Midwifery and Racial Oppression, #BlkBFing Chat Highlights, Black Women and Medicaid Podcast and More!

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I’m going to try my best to post weekly/bi-weekly links to articles I come across. I forget that not everyone uses Facebook and Twitter, and that’s where I post most of the things I come across.

Anti-Racism and Anti- Oppression Work In Midwifery – Letter To Midwifery Today: Real Talk About Midwifery and Racial Oppression.
This powerful letter was collaboratively drafted by 97 BirthWorkers from around the globe.

While the article is gone from the Midwifery Today site, the discussion it has engendered is too important to disappear without a trace. It is important to us that your readers understand why the comparison between the anti-slavery struggle and the midwifery movement is wrong and profoundly hurtful. Even more than this, however, we hope to show that the struggle to provide a full range of birthing options must address our history of racial oppression if we really want to change birth in this country.

ChildBirth Connection Transforming Maternity Care – Urge Women To Question Elective Deliveries.

Don’t schedule elective, non-medically indicated inductions of labor or cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks 0 days gestational age.

MomsRising Blog – Breastfeeding: Obesity, Diabetes and Asthma Prevention.

Breastfeeding decreases the risks for obesity, diabetes and asthma. As a nephrology social worker, I see firsthand the consequences of obesity that can lead to diabetes and ultimately chronic kidney disease.

Healthy Black Women – Podcast on Why Black Women Should Care About Medicaid and It’s Expansion.

Twitter – #BlkBFing Twitter Chat Highlights.

Every Mother Counts via Jennie Joseph – Black History Month: Midwifery Matters.

As a Black midwife, newly arrived in 1989, I had no understanding of the history or legacy of midwifery in the USA, let alone the foundational role that African-American midwives played in the provision of maternity care for both Black and White women from slavery on upwards.

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The Ideal Way To Birth

Most people know that I am a HUGE homebirth advocate. I love it, I love midwives, I love the entire experience of birthing in my home…. climbing into my bed with my new baby and the rest of my family.
My first was born in the hospital, and my last two were at home. If I were to have more children, there is no way you could convince me to birth in the hospital. Birthing at home is ideal for ME, it may not be for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Not everyone can have a homebirth….and not every woman wants a homebirth.

I think it’s time we stop focusing all of our energies on homebirth. Yes that’s how every woman birthed many moons ago, and more women are choosing to birth at home. but it’s not the ideal way to birth for all women.

Your ideal birth might be birthing in the hospital with all their fancy technology at your fingertips, wearing perfect makeup, or maybe a birth center….it’s your body and your birth.
Maybe our time and energy would be better spent if we put our focus into helping men and women learn all they can about birth itself. We present fact-based evidence…after that it’s up to the woman to decide what’s best for her.

And can we stop telling the story of having a homebirth in the hospital? I get where people are coming from on that topic, but I think it sets women up for possible failure. It also sounds like no one ever has a peaceful hospital birth experience, and we all know that’s not true. There are policies and procedures that the hospitals have to follow, and a hospital is not your home. Not all hospitals and their staffs are terrible. Infact, there are some really great Hospitals, OB’s, Midwives, Doulas, and Nurses working in the hospitals….imagine that.

We need to stop bashing women because they choose to birth differently than we do.
I’m guilty of talking about homebirth like it’s the ideal choice for every woman. No more. Don’t we realize it’s not how we birth that makes the mother? How a woman births has become a competition. It’s not good enough to give birth unmedicated. Now you’re a super woman if you birth at home, but you gain the ultimate in respect if you birth unassisted out in the woods or by the ocean. I’m not making fun of people that do that….I would love to birth near the ocean! I think we’ve lost focus and we need to bring it back to the whole woman, meeting her where she is and making sure she’s informed of all her choices, then supporting her in the birth she chooses.

If a mom chooses a cesarean, stop talking about her choice and offer to bring her meals or do her laundry. She made her choice, bashing her decision won’t change it.

We’ve got to stop the birth debates, bullying, and scare tactics. It’s not helping anyone and it makes us look like jerks.
The woman that chooses an epidural deserves the same love and attention as the woman that chooses to birth at home. They are both becoming mothers in their own way.

Birth matters for every woman, whether she realizes it at the time or not, let’s do our part to support the decision of her ideal birth, not ours.

When your birth doesn’t go as planned

We birth activist love to talk about how natural and beautiful birth is, and it is. But what happens when things don’t go as planned? What about when you planned a homebirth and needed to transfer to the hospital for complications? What if you planned a natural birth in the hospital and ended up with an epidural, or a cesarean? Maybe you’re approaching 42 weeks and the Dr. wants you to come in for an induction.

