As I continue my series on birth and fear, it is my hope that these posts have been helpful to my readers. I have received some wonderful feedback, so thank you to those that are reading!
Today I will address another one of the top 10 fears in childbirth: Interventions and complications. As I talk to pregnant women, I am very aware of the fact that there are different views of how women want to birth their babies. Statistics tell us that most birthing women choose to have an epidural and I want to be clear that I support women no matter how they choose to go about induction, pain relief, etc. Many women are completely fine with having interventions in their births and their outcome is still a joyful one. They aren't bothered in the same way that a woman desiring an intervention-free birth might be. I believe that birth choices are very personal and I hold no judgment toward those women who choose a medicated birth, desire to be induced for whatever reason, or even opt for an elective cesarean! To be clear, this post is not an advertisement for choosing intervention-free births, but rather a place for me to address this fear that I heard repeated often as I surveyed moms who are currently pregnant or who have recently had babies.
This fear is common among first-time moms who are walking into the birth experience with a blank slate as well as seasoned moms who have had one or more intervention-free births or those who feel that their previous birth(s) was "less than ideal."
For moms who sought to have as natural a birth as possible (meaning they desired to not have any medical interventions such as pitocin, an epidural, cesarean, etc.) but ended up with a birth that was filled with them, they may have ended up feeling less than satisfied with their birth experience, if not downright upset. In these cases, women need to be validated and heard. Having well-meaning people say things like, "Well, at least your baby is healthy....that's all that matters," is not always helpful. Birth choices are very personal, and these kind of comments can be hurtful to women who desired to have things go a certain way. They may feel like they failed, or that their body failed them. They may have significant feelings of loss. They may be at risk for postpartum depression or at the very least, have experienced a period of time that they had "baby blues." They may have had trouble bonding with their new baby and maybe even experienced resentment toward him/her. For these women, a repeat of this experience is a very real fear.
For both groups, I want to offer what I hope will be helpful advice. First, I encourage you to have a birth plan. I have discussed that at length in a previous post in this series here. Make sure your support system and your care provider(s) know exactly what your wishes are. By being pro-active in this way, you are helping yourself and those around you know what you desire and what alternatives you prefer to pursue before you go the medical route. Second, educate yourself. Read, study, and ask questions of your providers and doula. Know the statistics of interventions, what causes them, and what you can do to prevent them as much as is in your control. Birth is extremely unpredictable, but there are quite a few things that we can control, so knowing what those things are and making sure your support system knows what they are is so incredibly helpful and important. Finally, if you haven't already done so, hire a doula. (I'll bet you didn't see that one coming, did you?) :) There is a great article here on the evidence of how having a doula resulted in more positive outcomes for women.
Have a wonderful day! And as always...
Thanks for reading!
Happi loves serving families in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago as a labor doula and childbirth educator. When she's not at a birth, she loves spending time her husband and three boys.