Week 29: Transformation

I want to explain more clearly why I have been considering unassisted birth. I have considered it to be my safest realistic option because I have not trusted birth attendants, and while I fantasized about finding someone trustworthy, I acknowledged that it may not happen. I believed it probably would not happen. I interviewed every midwife in this area and chose the one I had a good feeling about, and embarked on prenatal care hoping that she would prove herself to be trustworthy and that we could develop a relationship where I would desire to invite her into my birthing space.

I would never commit and be “dead set” on unassisted birth at all costs, the same way I would never be “dead set” on out of hospital birth. There are scenarios, such as the scary zone of prematurity combined with viability that I mentioned before, in which a hospital would be my choice. There are also scenarios, such as with a birth attendant who upholds my autonomy and acts as a trusted advisor, in which an attendant would be my choice. Up until this week, I believed that in the absence of a medical issue requiring a hospital, the safest thing for me would be to birth unassisted with just my husband and perhaps a trusted friend.

I believed (and still believe) that the meddling and intervention of professionals following guidelines and protocols without my best interests at heart could potentially create danger for me and my baby. Certainly my previous birth, in which my baby and I were put at grave risk and I was seriously harmed, colors my perception of how likely this would be. Still, observation and assessment are not benign and even a trained midwife, in the absence of relationship, would not necessarily have my interests at heart.

At the same time, I believe in supported birth and I believe in the training and skills of a midwife. If I believed that a midwife would be there primarily to help me live my values, rather than protect a license and run a business, I would absolutely want her there. But my standards were very high. I was looking for the kind of relationship that could be compared to a climbing partner you’d trust with your life; I’ve only had one of those. A coach who deeply inspired her star athlete to push herself – I’ve also only met one of those. I didn’t think I could find a relationship of this quality and depth in a mere nine months.

So, a miraculous thing happened.

I can’t say exactly what moment or statement made me realize it, but after the latest prenatal visit I understood to the depths of my being that my midwife and I had created a relationship. We talked about various aspects of birth and what she does – hands on or hands off, what she encourages women to do or not do. It became abundantly clear that she understands what I need and that she is constantly seeking to understand what I need in each moment. It also became clear that she loves me. I don’t think I’ve received this level of care and attention from anyone other than my closest family and friends.

So I’ve decided to consider inviting her into my birthing space when the time comes. I also am going to plan a Mother Blessing ceremony because I finally feel that I am ready to welcome the blessings of others.


About investigatingbirth

My investigations of birth began in 2009 when I was trained as a doula. I helped women consider the evidence on common interventions, and helped them prepare for the physical and emotional challenge of giving birth. After some time it became clear to me that there was another type of challenge that I was unable to adequately prepare them for, the challenge of the maternity system. But it was only after my own traumatic birth in 2013 that I realized how little I had understood. I began to ask questions that few around me - doulas, nurses, midwives, doctors - were comfortable hearing. Questions like: Under what circumstances, and for what reasons, do doctors not practice informed consent? How do hospitals deal with other patient populations vulnerable to abuse? How does loss of professional autonomy, for obstetricians, and professional authority, for midwives, impact the quality of care they are capable of providing - regardless of their training? This blog will collect noteworthy information that attempts to answer these and other questions. Most of what you see here will be aggregated from other sources and analyzed. You will also see original interviews, and the occasional opinion piece or personal story, as I try to piece together a clear picture of the system in which American women give birth.
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