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Heard in L&D

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“Pitocin is natural.  It is the same thing that is in your body to make the baby come out.  It even helps your milk come in!  All my babies have pitocin.”

Yes, spoken by an OB.  I think she even threw in a “girl,” or two into the conversation.  As in, “Girl, you’ve done the natural thing long enough.  Get the epidural!  I did!”

This same friendly OB also ruptured membranes without consent or warning.  Usually I am able to intercept a move like that so mom can give consent first, but I completely missed this one.  It happened so quickly.

When the mom did get an epidural (at 8cm, AROM) after “bad cop” OB suggested it could be another “five hours of excruciating torture,” pitocin was automatically administered and cranked.  The mom was progressing normally.  But “good cop” OB wanted to get home.  I heard her say this.  So Pit was cranked.  Not a gradual increase.  And I watched baby’s heartrate which had been varying in the 130’s-150’s immediately begin dipping to the 100’s during the fast-peaking pit contractions. 

But the pit worked quickly and soon a precious babe joined the world.

I’m thankful mom had a beautiful baby with few complications.  I wish the OBs had been more supportive, encouraging, and patient.  I wish there had been more informed consent.  The mom is happy which is the most important thing and lets me know I did my job.  It is her birth; not mine. 

What can expectant moms take from this?  Talk to the doulas in your community.  Even if you don’t plan to hire one.  Doulas know the inside scoop.  We witness what happens in L&D.  All OBs/midwives are not the same!  I show pictures.  Pictures of different styles in the birth room.  A picture speaks a thousand words.  Does the doctor wear what looks like a radiation suit; so covered you can’t even recognize her?  Does he hand the baby to the nurse instead of the mom?  My observations are just one part of the story but they are things I have witnessed.  Honestly, how else is a family to know what birth looks like in different environments, with different care providers?  I know one mom who wanted to switch to a more natural-birth friendly hospital but one doctor was booked for her date and the other group has a policy about taking patients after a certain date.  I was really saddened that she was unable to birth at the hospital she wanted. 

So, meet with a doula.  Early in pregnancy.  When there is time to interview other providers.

3 responses »

  1. Can I get an amen on pictures speaking a thousand words! Start gathering information early and don’t be afraid to make a switch. If there’s ever a time in life to get your way, it’s during childbirth : ) On another note, I really appreciated reading your simple statement, “It is her birth; not mine.” I find myself needing to be reminded of that as more and more friends choose differently during pregnancy and childbirth. I find myself sad or even upset for them only to realize they are happy with it. I may not understand it, but I am no less excited for them and their babies!

  2. I am so thankful for my doula 🙂 who patiently led me in the right direction while encouraging me to make the decision for my birth myself. I may have changed my mind 15 times and switched care providers 3 times, but I would have ended up not happy with my choice if it hadn’t been for you! I’ve learned that it’s so hard to make an “educated” decision without the help of women like you… It embarrasses me that 4 years ago I was so uninformed and down right lazy – that I just did things the typical way. I believed everyone who told me that there were no risks to “fill-in-the-blank-medical-procedure” and agreed that interventions seemed to make sense. Now it just amazes me how society views natural birth… I had a conversation yesterday that went something like this:

    Woman: “You are having another c-section right? It would be so much more convenient to do it that way! What birthday are you going to pick?”

    Me: “Nope. I’m having a natural birth. She will come when she’s ready.”

    Woman: “Oh. Uh. That’s right, you told me that already. Well, does the idea of the epidural again freak you out? I actually looked at that needle! Ugh. Better than being tortured for hours I guess. Why not just have a c-section – you already have a scar!?!?!?”

    Me: “I just really don’t want the c-section. And no epidural. I’m doing it natural.”

    Woman: “No epidural? I wouldn’t think drugs would be as safe. And you don’t even like medicine… why drugs?”

    Me: “No drugs either. Natural. No meds. No epidural. No drugs. All natural birth – not just vaginal – natural.”

    Woman: “You can have a natural birth with an epidural! You won’t be able to take that I promise you.”

    Me: “That would be a vaginal birth, which is more “natural” than a c-section I guess- but I don’t want any unneccesary anything. And women have been able to take it for thousands of years so I know I can handle it too.”

    Woman: “Girl. You have lost your d*** mind! You just wait. By 3 or 4 centimeters you’ll be screaming for an epidural! Hahahahahaha. You just wait! I’m going to come sit in the lobby and wait until I hear your screaming stop and then I’m going to come in and tell you I told you so! Hahahahahahaha!”

    Me (*smiling*): “That’s why you aren’t invited to the hospital.”

    And then I redirected the conversation. 4 years ago I would have thought she was right. 4 months ago I would have been convincing myself she was wrong. 4 weeks ago I would have gotten very angry and argued with her. And now I just feel sad that society views childbirth this way, but it doesn’t change how I feel about my upcoming birth!

  3. Thanks for posting! I’m training to become a doula now, and I hope to be able to get to know the providers in my area and learn how to gracefully point moms in the right direction for their individual desires and also how to tactfully make requests to OB- like you said- reminding them kindly when mom doesn’t want her waters broken, etc.
    So sad the OB told mom “another 5 hours of torture”- who knows? It might have been, but at 8 cm already, it might have only been another hour of intensity. Sometimes the attitude presented to mom makes a world of difference.


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