Sunday, January 6, 2013

Stop Mothering Your OB (Nurse, Staff, Midwife, Doula or Pesky MIL)

Now I've got a mama on my mind after hearing her desperately asking for assistance. Her OB pulled a classic bait and switch on VBAC and she is left feeling trapped and out of options.

Her situation has me pondering the way women in our culture generally take on the management of too many emotions, desires and social obligations of other people, often at the expense of themselves and their babies.

I can hear it, the pressure that fills a woman's head, the whispers encouraging her to ignore her instincts, ignore her needs, ignore her body and baby. I hear these whispers all the time from women around me.

But my doctor has been so good to me. 
I love her even if I disagree. 
She won't get paid if I switch. 
She will be disappointed. 
She won't like my decision. 
The OB won't approve of what I want. 
My midwife thinks I should do this instead and I can't face her. 
He is going to be upset when he finds out about my birth plan! 
He's been so nice, I hate to betray him. 
What if it messes up his schedule? 
They aren't used to doing that at the hospital. 
They'll be inconvenienced if I ask for XYZ.
I've got to think of the homebirth/doula reputation in the area. 

What if I ruin their holiday? 


You are the MOMMY of your BABY, not of a bunch of adults who get paid for their work. So what if they are upset, angry, surprised, inconvenienced or disappointed. WHO gives a CRAP. Tell them to grow up and get over it. I thought they said a healthy baby is all that matters these days anyways?

You need something? You want something? Good. Go get it and don't waste an ounce of your pregnant energy worrying about the emotions of the other adults who choose as employees to be at hospitals and at births.

The thing is, at the end of the day, those doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas...they go home, back to their families. And yeah, they might remember your name and face, or recall that your baby was extra large or really cute. But your birth means nothing tangible to them.

Your birth did not imprint on their bodies for the rest of their lives. They will not stay up at night, seeing your birth over and over again. They will not suffer from pain, injuries or PTSD from your birth. They will not care for your baby 24/7 until adulthood.

They will go home, take a shower, make some dinner and watch TV or get on the computer. You and your baby will live with your birth for the rest of your lives.

SO WHAT if they feel "bad" about something you and your baby need. YOU ARE THE MAMA. Feeling responsible? Make sure it's only for YOU and YOUR BABY. Stop parenting the adults!

Is your care provider a professional assistant or an abusive boyfriend?


  1. I JUST attended a birth as a doula for one of my friends, and this exact thing happened. Vbac hopes yanked out from under her at 39 weeks. She has already switched OBs once in her pregnancy to a "vbac-friendly" Dr, and now she was turning coat too! Thankfully she held her ground, but I did have to keep reminding her that she didn't need to give them any concessions. And she did say things like, "well, I like her, even if I don't agree with get." And, "I know she is only liking out for my best interests." NO. We would love to think so, but no, once you have a baby, no matter which way he got here, you are no longer on that Dr's mind. Take charge and trust your body, because the medical establishment doesn't.

    After she insisted on laboring and not giving in to a section, 12 hrs later beautiful naturally born baby boy. And Dr was still all butt hurt. Drives me insane. I couldn't have been more proud of my friend though! She did excellent!

  2. You make it sound so easy.... Not all of us are as capable of standing up for ourselves once there is pressure. If it is a situation I expect in advance, I can prepare myself, and stand up to it pretty well. But when something unanticipated happens and I'm already in a stressful situation (I'm in labor, some kind of emergency is happening, etc.) I have to rely on instincts and unfortunately for me that usually means trying to not bother the doctors/nurses/midwives and it also usually means doing whatever they tell me. I don't like it about me and I tell myself OK next time the midwife says the baby is one position and I think it is another, I'm going to tell her to check again. And I probably would, but that situation never comes up again. Next time it is something else and I'm not ready and I might make a bad decision. I think it is pretty mean of you to suggest that we can all just change that about ourselves if we want to. Some people will just never be good when the pressure is on. It doesn't mean we are terrible people that don't put our children first.

    1. Amy,

      I'm the same way! I feel as if I carry an antenna around, always getting too much static from others' and their emotions. It was like that as a kid, too.

      These things have roots, such as from too much manipulative praise from parents or other caregivers and authority figures. That encourages a child to become a "people pleaser" and give the expected answers as opposed to the right answers or communicating needs. Volatile or violent environments, traumatic experiences (aka abuse situations, rape experiences) can also teach a person to lie low and accept what others want as opposed to standing up for individual needs. Over a lifetime, this becomes a crippling habit.

