Monday, March 8, 2010

"I Trust My Doctor!"

Every morning, I visit my local Race Trac to fill my mug for the day. The people that work there have a very vague idea of what I do for a living -- something with childbirth.

One of the male employees told me, months ago, that he and his wife were expecting their first baby. He was so excited. I asked him where they were planning to give birth. I informed him that particular hospital has a 60% c-section rate, but there are other options in the area. He explained that their doctor was the doctor that delivered him as a baby.

The months went by and every now and then, he'd give me a report of how much time was left until they met their baby. I would gently remind him that the baby (a girl) didn't know exactly what day she was expected. It could be a couple of weeks later. He would shake his head in denial.

Last Monday morning, he reported that they were getting checked to see if she was "progressing." I told him that I had been a "zero" and in labor 14 hours later. Likewise, I've had students that have been dilated to a 5, 6, even a 7 and not been in labor! The vaginal exam means nothing and would put her on an emotional roller coaster. Again, he shook his head and said they wanted to know.

The next morning, I asked him what they found out. He said they were being induced the next day. I told him that she was more than twice as likely to have a c-section with an induction. He said that she was having a c-section! Obviously, he did not understand the difference between an induction and a c-section! Of course, I asked why the scheduled c-section and he happily reported that his baby was "too big."

From this point on, I wish I could have seen this scene from above! I was practically chasing him around the store trying to give him information about the things that happen in labor to help the baby make its way out. (Truly, a Banned From Baby Showers moment for me!) I was telling him that women are being told their babies are too big everyday, but only 1/2500 women actually have babies that are "too big" to fit through the pelvis. He was moping the floor and literally backing away from me and hiding behind things. I actually said to him at one point, "Will you stop and listen?!" At this point, he looked at me and said, "I trust my doctor!!"

I walked to the register, shaking my head, paid for my drink, and got in my car. My 13-year-old son got an earful! I was so proud of him when he said, "How did babies get out for millions of years before c-sections?"

The next morning, the other employees reported that the couple had had the baby and she was a whopping 7 pounds! There were some ounces added after the 7 pounds, but no one could remember what they were. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, it was 15 ounces, the maximum without tipping the scale to an even 8 lbs. Is this baby too big?! I am less than 5'3" and I gave birth to two 8 lb babies. I don't think anyone would think this baby is "too big." So curious what the doctor said to this young couple...

So, now what? They are a victim of the system and don't even realize it. Maybe that is a good thing. She never experienced any labor and neither did her baby. She wasn't even due yet. She will very likely have problems with breastfeeding, if she wanted to at all. A mom who has a c-section is only half as likely to breastfeed. The implications are so far reaching for the mom's health as well as the baby's, not to mention any subsequent children they hope to have.

Bottom line -- I had nothing to gain by giving him information. I simply wanted them to trust her body, not her doctor. The doctor gained time and money by lying to her about "needing" a c-section. I actually shed a tear for this woman that I have never met. Total frustration. A doctor taking advantage of trusting parents-to-be and a young couple not getting information for themselves! They both are to blame. This is happening every day around us in every city across America. What are YOU going to do about it?

Myself, and 2 other Chapter Leaders, have started the Tarrant County Birth Network, a local chapter of BirthNetwork National, where expecting parents can get information about evidence-based care and the local care providers that abide by the Mother-Friendly guidelines established by the Coalition of Improving Maternity Services, or CIMS. Our first meeting is Thursday, March 11 at the downtown library in Ft. Worth from 6:00-8:00 p.m. We would like anyone who is interested in improving maternity care in the Ft. Worth area to join us. This first meeting we will explain what a Birth Network is, and from there, each month we'll discuss different topics relating to Mother-Friendly care.

Let's make a difference! If you are not in the Ft. Worth area, check out BirthNetwork National to see if there is a chapter in your area. If there is not, start one!


Amanda said...

Hi Donna! I just found your blog today via Progressive Pioneer and I just want you to know how much I appreciate what you're doing. I really do. I had my first baby 5 months ago and it was amazing. I won't go into too much detail in the comments (I have a bad habit of writing mini novels in comment sections BUT you can read about it here if you want and when women have asked me how it was and heard that I had a natural birth the overall response tends to be 'You did WHAT?!?! I could never do that' and that seems to be the end of the conversation in their minds. I try to tell them that they CAN do it but it seems like they just smile and not but had stopped listening almost immediately. When I was pregnant SO many women said to me 'don't be a hero!' Society and the medical community have done women a huge disservice by scaring them into not trusting their bodies and their babies. I just wanted you to know how much I respect and appreciate what you're doing. If there's any way I can be involved by lending my skills or my voice I'd be happy to. Preach on Sister!

