I came across an article on MSNBC by Taffy Brodessor-Akner called Who controls childbirth - expectant moms or doctors?
In her article, Ms. Brodessor-Akner talks about the extremely traumatic birth of her first child and the impending birth of her second child. She opens up with her raw feelings, and it's powerful. She talks about her journey, of trying to heal and move forward, of facing the future with the hope of something better.
The author also talks about home birth but admits that she's not comfortable birthing anywhere but in the hospital. The feelings and questions that she brings up in her article are so poignant, and I think they bear careful consideration. This article reminds me of how each and every birth is individual and sacred, and should be handled with appropriate care. Each mother and father should make the choices they feel are best for that birth, regardless of what happened at previous births or what so-and-so says and what everyone else thinks they should do. It's a personal decision, each and every step of the way.
In response to the article, Sheridan at Enjoy Birth asks the same question: Who DOES Control Childbirth? She argues that it depends on who the mother chooses as her care provider. She also provides a library of information to help women make the best choice in care provider for their child's birth, and lots of reasons why they should be judicious in their choice.
She has a point. Afterall, the woman's choice in her care giver determines how much power and decision-making she will give up. Giving power to someone isn't bad, if that person truly has your best interests at heart and understands and supports them.
In my personal experiences with birth, it has all been about control. Whether I have a positive or negative experience depends largely on how much I feel control was either respected or taken from me. I feel this was dependent on how much control I gave to others, and in whom I chose to trust with that power.
In this respect, I think Sheridan is absolutely right, and I also feel a woman's realm of control in birth extends further than her choice in a provider. She also has the power to choose her support team, the location and circumstances under which she wants to labor and give birth.
Can you really determine the circumstances of your baby's birth? In her MSNBC article, Ms. Brodessor-Akner talks about how unpredictable childbirth is, and how birth plans are a waste of time because of this. Yes, birth is unpredictable, but women still have power in the interventions they choose to accept or avoid. They can choose under what circumstances they want to labor and birth by choosing whether to allow a medical induction or augmentation, or to wait for spontaneous labor to start on its own. They can choose whether to birth in a place where certain things are required as "protocol", such as electronic fetal monitoring, breaking of waters, IV placement, and more. They can decide which interventions to accept or decline, and their decision in care provider and location will have a large impact on these other aspects.
I believe as we attempt to exert control in pregnancy and birth, we must also come to terms with a certain lack of control. This is where faith comes in. I do everything possible to educate myself to make the best decisions, and as I move forward knowing I've extended the limit of my personal power, I trust in something bigger, more powerful to guide me through. For some people this is a trust in nature, in our bodies to perform as they were made to.
For me, it's faith in God.
As I see it, God created the world and everything in it. He is nature. He created me, and He knows what I'm capable of. God has control in things I don't, and He has my best interests in mind.
"The next moment is as much beyond our grasp, and as much in God's care, as that a hundred years away. Care for the next minute is as foolish as care for a day in the next thousand years. In neither can we do anything, in both God is doing everything." ~ C.S. Lewis
What do you think? Who controls birth?