Monday, March 10, 2014

Healthy Mom/Healthy Baby - Is That Really All That Matters?

I recently heard of a hospital childbirth educator playing a birth plan game where each couple was given a set of cards with various things written on it that might be important to a couple (such as dim lighting and intermittent monitoring), including 2 cards that said "Healthy Baby" and "Healthy Mother".  The couples were told they could only keep 2 of the cards.

I find this game so offensive on so many levels.

First, what parent is going to keep anything other than these 2 cards at the end of the game? This goes without saying that all parents want their baby to be healthy. What mom wants to not be healthy? Seriously. The only lesson in a game like that is that ultimately birth doesn't matter. Birth is dangerous and you do whatever you have to to just get the baby out without either of you dying.

Second, the couple's wishes don't matter. We talk about the "dead baby card" being played by some OBs, but this is a different setup altogether. This sets the stage early on to teach the couple to be obedient patients. And really, who is going to write a birth plan after playing that game in the hospital class anyway? It's a form of brainwashing, in my opinion.

Natural birth advocates have been criticized for valuing the childbirth experience more than the life of their child. Give me a break. It's a sneaky - and rude - way of making women feel bad for wanting a good birth experience. Like they are being selfish for wanting that. I was recently talking to a mom who wanted to have a natural birth but her husband thought it was unsafe and wanted her to have the epidural.  Wha?! Where do people get these ideas?! I'll tell you where - from hospital classes like the one mentioned above.

Ladies, your birth matters and you have the right to be heard. Your wishes should be respected. Educate yourself so you know if your birth does become a "healthy mom/healthy baby" situation. Don't take their word for it - know for yourself!

You CAN have an amazing birth (and a healthy mom and healthy baby!)! Sign up for a live Birth Boot Camp class or our online class today.


Sarah Clark said...

I would like you to please tell me how you REALLY feel.

Awesome post!

fdm said...

Great picture. I recently chatted to my grandfathers sister - one of the last surviving relatives in my family in that generation. She is 86. I haven't seen her in 15 years and within a few minutes we had got around to me asking about her births. Once you give birth, suddenly you are fascinated by your families births. I didn't expect her to remember much but she told me about each labour and birth in detail. You never forget. She also told me how back in those days Grantly Dick-Read was very much in fashion and they all had natural drugfree births. She seemed saddened that her granddaughter was now advised to go upstairs for a c-section instead. You never forget.

Kristi said...

This is great! It bugs me when people insinuate that moms who want a natural birth are placing the experience above the health of the mother and baby.

Anonymous said...

Well, really, why don't we all just wear the same clothes? Warm and protected is good enough, right? Who needs to choose any kind of style? And while we are at it, we might as well go with the whole everyone gets the same house. Because sheltered is really all that matters. And all those guys who love hot cars....give it up. That old Pinto still runs and gets you from point A to point B. Safe transport is all that matters. HOW you accomplish the things you want is totally insignificant in life. It's really just about the bare minimum being met.

KrispyPotatoChip said...

This is a very interesting perspective that I've never considered. We did a similar activity when I was teaching Bradley Method. I feel like it helps couples to consider giving Informed Consent before they're in the moment and helps them determine their priorities. It also helps them realize how important their initial choices are and how they impact their birth overall (i.e. accepting an epidural automatically means accepting a catheter, being confined to bed, IV fluids, etc.). I always felt that the healthy mom/healthy baby part helps keep mom's priority in focus. In reality, a small percentage of our moms are going to have medically necessary Cesareans to no fault of their own. Ultimately those moms who feel disappointed or even devastated will use their healthy happy baby to help get past mourning for the loss of their birth experience.

So is it just this particular activity that you feel is used for brainwashing because they give up *everything* except Healthy Mom & Baby? Or is it all similar activities?

Kara said...

Very well said! I completely agree. I keep telling people "You can have a healthy baby, a healthy mom, AND give birth the way you want." Yes, things may come up that will force you to change your original plan, but that's no reason to not go into labor and birth with no preferences, no plan at all. To assume that anyone's top priority isn't healthy baby, healthy mom is insulting. That's a given. Those cards shouldn't even exist in the game.