Do you think men should supervise birth? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 55 Old 04-26-2002, 01:18 AM
 
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In defense of the nurses (as I am one!) I don't feel you have to have gone through childbirth before to be a good support person. Many of the best nurses (in terms of labor support) have been childless or had c-s. Including myself up until 2 years ago! I was also taught long ago to never say "I know it hurts" to a laboring woman and I never will again!

Also, just wanted to agree that the female ob-gyns that I have come in contact with, have been very agressive and interventionist in their care of laboring women.
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#32 of 55 Old 04-26-2002, 04:41 PM
 
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Many great thoughts here. It has enlighted me regarding both sides.

I personally would not want to give birth with any other man present other than my husband. I chose a great female midwife to attend Hannah's birth at home. She is nurturing, respectful and kind, yet strong and empowering as well.

I want my care provider to understand, really understand what I'm going through. My midwife had given birth to 3 children when she delivered Hannah. She knew what it was like to have a good birth, and she knew what it was like to have a bad birth.

A man can not ever understand what it is to be with child, to give birth, to nurse a child, or have a hormone surge so strongs it brings waves of emotions that are sometimes difficult to deal with. I chose someone skilled and wise, who could also relate, understand, and and advise because she herself had been there too.
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#33 of 55 Old 04-26-2002, 06:40 PM
 
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I'm just now reading this thread and find it very interesting. The huge episiotomy story angers me, and brings to mind that incident where the doctor carved his initials in a woman's abdomen while performing a c-section. It makes me want to hunt him down and take a hot branding iron to some part of him.

Growing up I wasn't happy at how most of the people in positions of authority were male, and how plenty of women seemed happy to keep it that way. My mother even told me once that she would never want to work for a female boss, which really irritated the heck out of me. Then later when she was a manager herself, she got upset when some people seemed not to respect her. Well, gosh mom, maybe they just don't approve of female bosses!

I remember as a very young child saying that I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up, and my sister said, "You can't be a doctor, you're a girl!" My mom actually corrected my sister and told her I could be a doctor and there were women doctors. This was in the early 70s, and I planned to be a doctor all my life until I was pre-med in college and realized there was no way I'd get into med school with my chemistry, calculus and physics grades. I had to do some major soul searching.

Anyway, I've always said I would only have a female gynecologist, but I knew at least two people who swore they would only have male ones. Part of it was I think they were "hung up" enough to feel like it was some lesbian sex act to have a pelvic exam done by a woman. That was part of the insinuations made. Well, if you are thinking of it in sexual terms, it doesn't seem any better to have some man you don't know doing it. But both of my friends also said that they just didn't think that women were sympathetic to a woman's fears over gynecological exams because they were women themselves and had to get it done also. Men tended to be a little more careful. I think it is just and individual thing.

I was very definite about wanting a female OB. I actually wanted my sister's, because she sounded wonderful and I actually got to observe a birth with her and was very impressed with her gentleness and manner. But I was living across the country when I got pregnant, so I just had to pick one. I picked a woman who was nice and had a child of her own, but ended up scheduling me for an induction when I was something like 28 weeks along. I remember going up to make my co-pay and the woman at the desk said, "Oh, I just scheduled your induction!" I thought she had to be wrong because I was no where near term. It turns out when I was 38 weeks along, I found out my induction had indeed been scheduled for my due date. Then my OB started saying things like I was going to have a big baby and she wasn't going to do anything heroic like let me push for 2.5 hours or use a vacuum extractor. If there were any signs of trouble, I'd have to have a c-section. I cancelled my induction the night before I was to go in, and I went into to labor four days later. The doctor on call was a male and I really liked him. He was very gentle and quiet, didn't do an episiotomy and said that I would have to push for at least 3 hours before they would consider any intervention.

So I guess my thinking now is that in the mainstream hospital birthing world, there can be plenty of forward-thinking, gentle men and women, and just as many that are hideous. In the natural birth setting, however, where women are in touch with their own bodies and birth isn't a medicated procedure to be performed on a mother, I think it is more natural to have female attendants. I would think that men who believed in this model would naturally defer to women as the ones better suited to be midwives.
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#34 of 55 Old 04-27-2002, 12:54 PM
 
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I just had a thought. Some women do not like men between their legs because they feel there are sexual undertones. For those of you who are heterosexual, how would you feel if the woman or man between your legs was gay?

