“ When you give birth to a baby, you give birth to a mother as well. ”

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December 2011 - A Beautiful Birth

Birth attended at UCLA (Ronald Reagan Med Ctr):  Second time mom, after arriving 8 cm and having to listen to a young resident interrupt her labor and read through a long list of consents (including all the things that can go wrong), finishes with fetal monitoring and stands by the bed, moaning quietly, and handling contractions beautifully.  Mentions feeling pressure, to which resident immediately want to re-examine, but doula whispers to mom not to mention the pressure yet; let it build up. Exam is avoided. Midwife Ann comes in, and we stand silently with the mom, with some back rubbing and pelvic presses. Nurses try to do a Heparin lock to flat veins and doula suggests to opt out of it, since the birth is so close. Everyone silently concurs. Nurses and resident observe the model of respect for the mom, and become quiet also. Mom does not want to move from her position. Midwife and doula notice the increasing sounds and movements of beginning pushing. Midwife TURNS OFF THE LIGHTS IN THE ROOM. This simple act changed the entire labor. It was like being at a home birth. Very beautiful. All that mattered was to let the mom continue her process. Birth advocates talk and talk about "trusting the process" - but this action of dimming the lights (almost completely off) during SECOND STAGE (usually when the hospital room becomes busy, active & bright), was genius. Ann reached down to check, found her completely dilated, and said the magic words "just go with your body Hon." She asked for a hand mirror, and showed the resident how they would watch the baby come out. Ann explained that we would simply let the mom stay where she was, and deliver the baby this way. I could see the look of amazement on the young resident's face. Who knows what she is learning in Medical School. But it was a beautiful beautiful birth, not just because of the purity, but because of the teaching. The UCLA model, where the residents learn from the midwives, is just awesome. Ann whispered to the resident that yes, sorry, it would be a little harder (for the doctor to maneuver). But the result was a beautiful birth, led by the mother's natural instincts, which there was simply no reason to disrespect. The lights remained almost off, the mom was told that after the baby came out she should turn around and sit down and take the baby. An ecstatic couple and a strong mother proclaim that this birth was 180 degree different from their first (induced, 12 hours of Pitocin, hours of forced pushing, stitches, etc.)

When uncomplicated births are interfered with, it is because the doctors do not know another way. They don't have the skills and they don't have the awareness that babies really will come out when the mom follows her own body, it is better and healthier, and meant to be. I was at another birth a month ago, where the mom (also a 2nd timer) wanted to push on her hands and knees against the back of the bed. The doctor and nurses looked at each other astounded. They let her push for a short while, frowning and irritated, until the doctor said it wouldn't happen this way. This is not because the mom was doing something wrong or because the baby wouldn't come out. It's because the doctor didn't know what to do - how to view a birth or catch a baby from another position.

More and more I steer away from discussions about women being forced to have epidurals or interventions in hospitals, and return to the lesson that the worst part of what is happening is the emotional and energetic INTERFERENCE during hospital births. Women think they need to learn breathing techniques, childbirth "methods" and ways to fight the system, but what they really need is privacy, silence, dim lighting, respect, emotional & physical support, reassurance, freedom to move and vocalize, a safe and comfortable environment, trusted medical backup, and courage.



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