What do you do when you’re on vacation and looking for a place to eat?
You can go to a fast food place or a chain restaurant and have a good idea of what you’re going to get. This is because everything is franchised and standardized.
If you want a better, memorable experience, though, you probably look for someplace you’ve never seen before. You peer in the windows. You see how many people are in there. You look at the menu posted in the window. Maybe you check reviews online, ask at the hotel or another local place.
It’s the same when you’re planning birth.
You need to ask around, check out the place and see how you feel when you’re there, look for reviews, ask questions, and make sure the place can provide the kind of birth you want.
If you want a vegan feast, you don’t go to a steakhouse. It’s not fair. That’s not what they do there.
If you want a drug-free, low-intervention birth, the big urban hospital with a cesarean rate of 54% is probably not your best bet. It’s not fair. That’s not what they do there.
Find a mom’s group on Facebook or in your community; ask around. Find people who have had the kind of birth you want and check out their providers. Then go meet them and ask questions. You can do this without being rude.
Sample Questions for Care Providers
“How many weeks of pregnancy is it safe to go to?”
“Can you tell me your favorite birth story?”
“When was the last time you cut an episiotomy?”
“What do you do to help women who labor without an epidural?”
“How would you feel about intermittent monitoring?”
“What happens after the baby is out?”
“What pushing positions do you think are best for avoiding tears?”
“I’m nervous about labor. Do you have doulas you recommend?”
“What can we do if my labor is going slowly?”
“When can I see a lactation consultant?”
It’s not fair or realistic to expect your regular doctor to do a birth unlike the ones she usually does. Will she do it? Can she? Very possibly. We desperately need more flexibility and more options in the mainstream system, but are you willing to essentially guinea pig your own birth?
Ask your questions, politely, and then leave, politely. Explain that they just don’t provide the service you need. Please do this. In a letter, on the phone, or in person.
An OB once told me that they don’t offer vaginal breech births because women don’t demand them.
Big maternity care systems need to know that they are failing, that the consumers demand better. That is how things will change.
Image credit: Birth Boot Camp