“I felt like I was air-dropped into the waiting arms of angels”¦” the new mom gushed as she described her unusual birth experience. After over a day of prodromal labor at home, she had found herself exhausted, still not fully dilated, and in need of extra help. Despite having fears of losing control and unnecessary interventions at the hospital, she felt it was the right choice. What she found there was truly remarkable.
“At every step, they asked me if I wanted this intervention, or that one,” she told me later. “‘What do you think of some pitocin’, they would say, and I said, no, I don’t want that, and they said, “˜okay'”. They discussed everything from delayed cord cutting to silver nitrate drops in the baby’s eyes (yes, and no), and at every step, they let the parents decide.
Of course, this is an unusual story to come out of a hospital birth, particularly a home birth transfer, and I think it merits re-telling and celebrating. It also merits examination: why did this mom have such an unusually positive hospital birth experience? The more I discussed it with her, the more it became clear that a powerful driving force for her experience in the hospital was the degree to which she was well-read and informed about hospital technologies, interventions, and protocols, and she was very clear as to which she wanted and which she did not. She entered the hospital in charge, but also willing to allow the staff to do their job.
On the hospital’s part, the mom reported that, though she feared the staff would be judgemental of “the crazy home birth mother rushing to the hospital for rescuing”, she encountered quite the opposite. The staff was warm and nonjudgemental. They welcomed her and gave her the support and encouragement that she needed.
It seems likely that these two factors- an empowered, well-informed mother (and dad) and a flexible, understanding, supportive staff – were important factors in the outcome of this birth: a short, relatively easy second stage (“two pushes and she was out!”) free of complications, and a healthy baby and mom.
As a family chiropractor I get the chance to work with a lot of moms, and for the last 20 years, I have been hearing horror story after horror story about both planned and unplanned hospital births and the “birth machine” of industrialized medicine running amok, with women and children taking the brunt of the consequences. Hearing this story was like a breath of fresh air and gives me hope for the future of childbirth in the U.S.- a future in which home birth is honored and respected and medical interventions in birth are treated with restraint and cooperation. Everyone wins in this scenario, especially mom and dad, and their beautiful new addition.