Friday, January 29, 2010

Childbirth Class - Part 3 & Choices/Doubts

Another good childbirth education class this week. We learned about and practiced different positions and breathing techniques for labor, and discussed birth plans and what the hospital would typically accomodate without a big hassle. The class was good, but some of the doubts I had earlier are resurfacing big time.

One of the issues now is that the pediatric practice I mentioned having problems with earlier [extremely pro-vax] is the only one with privileges at this hospital, and they see the babies in the nursery not the room. Another person in the class asked if someone else could do the newborn check, because they know of people who'd had problems with them, and was told no. I am worried they will disregard our wishes and give the HepB vaccine and vitamin K injection either way. It looks like the only way to avoid this will be giving birth at another hospital, which will mean changing OB practices [at 34+ weeks].

I'm considering this because I'm also second guessing my choice of doctors again. I finally met with the midwife who works with my OB, and was hoping to review my birth plan with her, but she said it would have to be approved by the primary doctor instead. I'm not very optimistic about that, because he never seems to have time for anything, and seemed dismissive when I asked questions before [ie, I asked about eating & drinking in labor, and he said they gave you limited ice chips, like it was non-negotiable].

A lot of this is dependent upon some meetings next week. I'll be talking with a pediatrician on Wednesday, and seeing if they are more accommodating of a delayed vaccination schedule and familiar with caring for uncircumcised boys [I've heard they were, but want to talk to the doctor myself]. I will also be interviewing the nurse midwives at the OB practice for the other hospital, to see if they are more accommodating. Their website does mention waterbirthing, suggests a doula & a birth plan, and mentions childbirth classes, including Bradley method, so I'm pretty optimistic. I just wish I'd know about this practice, and about the pediatrician issue, several months ago.

Hopefully, I will have this figured out soon, because I'm running out of time. I am finally meeting with the doula next Thursday, so maybe she knows more about the practices of these particular hospitals and/or doctors and can give me some advice. I still really, really wish this state allowed homebirths [with CNMs, because I don't really want my first birth to be unassisted, in case anything does go wrong]. I'm grateful to have these choices and options that most women don't even realize, but it seems like something that should be so simple has become such a complicated process.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Birth Choices, Social Class, & Othering

For those not familiar with the term, "Othering" or "Otherism" is the process by which societies and groups exclude "Others" whom they want to subordinate or who do not fit into their society. The "Others" can be any group of people separated by polarizing members of that group from another by dividing the two into an "us" or a "them", with the ones doing the excluding and their peers and/or intended audience being "us" and  the group holding different traits or ideas, and who are often used as an abject of hatred, ridicule, or mistrust, being "them". It is typically used to support prejudice, and some of the most visible othering is that based on race, sex, religion, or disability, but it is also used in political and ideological debate, by labeling ones opponents as liberals/conservatives, "hippies", kooks, bigots, etc.

One thing I've found interesting as I've been pregnant and researching various options in childbirth and parenting is the amount of othering used, often by members of one's own social class, to discourage mothers from choosing alternatives. Sometimes, a reverse sort of othering is used to imply that a mother should make a different choice than is traditional in her family or culture, because that's what the dominant culture or the wealthy or upwardly mobile do, and to choose otherwise would mark her as poor, backwards, or otherwise link her with aspects of her culture seen as negative by those in power.

In my own life, most of the othering I've seen has been based on social/economic class and political views. My family is very conservative, so  have been told that I am being a "hippie" or "listing to a bunch of liberal crap", because I want to have a natural birth and follow mostly attachment parenting. The other tactic has been the typical "getting above your raising" argument that poor people use to hold other poor people down - ie, it's more expensive to raise a child naturally, only rich women hire doulas or midwives or consider homebirths, etc. A friend of mine faced the opposite pressure on the same issue - her family is from Mexico, and they saw a hospital birth with an OB as a sign of prosperity and mobility, so her mother was insulted by her choice to birth at home with a midwife, because she thought others would assume she was poor and backwards by not having a hospital birth. Another friend was talked out of childbirth classes or hiring a doula because her husband said it was something only "rich, spoiled, white women do".