I know it can be frustrating – heartbreaking even, and at times maybe you might feel that your body has failed you, or that if you had made different decisions things would have turned out differently

Some people swear by a birth plan while others say they aren’t necessary. I think it’s a great idea to have a plan on paper. Maybe we should call it birth wishes instead of plans, plans change so quickly, especially when you’re giving birth.

A lot of men and women will say it doesn’t matter how a baby comes into the world, all that matters is a healthy baby.
It does matter though. Giving birth is a huge deal, it’s not something that everyone gets or wants to do. The birth of our children stay with us forever.
When things don’t go as planned there are still request you can make to have the best experience possible.
Homebirth Transfers – I think this post from PHDoula says it better than I ever could.

If you have a cesarean, you can ask that you and baby are able to bond right away, or ask that your partner bonds with the baby right away.
I have friends who didn’t see their children for 4-5 hours, and that is completely unacceptable. You can request that your baby room in with you, and of course, breastfeed! Breastfeeding releases Oxytocin, also get as much skin to skin with baby as possible.

Try to have a good support team in place. That way you can recover from surgery and rest with your baby, and if you have other children, someone to help watch them.

This article on bonding with your baby after a cesarean has tons of great information.

I’m sure I’ve missed some things. What helped you when your birth didn’t go as planned? Share your experience in the comments.


A Home Waterbirth After Three Cesareans

Women need to know that their bodies are not broken. Thank you Bethany for sharing your beautiful birth story and video with us.
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Back story:

My first child was born on 10-19-00 after an unnecessary induction turned into an “emergency” c-section. I was told by my doctors that vbacs were very unsafe and that the practice I was going to did not even do them anymore. With my second child I was given no other option but a repeat c-section. I didn’t know where to turn for information, so the only info I got was from my doctors who were lying to me : ( My first daughter was born on 9-19-05 via c-section after I went into labor on my own. When I got pregnant the third time I really wanted a vbac but they told me no one would do a vba2c, and after talking to the only doctor in town that I knew did vbacs, I was told the same thing and I, stupidly believed them. It NEVER crossed my mind that a midwife would do a vbac, much less a vba2c, since it was supposedly so “dangerous”, so I never even talked to any midwives. My second daughter was born on 8-27-07, another unnecessary c-section : ( When she was a couple of months old, I was looking online for an answer to a breastfeeding question. I came across Cafemom and somehow discovered that women do, in fact have vaginal births after more than one c-section! That started my research. I found great info and birth stories and videos of women giving birth after having 2, 3, even 4 c-sections! I came across a video on Youtube of a woman who had a VBA3C, the first one I watched. That was all she wrote! I thought, if she can do it, I can do it! From that point on, I knew my next birth would be a natural, vaginal birth, I just knew it!

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I’ll try to make a very long story as short as possible:

I started going to a Birth Center around 16 weeks, or so, for prenatal care. Unfortunately, the midwives there are unable to do vbacs unless the mother has had a prior vaginal birth, so I was out. They were very supportive and willing to help me in any way they could to find a midwife to take me on. When I was about 30 weeks along I found a midwife about 45 minutes away that was super excited about taking me on as a client. She had been doing her own research and after talking with me and learning my history, she felt comfortable with the idea of attending my birth. I really liked her and was so thrilled that things were falling into place so wonderfully. I stayed at the birth center as well, since insurance was paying for that. The plan was to see the new midwife, Brenda, a couple of times before the birth, although it turned into more than a couple of visits. After a breech baby scare (he was breech from 32-36 weeks and literally flipped the day before they sent me for a position check ultrasound), everything else was smooth sailing.

At 41 weeks, my body and baby decided it was time : ) I had been having contractions for 4 days at that point, so when the real thing started, I had a little trouble believing it. Contractions started at midnight on July 19th. The first hour they were ever 15 minutes. The next 2 or three hours they were coming every 2-4 minutes! I took a shower, packed up a few more things and finally woke up my hubby. We loaded up the car with what seemed like everything but the kitchen sink, packed up the kids and called the babysitter, midwife and my family to let them all know it was time. We dropped off the kids and picked up my mom and sister so one of them could drive and Kelvin could be in the back seat with me. My dad, followed behind us. My mom called my doula to meet us there.

We got to my midwife’s house at 5:30am and by then the contractions had slowed to about every 4-7 minutes. Brenda already had the bith pool set up and her assistant was there. She checked me and I was about 2.5 to 3 cm. The more I walked the closer and stronger they came, so…we walked. We walked around the yard for a couple of hours. My husband walked with me and I held on to him during contractions. At one point, arounf 11, I think everything pretty much came to a hault. I was only contracting about every 15 minutes or so and they weren’t very strong. We took that time to rest a little and have some lunch. My friend brought my girls up to visit so they could see me before anything got going to heavy.

