Mothers in labor are often asked to delay birth to accommodate doctors’ schedules. In many cases, it can have harmful consequences.
One day, three weeks before my baby’s due date, I started feeling bouts of teeth-clenching pain at about eight in the morning. By 11, I was settled into a hospital room, marveling at how effective my epidural was, but terrified about giving birth.
Within a few hours, the medication wore off, and I felt the uncontrollable urge to push. (For those who have never delivered a baby, imagine the feeling of an urgent bowel movement, times 10,000.) My doctor, however, had left to see other patients. The only people in the room with me were my partner, a labor and delivery nurse, and a medical student. The nurse asked me matter-of-factly if I could try not to push until the doctor returned. I panicked. Of course I couldn’tnot push—my baby was coming. Perhaps noting the look of terror on my face, the med student quickly grabbed a pair of gloves and a mask and positioned himself below me. The nurse muttered something about having to do additional paperwork, but readied herself as I started screaming about it being “go time.” Seconds later, the med student handed me my daughter.
(click link to read on vice.com)
Giving birth draws you deep into your body, yet you’ll depend on others to get through it. Whether you have a brief labor eased by an epidural, deliver on all fours in your own living room or have an unplanned C-section, what matters most is how you are cared for and if you are listened to by your providers. The best way to advocate for yourself in the delivery room is to begin the process well before your swollen feet ever step into the space itself.
It is possible to get compassionate, respectful care from many kinds of providers — midwives, obstetricians, family physicians and nurses — and in settings including hospitals, birth centers and your home. But, according to a recent international survey, up to one third of women experience some trauma during birth, which means that at some point during labor, they felt that their emotional well-being or even their — or their babies’ — lives were under threat. And according to the latest Listening to Mothers report, one in four American women who underwent either labor induction or a C-section reported experiencing pressure from a health professional to do so.
(Click to read this great piece by Angela Garbes on nytimes.com)
Laboring with my first daughter was not easy. After being sent home from labor and delivery for following my doctor’s advice (given as he boarded a flight to Aruba) to “go straight to labor and delivery” because my contractions were regular, things ramped up again and so I headed back to the hospital… and was sent home from the hospital, again, at midnight. This time I was bleeding, weeping and yelling through contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart, but was turned out because I hadn’t hit the magic 4 centimeters of dilatation. “If we admit you now, your chances of having a c-section will double,” the triage doctor informed me. Perhaps I imagined it, but I could swear the nurses smirked each time they informed me that this was my first labor, it could go on for days.
I hobbled away with a bath towel between my legs, enraged. My cervix might have failed to fulfill the textbook definition of active labor, but I was certain that my baby was coming. Sure enough, I was back four hours later, and by the time I got the epidural I’d been demanding for hours, I was close to eight centimeters; it was almost too late.
(click link at top to read the rest of the blog on romper.com)
I gave birth seven years ago in a Boston-area hospital where I generally consider the care to be excellent. I arrived near the end of my labor, my cervix almost fully dilated. After an hour of moving freely around my hospital room, my midwife and labor nurse said, “It’s time for you to get into bed now.” And then they said, “Let’s have you get onto your back.”
Even though I had read the medical research that found that lying supine carries risks to a fetus — which is why pregnant women are advised not to sleep on their backs — I behaved like any woman in the suggestible state of labor: I did what I was told, though it went against my instincts and my preference.
(click link at top to read the blog post on wbur.org)
The answer to the disparity in death rates has everything to do with the lived experience of being a black woman in America.
Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel. In one year, that racial gap adds up to more than 4,000 lost black babies. Education and income offer little protection. In fact, a black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education.
(click link above to read this powerful piece on NYTimes.com)
Cesarean delivery of a baby—or C-section—is the most commonly performed surgery in the world.
Rising C-section rates are a problem all over the world—but it’s particularly notable in the United States.
C-sections have skyrocketed in the U.S. since the mid-1970s. In just one generation, this country’s C-section rate has increased 500%.
One in three babies are now born via C-section—compare that one in 20 in the mid-70s.
And a mother who has a C-section for her first delivery is overwhelmingly more likely to have C-sections for future deliveries.
And while it’s incredibly common—it’s still major surgery—with a range of potential complications such as hemorrhage or infection.
It’s estimated that nearly half of C-sections may be avoidable—but to prevent them, researchers need to find out what exactly is driving the dramatic increase in their use.
(click the link above to listen to the podcast from Harvard School of Public Health)
Consumer Reports finds that your risk of a cesarean section can be more than nine times higher depending on the hospital you choose.
The most common major surgery performed in the U.S isn’t to remove an appendix or replace a knee. It’s to deliver babies by cesarean section, or C-section.
Roughly one out of every three babies born in this country—or about 1.3 million children each year—are delivered this way, instead of vaginally. Yet the vast majority of women prefer to deliver vaginally, according to a January 2017 study in the journal Birth.
So what’s going on?
(click link above to read on consumerreports.org)