep her membranes intact to avoid a time clock, etc., etc. She stood up for her rights gracefully and respectfully. I believe this is what led her OB to work so well with her, despite his initial resistance. In the end, it was a perfect balance of the family respecting medical opinion and the OB respecting the mother’s desires.

These are just a few examples of quotes I’ve heard that show me I am not alone in my desire for evidence-based birth practices. And it also shows that change is happening, right in my own backyard! I am so grateful for these wonderful hospital staff members who are also striving to change the face of over-medicalized birth as we know it. It may not be quick, and it may not be easy, but one mother, one doula, one nurse, one OB, one midwife at a time, change is happening. Birth is beginning to be seen more and more as a normal event that should be supported, not forced, interrupted, or “rescued.” Keep up the great work- always with passion, gentleness, and self-control.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dac on June 8, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Great to read of the changes, as well as the medical support.


  2. So great. It’s comments like that from medical professionals that refresh my hope for the natural birth process, as a doula! Thank you for sharing!


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