The sad fact is that a lot of women who are already "othered" by the kyriarchy are already limited by access to fewer resources and by prejudiced assumptions against them, yet they are subject to even more othering by friends and family who label and criticize the choices that may be available to them. Women who are younger, less educated, members of ethnic or racial minorities, from lower income families, are overweight, or are single are already less likely to attend childbirth education, receive adequate prenatal care, or have health insurance. This means that they must choose a doctor who is covered under the care plan they can get, and are excluded from many private hospitals, birth centers, and midwifery practices. Even if they are aware of the options, many know that they cannot afford what medicare and many insurers will not cover, and if they try they are likely to encounter objections from people who see them as uneducated, ill-informed, or less deserving of complete care because of their background or situation

I realize that there is a huge difference in not being able to make a choice because you have no reasonable access to it [ie, it is available, affordable, and you have support] and because you have an option but are discouraged from taking it. Still, I think that neither problem can really be solved without addressing the other as well. As long as safe, proven options for childbirth are seen as the domain of certain privileged classes, then we will see access limited or denied to those with fewer resources. If more women who can opt for independent childbirth education, natural birth, and care by midwives or with a doula to assist, then we can help make it the "norm". hat commonality will play a big part in getting coverage from insurance companies, and hopefully from medicare and other programs for the uninsured. Getting doctors to be more educated and accepting of less medicalized births will also help those women who must choose from a list of  approved care providers to find someone who may listen to them and not be as dismissive of their concerns.

Finally, we as a community [of women, mothers, or just people] need to be careful to include everyone who wants to be included in advocacy work, and try to provide more access to those without it. It may seem like a small thing, but every little bit helps. We need to find ways to reach out and educate women who may not be online or aware of their options to the choices they have, and also to find ways to make it affordable for them. Midwives and doulas who work with medicaid, charge sliding scales, or volunteer in lower income communities are awesome, but a lot of women don't even know about them because of the perception that they are unaffordable.What I would love to see would be more women from lower income and minority backgrounds able to go to nursing school to be CNMs, or get certified as midwives or doulas, and as childbirth educators, and for more independent childbirth classes to be held in rural and low-income areas, even if it has to be done on a free or reduced fee basis. I'm not sure how to make any of this a reality, but certainly there are people out there who know of something already being done, or some place to start.

I'm not really doing much myself, I'll admit, other than just talking to people. I do know of one local doctor with a CNM who's covered under medicare, and who provides vouchers for a free childbirth class through the hospital, and I've told several people about them. After my son is born, I do plan to get certified as a doula, and as a childbirth educator, and one of the things I am going to try to do myself is hold classes at the community center and talk with WIC/medicare about offering free or reduced services for their pregnant clients. I'm also considering buying some professional grade birth pools [or hospital allows waterbirth, but you must bring your own pools & supplies] and offering rentals, using the income from that to provide them free of charge to the OBs/CNMS with medicare clients who request them.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hitting the Wall

In running a marathon, there's something called "hitting the wall". You're near the end, almost done, and your body just runs out of energy, you become very fatigued and confusing, and feel like you can't go on. In the last 2 days, I feel like I've all of a sudden hit the wall with this pregnancy.

The irony is I was telling people just a week ago, and earlier this week, how good it felt to finally have some energy back, and that it was the best I've felt in months. Until sometime Thursday, it was true. I don't know if it's hormones, exhaustion, depression, or probably some combination of the three, but I'm at the point right now where I'm partially tired of being pregnant and wanting to get it over with, and partially scared I will go into labor early and not be at all ready for it.

All of the fears and things I've been mostly ignoring are hitting hard right now. One of the biggest ones is that I'll have a bad post partum depression. I was hospitalized for major depression and anxiety about a year ago, and have been in therapy and on and off meds since, so I already know I'm at risk. I was having pretty bad antenatal depression [depression while pregnant] a few months ago, along with increasing anxiety and panic attacks, but it eased up for a month or so after leaving my job and losing that stress factor [I was back on meds briefly, but they made things worse, so I discontinued them after a few weeks]. I think that may be what's causing a lot of this, but I am so afraid I won't know what to do or won't be a good mom. If it wasn't for having my mind made up to breastfeed, I could totally see myself just leaving after the baby is born - I don't know where I'd go, but it's so appealing to just walk away from everything sometimes.

