You Always Have Options in Birth- Until You Think You Don't

I believe that women will be the driving force in changing birth and lowering the cesarean section rate. This will come from nowhere else. I also believe that women have options in their births- often options they never realized were there.

And while I can freely admit that there are many things making options in childbirth appear diminished or even non-existent (lack of funds, insurance limitations, doctors orders, proximity, health concerns, etc) that doesn't scare me near as much as another much more common problem.

Women, in general, do not believe that they have options regarding how they birth their child. Sadly, we are often our own worst enemy when it comes to choices in childbirth.

The (empowering) truth is this: there are options when it comes to birthing our baby. Some of them may be unpleasant, some scary, some seemingly out of our reach- but they are there. Those options, however, no matter what they are, become instantly invisible when we ourselves deny that they exist.

I don't know how many times I have heard women say things like this:

"I have to birth at this hospital."
"I can't afford a (insert) doula, midwife, home birth, childbirth class, etc."
"That birth center is too far away from me."
"My insurance doesn't cover it."
"I don't have time for XYZ."
"I am too late in my pregnancy to change care providers."

The list goes on. I get it. These are all legitimate concerns. They are also very limiting when we ourselves believe that they are the only thing possible.

I have also been around long enough to see women travel to different states to have a baby with a care provider who believed they could VBAC. I have seen women scrimp, save, trade, or beg in order to afford a care provider or support person or childbirth class that could help them get the birth they wanted. I have seen them make sacrifices in an effort to get the best possible birth for themselves and their baby.

Making the sacrifices, hiring the midwife, paying the doula, doing the childbirth class, reading the books and all these things don't actually guarantee the outcome you want. But they do guarantee one thing: no matter what happens YOU will know that YOU did all you could for this birth. You can look back and know you did your part.

There is comfort in that and there is power in that. There is great peace in knowing that we did the best we could.

We talk a lot about empowerment in birth circles. I have to admit, it isn't my favorite word. I think it is over and misused far too often. Empowerment however is a very real thing. But empowerment NEVER comes to those who refuse to own their own choices, refuse to make their own sacrifices, and refuse to believe that they actually get to play a role in the choices surrounding their births or their life in general.

You always have options, as long as that baby is in you.

The current obstetric climate can be hostile. We all know this. But it isn't all bad. There are wonderful OBs out there. There are amazing midwives who do great work. There are good hospitals and affordable birth centers and people willing to work with you to help you. You can blame the system, but know this- blaming the system (or complaining or being angry or hurt) DOES NOTHING TO CHANGE IT.

YOU have to try. I am tired, (sick and tired), of women throwing up their hands in submission before they have even begun to fight for their best birth. We are often the limiting factor when it comes to getting the birth we want.

Did you hear that?

Yes, at the risk of offending every woman on the planet I am going to say it again. YOU have choices, but YOU have to make them. They won't be easy but they are yours. Stop listening to your own excuses and start working towards getting what you want. Don't be the person who stops you.


Alanna said…
I really appreciate this. I just chose (after a LOT of inner debate) to have my baby at home with a midwife. This might not seem like a big deal, but for us it is. You see, we have a strange situation where our insurance is WONDERFUL-- to have our baby at the hospital, all we have to pay is a $100 co-pay. Sounds like heaven, right?

Except all 23 OBs in their system rotate through this hospital, so I'm almost guaranteed to NOT know who will be on call when I deliver. I ended up with a very bad experience this way with Baby #3, so for #4 we hired a midwife, out of pocket. And our home birth was perfect.

Now that I'm (unexpectedly) having #5, it was really hard to decide to spend that kind of money AGAIN. But, like I said, I finally decided it was worth it. It is worth every penny to be able to birth my baby in a way that I feel is safer and comfortable and not running the risk of people screaming at me that I'm doing it wrong while I'm in the middle of pushing and awful stuff like that.

Expensive, yes. Worth it, oh my, yes. Every penny.
Jenn said…
Maybe the term "empowerment" is overused, but the actual act of empowering yourself is certainly underused! I am an introvert and really shy away from any confrontation. So I felt it was quite the achievement when I was able to tell my OB "no" when she offered to cut an episiotomy while I was in the throes of pushing ("I can cut an episiotomy and she'll be out right now!") It took a lot of strength to stick to what I knew was best for me.
Roll Cage Mary said…
If the baby is still inside you and is being compromised by a cord prolapse, YOU are don't have options.

Unless you want to birth a
stillborn baby, then by all means,
refuse the c-section.