“I want to do _______ if I get the “ok” to.”
Nancy wants to have a VBAC. In her gut, she knows that she can birth a baby but has to wrestle with the information that she had previously been given about the safety of having a vaginal birth after cesarean. She sees her doctor as an authority over her body and feels as if she needs to get permission to birth the way that she wants to. Her doctor has told her that they don’t “allow” VBAC moms to go over 40 weeks. They don’t “allow” intermittent monitoring. They don’t “allow” her to labor on her hands and knees. They don’t “allow” her to labor at home. Nancy feels oppressed and submissive. If only Nancy could see how powerful she is. If only Nancy could say, “You’re not allowed to not allow me!” What do you think would happen?
Whenever I hear the phrase, “if I get the “ok” to...” I get this really uneasy feeling in my chest. I have to ask myself to stay calm, listen with kindness and decide if this is something that I should address right then. Depending on the person, I may gently say, “You can do whatever you want to do and you don’t need anyone’s permission,” or “whose “ok” do you need? It’s your body.”
More and more women are handing over their decision-making power to a provider instead of viewing this person as someone she has hired to have an opinion that she is allowed to accept or reject. Have we forgotten that we are intelligent and intuitive beings who can make good decisions about how we birth our babies?
A lot of times this phrase is coming from a place of fear. Fear that if they make a wrong decision and something happens that they will have to take responsibility. It is much easier to take the advice or direction from someone we see in authority than to take responsibility for our birth outcome. What we don’t understand is that we were created to birth our babies in unique ways. Western medicine has us all in a cookie-cutter pattern and if we don’t follow it, we are “high risk” or our babies are surgically removed. Handing off our birthing responsibility also gives away the satisfaction of birthing our baby.
So what does this look like?
Imagine you are going to the hospital for induction because you’re “overdue” at 41 weeks. Your doctor has decided that he doesn’t want to risk a stillbirth. He has shared the scary stats with you so you comply, out of fear of losing your baby. You start the induction and are pulled along in an assembly-line type of birth where everything is done according to protocol. The Pitocin is turned up every hour, making your contractions abnormally strong, so you consent to the epidural because it was offered to take away your pain. This epidural causes you to lay in bed, and baby settles in a poor position. Nobody is allowing you to move other than turning side-to-side, and baby starts showing signs of distress. The doctor comes in, looks at the monitor and decides that a c-section is needed. There is no discussion - your baby is at risk so you are rolled back to the OR. In the OR, your doctor makes the decision to have both arms strapped down and not allow you to hold your baby until he has been assessed. You have to wait until recovery to nurse and hold baby skin-to-skin.
This, friend, is what it looks like to give your power away. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled along in a system is that isn’t meant to look at the wide range of normal and that isn’t centered on patient-led care. If you’re choosing to birth in a hospital and you want to be seen as the sole decision-maker, you need to:
Hire a provider who trusts you and your decision making
Know your rights when it comes to birthing
Know what decisions you would like to make during your labor
Know what physiological labor looks like and what your options are if complications arise
Hire a doula who can help you navigate the system and provide you with education and resources, and support during your labor and birth
Another option you have is to birth in an environment where you don’t have to fight to know your rights, but where instinct is respected and encouraged. You do not have to birth in a hospital. You can choose to birth at home or in a birth center. You are allowed to birth in any place that feels right to you, no matter what someone else sees your “risk” as or what they think is best for you. Only you know what is best for you!
You have options, friend - lift up your eyes and see the possibilities. Birth isn’t just something you have to go through to get a baby, but it is an experience that is transformative. How we birth matters, and how we are treated during birth will stay with us. If we choose to be oppressed during birth, are we setting ourselves up to stay oppressed in other areas of our lives?
Learn more by signing up for my free online course The 5 Things Every Pregnant Woman Must Know. CLICK HERE to sign up!
Are you looking for a tribe of strong women to come alongside you and walk with you on your journey to empowerment? Would you like to see yourself as a powerful decision-maker that has the main influence over her birth? Come join us over on Facebook at The Empowered Mama’s Birth Tribe, a place where we support each other on this transformative journey of birth and motherhood.
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