I've been thinking and thinking about this, and I would still (other things being equal, of course,) prefer the woman to the man. That to me says that this is not, at least in my mind, about sexual modesty and/or fears, but something else. (I'm not sure what.)

I have recently been thinking that the reason some women choose midwives is because they have this archetypal vision in their heads of women helping women through a rite of passage that is specific to women. There is something romantic about the concept, in a goddess-based mythology fashion. I mean, you know, the woman go off to the menstrual hut to bleed together and beat drums or do whatever they do. There is something of this, perhaps, lost or not able to be shared when a man is involved.

Yes, some men are sensitive and some women are insensitive, and yes I'd rather have a sensitive man than an insensitive woman examing my genitals. But given a sensitive qualified man or woman, I'd still choose the woman, and not, as I've illustrated, because "men just shouldn't look at a woman's genitals, except for her husband." So there's something else, and I think it's just about the fact that women are women and men are men and some things can't just be gender neutralized any more than they can be mechanized. In a hospital birth, perhaps it is easier to gender neutralize the experience because it already is mechanized.

But why then do I prefer my husband over any woman as a birth attendant? Hm, well good question. And I think the answer to that is that I actually don't prefer him. I wanted my husband at the birth because it is an amazing thing to witness the birth of your own child, and I knew that would be a priceless gift to give to him. He was not, however, really a part of it. He was supportive and helpful and happy to be there, but he was not part of the process. It was a woman thing, not a man-and-woman thing.

I think that if I lived in a different culture in which the husband-wife connection is not the end-all be-all, in which women are emotionally and physically close to each other, the archetype ritual of woman-with-woman (midwife) would have been joyfully and satisfactorily played out. But (while I have female friends and family who I love) I have no women like THAT in my life.

Regardless, that archetype remains in our psyche, and I think that's why we tend to feel more right (not necessarily morally but in terms of what feels normal and natural) about having our medical labor attendants be women.
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#35 of 55 Old 04-27-2002, 01:43 PM
 
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I guess what I mean is that I wouldn't want a male professional to be there - of course I want dh there! He was amazingly helpful.

I guess, to be fair, women shouldn't be proctologists either. Although the male patient is still more powerful than the female doctor, so maybe it's different. Also, in the case of labor and delivery, you trust any professionals there with your life and your baby's life. Pretty scary if all you get are men!

I would not mind a lesbian doc (although I probably wouldn't know, unless she kept telling me she was a lesbian, which would be weird...) because lesbians, after all, are women! Women do not usually sexually assault other women.

Also, I really wouldn't feel comfortable with a woman who had not given birth. I've had drug counselors who never took drugs, and it just did not work.
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#36 of 55 Old 04-27-2002, 07:00 PM
 
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My dh gets to be there when the baby comes out because he was there when it was put in. His only role in labor this time will to be excited about the birth. He knows nothing baout what it is like to be in labor and it really pissed me off the first time when he started "coaching" even though I had signed him up for that role. This time I hired a friend for a doula who has done this five times and knows what pain is.

The whole coaching thing is off topic but really think about it. How do you think a football team would feel if I marched out onto the feild and started coaching them? Would I be qualified if I had taken 5 months of classes and watched some videos of teams playing and practiced yelling plays? No because I had never played before, I have never even been through training. Would it make me any better because the team wanted me there? Not likely. I would still b e a coach who had no idea how it felt to be tackled.

So I don't expect dh to be my coach. I have tried it once and hated it. last time he was assistant coach and did o.k. This time I just want him to focus on being into it himself instead of doing what he thinks is helpful. Actually I will be happy if he stays awake this time.:

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#37 of 55 Old 04-27-2002, 07:18 PM
 
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The more I think on it the more convinced I am that the gender of the attendant matters very little to me. It is the attitude I am interested in. There are men and women involved in baby delivery with a wide range of ideas. Some, of both genders are still convinced that without interventions the whole thing will go to hell in a handbasket. There are others who have a tremendous confidence in the ability of a woman to birth her babies. I want the second kind. If it happens to come with a penis attached I don't give a fig.