Donna Ryan said...

Thanks Amanda! Are you in North TX? We'd love to have your help with the Tarrant Co. Birth Network!

Abby Wright said...

I found your blog today too and couldnt agree with you more. I am expecting our first baby in 2 months and was scared out of my mind at first becuase so many women talk about the pains and sufferings of child birth, but then after doing a lot of research and coming to understand my own body I am excited for the day to come. We are dilivering naturaly and like I said I cant wait!

Abby - Utah

Amanda said...

Hi Donna! Sadly, no. I am in Boston. I'm not sure how your network functions or if there are branches or divisions or if you're involved with birth centers around the country at all but if there's any way you could use help (I'm an illustrator and graphic designer as well!) from this corner of the country, I'd love to do whatever I can.

Donna Ryan said...

Amanda, I forwarded your "qualifications" to our volunteer coordinator, so she may get a hold of you. Thanks for your help!

Check out to see if there is a local chapter in Boston. You may be able to help out closer to home, which is always nice!

Abby, we used to live in Provo. Loved it there. Love TX too though! UT has the lowest c-section rate in the US. Lots of contributing factors there... Good luck with your upcoming birth!

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I feel like I go through this with all of my friends who are pregnant lately. ALL of my friends but one have been induced, and one had a c-section and a HEART ATTACK after the c-section (she was induced and spend at least 3 days in labor before the c-section). Another friend said that her friend refused to get induced, went a week overdue and then had a c-section because her pelvis was too small to get the baby out, so she decided to get induced on her due date for fear of a c-section (she didn't have a c-section, but she didn't realize that she was at more risk of having a c-section from being induced than waiting for spontaneous labor) Another friend has now had 3 c-sections because her doctor told her that her pelvis isn't wide enough to give birth vaginally. It is SO FRUSTRATING to have all of this knowledge and just watch your friends walk into these DANGEROUS situations. But, if you try and tell them what they're walking into, they'll discount your advice because they "trust their doctor". UGH!

Donna Ryan said...

I saw this employee today, back after "vacation," but he completely avoided me. Body language tells me he is fully aware now that his doctor gave his wife an "unnecesaren." No one likes to be told "I told you so." I wouldn't have done that! I just feel so sorry for them to start out parenthood while recovering from surgery that she didn't need.

Julie said...

I have been blessed with three over due and big babies so far (am expecting #4 in June and can't wait to see what s/he will be like). My third was my biggest at 10 1/2 pounds. My OB told me when they weighed him that if she had done the u/s scheduled for the next day and seen how big he was she "never would have even let me try". How sad she had those doubts (which I would have fought tooth and nail) especially since my last babies were 9lb 7oz and 9lb 10oz. Why would she doubt?

I am with a midwife and birth center this time. Sick of the pressure and all the doubts from the so-called professionals who don't even trust the process or the bodies abilities.

I am also a loud voiced advocate for not being afraid of "big" babies or even big babies.

The Deranged Housewife said...

Thanks for your upfront words - I am definitely adding you to my blog roll. No one likes to "blame" anyone, but sometimes yes, they ARE to blame. Sometimes the honest truth hurts more than the incision.

Anonymous said...

I HATE the size myth! That's my birth pet-peeve!

I'm 5' 4" and gave birth to an 11 lbs, 4oz baby. First child, at home, almost in the pool but I wanted a certain position to push her out so it ended up being a land birth.

Our bodies were made to birth!

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'll become a midwife or a naturopathic doctor someday, and then I can simply say "I trust MYSELF"...just like I've been saying for years...but nobody will take you seriously unless you ARE a "professional" ...ugh. I wish people were more educated and more willing to question mainstream ideas. I'd love to move to Texas!! :)

gingereenagirl said...

Hi, I'm 30.5 weeks pregnant with my first. I have a wonderful set of midwives who are geared more towards natural birth. I'll be delivering at Harris Methodist. I hope that's not the hospital with the 60% cesarean rate? :(