The Power of Choice

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Where is the line between feeling powerless and feeling empowered in birth? Is it even something over which we have any choice?

At CIC’s most recent Healthy Birth Choices workshop we heard three moms describe how consciously choosing where and with whom to give birth made it possible for them to birth their babies the way they envisaged – and to feel happy, even triumphant, about their experience.

During Roisin’s first birth, with her regular OB/GYN, she found herself being induced and given routine interventions she had hoped to avoid, such as episiotomy. Her pitocin level was increased every 15 minutes and she was repeatedly told to “hurry up” or face a cesarean section. Nurses and residents were in and out of the room and her OB didn’t even look her in the eye. “I felt powerless”, she told us.

Pregnant again, Roisin realized her new, female OB had the same approach. Inspired by her reading and by a friend’s experience, at six months she switched to a home birth midwife’s care. Being comfortable in her own home helped her let go and she credits it with the speed and ease of her birth. Most importantly, surrounded only by people she had handpicked and free to choose how to labor, she felt powerful instead of powerless. The decision-making was back in her hands. With her midwife and doula she could do what felt right and birth her baby her own way.

Andrea had always dreamed of giving birth in water. So, when her OB was dismissive (describing birthing pools as “a kind of soup”), she did some digging.  She learned she could give birth – rather than labor only – in water either at home, at one local hospital or at an independent birth center. She chose the birth center’s relaxed, home-like atmosphere and ultimately had a beautiful water birth with a midwife.

Sarah visited a birth center and interviewed home birth midwives but felt more comfortable being in hospital for her first birth. Quizzing her family doctor in detail, Sarah realized their practices were well aligned with her wishes. In hospital, she was largely left with her partner and doula to labor as she wished and birth naturally. She left with the confidence to potentially birth her next baby at home.

Birth is a time we need to believe in – and need those around us to trust and encourage – our bodies, our power. There is no “right” way or place to give birth. We each need to decide for ourselves what feels safe, comfortable and right for our own situation. Birth can be unpredictable, but we can educate ourselves about our options, ask a ton of questions and gather a birth team that can support our wishes as well as ensuring the safety and health of mother and baby.

CIC’s Online Provider Network can help you find mother-friendly practitioners.  Interview as many as you need to until you find the person who feels “right”. 10 Questions to Ask Your Care Provider is a good place to start. Don’t be shy about asking how they practice – after all, as one of our speakers pointed out, if they go bright red in the face when you ask questions, they may not be the person for you!

Be informed. Be powerful!

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