Counting Down 'til Daddy

Month: December, 2011

RANT OF THE WEEK, MONTH, WHATEVER: One Born Every Minute

I have a love-hate relationship with this show. Mostly I love to hate it because it confirms everything that I think is wrong with childbirth is America. It also gives such a distorted view of what having a baby can be like, and is like for many women who choose to  be educated and prepared for the experience. I get that television is supposed to be entertaining and the network wants people to watch. But guess what Lifetime (yes, the network for women), I would still watch if you showed some women have normal births without the kitchen sink of interventions. I would still watch if you showed women enjoying their experience and the natural, normal things their bodies do during labor. I would still watch if the women were embracing their labor rather than shaking with fear.

I watched the first season last year and could not believe the picture it painted. First of all, the show is set in Riverside Methodist Hospital, in one of the busiest labor and delivery wards in the country (according to Jamie Lee Curtis, the show’s narrator). The fact that these births are taking place in such a busy hospital gives the impression that what goes on there is normal and acceptable and in the best interest of mothers and babies. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any of the doctors and nurses on this show are out to hurt anyone or give them a bad experience. Most of what the viewer sees is the result of A LOT of editing. I’m sure they have the best intentions, but there is still so much wrong.

First of all, there was maybe one woman in the first season who came into labor and delivery in active labor. It appeared that every mother arrived with either very early contractions or intending to be induced. What about the women who labor at home until their contractions are consistent and close together? Almost every woman had her water broken by a nurse and it seemed to happen with little explanation. One woman did ask why they were doing it and was told that it would speed up her labor. The nurse failed to mention that it would also make her contractions more intense and painful. She also failed to point out that the water does not have to break for labor to progress and some babies are even born in the bag of water. Overall the impression was that this intervention was routine.

And don’t even get me started on the use of Pitocin on this show. In an entire season I can think of maybe one person who didn’t receive any. What bugs me even more is that there never seems to be a conversation about what Pitocin is and what it will do. There aren’t many questions from the women in labor either. I read somewhere that this hospital has a 90% epidural rate and I’m not surprised.

There was one woman who arrived at the hospital intending to have a normal birth without pain medication or unnecessary interventions. She gave her nurse a copy of her birth plan. Cut to the nurse speaking directly to the camera about how women who bring long birth plans tend to be rigid and hard to deal with. This nurse was also clearly threatened by the mother’s doula, who did nothing more than support mom and remind her of questions she might want to ask the nurse who was intent on attaching an internal fetal monitor for no clear reason other than her own peace of mind. This nurse disappointed me so much because her attitude would be so discouraging to a woman planning on having her first baby at this hospital and wanting to exert some control over her situation and her body.

This is completely accurate

This mother continues with her plan to birth her baby without pain medication and one result of that plan is a lot of vocalizing during contractions and pushing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this and is a lot more conducive to a succesful labor than staying silent and holding your breath. But don’t tell the nurses at this hospital. As this woman is moaning and grunting the scene cuts to nurses at the nurses station giving each looks like they’ve never heard those sounds before. They looked shocked, disgusted, and judgmental. I hope that a lot of it was editing, but if any of it was accurate they should be ashamed of themselves. And shame on the producers of this show for portraying things this way. Imagine being an expectant mother and feeling self conscious about “letting go” in front of the doctors and nurses. Now you get to imagine that everyone is laughing at you while you are laboring.

It’s really a shame because I know nurses who I’m confident would not act this way. I had two babies in a hospital and had great experiences. I know other women who have had babies in hospitals and loved their experience. I don’t assume that the mothers on this show look back and feel they had a bad experience, but it could have been different. Here’s how:

  • First and foremost expectant mothers (and hopefully their partners) need to be educated about childbirth. Do not assume that you just wait nine months, show up at the hospital when your contractions start, and everyone there will do  the best things for you and your baby. You don’t need to read enough to write a discertation on the subject, but read a book. If you need a recommendation let me know. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is a great start. Know what could happen, what interventions might be offered, why they might be offered, what their effects are and if there are any alternatives. You can always ask questions in the moment, but the moment will be intense. The more you know before you get to the hospital, the easier it will be to have the birth you want rather than the birth the hospital wants.
  • “Reality” television shows about childbirth need to paint an accurate picture. It’s no wonder women are afraid and have epidurals at such a high rate. Depictions of birth on television make it look scary and painful and that’s it. It hurts, but there is a lot of satisfaction when you come out on the other side of that pain. That’s something you rarely see. It’s important to know that there can be complications, but a show that makes it seem like 1 in 3 births is complicated is scary. They need to show women like my friend Tori having a 10 pound baby with her husband assisting and a midwife on the phone. A story like that gives you something to think about when a doctor recommends you get induced because your baby might be “too big.”