I also feel like I'll never get the house ready for the baby at this rate. There is so much clutter and junk in almost every room, and nowhere to put it. I could really use help in moving some of it, but my husband sees it as all my problem, even when some of the boxes and bags I have to get rid of are heavier than I can move. He wants it clean, but is going through stuff after me and picking out things that we "have to" keep, or refusing to get rid of excess furniture. We have 2 beds we have no room for & don't use, but they were "given to us" and he's afraid it'll hurt someone's feelings to give them away, even though nobody will be here to see they are gone, because it is too messy to have visitors over at all. I know all the clutter is part of what's making things so bad, because it is just depressing to live with and is overwhelming to face on my own. I'm just worried I won't be able to get things straight before the baby is born and I really don't want him to have to deal with all this mess and stuff around as he gets older.

I sat in the living room crying for 2 hours yesterday because I felt so lonely, while my husband was holed up in the bedroom with the door shut on the computer or watching television. This has been normal for us over the past several months - I'm in one end of the house, and he's in the other with the door closed [he was locking it for a while, supposedly to keep the dog out, until I got pissed and took the doorknob off with a screwdriver]. I guess he doesn't realize how it makes me feel, but I'm afraid to tell him because I know he'd think I was being stupid, and probably just go on ignoring me anyway. The man can't function unless he's in front of a television screen, and I hate having it on all the time [the bad thing is it's videotapes of old 80s/90s movies and shows - we shut off our satellite years ago, because I thought it would help the problem].

I'm just worrying about everything now. We went to the doctor's yesterday to have the 3D/4D ultrasound, which I thought would make me feel better. I wanted to see the baby;'s face, to make things seem more "real", and was really needing that reassurance. He's already turned anterior though, so we never saw his face [even from the sides, his hands & feet were in the way]. That's bothering me a lot more than it probably should, because it's like the crazy part of my brain is taking that and running with it and going "OMG, bad omen", even though it should really be a good thing that he's in the right position already.

I'm just wondering if this is something normal that hits around 8 months, or if it is the depression trying to take back over. I'll be making another appointment with my psychiatrist soon, and will talk to him about all this, but it will probably be another week or so before I can, because money is really tight and my husband's insurance doesn't cover mental health treatment so I'm having to pay out of pocket.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

If you're a woman, then you've likely gotten one or more of those lovely email forwards with "sexual assault prevention tips" that pretend to be helpful, but really further the victim-blaming mentality by making it seem like women aren't doing enough to keep from being assaulted if they dare to venture outside of their homes along, drink or spend time in "bad neighborhoods", or cannot overpower or outwit an attacker.

Here's a great piece to forward back to them in response, because it actually places the blame and responsibility where it belongs - on the rapist, not the one in danger of being raped.

(Written by Colleen Jameson and originally published at No, Not You.)

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are commiting a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

When Doctors Care More About Your Weight Than Your Health... recently published an article titled "The surprising reason why being overweight isn't healthy". Usually, I just scan over articles with those types of titles, because they typically ignore social and other factors and just list reasons why fat people are unhealthy, lazy, irresponsible, or otherwise to blame for their own poor health and/or the ills of our nation. This one, however, is worth a read, because it goes into detail about something many of us fatties have experienced, but that is seldom talked about - the effects of size discrimination, rather than actual medical causes, on the poor treatment and outcomes of overweight patients.  The article mainly refers to bias against fat women, but from anecdotal sources, I'd say the same problem affects men as well, at least to some degree.

One of the things I was glad to see acknowledged is how often people are denied medical care, or have legitimate complaints ignored because the doctor is focusing only on their size. I have had it happen, and heard of it happening from friends, but people seem to think doctors are infallible and free from bias. I noticed that the comments section was full of the same hatred and ignorance that the article pointed out as a problem in the medical profession, so I guess it's not surprising that doctors and nurses would reflect the same attitude as society as a whole. What does suprise me is the amount of commentors basically saying that fat people deserve to be denied medical treatment because of what our supposed lifestyle is [because nobody seems to believe that some of us do exercise and eat healthy].

