I have been contemplating this blog for a while now but haven’t been sure exactly what to say or how to say it. I guess I still am not sure…. I had mentioned in a prior post about feeling very disconnected from the “birthy” world and I know that there are many reasons contributing to that but the one that I wanted to blog about is one that feels almost wrong to talk about. Like I am breaking an unspoken rule. Hence, why it has taken me so long to do this. I feel like if there is any hope of moving forward and retaining some of my past birthy self, then I need to start working through and processing my feelings.
I have lived and breathed birth for the past four years. It has been a passion. It has been an obsession. Educating myself, feeling empowered by that and then working with families to inspire empowerment. There used to be nothing more exciting for me than watching a couple have an AHA moment. What has changed that?
I am not really sure what set off this round of negativity I am on at the moment, as it is recent. If I look to the past though, the very first time I had small doubts about my work was during my pregnancy with Addison. I was reading around on an unassisted childbirth site and happened across the opinion of someone who doesn’t think doulas are a good thing. At the time the idea kinda shocked me. I mean, how could doulas not be a good thing? She went on about how doulas, while their intentions are good, serve the purpose of being a tool of the system. That ultimately what a doula accomplishes is to make women feel good about their births. Isn’t that the point? Her point was that women that would have been traumatized by their births will leave the hospital having positive memories even when traumatic things were done to them. That in the end doulas are helping keep women in line for the doctors and further making sure that they don’t question the paradigm of medical thinking.
I don’t completely agree with this assement. I am not in any way saying that I think women should not have doulas, so that when they get worked over by the hospital, the nurses, the doctors or midwives that they damn well know they got screwed. Or even at their homebirth because as much as we all jump on the homebirth wagon, not all homebirths are without trauma or unnecessary interference. I guess what I am feeling is that maybe it isn’t all good or bad. Which then lends me to think that maybe most things are a little good and a little bad.
When I first considered this, my first thought was that maybe the solution was in education. Good education. Arm them with information! Tell them about their options! Or hell! Just tell them that they actually DO have options. Talk about how important a “good” careprovider is to their birth. Talk about benefits vs. risks and evidence based medicine… then they won’t need a doula to make them feel good about their birth. They wouldn’t need that because their birth will be good. Right? Or is it?
I remember reading the book Pushed by Jennifer Block and running across a quote from the author of the book, The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence. I wish I had a copy of the book so I could actually quote it exactly but she had something to say that really got me thinking. It was along the lines that childbirth education has the negative effect of setting women up for disappointment with their births. We spend so much time telling women, “You have options!” All the while sending them into a system that they are very unlikely to get the birth that they want. The one that we help them want. Does that make sense?
Of course we talk about acceptance and flexibility. We talk about how there are no guarantees in birth and that most of the time birth won’t go exactly how you hope that it will. How you envision it. Still. There is that underlying message. The one about choices and how if you make good ones, especially prenatally, then you are placing odds in your favor that things will more likely go that way. No one really believes they will be the one to get screwed. Do they?
It makes me think about my birth with Haden. What a cluster fuck of interventions. But the ME of 5 years ago had no expectations about my birth. I had no preconceived ideals on what I wanted my birth to be or how I SHOULD be giving birth. I just wanted my baby. So now, although I look back at it with irritation because of the things I know now, there is no trauma in that birth for me. How differently would I have felt if I had something completely different in mind?
There is no safety in a “good” careprovider. I used to believe that there was but then I used to believe a lot of things. There is a handful of “good” providers in the Atlanta area and really they have been known to practice their fair share of non-evidence based medicine. Isn’t that what lead me to go to the opposite end of the birth spectrum to have an unassisted birth with Addison? Fear of this intervention. Well, and many other strongly held beliefs that maybe aren’t so strong anymore…
Ignorance is bliss, so they say and I sure do believe it. Does this mean that I think women are better off knowing nothing so that they won’t be disappointed in the results? No. However, it does mean that while I know I have helped many women in my career, I also wonder how many have I also hurt?
I know this is a terribly cynical post of me. I don’t mean to offend anyone with it, although the first person it should offend would be me. Since this is my life.