NOTE: This will be a multi-part series because I have WAY too much I want to share! :)
The other day I came across an article on the internet. This article, was written by a mother who (from what I gathered) had a medicated birth. To summarize, it was her saying how annoyed she became when people, especially women without children, asked her what her birth plan was. She proceeded to explain that birth plans are pointless because birth is unpredictable and planning your birth is just a waste of time. Also in this article, this woman commented how natural birthing women only do it for "bragging rights" and she made a joke about it being some pyramid scheme and how she was waiting for a Facebook invite to a birthing breathing party. Lol.
While I know I shouldn't "care" what some silly article says, for some reason, it reeeeeeally got under my skin. To hear (or read) that there are women out there who truly believe a woman chooses to have an unmedicated labor for bragging rights absolutely floored me. Perhaps it was just written for exposure and was not intended to take seriously, I took it very seriously. I want ALL women to know- whether you have a medicated, unmedicated, scheduled or emergency c-section, YOUR BIRTH MATTERS! I'm going to dive a little bit deeper because you know I just CAN'T stop there! :)
As a lot of you are aware, I am a birth photographer. I became a birth photographer because of my overwhelming interest and passion for all things birth. Many people find this so funny because I am just now expecting my first child and often wonder where my desire and passion for birth even came from. I'm not sure exactly. I like to think it just has always fascinated me as a woman and I dreamed of the day I would become pregnant and PLAN my birth :)
When I became pregnant last September, I did what pretty much all women do. I called my OB/GYN and squealed "I'm pregnant!". They then of course, scheduled me to come in around 8 weeks and get what is called a dating ultrasound. Also during that appointment, they had my husband and I sit down and answer all these family history questions. While we were answering questions regarding our medical history, the nurse then asked me "Are you planning on using anesthesia during your labor?" I found it very odd that at 8 weeks along, I was being asked what my birthing plan was. I told her that I was planning an unmedicated labor and if looks could kill, oh man. Her response? "You do know you don't get a medal for doing it natural right? Don't worry, we'll talk you into the epidural". WHATTTTT! This nurse, without knowing anything about me, my husband, or us as a family, completely shot down my birth desires and treated me like I was any pregnant women off the street. She didn't at all consider my feelings, ask me any questions, nothing. It was at that very moment I knew- there HAS to be a better way.
You see, it's in my opinion that birth is viewed as a medical condition. You become pregnant, you find a doctor, you find a hospital, and you go there, you get medicine, and you have a baby. While I am beyond thankful we have so many skilled doctors available to us, they're not always needed in a low-risk, normal pregnancy and birth. A woman's body was designed to create, grow, and birth children. Nothing about that is a "medical condition", in most circumstances. So to me, it seems absurd to view it as such. If my body was created to do this, why are so many women being induced, medicated, and taken back for c-sections? Here are a few statistics for you...
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reports that 20 percent to 40 percent of labors are induced—a number that, along with C-section rates, has doubled in the last decade. 20-40 percent?! Now, I must add, that a medically indicated induction may mean the difference of a healthy delivery and a catastrophe. And in those rare situations where a medical emergency is necessary, I FULLY support that decision. The problem is, a vast majority of inductions are not true medically needed. Reasons for non-medically needed inductions can range from doctor convenience, inaccurate prediction on baby's size, inaccurately estimated due dates, and many more.
Why is it important to not be induced, unless a true emergency arises? More than 25 percent of infants born electively between 37 and 39 weeks required admission to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for an average of 4.5 days, compared with fewer than 5 percent of infants who were delivered at 39 weeks or later, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Babies born between 34 and 36 weeks are more than three times as likely as those born at term to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. At 35 weeks gestation, the brain weighs only about two thirds of what it will at 40 weeks. Evidence also shows that the earlier a baby comes, the greater the risks for having learning and behavioral problems. And last piece I will point out, a healthy set of lungs is one of the last organs to mature. That's why respiratory problems are especially common in babies who arrive too early. In fact, newborns delivered at 37 weeks are three times as likely to experience respiratory distress syndrome (a severe newborn lung disease), transient tachypnea (rapid breathing), pneumonia, a need for a ventilator, and respiratory failure as babies born between 39 and 40 weeks, according to recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Part Two of this series will be posted (hopefully) later this week so be sure to stop back!