Ive never had a home birth, I’ve never had a natural birth. I have had two children, one was a stock standard private hospital induction and the other a caesarean under general in the public system. The second I intended to have a waterbirth, but it wasn’t to be as I had grade 4 placenta previa, a serious pregnancy complication.
Now despite having never had an unmedicated birth I know it’s best for babies and best for mothers too. Pain medication during labour is not without risk, and there are some pretty serious risks.
Take epidurals for example, it can paralyze a mother if not inserted correctly, that’s permanent disability. Now it’s not common but it does happen.
I think it’s important to talk about the cascade of intervention. That one intervention during labour usually leads to another and generally leads women down the garden path to surgical or instrumental delivery.
It starts with fetal monitoring and pelvic exams. Pelvic exams are painful, uncomfortable, distracting and completely unnecessary. A skilled midwife knows how a labour is going just by quietly observing. Unwanted pelvic exams cancause a woman to tense up and labour to stall. Never forget that it is your body, you do not have to consent to a pelvic exam, if an OB or midwife suggests it and you don’t want it just say no and make it clear. If you say no and they do it anyway that is assault. Report it.
Induction with syntocin or synthetic hormones is another way to start the cascade of intervention, at least it was for me. The contractions are not naturally and they ate intense from the very start. Have an induction and your chances of having an epidural increase dramatically along with your chance of having a instrumental or surgical delivery.
If you are told that the risks are very small and it won’t happen to you and you aren’t happy with the answer day no or seek a second opinion.
Many reasons are given for inducing. Baby too big, baby too small, too far overdue. The 10 days overdue rule is not evidence based, in fact the stillbirth rate is higher at 38 weeks then it is at 42, and there are more risks associated with being induced then going overdue. It’s better to wait and let nature take it’s course, even if that is 13 or 14 days after your EDD. Remember your ‘due date’ can be off, ultrasound is not a perfect technology so you may actually think you’re 2 weeks overdue when it may in fact be your actual due date. The 40 week pregnancy assumes every woman has a 28 day menstural cycle, when in fact even healthy women have variances.
What can you do to avoid a csection?
1. Stay home! Home birth is safe, even in high risk situations like previous surgery, multiples and very overdue babies.
2. Hire a doula, studies show your chance of needing intervention decreases dramatically when you have a doula present at the birth. Find one here – http://www.australiandoulacollege.com.au
3. Be informed! Know the facts about birth and intervention and the real risks.
4. Be empowered! Know your rights. It is always your right to refuse medical treatment.
5. Be supported. It is your birth partners responsibility to be your voice when you are in labour and cannot speak for yourself, your support person must know and respect your wishes.
Five reasons to avoid induction – http://pregnancy.about.com/od/induction/a/risksinduction.htm
Risk of stillbirth – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC28178/
The Epidural Express – Reasons not to jump onboard – http://www.birthrites.org/Epidural.html
More information on intervention and the cascade of intervention – http://www.mybirth.com.au/intervention.html