Here are the top ten lies you’ve been told about childbirth.
1) Pregnancy is an illness.
Most women (in the U.S.) give birth in the hospital. Hospitals are for sick people. People with disease and illness, emergencies, and tests, and procedures. Because this is what hospitals were designed for, pregnant women will be treated as such.
You may not have been told you are ill when you are pregnant, but the messages you receive and the treatment and care within the medical establishment create this experience, by design.
2) Birth requires intervention and management.
The majority of women use epidural for pain relief. This requires lots of other interventions; I.V., Electronic Fetal Monitoring, blood pressure checks, etc.. Induction is rampant. The use of artificial oxytocin, Pitocin, also requires many interventions and a lot of times leads to a woman’s request for an epidural.
What about the risk of all the other interventions that come with the epidural or the induction or both?
3) The hospital is the safest place to give birth.
It is all relative to the particular hospital you choose to give birth in. The LeapFrog group has graded hospitals. Where does your land?
Besides, there are many germs to be found in a hospital, and the management of labor in this setting often leads to the interventions that slow, or stop labor.
Or create the scenario whereby the baby’s heart rate drops Mom’s blood pressure drops or both. This then could lead to a cesarean section; major abdominal surgery. There are risks associated with surgery; your body cavity is open and anything is possible. The hospital can be a safe place but I would question whether it is “the safest” place. Where do you feel safe?
4) You require many tests and procedures during pregnancy.
Glucose test, GBS test, blood tests, pee test, non-stress test, vaginal exams. There are more. Do you require all of these to be safe and healthy? I’m not saying yes or no. I’m saying that not everyone needs everything. You may have your unique set of risk factors. And it is not necessarily the same as it is for your friend.
My point is that you get to be educated on what these are and you get to choose. There is no one size fits all, as you may have experienced, or are about to.
5) Birth is an event to fear.
This is the perception that seems to have taken over in childbirth. Fear will stop, stall, or prevent your labor. What you believe will show up in your experience. I know hundreds of women who had the most amazing birth experience you can imagine. It is normal to have a fear of the unknown. You hear horror stories, maybe you watch some crazy T.V. show that gives you a horrible image.
Birth is a rite of passage, a transformational event in a woman’s life that will help you find your power if you believe it will. Birth can be joyful, and even orgasmic for some women. It is not separate from your life and how you live it. Do you want to fear birth or learn about it, and trust the process?
6) Epidural is the best method of pain relief.
If you believe it is the best method then so it is. Pain is a perception. At one point in our history women were demanding pain relief in birth. We thought we deserved it. Then there became a demand for a natural birth when women realized they had no recall of their experience, and we’re not in control.
I believe all options must be available. And, women deserve the truth about all benefits and risks. Not every epidural provides maximum pain relief. Some don’t take all the way. Some wear off quickly. Some are given too early in labor. You can read about the benefits and risks here.
Marshall Klauss once said, “If a doula were a drug it would be unethical not to offer it.” Doulas can give you the confidence to birth your baby by being with you every step of the way. There are many methods of non-drug pain relief; including hypnobirthing, acupuncture, Reiki, and massage.
7) Your baby has a due date.
You are given an EDD, estimated date of delivery. ESTIMATED!!! There is no exact date. There is a 2-week window of time on either end of this date. You need to remember this when you are tired in your 9th month of pregnancy. It is tempting to be induced, depending on what you are being told. Your baby is big, your pelvis is small, your fluid is low, you might want to schedule a c-section. I have heard these things from other women. Before you opt for an induction or a scheduled c-section, find out if your baby is okay. If so, what is the rush?
8) Drugs in labor don’t affect your baby.
This is not always true. It depends on which drug, how much, and when. A sleepy baby could be still feeling the effects of drugs given during labor.
If you’ve ever seen the breast crawl video, the evidence is overwhelming. The babies that were from non-medicated labors crawled to the breast. Babies in the medicated group sometimes figure it out, but not right away. Educate yourself on what the drug options are. Know what is being given to you, if this is what you choose.
9) Your cervix must be checked for dilation.
You can say yes or no to this. Your cervix will ripen and open when your baby is ready, and your body is ready. Birth is not an exact science. You can be 1 or 2 centimeters dilated for weeks.
Or you could go into active labor very quickly. Your body is your guide to what is happening. I know many women who have been told that it would be a while, then boom. These women knew their bodies were ready. The baby is born just an hour or two later. I’ve also heard many women share the frustration of being 1-2 cm. dilated and nothing is happening. Being checked for dilation can excite you or discourage you. It depends on what you hear from the checker of the cervix.
10) Routine ultrasound is 100% safe.
Several studies point to the fact the research isn’t clear. You can easily find out what ultrasound is, and what it does to the cells. When something is done routinely, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is 100% safe. We do know that ACOG and other groups do not recommend routine ultrasound for a non-medical reason.
Also, a big baby diagnosis from an ultrasound later in pregnancy can be off by 1-2 pounds. ACOG never recommends the 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds; usually performed by untrained people. I get that most women and families today want to know their baby’s sex.
Though, I would say that the element of surprise is like no other. I’m pointing out that we could be finding out years from now (when the research catches up to the practice), that all these ultrasounds have done some damage. Who knows?
Do your research. Ask lots of questions. Don’t be coerced into anything. Stand in your power.