In the past year, I've encountered this bias a few times myself. The first was last spring, after a car accident - I was in the waiting room with an arm fractured in two places, and the anesthesiologist took it upon himself to give me a lecture about my weight and how it was dangerous [the irony here is that the wreck was 2 weeks after I ran my first half marathon, and after losing 60+ pounds]. The second was during my early pregnancy - the first OB practice I saw automatically placed my into the high risk category, denying my plans for a midwife to manage my birth, and assuming I would be likely to have a c-section and probably gestational diabetes. I switched practices, am planning a midwife-assisted waterbirth in March, and continue to have no problems with diabetes, blood pressure, or any other "obesity-related" conditions.

However, the worst example of fat discrimination I've seen in my own life has been what my father went through over the past year. What makes it so bad is that he's faced a possibly life-threatening bias not only from the doctors he saw, but also from his own wife. My dad has been suffering from severe pain and digestive problems for over a year, and had been to the doctor repeatedly, but the only treatments offered were suggestions to lose weight or have weight loss surgery. He did not want the surgery, but finally gave in after being badgered for over a year about it, even though he was very uncomfortable with the idea, but was still having the same pains and problems and mentioned it to the surgeon before his WLS. Since he was now "doing something about his weight", I guess they finally took him seriously, and found that he had colon cancer that had been causing the pain and was ignored to to the sole focus on his weight and eating habits. He had immediate surgery, but it had spread during the delay, so he is now having to undergo radiation and chemotherapy to treat it. This treatment is leaving him very weak, but my mom is blaming that on his weight as well, saying that he's "just lying around getting fatter" and should be out exercising during the days he has off because of the treatments. She even went as far as to say that it was "doing him good", not because of any decrease in the cancer, but because illness from the treatments has caused him to lose 40 pounds. It's sad that not only can a doctor miss something like cancer because of their own prejudices, but that another person [who was over 300 lbs at 5'4" before her own gastric bypass surgery] can basically tell a loved one that they're better off with a fatal disease than they were with a body that didn't conform to society's standards.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Childbirth Class - Week 2

It's been a busy week. We started the dog in obedience school on Sunday, which went well [he was the only one there, so we're getting private lessons for the cost of a group class], I started trying to follow the FlyLady program again, in an attempt to get the house under control before the baby gets here, and we had the second week in our childbirth education class.

The class is still going better than I'd expected from the hospital. Even though they have about a 95% epidural rate, the nurses/teachers are doing very good at explaining the risks and limitations involved with epidurals and other interventions, and are teaching alternative ways of dealing with pain, as well as reminding everyone that once they have an epidural or pitocin shot that many of these things [walking, changing positions, etc] will no longer be allowed. Our teacher had a medication-free birth, but was given pitocin for "failure to progress", and told us that it made the contractions much more painful, but that it is still doable without medication. I like that they are upfront about the effects of the medications, but wonder what % of women who birth there actually go to the classes or pursue education on their own beforehand.

I was supposed to interview another pediatrician this morning, but she was busy at the hospital, so I'm rescheduling for next week. I just hope I can find an office that I am comfortable with , and that won't push the CDC's "early & often" vaccination schedule for my son. I'm also looking for one where the medical staff already has some patients who are uncircumcised, so I don't have to worry as much about them hurting him by retracting his foreskin. It's just strange how the "normal" practices around here seem to be so unnatural.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pediatrician Search - Part 1

I’ve been asking around and doing research into the different pediatricians in our area, to be ready when the baby comes. If it wasn’t for one thing, it would be a simple decision. There is one doctor who keeps coming up with glowing recommendations, is affiliated with the only practice typically on staff at the hospital where I will be delivering, and has an office less than 5 minutes from my home. I met him and one of the nurses and they seemed likable, and explained that they would probably be seeing me anyway, because their practice checks all babies born at the hospital within the first day. I asked if they were comfortable with breastfeeding, familiar with care of uncircumcised boys, and would be comfortable with a delayed/selective vaccine schedule, and I noticed the attitude changed a little. They still tried to reassure me, but I got a lot of “well discuss that as it comes up”, instead of straight answers, which put me on guard a little.

