pregnancy is a natural, healthy state. it’s not an illness. why is it then that so many people think that you need to see a consultant obstetrician when you’re pregnant? an OB is a specialist in abnormal pregnancy. they are trained to sort things out when they go wrong. so why would any, normal, healthy pregnant woman need to see one? surely they are a resorce that should be saved for those that actuall need them.
it seems that women these days are brainwashed into thinking that pregnancy is not a normal state, that it is an illness or a condition that needs specialist care, by specialist doctors. admittedly for some woment this is the case, but not for the majority. if Ob’s stayed out of pregnancy most women would sail through and then give birth in their own homes with no intervention. maybe i’m being a bit sweeping there but i think it’s true. with proper midwifery care most women should never see an OB and if the need did arise a competent midwife would spot this and refer.
i happen to be in the ‘i saw a consultant and got shafted’ camp, so i’m talking from experience. I also see it regularly in my role as antenatal bookings clerk and branch chair for the local branch of the NCT.
when i had noise i did as i was told, saw a consultant, did as he told me, got induced, accepted the drugs and ended up with a caesarean section – which may well have been avoidable had i waited patiently for my due date, not taken the drugs and thus stayed upright and allowed my amazing baby to get herself into a position conducive to normal birth. instead i laid flat on my back, immobile due to an epidural and found after far too many hours (46 in case you’re interested) that she was a brow presentation and the only mode of delivery was via the sunroof (as someone strangely put it to me!), 3 years later i thought, i know i want a natural delivery, i’ve looked at some books and i think it’s ok to do that. then i dutifully met my consultant who tutted, shook his head and pointed out how utterly utterly dangerous a VBAC was (vaginal birth after a caesarean), i sort of stood my ground but he warned me how dangerous my choice was and that should i experience any pain anywhere in my abdomen i MUST come in immediately as it would be my scar rupturing and if i didn’t receive immediate care both the baby and i would die. of course i was a little worried and at 29weeks i suffered pain in my abdomen (i’d pulled a muscle….) they rushed me in, gave me steroids and warned me that muffin would need to be born within the next 24 hours. we visited SCBU, saw lots of tiny babies struggling with life and were thoroughly terrified. 24hours later they still hadn’s scheduled my c.section and told me they’d observe me for a bit. after a few days they decided i could go home but that i must have a c.section at 38 weeks as any possibility of labour was now gone – any contractions would automatically cause a rupture. of course, we’d been suitably brainwashed and accepted this. i had my repeat section, it went horribly wrong and i ended up in intensive care. Muffin was fine however and i was alive, all that mattered at the time – or so i thought. due to the incompetence of the surgeon i had to have my scar repaired twice in the following 2 years and was told in no uncertain terms how dangerous it would be for me to ever have another baby.
9 years later i met tom and decided the time was right to give it another go. i researched VBA2C and decided it was a goer! with Boo conceived we trawled the net looking for research, luckily at the time i was at uni and had fairly free access to lots of medical journals that OB’s generally like to hide from us mere mortals…. i joined a fantastic yahoo group called UKVBACHBAC and (virtually) met hundreds of women who had successfully had VBAC’s after 1, 2, 3 and even 4 caesareans! Yay, support for our decision. Now, not being a ‘normal, healthy pregnant woman’ i did decide to meet with a consultant. his response was that we were foolish and were going to kill both me and the baby. a fairly standard response. at this stage we didn’t know about the added complication of Boo’s slow heart rate but we decided that unless any further risk factors arose we’d still like to go ahead with our VBA2C. eventually we changed consultants (due to the heart issue as well as our initial consultants lack of support) and found a consultant who was a bit nervous about the VBA2C but supportive nonetheless. part of his concern was that with Boo’s heart condition it might not be as obvious if issues did arise during labour as one of the possible signs of rupture is a change in the babys heart rate. anyway, the final conclusion of that part of the story was that we had our VBA2C with no intervention and no pain relief.
