Thursday, September 2, 2010

Educator or Militant ?

Anyone who has known me for more than a day knows my passion for birth and all things birth related. It is something that I feel so strongly about that I want to make it my career. After 30-ish years of not knowing what I want to be when I grow-up I feel like I have finally found my calling. I want to be a Childbirth Educator. I haven't figured out exactly which path to take yet but I'm working on it. There are a number of different paths, so I'm just down to picking one.
Because this is something so dear to my heart it is something that I am immersed in almost daily. I have a list of blogs that I check regularly to read the newest information and keep up on what is going on in the birth community. I read blogs by midwives, doulas, educators, and women who are not in the "business" of birth, but find the current state of affairs less than desirable. I read the findings that are published on the blogs by the ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) that set the standard for modern maternity care. I've read the benefits and risks of "Routine Interventions". I know the c-section rate for my state and where to find the information by hospital. I know my stuff and I know where to find what I don't know.
Birth, more accurately c-section birth, has been in the media a lot lately. The national average hovers right above 30%. 1/3 of all American babies are born via c-section. This varies by region, state and hospital of course but that's the average. Any woman giving birth has a 1 in 3 chance of having surgery merely for giving birth. This bothers me. Not a little. A LOT!
I post links on my facebook page. OK, I post a lot of links on my facebook page. I want to get the information out there. Is that not the best way to educate people but to make the information available to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to see it? Sometimes the comments get...heated. Nothing vulgar, nothing hurtful, but there is passion behind the opinions. During these "debates" is where I start to wonder - Have I crossed the line to Militant? I've heard "You're so passionate about this". Is that nice for "you're a nut-job about this stuff!!"? How will I learn to control my passion in a way that will allow me to educate my students in a (at least mildly) non-biased way?
Birth is such a profoundly personal experience that we share a piece of with everyone we come in contact with. It can be a spiritual or traumatic experience. I feel like education is key.
During a recent debate on the overuse of c-sections I was lucky to engage with a friend who had a very life saving c-section. It is hard to explain to her how any doctor could provide anything less to anyone else. She is rightfully concrete in her belief that c-sections are life saving procedures. Without them she and her baby could have lost their lives. I have a few friends that have had this experience and am thankful for the surgery that kept them here to debate with me. I am grateful for the c-section that I had that I believe saved Allie. I know that there is cause for c-section.
I have a friend that has worked in L&D and has seen the devastating outcome when the interventions were not fast enough. The lifeless babies, the hemorrhaging mothers. I am grateful for these friends and their perspectives. Know that I love and respect each of you for them.
But I also know the flip-side. I know the women who have been traumatized by their births. I know the women who have suffered PTSD because of how their bodies and their babies were treated during this most sacred of times. The women who feel violated and scared. Where fear tactics were used to force them into doing something they didn't believe in "for the safety of the baby" only to deliver a baby without complications. This is where the "well at least you have a healthy baby" statement usually comes in. What I think some people overlook or don't realize is the At Least in that statement. At least you have a healthy baby. Because you no longer have confidence in yourself, your body or your ability to protect your child. At least, because you no longer have trust in the medical providers that are supposed to keep you and your baby healthy. At least. My heart breaks for each and every one of you that has gone through that.
These are the things I want to educate women about. First time to fifth time and beyond moms.
For me natural birth is the way. It is how I want to bring my babies into the world. It's how I believe that babies should be born. But I didn't always feel this way. I didn't always have the education that I have now. I want to educate. Not to make a decision for someone, but to help them to make the most educated decision that they can. Do you want an epidural in the parking lot? Fine. Know the risks. Know the advantages. Water birth? Know the risks and advantages. Scheduling your next c-section? Ask the questions. Know the risks. Know the advantages. Talk to your providers. Ask the questions they may not want to answer. How do I provide this without being the Crazy Birth Lady?
Be patient with me please, as I go through this process. There are none more convicted than the converted. Know that I believe in my heart that the choice is yours and I'm just trying to help.

1 comment:

Noelle said...

NOT crazy birth lady. You know we agree on this. You have to ask yourself what kind of society that we live in when conviction to do things the natural way is questioned or belittled. Being passionate does not equate to being inflexible or closed-minded. You advocate for those who fall into vast middle ground between the natural-home-birth-know-exactly-what-I-want group and the must-have-surgery-to-save-my-or-my-baby's-life group. Personally, I want friends who have convictions and I believe that no matter what you choose to do, you should always make educated choices. Most doctors do know a lot - about medicine. Some even take the time to know the person behind the patient and to really do what is best for everyone. But some do not, and it is the chance that we may have to deal with those doctors that makes it extremely important that we are well educated in our bodies and, as women, in birth.