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can we talk about feedback/complaints on birth care? - Page 2

post #21 of 57
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by rnchrista View Post
My first homebirth was wonderful. Pregnant the next time around, I continued care with the same midwife. I found my prenatal experience to be totally different. The midwife was going through a lot in her personal life, and our prenatal appointments were filled with her talking about her personal issues. We hardly discussed my pregnancy. I started feeling angry that I was paying her and not getting a service. Instead, I was the one giving a service....I spent our hour long appointments feeling like her therapist.

I was unsure how to handle the situation. I felt like I had a connection with her from my previous birth, plus we had also kept in touch afterwards and went to lunch a couple times, so I considered us casual friends. I would try to turn the convo at prenatals back to my prenatal care, but she'd go right back to her issues. I didn't want to hurt her feelings by leaving her practice so I hung in there. Eventually, I transferred to OB care due to some complications I was having, and I actually felt a sense of relief at having a good excuse for leaving her care. I realize now I was more concerned about hurting her feelings then I was about not getting the professional service I paid for. I put her over me. I think I've learned from that experience.
Oh dear...I've seen how this can be a problem in homebirth--have heard some families and mws both talk about this. Families complaining about a mw doing this, mws complaining that their clients 'don't want to be there for me, though I give so much'...oy. And I've seen myself do the same at times, catching myself going on about me if I'm under stress. At least, if it has something to do with the world of midwifery. No one has complained--and have hired me again. For me, it's been something I would catch myself doing and stop, turning back to mama's care with 'nuff about me, sorry!' I think since the topic was the midwifery world, it was more ok than if I'd just been talking about messy divorce or something...they are generally interested in the world of midwifery and know that it can be stressful at times (legal, medical, or community issues that can arise; mws are few, and fams want to help keep it available however they can). But while I've been grateful for my clients' indulgence, I know it's still not ok and have worked to eliminate it. Your comments were a good kick in the patootie for me!

So--'nuff about me! I don't know how far back your experience was, but this is valuable feedback to give if you have any inclination. Homebirth care does tend to be more intimate/personal, and lends itself more readily to such boundary issues. I see it as a new territory we are all still learning. And honestly, the busier a mw is, the less likely she has time for personal support and fun--the more likely she will be to use her clients for those purposes...her need is there, it spills over...not so good for families, as you so clearly say.
post #22 of 57
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
I felt like my midwife really dropped the ball with helping establish breastfeeding, and then did not properly manage what ended up being a critical level of jaundice.

I was a first-time mom, and I had the added pressure of my own mother who behaved very badly the day after the birth, part of it having to do with the breastfeeding. My midwife kept assuring me that breastfeeding was going fine, but I kept feeling like my baby was getting nothing. I was new and didn't know anything. My midwife even at some point, in response to my concerns, picked up my baby and said "does this look like a hungry baby to you?" My baby was fast asleep, we couldn't really wake her up. I really feel that my midwife should have known that a "sleepy baby" was a huge red flag. She never asked me how many diapers we were going through, or if there were any bowel movements. She seemed absolutely intent on everything being "just fiiiiiine."
Oh goodness--that must have been so rough for you all! I'm so glad you got good help. This leaves me almost speechless...all I can say is that your story makes me glad that I always tell families in any situation of worry/doubt that does not too easily resolve--"I'm not seeing a problem, but your sense of the situation is very important--and I really don't know everything. Let's look for some help to clarify this". Stories like yours only confirm my feeling about how important that is.

All of you help me see how sensitive a topic this is--how hard it can be for quite awhile following birth, to consider making a complaint. You also help me see how very important it is for me as a birth professional to work to keep lines of comm open, and to be sensitive to families' feelings/needs even if they're not talking freely. But then, I'm a communicator and a 'relationship person'--midwifery is all about the relationships going on (all the relationships, including mine w/family). I see that not every mw is--at least not in the same way.

A big reason I started this thread was in response to dynamics in my own backyard where client complaints seem to get so easily dismissed by all concerned. Dismissed (or completely shut down) by one's own mw, by other mws, by the organizations (in an unregulated state), and even by other families. Its practically a superstition, magical thinking (not in the good way)--"you might bring your bad birth juju to me, if I listen to your sad story or grant any reality to your complaint". I'm the naughty 'disloyal' one who is not properly protective --not even of myself, apparently, because I insist, against all 'better advice' that I just shouldn't be so upfront with people about my skills *along with* my limitations...and various other things I won't enumerate here. Partly I've wanted to just talk about it--but also to see if I could begin to see ways to help change this for the better.

So thanks all, and keep talking to me
post #23 of 57
I saw an OB in the beginning of my pregnancy. My very first doctor's visit was a DISASTER! From their inability to find an ultrasound machine that worked (going in and out of my room with different ones while I was in a gown, leaving the door open, etc)...to the doctor bringing a standby as well as a student in without asking permission, so all of them plus my husband crowded at the foot of my bed as they are about to do a vaginal exam (I asked the student to leave.)...to the doctor making the most insensitive comment I've ever heard: when I asked him what I could do to prevent a second miscarriage, he said "Oh, you probably had the first miscarriage because of a birth defect or something. You should be glad! You wouldn't have wanted a baby with a problem." I wrote a letter of complaint. This was a military hospital, and I was contacted personally by a high up, important military officer with a personal apology. At the same hospital a few weeks later, that doctor walked by me in the hall and refused to even look me in the eye.