Boo’s birth gave me back the confidence all women should have in their bodies and this time when i got pregnant we decided on a home birth. now, i’ve proven my scar can take labour and it’s now been 2 years longer since my last c.section than when Boo was born so i’m even more confident. and as a bonus Yogi’s heart rate is normal, around 130bpm compared to Boo’s 90bpm…. So, i told my community midwife my decision and she was over the moon, totally supportive of my decision, then she advised me not to mention it at any other appointments. i went along with this, not entirely sure why now but i did. until i got to 24 weeks when i mentioned it to my second midwife, who again was wonderfully supportive even though i pointed out i’d had 2 c.sections. fast forward 4 weeks. midwife number one withdraws her support, telling me how dangerous my decision is, from vibes i had begun to suspect this was her opinion so i wasn’t overly shocked. fast forward 5 weeks to my next appointment with midwife number 2. now, midwife number 2 had been super supprotive at my 24week appointment and i was totally confident of her full support so imagine my distress when she told me she wasn’t supporting me either. her attitude was bullying, she kept making me repeat my decision, the statistics and my feelings. she fired questions at me, asked me what i’d do if there was a midwife shortage, what i’d do if the refused to support me. i told her i had the web address for the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (AIMS) and that I had already looked up my rights. then she told me she’d consult with colleagues and she would arrange a meeting between Tom and I and 3 Supervisor of Midwives (SOM)! I asked what she thought they’d collectively be able to say to change my mind and she admitted she didn’t know. I think the idea is to scare and undermine. Tom and I composed a letter informing the only SOM that counted of our intention to have a homebirth and to inform her that I would not be accepting care from either midwife number 1 or midwife number 2. i also pointed out that staff shortages were not my concern and that she should take care of these prior to me going into labour. I haven’t had a response yet but I’m nervous. one option we have is to hire an Independent Midwife (IM) but the don’t come cheap. locally the cost is £2800 to be paid in full by week 36…. an IM isn’t an option for us and i have to admit to being nervous about getting a supportive midwife once i’m in labour.
the thing is there is an obligation for them to provide me with a supportive midwife and i have a right to a homebirth. it’s not a whim, it’s an informed decision made after much thought and soul searching. at home we can be ourselves, i can stay relaxed and focussed, i won’t worry about the other children or how they are doing and they can be as involved in the birth as they like. there is no chance of intervention at home. and with no chance of intervention then there is no cascade of intervention that could lead ultimately to another c.section. a homebirth means no time constraints, the freedom to move around and find a position that’s comfortable to labour and to give birth in. it means the option of a waterbirth (which as a VBACer i don’t have in hospital) and to stay truly focussed on the labour, not worrying about doctors and midwives coming in and out of my room, i won’t have to worry about time constraints and so i won’t worry about intervention. also, at home my care will be one-to-one, in a hospital, especially if there are staff shortages women in labour share moidwives, one of the reasons Continuous Foetal Monitoring becomes necessary. there is no subsitute for a midwife observing a labouring woman, a competent midwife should notice subtle changes that could mean a problem long before they become a problem, a machine will spot them once they are. i want to return to the natural state of pregnancy being healthy. i don’t want to get on the conveyor belt and i won’t. if nothing changes in this pregnancy to indicate an increased risk to either me or Yogi then Yogi will be born at home. I think this looks a lot like what i want and what’s best for me in my opinion but it’s also a matter of what’s best for Yogi. At home, i will be less stressed so that will benefit her, but also when she is born she will be born into peace, into calm, there will not be bright white lights to hurt her eyes, there will not be the sound of other labouring women in the background. there will not be the unecessary noise of instruments on trolleys and of staff moving around the ward. she will be born into peace, and dim lights and no one will prod and poke her unecessarily. she will be our baby, she will meet her sisters straight away (if they want to) and she will not be placed on a ward with 3 other screaming babies with lights turned on and off at someone elses will. and there will be no need for that first harsh trip outdoors to go home. she will be home, we will be able to decide how soon we introduce her to the outdoors and her first experience won’t be of a horrid manky carpark and straight into the car for a journey where she is stuck in a car seat. her first experience will be the willow tree, the birds, the peace and quiet that is where we live. she might spend nothing more than a moment outdoors or she might be out there a while but there will be no time limit.
I’m not doing anything wrong and I won’t put my baby (or myself) at risk, my midwives on the other hand are bullying and manipulative and have given no new evidence as to why they have withdrawn their support.
watch this space for the next installment.