Sunday, May 30, 2010

Maymester (aka. Feminist Boot Camp) & Childbirth

I will be finished with my Maymester on Wednesday! This is my first time taking one, and WOW, is it intense! It's like, the P90X of Feminist Theory. My professor calls it Feminist Boot Camp, and that is a pretty accurate moniker. However, it is probably my favorite class that I have taken, and I love how I've gotten to know the other students in the class. (Seeing each other 3 hours every day does that!) But, as much fun as it's been I will be relieved when it's over. I am looking forward to being able have a social life, work on house projects, blog, and spend time with the family! 

I am writing my final paper ( 8 pages) this weekend on the medicalization of childbirth from an ecofeminist perspective. I feel like such a nerd - I love writing papers (at least, on topics of interest to me). I have been thinking a lot about childbirth; it's interesting how perspectives change once one has experienced it. I'm still analyzing and critiquing my opinion, so I will hold that off for another day, but I'm really having a hard time deciding what I would do differently (and not differently) if there is a next time around. 

If you have had children, how has your perspective changed? Would you do (or have you done) things differently? (i.e. hospital, homebirth, birth center, ob or midwife, epidural, natural, c-section, etc.) (if you haven't had children yet, I would still love to hear your opinions!)


Rachel and John said...

I would love if you did a post on your paper. It's a very interesting topic and I love hearing EDUCATED opinions :) Like yours.

Anonymous said...

I haven't had children yet, but I'll give you my two cents anyway. I like the idea of going to a birth center, for two reasons: homebirths can be dangerous - when my sister gave birth, my niece had a complication that almost certainly wouldn't have been caught at a homebirth until it was too late (up until that point, I would have chosen a homebirth). But hospitals are...well...most hospitals don't take into account important things like GRAVITY and supporting environments. And ever since you posted that website,, my faith in hospitals has gone down dramatically. So I feel like a birth center would be the best of both worlds.

I want a doula. Definitely. And I would prefer a midwife over an ob. No c-section for me, unless absolutely necessary. I wish I was brave enough to go for a natural birth, especially since I know that my body was made to handle it, but I'll probably cave and take an epidural.

Mandi Miller said...

I think it's funny now how crazy we can get over having the right birthing experience. We focus so much on those precious few (or more) hours of labor and delivery but not near as much as the next 20 years of actually raising our children. Which in my opinion is MUCH harder. Labor was the easy part! :) All I ever thought about when I was pregnant was my birth plan. If/when I get pregnant with baby #2 I will be a lot more laid back. Nothing went according to plan and I ended up having to get a c-section which was definitely NOT in my birth plan! Haha! Seems like small potatoes now. I think discussing these things is great but as someone who had to get a c-section (and there really was no other way believe me, I would have died had I refused the c-section and so would my daughter)it drives me crazy when people think their way is the ONLY way and if you do it differently you are either sinning or are just wrong. I don't made their opinions but I do mind when they try to make me feel bad for my "decision". Not cool. Wow I wrote a lot. I can't wait to read about your paper!!

Shannon said...

I will share my birth story so you get a feel for my perspective. Sorry for writing the longest comment ever!!!!!!!!

I had my first child just over a year ago. I knew I wanted kids, but I didn't give any thought to what I wanted with respect to prenatal care and delivery until after I was pregnant.

My family doctor happened to be on Mat leave when I got pregnant, so I was referred to a OB early on. He was the same OB that treated me for another medical condition, so I was comfortable with him. I signed up for his clinic.

I hated the clinic! The nurses were nasty, the wait times were horrific, and you saw the doctor for 1.5 mins at each visit.

So looked into midwifery and I was lucky they had an opening! My husband was reluctant. I had him join me for a couple visits to convince him it was ok to stop seeing the doctor and transfer care to the midwife.

From this point on I educated myself on drug free natural birth, breastfeeding, how other cultures (past and present) view birth, etc. I loved my midwife. She spent up to an hour with me at every appointment alleviating my concerns, however minor.

I practiced my squats, my pain coping techniques and was set for a natural birth (intimidated and nervous, but set). The plan was to go through most of the labor at home, then drive to the hospital for the birth, and return home within 3-4 hours. At which point we planned on locking ourselves in our home, away from family and friends for a few days to bond as a new family.

At 37.5 weeks my baby turned breech. We tried everything to get him to reverse...including acupuncture (I fainted) and a version (ECV) at the hospital. I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees or upside down!

In the end I had a scheduled cesearen. Because this was my first child the midwife and doctors all thought it wise to forget my plans of natural birth.

I was soooo completely panicked going into the operating room that they gave me some sort of sedative. So my plans of having a drug free, natural birth changed completely.

