Saturday, 23 April 2011

Angry post about a hospital birth

It's interesting that the last post I published was on the day a friend of mine was "due" to have her baby.

And I'm writing this one on the day she gave birth to a precious little girl.

Correction. On the day her precious baby girl was cut out of her in an emergency caesarian that closely followed her induction. I don't know all the details just as yet, but I can just fill in the blanks. 

Yet again, another perfectly healthy pregnancy, without a single complication, yet another healthy first time mother (not even 30 yet) who gets denied the possibility of a natural birth, who gets chewed up and screwed over by a system that pushed her/convinced her of the necessity of an intervention because, let's face it, it's almost Easter and, I can guess, the obstetrician is going away so really they needed to push this birth earlier. Or am I too cynical?

So, instead of an uncomplicated beautiful vaginal birth, instead of magical after-birth moments of gazing at this beautiful new life, of focusing on learning how to breastfeed and understanding the cues that this little person is giving out, she now also has the added stress of the aftermath of major surgery.

Not fair, not fair at all.

Another friend of mine gave birth a few months back. Thankfully she managed to birth vaginally. Sort of: her daughter had to be extracted by vacuum/forceps (can't remember now which one) because she got stuck in a cervix that wasn't dilating any more. That was less than 12 hours after another unnecessary induction, she was only 7 days "overdue". 
Which made her 41 weeks pregnant. Hang on, isn't a normal pregnancy anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks pregnant? So what's the rush? Ah yes, of course, private health system.

And another friend, this time in the public system, was administered so many epidural drugs (after a long and painful labour with her firstborn, she decided to have pain relief just as her 2nd labour was approaching the 24 hour mark) that she could not move or feel a thing below her neck. And that ended too in emergency caesarian. 

Another friend was planning a birth at the Family Birth Centre at the Mercy in Heidelberg, but her daughter was in such a hurry she was born at home. All good there, having already had a 1st natural birth and being an informed AP, she had no issues as to what to do. The issue started when they called the ambulance to get transported to the hospital, just to make sure all was ok, especially since she was struggling to birth the placenta. So the young doctor on duty said "let's get theatre ready". His idea was to cut her open to get the placenta out. WTF! Thankfully she was in the know, and thankfully the midwives from the FBC came to her rescue etc, but still.

I realise these are not horror stories: nobody died, nobody got paralysed, nobody got disfigured. But still, these are common stories of common women who got denied the unique opportunity to feel like an almighty child-birthing Goddess :)
These stories highlight the propensity of medical staff to intervene.

Because the reality of birth is this: unless you're a midwife or an ob-gyn yourself, as a first time mother you tend to only have a general idea of what could happen. You have a vague idea of what you want and what you hope, but really, you haven't done your research on ALL that COULD happen.
Unless of course you're one of those hippy-goddess-earthmama sort of women who is so amazingly in tune with her body and the world and has a deep knowledge of all womanly things...
Most women wouldn't have done that sort of research for their 1st birth. I know I didn't. And I got lucky that everything went according to my plan. Because really, had anything deviated from what happened (will find the time to write about my 2 kids' births...), I wouldn't have been able to stand up for myself, and I'd be writing this post as a woman who's been trampled on, rather than as a woman outraged by the treatment of other women.

As a first timer, you TRUST the caregivers around you. It's all good and well for your obstetrician/midwife etc to say they'll respect your birth plan, but really you don't know how much they will respect it when something unexpected happens. This post at Mama Birth says it all very eloquently. At the moment I'm a bit too sleepy for eloquence...

Because that's the big reality here: you can't kid yourself that the hospital wants what's best for you and your baby. The hospital is a business, and is run as such, with all policies in place to benefit the hospital and to guarantee the best outcome for the hospital.
Of course they want mother and baby to be alive and well. But they want it in a way that is convenient to them and their staff, not to the mother.

When you're giving birth in a hospital the system is in charge. Not the mother.


  1. I learned SO much about how things could've been AFTER the fact. I was aware of birthing plans but because I was having twins both times, I assumed with a c-section, I didn't really need a birth plan. I wish I knew then what I know now.

  2. I understand being angry about hearing such stories too. Birth has become way to medicalised in our country and in this supposed 'enlightened' modern world we live in.

    I was fairly informed with my first birth but still managed to get completely stressed out by the hospital putting pressure on me to have unecessary interventions. Thankfully I stuck to my guns and we came out of there relatively unscathed. Second time around though we had a beautiful home birth. The two experiences were worlds apart!

  3. I am really glad that you are able to birth vaginally. I can't. They don't fit out. I tried and I tried but it didn't happen for me. Not sure what you think of that but just wanted to say that it isn't always an option x

  4. You know, they are horror stories :( To the Mums who often don't even know what they've missed out on. To the babies whose first experience of life of Earth is not what it could be. It is so terribly terribly sad :(