My birth was okay--I had transferred to a midwife. It was the best I was going to get in the area, as that midwife practice was the one and only non-hospital care available to me within a 60-70 mile radius. However, there were tons of vaginal exams, which I *knew* by that time, after all my research in pregnancy, were pointless...they gauged my progress too much by those exams. My midwife, who has a matter of fact & blunt personality, made some not-so-supportive comments to me throughout my labor. I was on my back when I started pushing, and nobody suggested a different position (not my doula, the midwife, the student midwife, the midwife's assistant, or my husband for that matter!) and although I wanted to move, I couldn't find the words or the strength to do it myself. When I was pushing, my midwife's hands were IN my vagina the entire time, and she kept pulling and stretching me, and grabbing at the baby's head...it was SO uncomfortable. They didn't respect my wishes to wait a long time to cut the cord, and rushed me out of the tub less than 2 minutes after she was out (I have it all on video so have the exact times). They also rushed me home from the birth center (it had been my last minute decision to use their center vs a homebirth because I wanted to use their jacuzzi tub) by saying, "You wanted a home birth any way, so do you want to go ahead and go home now?" just 2 hours after she was born, instead of the standard 4 hours. I felt weak & tired & didn't want to move, but felt I'd already inconvenienced them enough by asking to use the birth center last minute. I didn't feel very supported in my extreme post partum pain, or in breastfeeding.

I never complained to my midwife...not a word. At first I was on a birth high and pushed away my negative thoughts about the birth and told myself I was being too critical. Over time I've come to terms with my own emotions, and 15 months later, still having pain from my labial tear that may have been prevented had my midwife not had her hands in my vagina my entire birth, I feel anger without guilt for that anger. I don't think she even remembers me at this point, so I'm not sure what good it would do now.

Next time, I will be choosing a VERY hands off midwife. I almost want to do a UC, but will choose a midwife to stand by in case we do need something.
post #24 of 57
Thread Starter 
Ihugtrees--well, that pregnancy sounds like it was just full of unpleasant things from providers....though I'm glad it was not enough to ruin your birth high at the time!

The more I hear from you all and think about it, the less easy it seems to glean insight. Well, some insights perhaps but no easy answers. I've known many fine mws and even a few OBs I liked (though of course there are reasons the medical world is not one I joined). There's such a complex weave of things involved in 'what goes wrong'--Drs who are taught to be detached as The Professional way to be, and have habits along with liability concerns and peer pressure to contend with; girls/young women NOT taught enough about their bodies, and birth, as they grow--not knowing enough to ask questions or find their own best answers. Hb Mws being an oppressed group with their own pressures to deal with; women in general being raised to put others ahead of them, like rnchrista mentioned. The input of husbands/family on birthing choices--the availability of choices--laws, religion, customs...personalities on both sides, limitations of being human...loyalties....sheesh.

Looking at it all this way makes me wonder how anyone has a birth they are fairly totally pleased with! But of course, women do, every day--including births that you or I might not have enjoyed much. Trying to remind myself of that here....

The med institutions and licensed practitioners do have methods in place for complaints--however difficult they might be to access, or get real results from. I don't know. Something I've done is to be a sounding board for those who are frustrated with all this. Just talking about it to someone who will listen can be so healing in itself; if the listener can really believe from their own experience, how hard it can be to get results on a complaint, all the better. And sometimes as a listener I can offer a suggestion along with the sympathy that may be helpful in some way--not always...anyway, babbling here so I'll stop now!
post #25 of 57
Thread Starter 

so...what helps?

Some who've posted here were able to share their 'success stories' about bringing complaints to providers...whether directly by seeing action on a complaint, or more indirectly through working for change at their local hospital.

Healing from disappointment or trauma is a very individual journey...and from my own experience I know it seems to take time, and a focus on one's own needs/feelings/care, throughout. The healing journey is seldom a straight and easy one--again from my experience and listening to others' stories, it can involve addressing issues stemming from one's persnal history as well as 'social factors' such as others' reactions and mainstream practices with birth. It might mean such things as learning to be more assertive in general, choosing care more carefully next time...all kinds of things.

If you have/had any issues with your birth experience--be that complaints about a doctor involved, your mw, nurses or LCs, 'policies' in place--what helped you? Or might help you, if it were available? What was missing that you would like to see changed somehow in the 'outer world'? Is there any way in which you helped yourself to heal by making changes of your own, in any way?

This is a lot of individual questions--not asking anyone to answer them all! Unless you feel like it....But if any of those questions speaks to you, please share with us...this healing work is so important. Making complaints can be important, personally and also toward more general social change; it's not the only thing that helps healing though, and some just prefer not to complain. Still thinking about what I might do, on a local level, to address this growing problem of women traumatized or at least very disappointed in their birth/birth care....all thoughts welcome.

post #26 of 57
For me, it was essential to take back a sense of my own power, and to recognize what things I actually did have control over and what things I didn't. I personally felt like a failure because I couldn't convince my daughter's doctors to let my healthy child go home instead of having IM antibiotics for an infection she *never had.* I needed to recognize my own strength and to be able to call out for what it was, and to recognize the good things that I had done and fought for the entire time. Claiming my own strength was enormously healing for me, because it made me feel like an active participant instead of the person who got hit by a steamroller.