All other things being equal, two great birth attendents available who just want to hang out and see if I need any help... I would probably choose a woman over a man for the same reason I prefer women musicians. Their voices make more sense in my head. There is a resonance. But not so much I would not quiz the crap out of a woman and make sure she's not a wolf in sheeps clothing as someone else here has said. Too many of us have been led down the garden path by people who give lip service to 'natural' childbirth.
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#38 of 55 Old 04-29-2002, 09:37 AM
 
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I had just the opposite experience than lilyka. My dh was the one who said, "Maybe we should think about homebirth," when we found out that the birth center was closing and it was either home or hospital. He knew I could not have dealt with the hospital before I did. He stayed with me the entire time, coached me just when I needed it, and just did an all around great job. It was like he knew me and my abilities better than I did myself. He also got us through the first few weeks of breast feeding when I thought my nipples were going to burst into flames.

I was lucky enough to have one midwife, a nurse, my mil and sil, good friend, and my dh at the birth. It was a mostly all women show, but I don't think I would have done it without dh there. He was great.

Would I have done it with a male birth attendant? If he was like Dr. Sears, or Dr. Odent, or Dr. Bradley, (after his episiotmy phase) and they acted like midwives (staying with you, giving you encouragement, mostly from the other side of the room). Sure. Although I would never give up my midwife. Lori is da bomb.

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#39 of 55 Old 04-29-2002, 11:23 AM
 
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I agree that what matters is how sensitive your caregiver is. Many women are brusque and aggressive, and many men are caring and compassionate. I would much rather have a compassionate caregiver, regardless of gender.

My fundamental belief is that it's wrong to discriminate against people for a job based on their gender. A lot of what feminism is about has to do with opening up arenas to people that were closed to them because of their gender. So women have entered traditionally-male dominated careers, and become engineers, doctors, lawyers, and welders. And men should be able to enter traditionally female-dominated fields, like kindergarten teaching and midwifery, without stigma. Not all men are like those cold, uncaring OBs some of you have experienced: it would probably be surprising to find out how good some men would be at being midwives or doulas. I am concerned by the female image evoked by the terms "midwife" and "doula", because it serves to intimidate men from trying to enter those fields, even though those men might be better at being a midwife than many of the female midwives out there. I think we owe it to all men to allow senstitive, compassionate men to operate in the fields that they excel in. Besides that, in the United States, at least, the Civil Rights Act bans discrimination based on gender in employment, and has been tremendousy helpful in efforts to integrate workplace racially and with respect to gender.

I think the fundamental divide between OBs and midwives has to do with the training and background of people in the two separate fields: OBs are problem solvers, and logical, rational thinkers. Meyers-Briggs NTs. I am one of those logical, rational, people, too, and let me tell you that their inherent strength is not compassion, it's efficiency and problem-solving. They can learn to develop a compassionate bed-side manner, but for most OBs, this is not their natural talent (obviously, this is an over-generalization which does not characterize all OBs). This has more to do with the training and selection of OBs, than it does with gender differences themselves. This is why many people on this board have noticed that female OBs act like male OBs: they're all problem solvers. And it's not necessarily because these female OBs have been trained by the "male" medical establishment -- it probably is because they're just naturally problem solvers that they gravitated to OB in the first place.

Midwives, on the other hand, value an entirely different set of skills. Midwives tend to be more caring and compassionate because those are traits that are considered desirable in a midwife. Of course, CNMs and other trained midwives also know a lot about science, too, which is why I think midwifery is a great thing. It's a nice overlap of skills.

It's not that I'm all for allowing strangers to poke around around in your vagina for no reason. Clearly, you should be able to choose who your caregivers are for whatever reason. But I just think this is a very complicated issue.
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#40 of 55 Old 04-29-2002, 08:36 PM
 
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I don't think anyone is arguing that men are incapable of being as or more compassionate and skilled than women. But if you are hiring someone specifically for the sort of deep understanding that comes from direct experience, and men (and some women for that matter) don't have that, then are you discriminating when you don't hire a man? Hardly.

I just cannot imagine applying the Civil Rights Act to something as personal as who you allow to touch your body. I don't owe that to *anyone*.
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#41 of 55 Old 05-02-2002, 11:05 AM
 
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I'm not trying to say that women have to be gender-neutral in picking a caregiver -- in fact, you can pick a caregiver for whatever reasons you want. I'm not trying to tell anybody to choose a caregiver that they aren't comfortable with, for whatever reason. What I am saying instead is that we can't have an outright ban against men from being midwives and doulas, as some people here would like to do, anymore than you can ban women from working in construction or as firefighters. And furthermore, I'm asserting that we should give men a chance in these roles, because the men who choose to be midwives, despite all the shit they get for making that decision, are probably very devoted excellent caregivers. But that's not to say you have to take advantage of the services they offer... you can always go someplace else.
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#42 of 55 Old 05-02-2002, 01:31 PM
 
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There is a wife/husband team of midwives at the clinic I chose for my birth. I was hesitant to take a chance that the man could be the one to deliver my baby until I met him - he is really, really wonderful. In fact, I wish he had been the one to deliver my baby instead of the woman who did (not his wife, another midwife in the practice). My sister had a male midwife she really loved, too.

