Why your 'empowering birth' isn't worth the safety of my son

My assumption was wrong because I never considered an OB/GYN's valuable skill set could be used too aggressively and could become a significant constraint to providing the best care for my wife and baby. My assumptions were also wrong because I assumed all OB/GYNs practice evidence based care.

For example, it's also important to know that suspecting a large or very large baby isn't a medical reason for induction. Studies have shown that inducing labor for macrosomia (large baby) almost doubles the risk of having cesarean surgery without improving the outcome for the baby.

My 3rd wrong assumption

I'm hiring a Doula to help my wife feel "empowered," not b/c Doulas measurably improve the birth outcome. My research told me that continuous support during labor has clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants and no known harm. All women should have support throughout labor and birth. My assumptions were completely wrong, because the evidence overwhelmingly says continuous labor and birth support measurably improves birth outcome on many important levels: less pain, faster labor, less chance for C-section, less complications and less fear. 

Why didn't I learn any of this in my birth class? It's one of the most intensely amazing and best times they'll ever experience as a couple. They aren't just another insurance claim to be processed and stamped "PAID." I couldn't sit back so we founded YourBabyBooty.com.

So what did I learn?

• That I'm a complete butthead. After that…
• There's no one right way to birth...
• Most of us don't have a clue about all our really good options that are safe and get good results -- which the best evidence supports.
• Aggressive care can be your biggest constraint for a safe and smooth birth.
• Evidence Based Care is not the norm.
• No one will ever look out for you or your baby better than you. Ever.
• Asking good questions and asking why (at least 5 times) sifts through all kinds of things.
• The best birth experience is our responsibility -- we get what we pursue.
• If we researched birth like we'd buy a new car we'd have healthier moms, babies and better lives.
• We make decisions with our provider. We're a team.
• If you can read, you can quickly learn what the best available research and evidence says on birth.
• Everyone identifies and defines risk differently.
• The best providers ask questions and communicate to you that "who you are and what you want" is important to them.
• There are many amazing providers and plenty who don't care like in any other profession.
• Medicine and technology are incredibly valuable tools. How, when and If they are used determines if they're an asset or liability.

Feeling empowered is not fluffy. It's not naïve. It's real and raw. It's the same thing that makes your heart beat faster after summiting a hard hike, or closing a big deal. It's being excited and living in the moment.

It means you care enough about yourself, your baby, your spouse and your family to take action. It means you care enough to show up and pursue the best optimized pregnancy and birth outcome that you decide is right for you -- whatever that is.

Being empowered is freedom. You're stronger when you're empowered.

Read more of Steve & Sarah's stuff at YourBabyBooty.com. Get a FREE chapter of Sarah's new book "Going to the Motherland" by clicking here. Steve and Sarah found YourBabyBooty.com because they believe a lot of birth education is inadequate. They also believe you learn more and learn faster by focusing on people's real life lesson's learned. He's also a pilot in the Navy Reserves, loves to cook, travel, drink wine, watch college football and chase his kids outside. They've lived all over the place with the Navy, but now live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.

©October 25, 2012 Steve Blight. All rights reserved.