In past births, there have been other issues. Like, in my first home birth, we had a serious shoulder dystocia. It was very unexpected and seemed to come out of nowhere, and while my midwife was prepared for it in terms of hands on skills, she did not know how to handle the emotional aftermath as well. My husband went on a "how do we keep this from ever happening again" spree, which he should not have done and he could see that after the fact. But she went down that path too, and I was literally recovering from a bad PPH (my iron was only an 8.4 at 2 1/2 weeks post partum) while they were discussing how I must have eaten too much ice cream and sugar binged my way into a shoulder dystocia. It was intensely painful and contributed to a PPD tailspin.

I indirectly raised it when I shared that birth story with my MW, where I wrote about how that discussion made me feel. And when we were pregnant again, we chose the same midwife and I had a respectful but clear conversation about how if we ran into complications we needed to not do any rehashing until I was at least 2 weeks post partum.

I'm kind of rambling, but for me here are things that have been helpful:

1. Having medical records. Your perception can get warped from everything going on, and having factual records (or seeing that your records are not factually true) can be very helpful to coming to resolution on things. For me, my daughter's records are full of , which made me free to understand that I didn't somehow miss the "right" language to convince my daughter's attending to let her go home. He had it out for us, as is evidenced by the brain damage he decided to throw into her chart. Seriously.

2. Hearing the care provider's side of the story. There were things that I had forgotten about that my midwife was able to tell me, and they made me feel much less responsible for somehow not miraculously being able to keep my daughter from needing hospital care.

I think that asking for someone's birth story might be a good start, because there might be things that a mother would be more comfortable writing than saying out loud. Listen to the mother's feelings in her words, and maybe use that as a springboard to ask how you could have helped her in that moment her feel more confident in her strength and courage as a mother, and how you can help her now.

Anyways, I'm rambling at this point, but I hope that is helpful! And thank you for caring about how to help women who have had trauma or pain related to their birth giving experiences.
post #27 of 57
Thread Starter 

Wow, thanks for that insightful post, sharing your thoughts with reference to your experiences--very helpful to me!

I've definitely seen from seeing stories online, hearing them from mamas who connect with me for one reason and another, as a mom and mw as well dealing with disappointing/traumatic births, that perhaps the biggest issue for most moms is that sense of powerlessness that occurs. It is so debilitating! And all the moreso when some are invested in maintaining their power over families--out of defensiveness, and/or a need to continue controlling events in the aftermath (like your NICU doc/scenario). You are so right that healing relies so much upon finding one's power again. In part that can mean re-membering the ways in which one truly WAS powerful as things occured, and after--reframing the events to include the real ways in which one worked to act toward normal birth, or to deal pro-actively or assertively in situations of difficulty that may have been no one's 'fault' but still led to trauma (no provider or parent can always cause birth to go perfectly well). And also, claiming the power in the present to have a positive, chosen impact on what happens next.

Your story about your SD is also very helpful. After any birth that was hard for parents in any way--even in 'smaller ways' such as more pain than expected, more pp bleeding or a baby who is a bit slow to start, but nothing really 'emergent' or long term--as you point out there are a few parties to emotional aftermath: the parents along with the mw, sometimes other fam/friends as well. It can helpful *eventually* to discuss such things as growing smaller babies or building a higher hemaglobin prior to birth...but oh my! I cringe to think that your mw engaged in that sort of discussion so very early in things--only encouraging your dh in that trend while you were still recovering from birth and so vulnerable (most all postpartum women are emotionally vulnerable--those whose births were difficult/disappointing, only moreso). To me that is ALL about their feelings of trauma/fear--and trying to get rational control instead of facing and working through the feelings. Far better if your mw had recognized that emotional component for herself and your dh--and done 2 things: one is, to acknowledge her own emotional trauma, and seek *private* healing for herself. 2nd, to affirm his feelings, but discourage your dh from going there--"let's put that discussion off for the time being--for now, let's focus on everyone's immediate recovery and comfort. That was so scary for everyone, we need to let that settle first. Time enough later for review."

In any event, I really appreciate your post! I can see that while gathering insight that might help me to help moms/families, one important element of this is to also work with mws/providers on this issue. This topic comes up sometimes among birth professionals--how to handle difficult emotions following a hard birth. One problem for caregivers is that we are seen--and tend to come to see ourselves--as so strong, and needing always to be in rational control. We may not always be so fully aware of our own feelings--but they ARE in play, whether or not we see that at the time (as I think your SD mw shows). Obviously, a provider can't have a crying fit or nervous breakdown while needed to provide care--we do have to have some control over ourselves/feelings while working. But definitely need to know how to acknowledge and care for our own feelings in due course and appropriate ways. This is something I'll be thinking about for sure, as I also consider how families can be helped.

thanks so much
post #28 of 57
Yeah, it was pretty bad from my perspective with the SD birth, but I can very easily see why my MW got overwhelmed. It was the worst SD she had seen, and it was a danged atypical one. You don't necessarily expect a multip having a near painless labor, 2nd stage of all of 8 minutes to get a serious SD seemingly out of nowhere. That anterior shoulder just popped right over my pubic bone and got impacted there, and it was bad. I don't blame her for being caught off guard. We all were, and I'd absolutely work with her again.