That said, I would still probably choose a female midwife. I choose female dentists, female doctors, female painters, female plumbers! But, I think there are a few select, very special men who can cut it as midwives.
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#43 of 55 Old 05-02-2002, 01:42 PM
 
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Tara were your midwives Felice & Morgan?
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#44 of 55 Old 05-03-2002, 02:22 PM
 
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Yup! You, too?
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#45 of 55 Old 05-03-2002, 02:32 PM
 
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Yep! Felice was at my labor but decided 24 hrs into it that we needed to go to hospital...ugh! But we are healthy now! So was yours Morgan? It was a nice experience with them.
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#46 of 55 Old 05-03-2002, 02:42 PM
 
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Yes, Morgan was at my birth. We also transferred to the hospital after 24 hours, and I can second your ugh. I really liked Felice & Rick.
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#47 of 55 Old 05-03-2002, 08:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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As Amywillo said:

Quote:
So I guess my thinking now is that in the mainstream hospital birthing world, there can be plenty of forward-thinking, gentle men and women, and just as many that are hideous. In the natural birth setting, however, where women are in touch with their own bodies and birth isn't a medicated procedure to be performed on a mother, I think it is more natural to have female attendants. I would think that men who believed in this model would naturally defer to women as the ones better suited to be midwives.
Such an excellent point! Very much my own feelings.

Hypatia, you said you never discrimate for a job based on gender. We can discriminate based on experience though, can't we? A man will never experience childbirth, menstruation, or lactation. He does not have the potential to understand these issues as deeply as woman who has been through them. The inexperience of men has been a real factor behind the violent nature of contemporary female health care. An individual cannot fully value an issue they cannot fully experience. It is that simple.

The comparison of midwives to firefighters is bogus. Midwifery is about birth, an issue facing women exclusively. Firefighting is about putting out fires...hardly gender specific unless men start shooting fire from their BVD's.

When women denounce the existence of any special knowledge made privy to them by experiencing those things given exclusively to them, insisting that any man can easily equal or surpass their understanding, they hurt only themselves. There has been no trade off...giving men the dominant voice in female health for the last century has pushed women off the very platform from which they stood the best chance of being respected and heard.

Think about it. On what issue *do* men consider women to be the ultimate authority? Pretty scary, isn't it?

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#48 of 55 Old 05-05-2002, 11:56 PM
 
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I think you can discriminate on the basis of experience only if you think it's essential for somebody to have experienced these things (pregnancy, menstruation, etc.) in order to be help people through them. And if that's the case, then you need to discriminate against childless women, women who've only had C-sections, etc. In fact, you should probably also discriminate against women who haven't had a C-section, too, because how do they know it's so bad if they haven't experienced it? There's such a variety of births that it's hard to say that someone knows what your birth feels like, just because they've given birth themselves. Clearly, it's helpful if your caregiver has experienced birth. But can I imagine an excellent caregiver who hasn't borne a child? Yes.
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#49 of 55 Old 05-06-2002, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hypatia--as I already said, I think being female gives you an edge in your potential to fully understand/appreciate female health issues. I fail to see where anyone has explained why this *isn't* true. The experience of being female is what I am refering to as "experience", which includes but isn't limited to ovulation, birth, and lactation. I can imagine someone who isn't female being a competent birth attendant. That does not contradict my belief, that the potential for females to fully understand/appreciate female health issues is much stronger than a man's potential. Why is that controversial?

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#50 of 55 Old 05-14-2002, 11:49 PM
 
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I had my dh as my coach for labor and delivery and he was wonderful! If I'd had my mother there, I probably would've killed her. My nurse was just awful. She asked me questions during my contractions, and told me not to do grip the bed rails during contractions because my arms would be sore the next day. They weren't! (oh, the gripping helped as counterpressure!) My original ob/gyn was male, and great....was the only one in our area who believed in no interventions if possible (delivered a friends twins vaginally....most just want a c/section). One ob/gyn i went to before pregnancy who was female was gentle, but they didn't want my husband in the room with me. Wierd people.
All I know, is to do what feels right to you, give your opinion to people if asked, and let them decide what's right for them.

