This came in as a comment on my blog post “What’s a Poor Midwife to Do?” but I think it should have it’s own blog space. Gloria
Gloria, this jumped off the page for me: “Something to notice is that for many women, it takes two screwed up births to get the third birth somewhat acceptable.”
This is me. I had two coerced c/s without labour and thereby two premature babies, the first of which was so premature that his skull would mold to my hands while I breastfed him and from sleeping so that I spent weeks gently re-forming his skull manually. He had breathing problems until 6 months pp, and his skin was so soft that I couldn’t even feel it under my fingertips.
I look at pictures of him now and see how obviously premature he was. He was my first and a c/s because otherwise, “if I [went] into labour, he could [have] die[d]” from his frank breech position. His brother was also a no-labour c/s for the very same positioning ‘reason.’
For my third baby, I saw an OB in my 1st trimester (midwives wouldn’t even talk to me seriously- I’d had ‘shared care’ for the first two pregnancies after breech was indicated in the 3rd trimester) but left his office and never returned.
I freebirthed the next baby with my first labour- at 46+3, a 9 hour painless birth. It was GLORIOUS! He was 10lbs 3oz, strong and beautiful. 🙂
I then freebirthed another boy at 42+3 at the tail end of a flu that my whole family had. It was a precipitous labour- 3 minutes long, and he was 10lbs 8oz. Also beautifully formed and strong.
Now I am 45 weeks tomorrow with our fifth baby.
Our first 4 were born in Ontario and now I am in a Canadian territory. I would not even consider asking a midwife to be present at my births after the first two. I have a deep respect for midwifery and have seen through years of research that began after my second c/s, how it has collapsed as a woman-centered and truly beneficial art.
Just the hockey-bag-sized tote of intervention paraphernalia that a midwife in Ontario was required to have present at births was extremely off-putting. If birth is safe, and midwives support that reality, then why the hospital-in-a-bag???
My then mw, who became a friend, a few yrs later said that she felt like OBs hands, like she was expected to go through all the same motions with all the same cautions and procedures, but just on a much more rigorous schedule. She felt used- doing more work for less pay, enduring the upheaval of her whole family to be present for her clients, and then being highly scrutinized by the OBs who were her overseers. She was only a few yrs in, and already burning out. 🙁 She began with passion and an overflowing heart for loving the families she worked with.
Anyway, I don’t need any pity. I enjoy freebirthing and happen to prefer to be alone anyway, and if someone even tried to examine me during labour, I’d likely send *her/him* to the hospital, lol- not intentionally of course, but I am very focused and mama-bear-like in labour and pp since my 3rd birth experience.
BUT the lack of truly woman-centred midwifery has obviously left a huge vacuum for the majority of women in childbirth.
Natalie, I didn’t know my dates for my first two because I was taking birth control pills and had bleeds while pregnant. So, I was ‘required’ to do u/s for dating, which ended up being waaaaay off and obviously not helpful when two premature babies were taken early because of it. The first was extreme, and the second child not so much, but still obviously early.
Also, my surgical records indicate nothing (even though I spent time in the ICU for full-body anaesthesia paralysis and a heart rate that wouldn’t go above 38 bpm after the surgery- for three hours) and the hospital staff refused to admit that my child was obviously premature and instead just told me that I cannot take my eyes off of him ever- not to pee, not to eat or leave the room at all- ever, not for a second. So I didn’t.
I tended a baby and brought him to health at a stage of growth and development that would have usually meant him living still in my womb, and in the worst case scenario, in the nicu for at least a month or longer. It was very, very difficult and it has taken me seven years to recover my own health from those experiences- and with a huge amount of diligent effort, not passive recovery.
My midwife was then just newly practicing and we grieved this whole scenario together. She didn’t know the horrors of the medical industry so intimately previously. She was not prepared for it, and the medical industry representatives (OBs) took full advantage.
Gloria, thank you for your willingness to address these issues. And thank you for being available to discuss them openly. I have tried to talk people out of supporting the regulation of midwifery where I live, but I have not found a single sympathetic ear. It may be more helpful to attend to how it is regulated, I don’t know, but it would be better to have a better model in place before regulating so that midwifery doesn’t end up swallowed whole, like it will be if this goes through.
I am sad for what will happen once midwifery is regulated and it’s “available to all” through gov’t funding. I’d rather pay the $2500 out of pocket and receive actual care than pay more with my life and births than I’ll ever be able to recover. But that’s just me. The women here want the regulation for funding. 🙁 They don’t know how much that will change things- how it will create the conflict of interest that plagues midwifery in Canada where this has already happened.
After my 3rd birth, I was asked to do a lecture from the perspective of a (finally) educated former client on the state of midwifery by the College. I was also asked to consider becoming a midwife. I declined both: the first because I was due with my third child during the conference, and the second because I could not adhere to the stipulations and counter-conscience requirements placed on midwives.
If it were legal (here it still is), I would only consider lay-midwifery and my clientele would have to choose my offer of service based on their own perspectives on their needs and whether or not I am suitable to meet them. This would be the only chance we’d have at enjoying a mutually fulfilling and compatible relationship.
I wish you well, and again, thank you. 🙂
Update Dec 2014: Adding this exquisite film from Slovenia of a family birth of a 4th baby. The mother had her first baby in hospital and, after that, three home births.