But I didn't feel "vindicated" so to speak in that I hadn't caused my daughter's dystocia by sugar bingeing until the next birth where I followed Brewer to a T and ate zero refined sugars, passed the GTT with flying colors and wound up with an even bigger baby born earlier than Little Miss 3 Minute Shoulder Dystocia to Apgar 0. Turtling on your umbilical cord is not something we recommend.

That MW is still my friend, and I trust her judgment and skills. It's just one of those things where you really really need to hold the birth space for the mom, to get back on the bonding and confidence track instead of the "ok, what do we do to fix this for next time?" track. I was so weak from blood loss that I couldn't even stand, and probably would have benefitted from a transfusion. Tack on "my baby was kind of dead for a little bit there" and "she looks awfully chubby in a GD kind of way" and it's a bad combo. But I'm glad that I got to be the guinea pig, if that makes any sense? I was on my 3rd baby, and I was able to come back from it probably more easily than a first time mom would have, and I already knew how to care for infants and breastfeed. And it has to be hard to be the birth professional, to have professional responsibility in a situation and to likely be at least somewhat of a friend to the mother. The personal investment that this is *your* friend and her baby and something either just difficult or dangerous/traumatic happened.. it has to be hard. I know it was hard for the MW we had this most recent birth with NICU transfer, but she also had 30 years of experience in birth work, and she really helped me keep going throughout the nonsense we went through. In many ways, this birth had the best "labor" support I've had in a birth yet.

Maybe you'd get less resistance from local birth professionals if it was framed as a post partum depression prevention thing? Or PTSD screening? Like perhaps try to make it a standard of care thing in your community that when there is a risk factor for PPD/PTSD due to birth difficulties, there is a more in depth screening?
post #29 of 57
Thread Starter 
So--are you saying that your next large baby did NOT have SD issues?

"That MW is still my friend, and I trust her judgment and skills. It's just one of those things where you really really need to hold the birth space for the mom, to get back on the bonding and confidence track instead of the "ok, what do we do to fix this for next time?" "

I agree with this 110%. I've had people ask me sometimes--'how do you deal with the fear in a crisis situation?' I say--I try to just recognize it if/when it arises, and mentally tell myself 'ok, fear, I see you; you just have to stay in *this* corner for now, cuz I have other things to attend to right now'. Compartmentalizing has it's uses! Same idea would go for helping families move as smoothly as possible into pp time, in the days/weeks following a difficult birth. But sometimes--especially in such a surprising and intense situation as your SD--it's harder for a mw to keep the compartments tight enough...especially if someone like your dh was busy trying to 'figure it out right away', as a method of coping with his own trauma. I can think of a few times when my own compartments 'cracked' at least a little, when someone in the situation was leading the way into territory best for me avoid for the time being.

I'm so glad to know that you did not lose respect or affection for that mw, though--that in spite of that one misstep of hers, you could still see that she had done a good job for you guys in the most important moments of saving your baby's life. I think you're right--that being your 3rd baby probably helped you a lot in recovering from all that.

I'll think about your suggestion re: framing post partum discussion of care in terms of ppd/ptsd prevention/healing....it's definitely a good idea to find positive, pro-active ways of framing anything! I've recently had a discussion with a Birthing from Within facilitator/teacher about this issue. Her idea was to set up a Reconciliation Circle for the birth community (including docs, doulas, mws, LCs anyone really, who is involved with birth/after-birth care)...a place where families can face those with whom they have some sort of issue, for all concerned to freely speak their part, toward peace.

This sort of reconciliation work is now being done in South Africa, in this time so newly post-apartheid when social conditions are begining to change but the attitudes of many are still much effected by hatred/bigotry, from one side or the other. The idea is to face and acknowledge all the feelings and other results people have experienced (on all sides), without any pre-conceived plans for 'redress' or punishment. It is a place where the 'offended' can freely speak, and the 'offender' can receive that and also speak their own part. The only goal I suppose is peace and healing, however people are able to use such a circle to help themselves and anyone else involved. As spoken already here, just being heard and acknowledged can have a powerful healing impact--but when it's just one to one, you never know if that will occur (if the provider is defensive/denying, or the family too hostile). A circle can be present to help all people speak their truth, and hear the others' truth.

With something like this, I would think, a lot of providers and families might feel safer to participate. And if either side refuses to participate--choosing either denial/avoidance, or more legalistic/punitive ways to address a problem, well that in itself would be a statement for the community to hear and consider, KWIM?
post #30 of 57
Heh.. my 11 lber, on further discussion with my past and current MWs, was not a bony impaction so much as a positioning issue. He couldn't do the cardinal movements and needed to be turned, but it was a question more of lining him up right than of freeing an impacted shoulder. And now I just had my 5th birth where she followed the same pattern of needing to turn the same direction, going from ROA to shoulders delivering only if they're OP and most quickly if I'm rocking the stranded beetle with some suprapubic pressure. So, I'm just going to plan on that as my "normal" from now on. I figure if every kid from my dinky little 7 lber to my 11 lber came out the same way, that's just how my pelvis funnels little people. But if we're going only by "turtle signs", I've only had 1 SD.

