I've been lurking and reading this thread for a couple of weeks now, and I just wanted to write a couple of things that came to me while reading some posts...
I'm a new mama to an almost eight week-old baby boy born at home with midwives in attendance. My labor was long -- aobut 36 hours -- and I was very glad for all the support my partner, my sister, our two midwives and their assistant.
I have written my version of our baby's birth story, and my sister also wrote her version, which I haven't read. And I haven't spoken about our baby's birth with our midwives yet either. Other than the sun coming up, then going down and then coming up again, I have no idea of a timeline other than the order things happened.
A couple of things written on this thread made me think a lot about my birthing...
Originally Posted by Malama
I'm a new midwife and so I read everything birth related. I'm also 14 weeks pregnant with my 3rd and having just tons of confusing thoughts.
I've been thinking about asking my mw (who has also been my teacher) to come to my upcoming birth more as my friend to the birth. To be there if I need her, but to just sit back. We have to talk deeply about this to see if she could really do that... she's a hands-on type of person- which the vast majority of her clients LOVE, but I don't think I need/ want that, but she's so special to me that I do want her there...... (just thinking aloud here)
So I've been reading Uc stories and also an old Midwifery Today mag about interventions and I've been thinking about how easy it is to intervene... and how things that aren't necessarily thought to be interventions could be perceived as such. So I had all of these ideas mulling about my brain and thinking about how I could more gently serve my upcoming due mamas, and I got called to assist at a birth yesterday.
This mama was sooooo not in touch with her body- was so needing "help" (her words).... what a shocker, after reading/ thinking about uc.... I told her to follow her body- to push if she felt the urge.... she could NOT follow that at all. It was so interesting and I felt deep sadness for her. Her baby was born just fine, but she wanted the mw fingers in her yoni (asked for it), and well, she just wanted all of that verbal and physical stuff that so many of you (and I) dislike. I guess it reminded me that an ideal for some is just not an ideal for others.
I can understand feeling sadness for someone who is unable to follow her body's signals, but reading this made me feel somehow inadequate as a birthing mama because our midwives at various points during laboring and pushing did put their fingers in my vagina. I know each person is different, but I certainly felt in touch with my body and what it was doing. I didn't always *know* cognitively what my body was trying to do physically, but I felt okay. I found having a long labor very frustrating, and on many occasions during laboring I spoke that very sentiment, not to get reassurance that I was doing fine and get validation for that feeling, but to simply announce that I was feeling frustrated.
I guess I'm also confused about what many of you think of as "hands-on" midwives and caregivers. What makes someone hands-on and intrusive to you? I found the companionship of our midwives as comforting as the companionship of my partner and my sister during my laboring.
I guess I'm just trying to process the birth and these thoughts have me conflicted. I had an amazing and peaceful birth at home and I feel appreciative that I was surrounded by people who love me and also people who are very familiar with birthing. Our baby boy did have some problems breathing initially -- his cord was limp and floppy at the time I pushed him out -- and I was grateful for the assistance of the midwives because I know I was in shock that he was finally right there in front of me instead of in my belly and I don't know if I would have been able to take action as quickly as they did to help him breathe.
Originally Posted by blueviolet
I sometimes wonder how much clients really love the hands-on approach, and how much they just believe that it's just the way it's supposed to be, and so adjust their expectations sub-consciously. For my first birth I had a very hands-on midwife. She guided me and coached me every step of the way, doing dilation checks (I even asked for one) and perineal massage. The labor pain was so overwhelming to me, and the midwife sent me the distinct vibe that I could make it better if only I would do exactly what she was wanted. I had the feeling that she must know better than me (after all she had attended 1500 births) and that I could not possibly know anything of value (although my instincts were trying to tell me differently.) So I basically gave up my own initiative and relied on her to tell me what to do. At one point I didn't think I could make it without her, even though she was doing things that I didn't like. A couple of months after the birth, I wrote her a note thanking her for "all she does for women." It wasn't until several months later (through a gradual process) that I realized that in fact I was quite unhappy with how the birth was managed, how intrusive and overbearing she was, and the very clear tacit message she was sending me that I couldn't do it without her to tell me what to do. All of this, I believe, contributed to the birth being harder than it had to be and interfered with my instincts. But this didn't become clear to me until I had a lot of time to mull it over and essentially pull myself out of the conditioning that was so deeply ingrained in me.
Anyway... I relate to your desire to have the midwife sit back and just let you do your thing. I found a different midwife for my second birth who was comfortable doing that, and it was a (comparatively) great birth. But I still decided to go UC for my third (and now fourth) because frankly even just the presence of the midwife was intrusive and distracting and felt wrong from an emotional/spiritual perspective.
This made me wonder about a birth attendant being hands-on because that's "the way it's supposed to be". Although I haven't witnessed an unassisted birth in person, I have watched a video of one (forget what it's called...) and I have personally witnessed hospital births as a doula. The unassisted birth seems closer to my ideal and closer to what I experienced, while the hospital births seem quite actively managed and interventive and unlike what I experienced.
Until I started laboring, our midwives had never requested a cervical or vaginal check, and even in labor, they presented the option to feel how dilated my cervix was and let me my own decision. I'm a curious person, and I suspect that even if I were to choose an unassisted birth, I would be feeling my own cervix throughout laboring. The first time this option was presented to me, I declined. Later I felt an urge to push, and we asked one of the midwives to feel my cervix.
Then during pushing, having one of the midwives put her fingers in my vagina and press down towards my perineum felt physically good. They didn't do this every push, just sometimes. It reminded me of how I orgasmed during sex in my pregnancy, and I wonder if I would have done it myself if birthing unassisted.
Thank you for reading this far and for letting me share my thoughts here.
I have been thinking about these two posts for about a week now, and I finally had enough coherent thoughts to post about it. I felt inordinately sad after reading these posts, and the phrase "fingers in her yoni" still continues to echo in my mind. I still am not sure if I felt sad because my body felt somehow violated because of the "interventions" during my birthing -- I use quotes because I'm not sure I view them as interventions -- or if I felt sad for some other reason yet unknown. I do truly respect any birthing choice that is made thoughtfully and responsibly.