Recently I read an article written by a fellow doula that advocated the rights of women, which under the instance of birth I ‘might’ agree with. I certainly believe that people are being treated with very little respect in their birthing room in a lot (but not all) of hospitals. However I also believe the more we fight for rights for all these movements lately the less we see people as individuals and the more we give them rights to prejudices.
If women want to give birth at home, they should be allowed yes, but they also should be aware of the risks and I believe that most women are made aware of them in one way or another. If there are significant risks it is important to put our care in the trust of doctors, not to be left out of the process but to be including someone else with more knowledge of how to avoid the risks. Our problem is that some of the doctors think we doula’s and even some mothers are the enemy, and want to deliver the baby without our undermining them and their knowledge, after all they have delivered hundreds of babies and women in labor have not, and will not deliver that number from our womb and our perspective.
Doctors have their place, they really do, and the more we fight against them for our rights the less they like us. Think of your own job, when you are threatened with lawsuits and possibly being marked as an outcast and may never gain employment at another similar place of work, for following the orders of the your customer would you be inclined to listen to them? No. Certainly not.
On the other hand this doula was writing that if we advocate for women’s rights to birth we also have to advocate for women’s rights to choose. As in the pro-life/pro-choice movement. I have two things to say to this.
1. I believe that we should be giving people their rights as humans, and that is to be treated kindly, with respect and in a manner that we would want to be treated ourselves. I am pro-life, I will shout that from the roof-tops if you like, but I also will not demean a woman who has chosen to be pro-choice, has had an abortion or is in the process of deciding on having one. I will stand by her side and gently ask her to reconsider, but before, during and after I will love and respect her, even if I don’t agree with her choice. That is a hard thing to do in practice, it is even hard to say, because my heart breaks for the children lost to this process, but it is what God has called me to do, and I am a follower of the Bible and Jesus, and feel it is necessary to love people no matter what they have done.
2. Why would a doula be fighting to kill her own business, or the babies that make the business? I have thought a long time about this, and I believe that it is a movement of women’s rights that motivates her as a doula. And it seems that women’s rights are a strong passion of hers, and if that is her motivation then I’m glad she is doing what she deems right, however my own motivation is far from that, my motivation is to give encouragement and a friendly face to birth.
I didn’t know my nurses, didn’t know my midwives (gave birth in a hospital where they all worked together, and mine wasn’t on call during my labors) and from what I can tell many other women who choose doctors or midwives end up with this same scenario. I also felt during one of my births very supported by my team, and the other one I felt lost, disrespected and treated unkindly with threats to my child for my own choices and longings. Both births were with my husband, but his knowledge of these things is so small, that when things were going normally he was freaking out a bit, but when they were not normal he was at a total loss to support me. So coming from my own birth stories I believe it would be helpful to have a support person who is fully or at least attempting to be educated on the matter of birth, that does not work for the hospital… to build a team with the doctors and nurses, to surround this woman in love and partnership, and to build relationships with her team.
I am happy to say that every woman who I’ve worked with so far has enjoyed her experience and also her care team. I can’t take all the credit for that, but I can say that I didn’t create waves, and give her any reasons not to trust these doctors, or to talk to them about her concerns and have them on HER side. But if my motivation were to give women all their rights I feel that I would be responsible for the death of both women and children. I can say this because some women (myself included sometimes) get so focused on having the ‘perfect birth’ that they lose sight of the potential dangers… and there are some, but I would also argue that a normal healthy low risk pregnancy carries very few. And when we get focused on our perfect birth we can lose sight of the risks and actually cause more risks, if I were to completely advocate a woman’s rights I would be biased on her care, and if she made a decision based on fear (probably in this case fear of having a doctor do something to her that she didn’t want done) then she and/or her baby (in rare cases) could die.
To give an example I will use my daughters birth, and some figurative guess-work. Sapphira was born by c-section after her cord prolapsed when the midwife broke her water and her head was not engaged and they knew she had a long umbilical cord and high amniotic fluid… this I feel could have been prevented had they not broken my water, but when they asked me to admit myself to the hospital I had two choices, 1. Go home anyway because at the least I wanted to have my things with me, and at most these doctors and midwives were freaking me out and I didn’t trust them. or 2. stay and try to fight for the birth I wanted without my things. I chose number 2. But had my fear of the doctors caused me to choose number 1. and my water broke at home, not only would I have had a c-section, most likely I would have killed my baby. Which is actually how the doctors got me to stay. If I were a doula in that instance I would try to give my best unbiased information, and let the mother then choose what she wanted to do, and then tried to facilitate that by including the doctors and midwives on the decision. And then should the mother choose what I chose in this situation, I would offer to go to her house or apartment and pick up the things that she wanted to have with her. I would recommend listening to the doctors on that issue… the chances of it happening were real. However when it came to breaking her water I would have done the opposite, leaving the choice to her, but helping to give her a voice when she felt (because this is me I can say this) that this was endangering her child needlessly.
Basically what I’m trying to say in all this is that I can not fight for your RIGHTS… I’m not an activist for rights, but what I am an activist for is your birth. Your story, a story you will live with for the rest of your life, one that will end with the birth of your baby, and one that you can look fondly on. I know not all births will have a happy ending, but I’m going to try my hardest to at least help you find your voice to make a team out of the people involved, instead of two groups fighting over their rights to your birth. Doctors, midwives, mothers and doulas should be a team all concerned with you, and your baby.
Have a Cherished Birth