This last birth was a 9 lbs 12 oz, but fluid overloaded and to me felt more like should have been 8 1/2 lbs. She was not a SD, but did brace herself in my pelvis with her arms in the startle reflex, so my MW had to resolve that but it took all of 30 seconds. I controlled protein intake in the 1st trimester, and had fundal height measurements that were right on this time instead of 4-6cm ahead, and her placenta was not gigantic. She did have her lost twin's placenta fused to hers (H1N1 early 2nd tri), but hers was reasonably sized and blood loss was pretty minimal. Very very weird stuff that birth. We may be getting written up as a case study, possible twin to twin or possible RH disease between an RH negative placenta fused to an RH positive placenta and baby, with very odd vascularization connecting them and two hard impact falls that pregnancy. Man, I think I need a year or two off even after just thinking about that birth. Geez.

I think a reconciliation circle is a really good idea, especially because it might bring into the dicussion some impartial perspectives that can validate or offer new insight into difficult situations. And it doesn't have to be judgmental to say "birth throws us curveballs sometimes, and we want to learn from the rare and difficult situations that come up so that we are stronger and more compassionate going into other births down the line." Hard situations are inevitable in terms of the numbers. It's *going* to happen. It's impossible to avoid. But bringing everyone together to support all the parties involved and to honor their experience, and be stronger as a community for working through things together? That would be a very good gift to everyone involved.
post #31 of 57
Thread Starter 
I love hearing all the details of your births--with your growing understanding of how things work for you, given your body, and what kinds of help you may need. It's so amazing and wonderful! I've had the privilege of working with some women like you--had a number of babies, learning from each experience, becoming very much their own expert on things (even if needing or just desiring 'outside expert help'). Hey, if you're going to make several babies, then it's a Big Work in your life--you might as well give it that kind of attention and thought, honoring yourself and babies and this important work in a way that no one else really can (even if others can be helpful in some moments)

The more I think about a Reconciliation Circle, the more I like the idea. Your thoughts on it resonate for me: when I consider some births I was personally involved in (whether a mistake was made by anyone, or disappointments were unavoidable), hearing people out, and being able to speak my own piece, had the effect on all of making us more mindful and connected with the impact of our own and others' interplay with birth. For myself--pushing me to be sure I know enough (including my limitations and when to seek outside help), really am in good sync/good comm with families, and also am present enough in each situation to read it right--rather than judging the present in light of the past, the textbooks, etc. For families--leading them to understand the importance of really good communication throughout, really knowing their own wishes and listening to their own intuition, taking responsibility to the highest possible degree in the way that's appropriate for birthing families. Feel like I'm casting about here--does this make any sense? I'm talking about the kind of de-briefing that Lunarlady mentioned w/her mw--one on one w/her mw, of the sort that I have also participated in w/clients.

A few people immediately spring to mind....those who (whether mama or provider) seem to need it most, but also seem least likely to show up...but particular individuals can't be the reason for doing/not doing such a circle. In fact, anyone's troubled feelings about particular individuals (and the negative part played thus far in the community w/respect to this issue of complaints/healing) would probably fade very much in the light of good work done by willing others in such a circle. And the good feelings, healing, and forward motion that might be gained, could certainly have a positive impact on anyone in the community, whether they eventually chose to become involved, or not. Would impact the functioning of the community on the whole...potentially over time, introducing a new ethic, a new way of approaching and working with the relationships involved, right from the outset...KWIM?

Anyone else have thoughts on this?
post #32 of 57
My first birth was an unnecessary cesarean without fully informed consent. I had written a birth plan for a natural birth, taken the hospital birth classes, chosen a practice with female OBs, was going to have my sister in the room with me who had birthed naturally twice. I even read some of the Bradley book after I discovered it in my 8th month. I thought I had my bases covered. Well... I didn't know I had bases to cover, really.
At 38 weeks I was told my baby was getting too big to birth vaginally, and if I wanted a chance at natural childbirth, I'd have to be induced. I agreed. I went into the hospital the next morning, and another doctor was on-call. She ordered an u/s (my 7th that pregnancy) and told me to birth vaginally would risk... including death, and she felt I needed a cesarean. I cried as I signed the consent form. How did I fail before even trying?? What other choice did I have?? Birthing her would be very dangerous.
In the OR, I was mocked while I cried. "Why are you crying? It's your baby's birthday." They made jokes when I asked if an epidural would be bad given through my tattoo. I had to be sedated twice. I was so out of sorts, when one doc remarked my baby's head was the size of a bowling ball, I thought he said that she was a boy.
My baby had troubles. She had to have enemas. Her stomach had to be pumped. She choked and sputtered so much. When my breasts became heavy with milk and ached, I could not help my baby latch. I asked repeatedly for an LC and none was ever available for me. Finally, an older nurse told me I had inverted nipples and plopped some nipple shields onto my bed. When I needed a pump to try to relieve my soreness, I had to go search one out myself. Then, we had to figure out how to use it on our own.
No one ever came in to check that I was up and moving around. I was hurting so bad (I wasn't stapled... only taped), and was so depressed that I didn't want to move. I became short of breath, and only then did I hear that pulmonary embolism was a risk to cesarean. I stayed in the hospital for 5 days... being cleared through tests (no embolism).
When I cried again, I was again asked what for by a nurse who seemed taken aback that I was so sad. I hurt for what me and my sweet DD went through. It was even worse when about an hour after she was born, I began accepting the fact that I had been wronged. I didn't have proof, just my heart.
When I was able, I began to study. Communed with a local ICAN chapter. I received confirmation from another OB that my cesarean was unwarranted. I had my medical records sent, and was hurt all over again when it read "she had a change of heart and really desired a cesarean section". Lies!
I have written several letters to that doctor over the years, but have never mailed them. I don't believe they would be read. Cast aside as was my birth plan. It wouldn't change how she practiced. What I have done that has helped is to become a childbirth educator and doula. That is where I feel I can help the most. If I had had a doula (even knew what one was), I don't believe I would have consented to surgery. Not because she would have been my bodyguard, but because she would have reminded me of my birth plan, and that there was time for waiting, and questions. Just spreading the word of choice to women, and giving them the space to make them.
I have also written a work of fiction about birth stories both with happy and not so happy endings. That helped me put my experience into the big picture. Planning my second birth was a tremendous healing experience for me as well. So was experiencing labor. Oh, it was joyous to me.
I believe it will be women who will initiate the change in our birth culture. Informed women, who know their rights, choices, and who demand respect.
post #33 of 57
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for telling us all of that, eastkentuckygal--wow, what a story. Too often do I hear of young moms being talked out of even trying to give birth on their own, with this 'big baby' card.