After we ate and the girls left, Brenda had us do some nipple stimulation to get things going again. Boy did that work! Holy cow! Who needs pitocin when all you have to do is play with your boobies!! Everything really picked up after that. At first the baby was posterior which was probably what was causing the labor to move so slowly and stop and start like it was. I did a lot of hands and knees positions and walking, of course. I don’t know how women labor on their backs, that’s the last place I wanted to be! Not long after the nipple stimulation got things going again, I got in the pool. I really lost track of time at that point so I’ll just tell the story like I remember it. I wanted to be on my knees leaning over the pool for the most part. My husband had to put constant counter pressure on my back. My mom and doula kept me sane by staying in my face and talking calmly to me about relaxing and flowing with the contractions.

The next time Brenda checked me was in the pool. She said it felt like I was about 7cm. Sounded good to me, although, I don’t think it was accurate.  From here on I was really having to fight not to scream through each contraction. They were really getting intense. After laboring a while longer I got out of the water for a check and was found to still be at a 7. I really didn’t care about how far I was dilated throughout the whole labor. Kelvin was afraid I would be disappointed to hear that, but I honestly was just taking it minute by minute at that point so it didn’t really matter to me what she said. We did some more nipple stimulation even though I really didn’t want to, I just wanted things to hurry along so it would all be over!

Some time later, I was finally fully dialted but had an anterior lip. So Brenda had me lay on my side in the pool. That sucked! The contractions were so much harder to handle in that position. My wonderful husband had me look into his eyes and breath with him to keep me from screaming in pain. At one point I looked up at him and he was crying. He never cries, so that made me cry. I really saw how much he loved me at that point. While I was laying like this, my water broke. It was a pretty cool feeling. It just gushed out in the middle of a contraction. I don’t remember when I started feeling like I needed to push but Brenda wanted to check me again to make sure the lip was gone…it wasn’t. She had me lay down and she tried to push the lip out of the way so the baby’s head could move past it. What a sucky situation that was. It did feel good to push though. I just didn’t want to end up having the baby on the floor. My body wasn’t going to let that happen. I was out of the pool for a little while trying to get rid of the lip, standing, squatting, lunging. People kept asking me what I wanted to do and what position I wanted to be in. I just kept saying, ” I don’t want to do ANYTHING! I just want to be done!”

I don’t remember what position I was in but I remember I jumped up said I need to get in the pool and I really started pushing then. I guess the midwife knew that my body knew what it was doing cause she didn’t even ask to check and make sure the lip was gone. Any big, huge pregnant lady that jumps up and over the side of a pool that fast, knows she needs to push! LOL! Everyone there even commented that they hadn’t seen me move that fast in months!

I was afraid of the ring of fire but I was prepared for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was the burning I felt as he descended down the birth canal. It burned soooo bad. Unfortunately, that caused me to push a lot harder than I probably should have been pushing. It wasn’t long before me and my husband felt his little head, right there. I still thought I had a while longer because it just seemed like there was no way his head was gonna fit through there! I felt like my butt was going to literally explode! After only about 20 minutes of pushing his head popped out, right into mine and my husbands hands. Kelvin was like, “Um, his heads out?!!?” Everyone was sure surprised to hear that. We were all expecting pushing to take longer than it did. The room turned into a cheer leading event at that point. I waited for the next contraction and felt his little body moving down and coming out. It was so cool to feel his legs kick their way out. It was 6:44 pm. Brenda and Kelvin passed him to me between my legs and I looked down and saw his little body swimming up to me. It was the coolest thing ever : ) I pulled him up out of the water and everyone just squealed and cried and we were all so happy. I always knew we could do it, but it was so awesome to have done it! I told my husband, ” I told you we could do it, Babe” and we sat there and cried and held our new baby, it was so perfect. Brenda, told me to look up at here and I did. She says, ” Hey, Bethany, you just pushed a baby out of your vagina!” And we gave each other a high five! Priceless!

Kelvin cut the cord after it stopped pulsating and a couple of minutes later the placenta came out with no problem. I did end up tearing in 2 places, which sucked, but hey, better than a c-section, right. We got out and took a nice herbal bath and climbed into bed. Brenda checked Kage over and said he looked pretty perfect : ) 7lbs 12oz., 21 1/2 in long. We spent the night there and she even made us breakfast the next morning. What a wonderful woman!

My husband truly came through during this birth. I knew he would be great, but he really blew us all away with just how well he took care of me throughout the whole thing : )

Birth Video Raw and Uncut.