      Acknowledging where we are at and trying again everyday to stand up for ourselves and our children is a courageous, admirable thing to do...certainly no one is judging you to be a terrible person.

      Be gentle on yourself. It's easy to write about this topic, but it's a challenge, a life long, life changing challenge to break this habit and create healthy boundaries and levels of self-care. You can do it!

      I have a page here for Survivor Parents:

  3. This is what I'm struggling with at the moment, thank you for this boost! (36 weeks and having my second "macrosomic" baby *eye roll*)

  4. Thank you for putting this to words. I tell my clients this all the time!

    ~ Brandi
    Deep South Doula

  5. I struggle with the concept that "doctors don't care" because I just don't see it. Yes, they see a huge number of pregnant women, yes, they are under certain pressures, but it bothers me that after my 2 difficult births, both of which required medical help, for what seem (and seemed to me) legitimate reasons, I was harrassed by women who told me I shouldn't have allowed what happened to happen. Both my birth stories are on my blog, and whilst the first was very hard, and I came away quite affected by it, I don't think it was because of the doctors or midwives and I don't think I "could" have done anything or made it different. My doctor told me I had pre e, my blood tests showed signs, I had ++ protein in my urine, my blood pressure at one point hit 190/110 (normal for me is 110/60) and I was so swollen that 3 days after delivery I lost 30lb in fluid. My placenta was in bad shape (I actually saw it, when it was delivered) and I was blacking out/dizzy. They HAD to keep me safe, and get my daughter out. They were prepping for a c-section. I signed the papers, because all I wanted was her safe in my arms. I ended up delivering her without the c, she came very fast, before they were ready. But, according to certain people, I was treated badly. Clearly the threat of a section was wrong (their words not mine) I believe my life and her life would have been at risk, if I had done what the non medical natural birthing community thought I should have done, ie not agreed to be in hospital, not had meds to reduce my bp, had an epi (also to reduce the bp and to ease the hideous pain I was in, 13 hours of back to back labour) I should have stayed home, not been "bullied by doctors" who really didn't care about me and my baby.
    My second birth was not what I "wanted" or "needed" either. I had planned a home birth, but my son was a week late, which in itself is fine, the NhS doesn't simply induce at 40weeks, I was waiting to see my OB at 40w10days to discuss a plan, but went into labour naturally, waters broke, but were filled with meconium, and I could feel no baby movement. I was immdediately told "straight to hospital" and my plans for a natural birth were put aside. I was told I had a certain amount of time before I would need an ECS, because they were concerned about my son, the risks of meconium aspiration and it's complications. Again, I was told by the natural birth community that I was bullied, made to obey doctors and that I should have "known" better. All the way through, my doctor, midwife and the nurses made it clear that they wanted and needed to get my son out safely.
    What I'm trying to say, please hear me, I'm not attacking or trying to be antagonistic, is that my births would seem to be the what you are saying, and that I was bullied and pressured, and because I didn't get the birth I "needed" that somehow what happened was wrong. I didn't come away from either feeling like I had the perfect birth, although my son's was far less medicalised, I laboured as I wanted, in a private room, with one on one care from a midwife, I was offered pain meds, but when I declined they didn't pressure me, or coerce me, and other than insisting I wore a fetal monitor, they left me to do what I wanted. I am one of those women who had difficult, traumatic, medicalised births, with a lot of doctors and intervention, and maybe I didn't get what I wanted or needed in terms of the birth itself, but I have two healthy children. My births were just one moment.
    Does that make sense? I'm just trying to show the other side of the story?

    1. It's a good point and I appreciate your thoughts. I think it's easy for people to believe that any criticism is condemning everyone, but it's not. I know plenty of doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas etc who are caring, compassionate people and who would never abuse or otherwise manipulate their clients.

      My homebirths had their quirks, too, and after each one I transferred for post partum care. Each time the doctors were very kind and respectful of my choices. Except one surgeon who pushed for circumcision, but she wasn't even participating in my care, she just came into the room.

      Anyways, it's important not to dehumanize anyone involved in these situations. But I did have a direct purpose in this post and the related ones I posted earlier. They are to address those women who DO feel bullied and who have entered a dysfunctional relationship w/ a health care provider. In the surrounding culture, some of these women have no idea of their inner authority, or of their other options. Sometimes a good reminder is all that's needed for a mama to make the decision she wants about her births.

      Thanks again for sharing.