On my soapbox again…

I just can’t believe it… I don’t WANT to believe it. That midwives (the “guardians of normal birth”) are using cytotec (also known as misoprostyl) to induce labor at home. The fact that they are using it in hospitals doesn’t shock me, makes me mad, but I just add it to their list of sins again women and babies. Nothing new there. But midwives… sweet, caring, lovely homebirth midwives. Thinking this doesn’t harm anyone. I hear it over and over again, “I’ve used it judiciously for years and have never seen a problem with it.”

Well good for you. Tell my blog-friend Anne that you’ve never had a problem with it’s use. That you’ve never seen a baby die from it, or a mother die or lose her uterus from it. Good for you. Put some flowers on her baby’s grave and say, “Well, we don’t know for SURE that cytotec caused her death.” That you have played the tables and had good luck doesn’t change the fact that this is a potentially dangerous drug that you are using for an OFF-LABEL situation. There are no safe dosing limits or instructions, no risks to inform your clients of because the company that makes cytotec has no intentions of marketing it for obstetrical use. I doubt their lawyers would allow them to. Too much of a liability perhaps?

Here is a quote about misoprostyl that sums up my own position and one that, I believe, should be taken by all birth workers:

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, said she was “absolutely incredulous” that any hospital would give the drug to women outside of clinical trials.
She said: “This drug is not licensed for use in labour, and the NICE guidance is categorical on that point. In this country, misoprostol should only be used in labour if the baby is already dead, or after the birth, because otherwise the risks are simply too great.” [ click here for the newspaper story ]

I’m not likely to stop beating this drum for awhile yet. In fact, you might want to cover your ears because frankly? I plan on beating it louder.

VOICES: VBAC Women Share Their Journey

OH, it’s such a beautiful little book! Keep in mind that this is coming from the publisher directly (since it takes about 3 months to get it onto Amazon) so it ***CAN*** take 4 weeks to arrive. It shouldn’t and probably won’t, but I did have to warn you. I SO hate waiting for books!

Voices contains a full chapter of statistics and research surrounding VBAC success rates, real risks vs. fear-based risks, and the TRUTH about the risk of uterine rupture compared to other obstetrical emergencies. I’d like to say that this book was written for women wondering if their care provider is “right” that it is too “risky” to try to VBAC, but doesn’t have time or energy to sift through a mountain of studies or a pile of books that include only a small section on VBAC. It is also written for the woman who knows instinctively that she will have a VBAC and needs to win over a partner or care provider. But…

The real power of this book are the women’s birth stories. They are SO powerful. They are the true, real stories, unedited and unadulterated. They stand on their own. You will be changed by them. If you don’t understand what the “big deal” is about VBAC, then this book is for you as well.

At the end of the day, I believe in women having the right to birth as they choose, on their own power and in the climate and surroundings of their choosing. For women choosing VBAC and for their care givers, this book is a vehicle for those freedoms.

So many women today face VBAC “bans” or so many restrictions on their labors that they walk in the door with one foot in the operating room. Let’s put the TRUTH out there. I believe women are wise – and capable of making decisions based on facts, not fear.

Birth Beautifully

That’s my email address… that’s what I believe… that’s what I’ve seen… yet today, at 34+ weeks pregnant there is nothing “beautiful” reflecting back at me. I mildly resmeble something off of Animal Planet as I try to turn over in bed. My skin is icky, my back and hips ache in ANY position I’m in, my pubic bone feels like someone kicked me there. Hard. I’m tired. But can’t sleep. Excited to meet this baby and get my body back.

And I am told that I should hate that I feel that way – that I long for this pregnancy to be over. I’ve tried meditating, hypnosis, calming affirmations of beauty… ack. Doesn’t work. I do have glimmers of “Wow. I’m pregnant. I still can’t believe it.” And for those moments I am grateful. The rest of the time? A countdown to the finish.

I have to admit here that I had forgotten just how LABOR-some pregnancy can be. I really had forgotten. As I encouraged other moms, and told them how beautiful they look I wondered at their deer-in-the-headlight response… “Uh beautiful? Uh. Yeah. Sure.” One even said, “Well, ok I guess. Even whales are beautiful to somebody.” I had forgotten that sense of despair and FATIGUE that comes for some women with each pregnancy. I’m one of those women.

And since this is my 5th pregnancy to term, I can say that I don’t regret feeling that way with all of my babies. Diet tweaking has helped me feel MUCh better for this one than the previous 4, but still… I’m tired. I want it to be over. The fun begins for me, with the birth ending. :-) I think the babies of moms like me understand. I really do. Never once do I reject THEM, or feel for a second any form of maliciousness that THEY are causing me pain. Because of course they aren’t.

I don’t regret feeling ambivalence towards the PREGNANCY but not the baby, the PROCESS but not the outcome. That’s how it is oftentimes isn’t it? The outcome is worth the process? A bit like a marathon eh? The running starts out fun, the finish is excruciating, but the prize… oh the prize makes it worth it all.

And it is.

SO. Go hug a pregnant woman today. Offer her some chocolate. And for God’s sake do NOT mention how “huge” she is  or ask “how much longer?”. She already knows how much longer. To the nanosecond if that’s possible. :-) And go ahead – tell her she’s beautiful. Because even though she won’t believe you she WILL remember that you said it. And it will make her smile.

“…in all cases think for yourself.”

Doris Lessing – “Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.”

This pretty much sums up the motive behind the last post on this blog. I see and hear and read of SO many choices we make in regard to childbirth and breastfeeding that are facilitated by fear, misinformation and CHOSEN IGNORANCE. I had a mom tell me once, very pragmatically, that “it’s easier to just do what the doctor says. do you realize how much work it is to fight every protocol?” Yeah. I do. But what is at stake if we don’t?

Alot. and I’m not suggesting we fight protocol for the sake of fighting protocol (though some might say that is a worthwhile endeavor in and of itself). I’m suggesting rather, that we exercise our rights to informed consent. That we demand it, that we honor it, that we respect the right and exercise it.

If a woman chooses to go along with a protocol regarding her birth options, chooses it knowing the possibilities and chooses it knowing the risks then I say, “THROW A PARTY! WOOHOO!” This is informed consent!!!

But to say, “I don’t know and I don’t want to know” is irresponsible and dangerous. And it happens with sickening frequency.

I had a reader post something along the lines of my insensitivity to women’s psychological positions and backgrounds when I shout this whole “get informed” thing so loudly. That if/when something goes badly because of a choice she made I might just say, “Get over it. You did it.” I have to chuckle, because the truth is, I might feel just that. In my head anyway. I’d never say that to a woman. I’d never even THINK it really, but in reality there has to be responsibility taken when a choice is made. And if a woman chooses an epidural (for instance) and the babies heart rate drops and an emergency cesarean is needed, let’s not go blame the anesthesiologist or sue the hospital or OB for malpractice if the baby is then subsequently harmed in the birth process. Let’s be real.

So whatever you choose regarding you reproductive rights, INFORM yourself… DEMAND to be informed, then be BRAVE and make the decision your heart and head calls you to make. No one else ahs to live with the decision. YOU DO. And then… be REALLY BRAVE and tell another woman what you learned. :)