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#51 of 55 Old 05-15-2002, 12:12 AM
 
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Since I was old enough to choose my own caregivers, I have always had female doctors, and if I can help it, always will. I just feel more comfortable with it (goes for therapists too).

My midwife for my first pregnancy had never been pregnant or had kids, and she was the most wonderful person I have ever met! Her not having given birth herself sure as heck didn't stop her from being great. We had the same midwife with dd2, and in the meantime she had had a child of her own, and it really didn't make a difference. She was just as wonderful and caring the second time around. To the point where I only want a third if she is still practising!
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#52 of 55 Old 05-15-2002, 01:15 AM
 
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I still stand by what I said before (whoever makes you comfy) but I have to say that I just read birth without violence and that book gives me the creeps big time!! It's not that I don't agree with lots of what he says, it's just in how he says it and how he thinks he knows exactly what is going through the minds of women and babies during birth. I don't know. It bugged me. I dont' think anyone should presume to know such a thing if they haven't been there, much less a man.
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#53 of 55 Old 05-23-2002, 12:27 AM
 
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My response to the question "Should men supervise birth?" is a big no, absolutely not, because I don't think anyone should be "supervising" birth. I think midwives should be supporting birth.

I have hired a male midwife for our home waterbirth--my 2nd baby is due in a couple of weeks. If you had told me at the beginning of this pregnancy that I would hire a male midwife, I would have said you are crazy, since I have a lot of similar emotions about the males I've encountered in obstetrics to most of the posting in this string. But this guy is the right person for the job. He basically sees his job as sitting quietly in the corner. I've learned from him that deep respect for the natural processes of birth can come in either gender. I should mention that I have hired a doula who has had two babies--it was still important to me to have a woman "who has been there" in the room with me and my husband.

My first baby, my beautiful son, is the product of an ugly hospital birth (I live and I learn...). The two most unsupportive, angry, tense, over-worked characters in that birth story were both women. I think American obstetrics/institutionalized birth saps the humanity out of all involved, male or female.

Midwives should be at births, not doctors. And the right midwife is probably going to be a woman. But maybe not. I don't like the idea of dismissing anyone's abilities based on her or his gender.

Thanks for reading, and yes, JenniferJeffrey, I did read "The Red Tent" and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was a little disturbed by her portrayal of not one, but two radical episiotomies. I'd like to know if those scenes were born out of actual practices that the author has researched, or her own uninformed view of birth...

It's almost my turn "to put my feet on the bricks."
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#54 of 55 Old 05-23-2002, 02:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by KareninCT

As for understand the female experience and the sacredness of birth; I almost think you?d need to find a foreign midwife to do that. It really isn?t in our culture to have birth be a ritualistic celebration of life and the journey to motherhood. Not that there aren?t those here who believe in it; I just mean if you are looking for the Rediscovering Birth-experience that many of us crave, I?m not sure you can get it here.

I have to disagree. I got it. And I would have gotten more of it if I hadn't gone so quickly and had the rotten luck of birthing the same day as another client of my midwife. First time in about 8 years that happened to her.
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#55 of 55 Old 05-23-2002, 03:28 PM
 
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I am finding myself really frustrated that many of the posts suggest that if you haven't had can't have or are unequipped to have a baby you shouldn't be attending (or will be a lesser attendant because of that.)

I've attended quite a few births now (around a hundred and fifty or so) and I have not had a baby yet (this will be remedied in December, at home, with a midwife, my hubby and several friends).

I DO know it hurts, I DO know that labor can be really hard. I may not have been in labor, but I have stayed awake all night, physically supporting women, in some cases having women squeeze my hands or hang on my shoulders or just break down. I DO know that at some point, many women feel like it is more than they can handle.

I also know, both by faith and experience, that women CAN birth naturally, that they can have the experience that they want and that despite the challenges of labor they will survive.

When I look into a woman's eyes when she is in the grip of a contraction and whether I talk her through it or just keep contact with her, I know that she will make it, even when she doesn't. I do say "I know it hurts" and I also have been known to say "that's the right way to do it", the privilege of sharing all those births has shown me, has taught me that those are true statements, even if I haven't had them happen to me.

with love,
Christina
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