I was required to stay in the hospital those early days, where nurses, doctors and family came to visit at the most inconvenient times (when I was finally about to catch a nap, or the baby was having problems with his latch, etc...) It still bothers me that I couldn't get out of bed that first night to pick up my child when he was screaming. Lucky my husband stayed on the cot to help.

My midwife attended the birth and stayed with us in the recovery room to help us breastfeed. She also came to the house and provided follow up care. My recovery was quick and fairly painless.

I am planning to have a VBAC with my second child. I will definitely book a midwife. I trust a midwife's opinion if she feels I should have any medical intervention. I find it odd to be a mother and I have never experienced labor pains. Its a bit of a void inside.

I am still intimidated and nervous about having a natural birth, but even though I have the option to have a c-section for my second baby too, I plan on trusting my body to do what its made to do!

Isn't funny how mother's are so quick to want to share their birth story? I hope there was something in there that helps you out!

Pat said...

I had my last baby 22 years ago...and I had her and her brother before natural! I attended Lamaze classes the first time around. Epidurals scare me...I have heard too many horror stories!

Sarah said...

I would also love to read more about your paper. I had a natural birth with a midwife, in a hospital that had a very supportive environment for natural births. I completely over-educated myself (driving my husband nuts), but it was so worth it. Hypnobirthing worked very well for me. It's a shame that so many women don't understand their bodies enough to know how strong and capable they are. While pregnant I constantly got rude comments from other women when they heard I was planning on a natural birth. I'm looking forward to another pregnancy and natural birth some day. I also agree that caring for a newborn and raising a child are MUCH more difficult than giving birth! We should have more preparation for that.

Christin@Pregnant with power tools said...

Well... my second was not like my first! I wish I would have had a Bradley "refresher" for #2, I forgot how to manage my pain, and labor was pretty fast and intense the second time. I think the labor experience is less about where and who delivers and more about your mental state and psychological preparation. Being where you are comfortable and feel safe (and that could be a hospital for many people) is good too.
That's all - I hope you write a post about your paper!

Tempest Ahoy said...

As a mother and a feminist, my opinion is that birthing SHOULD be involving choice. I do agree that fundamentally, birth has been overmedicalised.

I believe a woman should be free to birth how and where she chooses. If that is in a hospital, with or without a c-section, and that is her choice; or if she wants to give birth in a field, it's really not up to me to tell women where they should birth their children. I believe in bodily autonomy and, most importantly choice.

Maren said...

Being a nurse I'm a HUGE fan of medicine. I know that MANY people have lived and still live without it's benefits, but as my mom always told me "Noone is going to give you a medal for hurting!" I LOVED my epidural! As soon as I got it my body was able to relax and actually do what it was supposed to do and I had a baby an hour and a half later. I know it can be oposite for some people and the epidural can slow them down a little, but it gives you the oportunity for a reletively pain free nap knowing that your baby is being monitored so that you actually have energy to take care of your baby once they get here. The hospital I delivered at doesn't have great nurses in the motherbaby area but I knew that I wanted to be there because there were specialists and equiptment to help baby or me if for some freak chance we should need it. I fully support those that are conviced with "natural" but I must say that all birth is natural it is either medicated or not!

Robyn said...

I would love to read your paper after you have written it!

I am all for women doing whatever they personally feel comfortable doing. If a woman wants to go natural or medicated, in a hospital or in her home, with a doctor or midwife, with or without a doula, it should be her choice. However, safety should always be the number one concern.

I was a high risk pregancy, and spent a final portion of my pregnancy on bedrest. I had complications during delivery. I have a number of medical conditions, and had to have practically a team of doctors representing my various medical conditions involved in my pregnancy. I also have issues with pain, for medical reasons. So, needless to say, I was in a hospital, with doctors, and an epidural for my labor and delivery. But my husband and mother were with me, my mom serving as my doula. I went as long as I could without the medication, longer than I thought I could handle, because my daughter's birth was excruciating, despite my use of lamaze breathing and techniques.

Again, I had medical circumstances that made my pregnancy, labor, and delivery what it was.

I felt uncomfortable when some would tell me I did the wrong thing, that I should have gone natural, and so on.

But that wasn't right for me and my daughter.

I fully support a woman's choice to have the pregnancy, labor, and delivery of her choice, and I think part of that should involve women being respected regardless of the personal choices they make.

I love hearing various pregnancy, labor, and delivery stories - They are so amazing in every way.

Vanessa said...

My perspective hasn't changed since having my girls... It's always pretty much been: Do what feels right. It felt right to have them at the hospital, without an epidural, to breastfeed, etc. It felt right to feed on demand and let them set their schedule. And other than potty training, there's nothing I would do differently! :-)