Sunday, May 26, 2013

2013 Childbirth Education Blog Carnival: My Story ~ Why Childbirth Preparation Matters....

Welcome to Day #7, the last day of the Blog Carnival honoring
 the International Week for Respecting Childbirth.  
We are focusing this Blog Carnival on the importance of childbirth education.

My Story~ Why Childbirth Preparation Matters...
By Patty Brennan

As I approached the birth of my first son, I remember thinking “I have a woman’s body—I imagine I can birth a baby.” Birth wasn’t an intellectual experience, I thought. One did not need to read books about it or take classes. I decided to trust my instincts and my abilities and I thought that would be enough.

What I did not appreciate is that birth takes place in a medical-legal-social context. Many influences come into play. If opting to birth in a hospital, one is opting for institutionalized birth. I was not prepared for that. And my husband, allegedly there to help, was, in a word, clueless. The experience was essentially one of endurance, similar to suffering a dental procedure and just knowing at some point it would be over. I was on my own and I felt scared.

What if I had known that …

  • I    need not have stayed in bed, on my back, simply because I had IV Pitocin and a fetal heart monitor strapped to my belly?
  • the Pitocin was probably unnecessary and would contribute to (if not cause) my son’s jaundice in the early days postpartum?
  • movement would not only help with the pain, but also help the labor progress?
  • just when I felt I couldn’t do it, I was almost there?
  • birthing at home attended by a midwife was a viable, safe option and one that would have been well suited to my “can-do” attitude?

The list (of what I did NOT know and the questions I did not ask) goes on. I experienced everything as a series of events that “just happened.” First this happened, and then that, and then that. It wasn’t until a couple of years later, after a pivotal chance encounter with a midwife, that I began to read about our cultural context of birth and came to understand that these events were, in fact, all connected, that each choice/decision had unintentional as well as intentional consequences.

Childbirth education is about CHOICES. If you don’t know that you have choices, you may as well not have any. You will, by default, give your power over to others. Today, one third of American women are delivered via cesarean section. Since surgery carries increased risks for moms and babies, it is imperative that parents make informed decisions and participate in their own care. Sadly, too many women are experiencing birth as traumatic. We (the educators, midwives, doulas, mental health professionals) know the causes and how to prevent that trauma. Engage in childbirth preparation! Regrets are not necessary.

Patty Brennan is the owner of Center for the Childbearing Year in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She has just completed production of a comprehensive series of multi-media Online Childbirth Preparation classes.

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