Monday, August 26, 2013

Why I don't tell hospital birthers to "go in pushing"

IMGP1260 (Photo credit: Nico Nelson)
Yes, you should try to labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital. But before trying to use that as your technique to have an intervention free birth (especially for those facing opposition to a VBAC), you need to recognize the inherent variability of the birth process and how hospitals may respond to it.

Good luck calculating exactly when you will be ready to push your baby into the world. If you can do that, be sure to account for traffic, unless you would rather enjoy the first stage of labor in the hospital parking lot. For a fair share of women, the second stage of labor, where they are actually pushing, doesn't last as long as a drive to the hospital. Yes, a fair number of women do get to the hospital just as they are ready to push, but it's not fair to count yourself among them except in hindsight.

Going to the hospital early in labor is just part of our natural instinct to get settled and feel safe before labor is too advanced to move. It's natural to want support and reassurance that the baby is doing well. The problem is when the hospital isn't willing to just let you wait it out. Unfortunately it doesn't matter when you arrive, you can be subject to unwanted and unnecessary intervention without informed consent, up to and including surgery.

The better option is to plan for the birth you want as early in your pregnancy as possible (or even before), and if you meet with hostility change care providers and/or birth location. Keep trying to find what you want and it's never too late to change your mind. You do not need full blown arguments during any part of your labor. In that situation, the person who's not in labor has the upper hand. No matter how it turns out, having to do battle while trying to birth a baby will color the experience. Yes, women who are actively and successfully pushing out a healthy baby can still get wheeled into the operating room against their wishes.
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