I wanted a water birth for the birth of my daughter. There was a huge, private birthing tub sitting right in my hospital room. I had my husband get the water running as I started getting all my annoying paperwork and questioning out of the way. I was so excited.
But it never came to be. My OB flagged my file in the hospital’s computer. He made it say, “Do not ask about previous births.” Because, as I have mentioned before, my first daughter was stillborn from chromosomal defects and I told him I didn’t want to be asked about the details while I was in labor. I saw it flagged. But, even still, the nurse that was getting me settled in my room asked me anyway. I told her to please check my files on the computer because my doctor flagged it to explain, but I didn’t want to talk about it. She insisted. Round and round we went until I was sobbing. Of course, then she said that I needed to be checked out by a doctor, given I was sobbing, before I could get in my nice warm tub.
So, I waited.
Before long, I was not a candidate for a water birth because, at that point according to the OB on call, it was simply too late.
Meanwhile, only a few months before, in the United Kingdom, their National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence was saying that all expectant mothers should be offered water births, which are the safest form of pain relief during labor. Only they spelled it “labour” of course- and I love that, because it looks cooler.
So, not only do they spell labor in a way cooler way, but they approach it in a cooler way too. If I had been labouring in the United Kingdom instead of the United States when I had my daughter, my request to labour in a tub would have been fully respected, instead of shrugged off as an inconvenient, quirky request.
If I had opted for a midwife assisted water birth instead of an OB instructed hospital birth, it would have been too.
When I mention this to people, my concerns are trivialized and I am told to be thankful my daughter was born safely. Is that really ALL we can hope for? I mean it’s certainly paramount, but can’t we also want a nice birth too? An enjoyable, peaceful birth? Is that too much to wish for? Is that too much to have expected?
I am not telling you to have a water birth assisted by a midwife. I’m just telling you that I wish I had. And I’m saying it because perhaps if enough people say it, things will change.
Did you have a water birth? What was it like? If you have pictures will you post them on our facebook page so we can seed the images of peaceful birth?
I live in the UK, and have had four babies. Unfortunately, I have never achieved a water birth. With my first, it was treated as a weird, quirky request. The midwife on call didn’t tell me before breaking my waters that they would deny me access afterwards. That I was classed as “higher risk” because I was officially induced at that point. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have agreed to my waters breaking. And she obviously knew that. She was an old fashioned, “I’m the boss” sort of lady, and I was very happy when her shift ended and the new midwife was laid back and let me get on with things.
Yes, this was 9+ years ago, and things might have changed, but according to my friends who have recently had babies, I don’t think it’s the case. The area we live in has recently seen a HUGE jump in home births, but that is because our local hospital is HORRIBLE. Women are refusing to go in there, so they home birth instead.
There is a bit of a tendency to gloss over the troubles we have in the UK because our standard of care is based on midwifery, but ask any independent midwife over here and she will tell you that the midwives in hospital are pretty much equivalent to L&D nurses in the States. I think that, because we have this so-called women based care, it is all too easy to let the negatives slip by our notice and before we know it our statistics will match the US in every category!
Sorry to be a debbie downer! But the grass isn’t always greener, unfortunately….