baby stories

Another observation borne of excessive TV watching whilst mostly bedridden this week:

I've watched a bunch of those "A Baby Story" type shows that follow women through childbirth. Half of the stories have been set in a traditional hospital setting and half have been in a freestanding birth center (mostly waterbirths).

After watching these shows, I cannot imagine why ANYONE with a normal pregnancy would voluntarily choose to be a patient in a hospital and have an IV and lie flat in a hospital bed and have a fetal monitor strapped around their bellies, etc, etc, etc

It seems so much better to be in warm water, reclining but not lying flat (or in whatever position the mother wants), with midwives offering gentle encouragement.

In all the hospital births, the doctor has the woman's legs up in stirrups and he/she, along with a chorus of nurses, are hyperactively urging women to "PUSH! PUSH! PUSH!" It's obnoxious sounding.

I hope to be pregnant again very soon and really, really hope I don't end up with a traditional hospital birth.


karrie said...

Those shows always struck me as oddly scripted and sterile. The same basic birth experience and cue to the mewling newborn--which is why I watched. So I could bawl my pregnant eyes out imagining the moment I would meet my own son.

I think the bigger issue is education and being able to advocate for yourself. I was not able to use a birth center as originally planned, but I was able to have midwife care (and break a lot of hospital rules).

No one ever forced me to labor in a certain position and no one yelled at me to PUSH-- which considering I pushed for 6 hours is pretty damn amazing! :)

The stories that always make my head spin are the women who are told to "hold the baby in and wait for the doctor." How they manage to do so is beyond my comprehension.

Smokey said...

Just a question out of ignorance on my part -- how can you "end up" with a traditional hospital birth? Isn't it entirely under your control where you have your baby and who is there with you (midwife vs. dr., etc.?) or is it possible to be put into a birthing situation that is out of your control?

Again out of my own ignorance I'm going to say this hoping you or another expert can set me straight -- Sometimes when I hear about people's birth experiences they seem to elude to being completely out of control of the situation as if suddenly against the mother's will she is in a hospital bed with a fetal monitor strapped to her being told which position to be in (on the back in stirrups) with the PUSH! chant going on by the nurses. Do doctors/hospitals/whomever really dictate to mothers the actual dynamics of the birthing process? I mean, if you wanted to squat and have the baby or be on your side or whatever is comfortable, won't they let you?

I'm not a mother nor do I ever plan to be one so I've never had the occasion or desire to do any research on this so I'm kind of curious now.

Anonymous said...

My first child was born in Scotland, and there, even in traditional hospital births, the midwives encourage walking around, and being in water, and not lying flat on the back. However, I had a c-section due to breech position anyway.

britney said...

Complications during delivery, or being at risk for such complications, can take the situation out of your control - to save the life of the baby or the mother doctors will intervene (c-section, etc.)

Anonymous said...

The answers to most of your questions are liability control. The birth center has procedures and guidelines to protect themselves from litigation. So you may end up being transferred to a hospital. Same with hospitals, the IV, the monitoring, etc. For liability control.

Leslie said...


A woman in labor, in pain, being told horror stories about what might happen to her baby if she ignores medical advice, is in a pretty vulnerable place. It's an unusual woman who can hold out against the "experts" in such a situation.

Also, many women are simply uneducated about their options and trust their doctor to know what's best. Knowing no other way, they welcome the safety they think the proffered technology offers them.

Depending on your doctor, however, there is room for flexibility in hospital birth. My doctor has "allowed" me to be out of bed and intermittently monitored for VBAC attempts. He didn't make me go straight to the hospital to be induced for mild preeclampsia. He attended me for a VBA3C even when all his colleagues told him he was crazy to consider such a thing! A lot of what happens depends on your doctor AND on you, what you know and what you are willing to argue for.

I'd LOVE a birthing center experience, but one here (that Katie plans to use in the future) won't do VBACs.


Anonymous said...

While I agree that birthing has become too uniformly medicalized, I would also say that birthing centers like Lisa Ross commit the same error of universalization when they suggest that their centers are superior options. I think that a real feminist philosophy must allow for personal CHOICE. I used Lisa Ross for prenatal care, but opted for a hospital birth w/ midwive attendance because I wanted an epidural. This was not a popular choice w/ the midwives, but it was my fucking choice, and they could not acknowledge it w/out condescention--this really bothered me. My midwives also pressured me to leave the hospital ASAP because the "home" is so much better. However, I relished my day and a half in the hospital w/my baby at my side (they do allow this) because it relieved me from external pressures for a bit. Lisa Ross means well, but I can't say that they abide by the principle of a woman's choice unless you agree with 'em.

Leslie said...


I agree with the choice aspect too, as long as it's a meaningful informed choice. I've ended up with epidurals for both of my VBACs even though I intended to go natural (actually, my last epi failed for the most part so I did end up feeling most of it). And I've never had ANY desire to leave the hospital early. I LOVE the hospital (it must depend on the hospital) and I've even opted for an extra day when I was allowed that option!


Suburban Turmoil said...

That's funny- The only thing that held me back from a natural birth was the fear that there would be problems and I wouldn't be seconds away from an entire team of specialists.

That said, my hospital birth experience was WONDERFUL, owing mostly to the best nurse in the world, the best doctors in the world (the on-call doctor from my OB practice delivered my daughter, but my own doctor showed up in her workout clothes to assist and take pictures-and all the OBs in my practice are women, which I really appreciate), and yes, the best anesthesiologist in the world.

I'm a big believer in each woman doing what she wants- and I think there are going to be ups and downs of natural and hospital births. I am toying with natural birth this time around, but I'd probably still go to a hospital to do it. And as an aside, the hospital staff joked about how after 11pm or so, all the natural birth women start showing up at the hospital every night, because they can't take it anymore! I thought that was funny. :)