Yesterday, (I think it was yesterday. I honestly loose all track of time these days) I called my mom to wish her a happy belated birthday. We talked about the new baby and it's impending birth, which turned into a rather interesting conversation about birth centers.
Let me give you the background of my mom's own birth story. My mom has never been in labor. Ever. I was a big baby (9lb 13oz) and way past my due date. My mom never dilated and I never dropped. Her ob declared that she was too small and I was too big to be pushed out (something that still happens today which is completely untrue. Many women can give birth to big babies. I had a friend whose little boy weighed nearly 11 lbs all naturally). So he coerced her into a c-section. My mom is terrified of surgery. She also has bad reactions to anesthesia. So I was a c-section. My mother spent the next few months in bed recovering. She had trouble breastfeeding, gave up, and so my dad took care of me in the beginning. When my younger and smaller brother came along, the doctor was planning on taking a vacation. Nobody did VBACs in those days so she was scheduled for another c-section and the same painful process of recovery.
My mom didn't seem to have any understanding of birth centers because she asked me if I needed her to come out and stay with HB. That's when I figured out that she thought they were like hospitals only for birth. I said something about "you want to stay here for a month." And she got all confused and then I said that they don't schedule births at a birth center it all happens naturally. You go into labor naturally. She then asked about pain medications for labor and I told her that there weren't going to be any. Also no IVs and no baby monitors. IVs fluids have been most recently linked to the cause of children loosing a lot of weight shortly after birth. I said it's like giving birth at home only your somewhere else. There is someone there to help you, but it's not like a hospital at all. Then she said a couple of hurtful things.
The first thing she said was rather minor more out of concern really. "No pain meds. Are you sure you can do that?" Like I said, my mom has never been in labor. I can say that I've never had a c-section so I don't know what the recovery is like for those. I can say that I have been in labor. I was induced at 1 in the morning and didn't take any real pain medications until around 10 or 11. I know a little bit of what labor is like and medically induced labor is supposed to be the most intense because it's unnatural. So it was a bit of a slap in the face to me as I have experienced labor pains. I made some statement about "what do you think women were doing before their were pain meds" and she said they did it naturally but then she added "they also died." Nobody died from pain. They died from something going wrong, but not from pain. I also pointed out that for an industrialized country, the United States has a high mortality rate (it's ranked number 35 behind Germany, France, Japan, the UK, and even Cuba) when it comes to child birth. We also have the highest number of c-sections of an industrialized nation. The rate is 31 percent with 1/3 of all children born in the state of Massachusetts during 2006 as c-sections. It should be about 10 percent.
The second thing she said after I explained how great birthing centers are and that this one has two big rooms with huge beds and bathtubs and full kitchen, was "so are they going to have you out working in the field the next day?" At first I didn't understand the jab. And I told her I didn't understand what she meant so she just repeated herself (which if someone says they don't understand what you mean, you should try to retell it or explain. repetition just doesn't work). So I said I still didn't understand. Then she said "you know. Go work in the field." So I asked her "are you saying this is old fashioned or something?" My mother was making fun of giving birth naturally.
My mother is not apologetic and she has a tendency to say whatever comes to mind so rather than getting into an argument with her about how ignorant the comment was and how hurtful it was, I deflected. "No, you still get two weeks to recover." I made some statement again explaining that the United States hospital system for giving birth is terrible. OBs are trained surgeons. They are great for complications during birth or complicated pregnancies. They are not however, very good about normal labor and delivery. That's why a number of people are going to homebirths and birth centers for care. In this city alone, there are three free standing birth centers that I know of. And it's not illegal to give birth at home. No where in the US does it say you need to use a hospital.
Europe has the best rates because they don't view giving birth as something that needs a whole lot of medical intervention. You go over there and explain the medical system of the United States and they look at you like you've grown two heads.
And I also explained my own birth story. I had three nurses during labor. My ob visited me three times during labor. I was pressured into an induction and was told that I could not go walking around more than a couple feet away from the monitors. I asked numerous times to be unplugged to use the restroom and after a while, the nurses asked me if I could just do that myself. I was not allowed to eat. I took the epi but couldn't feel anything below my pelvis. When the ob asked me to push, I asked her push against what. She kept feeling around my private parts asking if I felt anything and I told her no because I could feel anything. She then threatened to perform a c-section because I couldn't feel anything to push and said I wasn't pushing properly. So no, I don't want to go to a hospital. I would rather deal with the pain.
I'm not the only one. Cam wrote an awesome series about all three times she gave birth at a hospital including the latest one where she gave birth by herself. My friends who gave birth at hospitals all gave me their horror stories. One lady told me after her terrible first experience that she gave birth at home and said that was far better. One of my friends has used a birth center twice and raves about it.
So no mom and all other naysayers, giving birth in a birth center or naturally is actually better not backwards. And I would have done that the first time except my husband wouldn't let me.