I am so glad that you took your feelings and translated that energy into positive action for yourself--and all women who are interested!

I love this: "I believe it will be women who will initiate the change in our birth culture. Informed women, who know their rights, choices, and who demand respect. " You are so right! 'Good birth--normal birth' cannot be given to us (and clearly *won't* be given to us by today's OB care)--we have to ask for it, insist on it, demand respect as you say. We can help so much by sharing our stories and information about our rights, the possible choices and the importance of self-empowered care instead of giving away all the power to care-providers.

As I have been thinking lately--we can give all responsibility for knowledge and actions to care providers, empowering them to make the choices for us. We might even be able to 'hold them responsible', legally and philosophically, for outcomes of care. But care providers will not live with the results of that care--only WE do, women, babies and our families. We are the ones who will be 'responsible' in real life--the only ones who will live forever with the results of care (physically and emotionally), the ones who will be forced to find or create the 'ability to respond' every day to what happens at our births.

So--empowering care providers really doesn't work. The 'safety' this confers to us is so questionable in this era anyway, as birth becomes more and more tech-and-provider-controlled, with less evidence to support that trend and mounting evidence against it. But our empowering of providers is such an illusioin anyway--because in reality, we are the ones responsible (able to respond) in our daily lives for dealing with the aftermath of giving up our knowledge and choice to someone else during birth.

Thanks for posting! While I believe that something like Reconciliation can help women to heal--and might even touch an offending care provider in a useful way--I agree that taking responsibility for being informed, and making pro-active choices into the future, is even more important in changing the birth scene on the whole.
post #34 of 57
Originally Posted by MsBlack View Post
As I have been thinking lately--we can give all responsibility for knowledge and actions to care providers, empowering them to make the choices for us. We might even be able to 'hold them responsible', legally and philosophically, for outcomes of care. But care providers will not live with the results of that care--only WE do, women, babies and our families. We are the ones who will be 'responsible' in real life--the only ones who will live forever with the results of care (physically and emotionally), the ones who will be forced to find or create the 'ability to respond' every day to what happens at our births.

Thanks for posting! While I believe that something like Reconciliation can help women to heal--and might even touch an offending care provider in a useful way--I agree that taking responsibility for being informed, and making pro-active choices into the future, is even more important in changing the birth scene on the whole.
It is me who will live with how my daughter was brought into the world, but not because I failed to try to inform myself. I read what I knew was available to me. I had attended a natural childbirth myself at that point as labor support. I looked diligently for a midwife and found none. I took classes that were provided to me through the hospital. I did prenatal yoga. I thought I was ready. But, I didn't know about the "machine" that is modern obstetric care. I had no clue, and the sources of educating women about this were not very apparent. I was living in a relatively large city at that time, with many doulas, homebirth midwives, and childbirth educators, but I saw no advertisements. I knew no other mothers who birthed in the area. I was lost. Really lost. There was nothing more I could have done for myself, even with all of this available to me. It wasn't until I tuned in with other mothers who parent in the AP style that I even learned about any of these things. At a point when my heart, mind, and soul was telling me what was best for my baby and me, my hands were tied in providing that for myself.

This is where some care providers abuse us. She knew my ignorance. She knew she was the OB and I could be her 4th cesarean of the day at 2:31pm, and I wouldn't question it. She knew it because she played on the part of me that was protecting my baby with that 3 page birth plan I had written. Writing to her at this point, wouldn't be anything, though I do want to sometimes. She'd likely not remember me, and would soon forget my letter, because you are right. She doesn't have to live with it. I do. I'm the one who has to watch my DD suffer with eczema that was likely triggered by her birth. I was the one who got an infected incision site that tore open because it was only taped shut - just by trying to be the one caring for my baby. I'm the one who did all I could to be a healthy mother, only to have to give birth via the most invasive option, just to be told that I should be happy because my baby is healthy. She was not healthy (not as healthy as was possible to her). She was not over 10lbs. as they had said. I am not a small woman. I was not over or under weight. There was no medical basis in what happened to me, even by ACOG standards.

