by Steve Blight
I kept reading the same thing…"Have an empowering birth"... "Feel empowered during birth"… So I kept thinking the same thing… "Yeah, that sounds great. But there's a major problem with all that. It's naïve. And another thing -- at what cost?
You can ‘be empowered' all you want. You can have the best birth ‘experience' in the whole world. You can feel good about your birth until the end of time. But at what cost to the baby today or you? Bottom line, the "I want feel good for myself and about myself" utopia birth experience isn't worth the safety of my son during birth.
So there you go I said it. It's what thousands of soon-to-be dads and others think when their spouse starts talking about "wanting to feel empowered during birth."
"Ahhh, but you're just the dad, you don't have much or any say in how your wife's birth should happen." Really?
Yes, because clearly whatever my wife decides it only affects her. If something were to happen it has no effect on anyone else. If something happened to the baby (or her) that would never rock our world, turn it upside down. Yes, it's all my wife's decision. It's all about her and her "experience."
I don't think so. That's just selfish. Likewise, any decision made by one person that might have lasting implications on more than one person is also selfish.
My wife wanted an empowering birth experience and thought a water birth, at home, with a midwife would bring it. So to logically point out how, why and what arguments she had that were full of fluffy selfishness, I decided I'd do some research, then I'd talk to her about how wrong she was.
I dove in. I learned a lot about women, their vaginas, how their hearts beat 20 times faster pumping double the amount of blood through their body. How they'll breath in twice the amount of air, how their boobs instantly adjust and nutritionally engineer food precisely matching what their babies need when they need it. I learned a lot more how women's amazing bodies protect and help a baby grow from 1 cell to over 2 trillion cells at birth.
Most of all I realized I was the naïve one and the fool. Why? Because so many of my assumptions were wrong.
Birth outside a hospital is unsafe for low risk women. The evidence says otherwise. Multiple studies, with a growing body of evidence, show birth outside a hospital can be safe. Many of the studies show better results than many traditional hospital births. My assumption was wrong because I equated all hospitals with health. My assumption was also wrong because I assumed all hospitals always provide evidence based care (care based on the best available research and evidence).
For example many hospitals require continuous electronic fetal monitoring as routine protocol. The evidence shows continuous electronic fetal monitoring increases the probability of a C-section, with no improved outcome for babies. Doctors and nurses told us the reason it's required is because hospital attorneys want the continuous tape in case the hospital gets sued – not because it improves your or your baby's health.
In a moment of clarity, I said to myself, "So I'm paying someone who's supposed to be providing us healthcare -- who's decided on our behalf that applying ‘routine' protocol on my wife and baby that's been proven not to improve the outcome of birth and actually increases the probability C-section -- unnecessarily introducing its own set of risks, all from which the World Health Organization, the U.S. Cochrane Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health don't even support? And the reason I'm paying for it is so hospitals can cover their butt just in case they get sued?"
OB/GYNS are the only safe provider. The evidence says otherwise for low risk births. Multiple studies from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), say midwives are safe and are recommended due to benefits like: fewer interventions, higher chances of vaginal birth, breastfeeding and increased sense of control during labor and birth.