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Preparation for the big day (at war)

There have been some intense conversations going on on Facebook the last few days about the sign put up by one doctor’s office in Colorado. I am not going to address the sign exactly, other than to say ‘Thanks for letting me know so soon, so I can get a provider who has my best interests in mind’.

What I am going to talk about here, is doing your homework, and preparing yourself so that 1. You don’t have an unsupportive provider like this one, and 2. You can deal with him if the event of a last minute substitution at the hospital.

Unfortunately, there is quite a chasm in the world of maternity care, with natural childbirth acting as the polarizing factor. This includes the heated debates on the cesarean epidemic, policies on VBAC deliveries, doula care, labor medications, and much more. It seems there are thousand points to disagree on, and none that we can all say ‘okay, I can meet halfway on this one’.

In my debates over this sign, it was gently inferred by a fellow birth activist that perhaps my inexperience with all things ugly in the delivery room was the reason I was not up in arms, and that perhaps with time, I would change, and become more angry and jaded. Now, I am not taking words out of her mouth, here, nor am I going to tell you her name—but this is the impression that I got from our chatting.

I suppose to some, I am an inexperienced doula. With less than 20 births, and not one cesarean, one could assume I have had nothing but great births, but this is simply not the case. I have seen all sorts of things that have upset me to my core, sent me home crying, and swore me off my profession. It’s not always an easy job. But regardless of this, I believe the reason I can remain optimistic when birth has become such a battlefield has to do with the classes I teach, and the way I prepare my students and clients so that their births CAN be beautiful.

My birth classes are intense. I am a certified Bradley Method instructor, and I teach a pretty hard line on reality. Many of the births I attend have been my students (or come from other Bradley instructors), and therefore, they chose the right birth professional, made the right decisions, and did not allow themselves to fall victim to a terribly flawed system. Some doulas I know with 50+ births can’t do this. So I say the claim that experience makes your eyes more open, or makes you more aware of the problems at hand and what to do about them, is not a valid one.

Birth is not something that happens to my students, it is something they learn to embrace. The births I have been to have not all gone perfectly, in fact, some have gone horribly wrong. But my students are able to make good choices no matter what hand they are dealt, and are able to communicate well with their birth team, and feel confident that THEY have a choice. This said, I know many women do not have choices, and have been on a large handful of volunteer births that illustrated this for me in way that is more visceral than I can explain to you.

The system is flawed, and it seems that some of us are at war. My classes empower my students to make good choices, and not become victims in this war. The importance of being an educated consumer has never been greater, and you can’t be an educated consumer without an education. So find the BEST class you can in your area, and if you’re like me, take two. Learn about red flags, possible interventions, cesarean rates, and your provider’s comfort level. Don’t let this battle be fought in your uterus. And with my classes and me as a doula by your side, there’s very little chance this will happen to you. We may be at war, but this does not mean we can’t find peace on our big day.

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