When I got home, I checked out their website, and everything looked OK, until I found their vaccination policy, which includes all of the typical denials from the pro-vaccine crowd, as well as scare tactics about outbreaks, and blaming parents who question the vaccine schedule as being emotional and placing their children, families, and communities at risk. They further go on to say that they consider vaccinations the “single most important intervention” they perform, and that they will not deviate from the chedule (except in “limited cases”) or separate vaccines that are available in combination. Of our course, they do say they are not trying to scare or coerce parents, but then go on to say they will do everything they can to convince you to vaccinate according to the CDC schedule, and will ask you to find another doctor if you don’t agree (sounds like coercion to me). Of course, it ended with a statement to “feel free to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your child’s provider”, but the document itself made it pretty clear that concerns would be dismissed and questions would just be answered in a way to push you towards going along with their policies, and that parents who question too much will be sent away to find another doctor.

I’m pretty disappointed, because I’d heard so many good things about this doctor and his way with kids, but I don’t feel comfortable risking my child’s health because someone has a good personality, but practices dangerous medicine. I did get one recommendation on a local parenting board for a pediatrician who is OK with delayed vax. They are 30 minutes away, but I will be setting up an appointment and interviewing them next. Hopefully this one will go better.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Childbirth Class - Week 1

Last night was the first of the actual childbirth classes at the hospital, and I’m still pretty well pleased with them. Even though our instructor pointed out that it was not a Lamaze class, because the hospital was more of an “epidural hospital”, she is a Lamaze certified instructor, and is focusing on natural ways to deal with pain through breathing & positioning. She also gave a lot more information than I expected on some of the different labor interventions and a spoke a lot on why she was against unnecessary inductions, how they often led to c-sections, and how some of the “standard procedures” could actually prolong labor and make more interventions necessary. This is probably not new info to most people who’ve “done their homework”, but it’s good that there are nurses there who are explaining the cascade of interventions and discouraging inductions of convenience.

I also found out something interesting, and a little scary – my OB has never actually done a waterbirth, and the nurse midwife in his office has only done one. There is another CNM who is very experienced with them, and they said that my doctor will probably call her to assist if he needs it. At least he is supportive of it though, because most OBs here don’t “allow” labor in water or waterbirth at all. I guess being a first is good though, especially if the OB is there for the delivery, because maybe it will make it seem more “acceptable” to some of the other doctors.  I am a little worried about being a first, and am going to ask about this at my appointment to be sure they are still cool with everything [if I do need to change docs, I want to go ahead and do it soon], but am pretty sure things will be OK. I’m really only even going the OB/hospital route because this is my first, and I see it as a precaution in case there are any problems.

It’s also interesting talking with and listening to some of the others in the class. The two youngest members were both planning on inductions, but one is very scared of having a c-section. This is part of why the nurse made a point of explaining the cascade of interventions, and how inducing labor leads t o a higher chance of having a c-section. One of the young women was also asking how late the epidural could be placed, because she wants to use a birth ball and be able to walk and move around as long as possible, and knows she can’t do that once she’s had the epidural. The nurse was good about explaining all this, and encouraging everyone to move around as much as possible in labor and not just lay on your back, and even demonstrated how it could cause problems with occiput posterior delivery, and how movement would help the baby to turn.
All-in-all, I’m pretty pleased with the classes. My husband is loving it, because he’s learning a lot.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Do People Mean to Be Discouraging?

I think most pregnant women have noticed that along with the pregnancy comes lots of stories and advice from everyone – families, friends, coworkers, and sometimes even strangers. While some of it is helpful, and most of it is probably well-meaning, I wonder if people realize how discouraging a lot of the comments are.

In my case, the worst seems to come from family. When I got pregnant, first it was all the comments about how I’d need to change my priorities because I couldn’t raise a child with my work schedule [2 full time jobs]. When I quit one job I was going to lose anyway [at the time, I had gone 2 months with no pay, was looking at 2-3 months more for a decision whether to put me on 50% pay for that time, and was informed I didn't have enough leave to cover the pregnancy unless I returned to work less than 2 weeks after my due date, and would be fired then if I wasn't back on full duty at that time], it was how “stupid” that was because of health insurance [one of the reasons I left is because they refused to cover it, and by leaving I was able to get on my husband's plan which is much cheaper], and how I should immediately sell my car, which I need for the other job [it's hard to sell real estate in a fairly rural & mountainous area without a decent vehicle with 4 wheel drive]. When I announced I was having a boy, several family members pointed out that my sister has 3 sons, and  “should” have a girl, like I had a choice in the matter – this got brought up again by 2 different family members at Christmas.