I know how judgmental this whole post sounds and it seems like I look down on anyone who is induced, gets an epidural, etc. I don’t. If that’s your decision, then fine. What I do look down on is not knowing as much as you can about the choices you are making. It’s too easy and too important not to take the time and learn. Take this show with a grain of salt. Watch The Business of Being Born to see how amazing normal childbirth really is. I also recommend reading A Midwife’s Story about a midwife who delivers babies for the Amish in Pennsylvania. It’s amazing how little you need to have a really amazing birth. It is also a great illustration of the strength of a woman.

Birth Stories Part 9

I’ve got another blogger’s story today, so I’m sending you over there for her story. Here’s a teaser:

SO.

DH and I went in for a scheduled induction on a cold clear morning not too long ago. We arrived at the hospital, McStomachache in hand shortly after 7 am. Got into a room right away, and they started the pitocin drip around 8 am. I was dilated to a soft 1, and baby’s head was right there. We had a kick ass nurse, and she thought things would move along swimmingly.

Well, I didn’t progress like they thought. I was having contractions every few minutes, but they weren’t painful. So they broke my water at around 1:30. Good lord, I am SOOO glad that was in a controlled setting. That was when the fun started.

Read the rest here:

The gory details, or what I remember

Birth Stories Part 8: Amanda

I’m directing you to another blog (www.modgblog.com) for a really great story. One of those “I knew what kind of birth I wanted but nothing went the way I planned stories.” It’s a three-parter but worth your time. It’s funny and you are rewarded with lots of pictures.

Amanda’s (aka MODG) Story:

My birth story actually starts 30 years ago, with my own birth. Like with me, as a baby. But I’ll spare you the 30 years of bullshit that happened between then and now. See, I was 4 weeks late as a baby.  Which is a whole insane power packed month for my mother, where I just chilled and grew to 10lbs. Don’t ask me how medical science let that happen. I mean,  it was 1980, not 1780. Anyway, I was terrified of this becoming my fate with a growing Plankton who was in the 75th percentile already for HEAD SIZE. So I took some matters into my own hands. Mistake #1.

Most of you know me well enough to know that I don’t just sit around and wait for stuff. I make stuff happen. Usually it’s an internet blog war, but whatever. So at 38 weeks our midwife recommended I start shooting evening primrose oil pills up the vag to soften and prepare the cervix. She said there is a teeny tiny midget of a chance that it can make my water break but don’t worry about that. I was all, sounds good to me, break my water and let’s get this show started. Little did I know about anything, at all, like ever. Mistake #2.

Then I was all, something named “primrose” won’t make me go into labor, it just won’t. Maybe if it was named boarfist or something. So let’s google “accupressure for labor”. Oh cool and easy. I push these ankle spots and Plankton gets all agitated and comes out. Super neat. I think I’ll sit on my bed for 2 hours and push around my ankle spots. He won’t come that fast. It’s just ankles. Mistake #3.

To keep reading, go here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Birth Stories Part 7: Kellie

My birth story with Krista….

Krista was due November 30th, 1998. It was a stressful pregnancy due to issues with her biological father, but thankfully my family was there to support me. My water broke on Thursday, November 19th in the morning. Seventeen hours of labor. I believe I slept for 13 hours due to my amazing epidural. The doctor woke me up to push her out….her head was literally hanging out. Twenty minutes of pushing and she was born on November 20th, 1998 at 5:17 a.m. No complications ad she was 7lbs 5 oz. 19 1/2 inches long. She was 10 days early but perfect!!!


My birth story with Olivia….

 

Olivia was due on October 15, 2006. It was my second pregnancy, so I figured I’d go early and knew what I was up against. This pregnancy was stressful because there was a 1 in 175 chance she had down syndrome. We decided against an amnio and took our chances. Her pinkies showed a small middle bone which is a down syndrome marker. Other than that, no down syndrome markers. Friday, October 13th, 2006, I thought my water broke and I went to the hospital. I was not dilated at all and my water did not break but she kicked me so hard, I peed myself. My doctor decided to induce me Monday morning due to my weight gain. I gained about 65lbs with Olivia. Around the same weight as Krista, but I weighed less before I had Krista so it wasn’t as much of an issue. I woke up Monday, October 16th, one day past my due date and went to be induced. Before I went to the hospital, I figured I’d eat something because after an epidural you pretty much have to eat ice chips or juice. Immediately after eating my dunkin donuts sandwich, I felt a sharp pain….very intense. I threw up on the way to the hospital….either the food was bad or I was going into active labor. I was only one cm dilated. My doctor lied and got me into the hospital and started pitocin to jump-start labor. The epidural was done and I was feeling good. About 8 hours later, the epidural wore off and it was time to push. Pain i never experienced with my first birth and I never ever want to experience again came over my body. Olivia was up high so I had to push an extra 10 minutes to get her down. Finally I just said screw it, and after 30 minutes of pushing she arrived. At one point I told my doctor to rip her out because that is how intense labor pain is. Olivia was 8lbs., 0oz 20 1/2 long. Olivia was a special delivery because we didn’t know if she was going to be down syndrome or not. Immediately after her delivery, she was cleared by the neonatologist as being perfectly normal….No downs. Relief came over all of us.

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