I can be angry at care providers, but I'm not. I am angry at the OB who did this too me, but not like I was before. Especially after reading Pushed, I realize that there is much more to this than people being mean to one another. Education is the key. Education and respect for choices when choices are able to be made. I'm sad for everyone who practices midwifery or obstetric care under this cloud of blame, guilt, and consumerism, and all the women who have to birth under such circumstances. Our society can't continue to choose not to know the information, and we can no longer withold it from women. Like one woman said in the movie... The Business of Being Born... as a culture we put more research in the decision of buying a car or house than in birthing a child. So, the system is set up that way.
post #35 of 57
Thread Starter 
I absolutely agree that even an informed, empowered mama can have a terrible birth experience--for all the reasons you mentioned. It can be hard to find alternatives in birth, even if they are all around you but somewhat 'underground' or at least, not mainstream. And the medical system is just so very accustomed to having all the power, and knows so many ways to keep appropriating that power if we resist--your story of your OB is a good example: seeing how dedicated you were to your baby's safety and health, she simply used that against you to get the results SHE wanted, with your 'permission' (not really with your fully-informed consent, however).

At times, it seems that empowered mamas who are most pro-active can have the worst time in medicalized care. Partly because their empowered attitude is so uncomfortable for Drs accustomed to having all the power-- these women may attract a greater-than-usual amount of 'bullying attention' (however 'kindly-and-gently' phrased) from providers. And partly because of a woman's chosen ideals--when the mama experiences a birth so far different than what she'd worked for, her feelings of disappointment/trauma can be so intense.

I appreciate your comments about being angry about your experience, and at the surgical OB--also your saying how sad it is for all professional birthworkers in the present climate. I would add too, that it's pretty infuriating and sad as well for birthing women! Of course you know that firsthand (like most in this forum), I just appreciate that you see the quandary--and struggles of all involved in birthwork right now.

And I totally agree--in spite of the backlash some have experienced, the way forward will be continued by women and families willing to empower themselves. Only you in need of birth services can get the services you seek by learning what you need to know about healthy birth options, and being fully engaged with making birth-care choices. This is 'managing' our own care--even if we may give limited empowerment to medical or other care providers from time to time. Rather than exclusively empowering care providers to know all, and choose all, for us, we have to let care providers know what we want in care--and what we don't want, and won't accept, as well. We have to work with those whose safe-birth vision best matches our own, and we have to avoid services we see as unnecessary or possibly harmful for ourselves and babies. We have to re-imagine our births, speak them to power, and walk toward their realization ourselves.

This is how things will change for each woman, and for more families all the time, IMO--and for birth professionals as well. What if there was an 'overmanaged birth service' and nobody came? By using their right to Informed Consent Or Refusal of services, by serving their own health with good daily choices--a family can live out their vision of a healthy and happy-enough birth. They can safely manage all aspects of their own care, including possible co-care, limited empowerment of providers in special circumstances, and all that safety requires.

And I for one think that the world of Birth Professionals couldn't help but change quite a bit for everyone, in response to people's choice of self-empowerment. Even the seemingly teflon collective ego of the demi-god HCPs couldn't help but respond to offering services that fewer and fewer seek out, I think But still, 'changing the care-providers and the system' has to be secondary to changing ourselves...first we must be the change we want to see in our world.
post #36 of 57
I had a horrible experience with a doula and I am a doula myself. I was in my very Christian, "forgive and foget" phase at the time and it took be about 3 years to finally write her a letter and lambast her about her "care".

I suppose I was extra-reluctant to deride her character because she is the exact face of doulas that anti-HB/doula mainstream society would expect. She literally did nothing to help me and actually left me to take a smoke break while I was in the hospital. Completely incompetent and I wouldn't even say her name if I did start to vent about her because I think I felt some wierd loyalty to her since she and I shared the same profession/calling and know a few of the same people.

Since I started feeling comfortable saying her name along with the complaint I've heard about 90% similar feedback. The 10% positive feedback is from moms who happened to have uncomplicated, easy births. I just hired a different doula for baby #2 and mentioned my awful doula and she asked if it was her. She knew exactly who it was before I even mentioned her name. She is very close with several L and D nurses and OBs/MWs in the area and my awful doula now has a horrible reputation as a dangerous and nasty HB MW. Very aggressive with hospital staff and keeps moms at home even when it would be medically prudent to transfer.