I would think people would know better in the above situations, which makes me question why they even say such things. Even with the work/car comments – it was obvious I was upset and stressed out over the whole situation, so why say a bunch of crap to just make me feel bad, and add even more stress to the situation.
The other stuff is probably more common, but can be just as rough to hear. For me, the first was the reminders of how I was premature, spent most of my first year in the hospital, and was breech so I “had to” be delivered by c-section. I’ve literally grown up hearing about it, but I hate it now because there seems to be the implication that I will have problems, and a few people have told me to just go ahead and give up everything I want with this birth and schedule a c-section just in case. The part that keeps getting repeated now, that I never heard mentioned before, is how my mother couldn’t breastfeed, so she doesn’t think I will be able to and I shouldn’t even try. I wonder if she ever thought that the fact I was early, kept in an incubator and feed formula for over a day before she even saw me, and she didn’t even try to nurse until her milk “dropped” and the nurse told her it’d make her boobs less sore might have something to do with all that. I’m sure she hasn’t connected it to the reason I was in the hospital so much [often for jaundice & twice for formula allergies/problems] early on.

It frustrates the hell out of me when the discouragement and misinformation is coming from my own family, because anything I try to correct either gets taken as a personal attack on their parenting, or is answered with “but, look, you turned out ok”. Even if I hadn’t though, I think most of them would still rather support the status quo and the “way things are done” in a typical high-intervention hospital birth, because they don’t want to be responsible for making their own decisions, and thus losing somebody to blame if things go wrong.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

No, I'M Not Here for an Abortion

Today was rough all around.

A good friend of mine went for an abortion, and needed someone to drive her to Charlotte [she said it's OK to post, but obviously I won't be using any identifying details]. Her family and several friends refused, and are generally being horrible about the whole situation, and she doesn’t have a car, so she asked me. The original plan was to go on the weekend, so my husband could drive, but I didn’t know if he would go for it [we're both personally opposed to abortion in most circumstances], and we figured there would be less hassle during the week.

We were wrong on the hassle part. Even though we were there early on a cold weekend morning there were still several people standing around, a couple with signs, the others just trying to harass people and shove pamphlets at them. Seriously, if you want to change someone’s mind about something, that’s not really the time, place, or manner, in which to do it. I was just going to park and wait, but I ended up walking in with her so she’d have some support, and to help keep them away [I'm 5'11, 250+, and can be a little intimidating].
It sort of worked – she was barely showing. I, on the other hand, am very visibly pregnant, so most of them got in my face instead. The irony is that I am way past the point where any doctor around her would do an abortion, if I had wanted one, but it was easier to tell them to f’ off than try to explain that to a bunch of self-righteous jerks. It actually got to the point where I was a little worried about our safety, because one woman grabbed my arm, but I managed to get her to back off [pressure points - learn 'em & love 'em, you can get someone back with like 2 fingers and minimal force] and we went inside with no major drama.
She seemed OK at that point, so I just sat in the waiting room and told her I’d be there when she came it [I don't think I could've handled being there for it - I've had 2 miscarriages for myself, and it was already a pretty stressful day, I'm sure much moreso for her than me]. Honestly, it felt awkward as hell sitting there in the waiting room being pregnant myself, and I hope that I didn’t offend or upset anyone else with my presence [one more reason I was originally gonna wait in the car]. When we left, there was a clinic escort there who walked with us to the car because she was pretty weak and upset and they didn’t want us walking back out there alone like that.

I’m not really sure why I’m blogging this, other than catharsis. It just hurt me to see the hatred on some of those people’s face, directed at someone who was already in a bad, vulnerable situation, and then to sit there realizing that many of them claimed to be doing it out of religious belief or “love” [one idiot kept going on about love and hate]. I also think it’s crazy that people are allowed to harass other like that to keep them from having a medical treatment. Imagine if they started blocking off hospitals or plastic surgery clinics – I’m sure there would be laws passed and actually forced to protect those.

The crazy thing about it is that, even though I consider myself anti-abortion, today has made me consider volunteering as a clinic escort and trying to find some way to help support women who do choose abortions, because nobody should have to go through that sort of harassment when they’re already making a tough decision. She said she’ll have to go back in 3 weeks for a check up, and I hope it’s not the same bunch of crap then.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Breastfeeding Class

Last night I took the first one of my “childbirth education” classes sponsored through the hospital. I had been wondering if they’d even be worth it, since I kept hearing that most hospital classes were more about teaching you their standard practice & how to cooperate than education about birth and options [ie, not going to be natural birth "friendly" enough for my liking]. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised.

Not only was the class leader a L&D nurse there, as well as a doula, but she was very clear about giving different options and the reasoning behind it, and about explaining how some “routine” interventions could complicate breastfeeding but were not a reason to give up. The hospital has a support line and lactation consultants, and everyone was encouraged to call them first if there were any problems, rather than switching to a bottle or supplementing. She also pointed out how sometimes the baby would not be able to latch/suckle properly after certain medications, and encouraged mothers to try again after a couple hours, instead of assuming he couldn’t or didn’t want to breastfeed, and let us know that we could/needed to let them know we planned on breastfeeding in case of a cesarean, and they would have someone bring the baby to the recovery room and help out nursing the first few times, so he didn’t end up being given formula instead. There was also a mention of oxytocin/pitocin being chemically similar, and how nursing during the 3rd stage could be used instead of pitocin to help the placenta come out and the uterus go back to normal.

A lot of it was pretty basic for most people who’ve done their research, but it was still very refreshing to see a hospital that supportive of breastfeeding, and to see common myths/problems addressed outright. She made a point of letting everyone know, even if they intended to formula feed later on, that it was best to at least breastfeed at the beginning so the baby got the benefits of the colostrum, and covered a lot of the benefits of breastfeeding, even up to 3-4 years [was really surprised to see support for "extended" bf'ing]. She was also supportive of co-sleeping and explained it was safe, as long as the parent wasn’t using medications that made them drowsy or alcohol. I also liked that she made a point of explaining the purpose of foremilk, and why breastfeed babies don’t need to be given bottles of water, and how that or unnecessary supplementation with formula [including in the hospital] can screw up the breastfeeding process and cause the baby to not get enough milk & nutrition. She stressed the importance of nursing as soon as possible [she said hospital recommendation is within the first hour, but they try for the first 20-30 minutes], and nursing exclusively in the first 2 weeks and skipping bottles and pacifiers at least that long to avoid nipple confusion, and also explained how breast shields should only be used minimally and for a short time if needed, so the baby didn’t become reliant on them.

Afterward, I asked if she knew where to get a copy of the hospital’s L&D policies because  I wanted to see if there would be any problem with my birth plan, and she told me they were used to birth plans, pretty relaxed, and that the main thing was to go over it and have my OB sign it, in case I ended up with another doctor delivering. She also told me that a particular OB at my practice was the most natural birth friendly, and recommended having him be the one to sign off, because she had attended a unmedicated waterbirth in the hospital of one of his clients, and he was supportive and backed up her wishes in a few instances when the charge nurse was requesting more intervention. This is the doc I had planned to go over it with anyway, but I feel a lot better now hearing that from a nurse who’d attended one of his births.

All in all. I’m glad I went, and I feel a lot more comfortable with the hospital than I did before. I still have a few more weeks of classes, so I’ll be updating on those as well as other things.

One thing I thought I’d add is that it was great how many dads were there. I figured, of all the classes, this would be the one most men would skip, but probably 3/4 of the women had a male partner or support person with them, which says a lot about how far we’ve come on educating both sexes. One thing that I thought was cool was one of the very young mothers had her dad there as her support person, and mentioned that he would be her labor coach – it’s nice seeing that level of support for a teen mother, because I’ve seen so many who felt rejected by their parents when they needed them most.

Friday, January 1, 2010

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