I want to kick myself for not making a formal complaint, as she is clearly continuing her behavior. But who would I complain to about a doula...?
post #37 of 57
I hear what you say about loyalty. Although I would never birth with my MW again, I have a hard time telling people NOT to birth with her. I feel some sort of loyalty. But I was at a moms group and mentioned I had a HB. A woman asked who with, and I told her my MW. She asked what I thought of her and I said I wouldn't birth with her again ( no details) . She said " that seems to be what I hear about that MW all the time." That mom was a doula, so hears a lot about HB in the community. So now I feel both annoyed about my birth and wishing other moms had stepped up and said something about the MW so I could have gone to somebody else. Everyone always hedged and said " she seemed competent" or " it went fine". I guess I could have read between the lines (everybody gushed praise for the MW I had with DD1) but I wish they had just stepped up and told me flat out that they wouldn't use her again. Sigh.
post #38 of 57
Thread Starter 
shellnurse--is this doula/mw certified through any of the doula orgs? If so, then you could complain to her org. Also--if she is doing midwifery work, even in an unlicensed state, there is probably a state midwifery org to whom you might send a complaint. I don't know how much good it will do--but you never know until you try.

By the way, good for you in finally unloading on your doula! Forgiveness is a very good thing--but due feedback is another very good thing, for everyone involved. Sometimes I think ppl forget that it's normal to be angry, to grieve, to be upset/distressed along our way to forgiveness...that there is a positive purpose for these things ('For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven'...right?). Personally, I think forgiveness for the more difficult things in our lives comes HARDER, when we try to jump straight to forgiveness without granting that due season and time for the purposes....

As for people talking about their personal experiences with a mw or doula--this is a tough one. Yes, many seem to hold their tongues, even for what can be 'good reasons'...they think maybe it was just a personality clash, or just a bad time of life for the mw/doula in general, maybe they don't want to give mws and doulas a bad name in general....KWIM? And some are just shy/non-confrontational about everything.

It's a great idea, when asking for info about a care provider from those who've used her, to ask "were you really happy with her?" "would you hire her again?" "would you recommend her to friends and family?" Their answers to these questions could tell you a whole lot! If they say no, you might ask if they can tell you any specific thing to explain why not...even very small specific things can be helpful to know as you make a decision about hiring care providers.
post #39 of 57
Speaking from MY experience, the organization that is SUPPOSED to oversee the midwives in our state is a joke. We were given a hard time by them, as if they didn't want to do anything for us. The midwife I had has had multiple run ins with the law here and they let her just walk. The police wanted to charge her with Negligent Homicide, but didn't want to "go on a witch hunt". NOBODY would help us. The most I can do is use word of mouth (or the power of the internet). There HAS to be something out there for those of us with bad experiences. I know I certainly had no clue about all these infant deaths going in and knew nothing until a family member of hers filled me in 6 months after my daughter's death.

The midwife kissed my butt for two days until she learned that other midwives were discussing my story and talking about a possible arrest. She was here on my door step waiting for me after the funeral, angry over what was being said. I had no clue anything was being said!! Then she began butt kissing again. When she found out that we had the death certificate, she flipped her lid as she had been telling people my daughter died from this and that. The newborn exam papers were in three different versions (ie we had one, police had one, and then the police and I had another version when we confronted her on the lies). My records were changed. It was a huge mess. What bothers me is I had no clue that she was such a liar and so crappy. What kind of midwife doesn't realize that a newborn is in distress?? Really?? Every concern was blown off, every single one. We felt like we were just being paranoid because she kept telling us Mary was healthy. She's a midwife and knows what she's doing, right?? They are so well trained and educated, right?? She shattered every opinion I had of midwives and homebirth. I HATE hearing the whole "trust birth, DR's are evil" stuff that is so prominent in the NCB community. I got 5 healthy kids thanks to using DR's! My homebirths ended in one healthy baby and a dead one. I'm still very angry and nothing in this world will ever resolve the horrid guilt that I feel. It wasn't worth it. Furthermore, I am villified if I admit that homebirth played a part in what happened. I'm to the point that I don't care about people's opinions, esp those who are just looking for a reason that it had to be my fault (and it happens a lot through the NCB community). I use to cry when reading people's opinions about her death, but my skin is thicker these days. I'm tired of us parents, who don't have happy outcomes, being silenced when we try to share. I'm angry that I was blindsided by this midwife. I'm angry that more women with bad outcomes aren't speaking out so we can learn who these midwives are. Why are they protected?? I know I use to value my midwife's friendship and didn't want to hurt her feelings. So, I understand that some women get this way. BUT these are our kids and they come first. I wasn't going to just say "Ok, please help me figure out why she died although the coroner (a real dr) has a diagnosis". She doesn't know more than a dr! The emails showed me just how guilty she knew she was in Mary's death. When my ex-friend delivered, this midwife almost missed one of her births AND let this mom go over a month past her due date! Why didn't I figure out what kind of person she was?? Oh, because nobody tells you the bad stuff and you are told that baby's cook as long as they need. Sorry, but 44+ weeks is getting into dangerous territory (hence why other states who actually regulate them have rules about gestational length). I have had to give up my desire to become a grief counselor because I can't even deal with my own ****, so how can I help others? This loss has taken everything from me and there is nothing I can do, nothing.

I don't even know if I'm making sense anymore, so I'll just leave it at all this. If you made it this far, thank you.
post #40 of 57
Mommato5, I am so so sorry for your loss. I could be wrong, but I believe that I've seen your story on the Daily Beast as well as on a website I think we're not supposed to mention here?

and prayers for your family. I hope you are able to find some recourse against the malpractice that caused your daughter's death.
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