Guest post by Patricia Madden, DONA-Certified Birth Doula
“Routine interventions versus medical solutions.” I heard this phrase many years ago, and I’m pretty sure it came from Pam England of “Birthing from Within” fame. In my 14 years of experience, I’ve noticed that this is the kind of phrase that relaxes couples and doctors alike.
Most of my clients are very dedicated to having a natural birth, but as we talk more they come to understand that what they really want to avoid is routine interventions that can snowball into surgery. When a birth mother puts that simple sentence in a birth plan, she lets the hospital staff know that she is not against technology at any cost; she just does not want the normal routine things that most laboring moms get when they DON’T state a preference. The birth mother then also does not feel like she failed if she ends up saying, “You know, I’ve been laboring on and off for 3 days, and now I’ve been in active labor for 12 hours, I’ve had almost zero sleep for 3-4 days, and I’m still at 4cm. Maybe the next best thing might be an epidural.” (This was also from Pam England.)
Stating a preference: ah, that brings me to another thought I got from the new book by Cynthia Gabriel, Natural Hospital Birth. Her advice to doulas like me: “I have learned over the years that you must say what you want or the [hospital] staff will think that what they routinely do will be fine. In every job, people have routines. Routines make life easier for us. The more your client talks about what she wants and doesn’t want, the more the [hospital staff] will help her achieve her goal, because they know she is serious. At every prenatal your client should talk about her preferences …over and over, and the fact that it is not medical solutions that solve a unforeseen problem that she wants to avoid, but the routine interventions that could eventually cause the problem that she wants to avoid.”
Just thought I’d share an effective wording for your birth plan to swing things in your direction, if you’re of a mindset to try your best for a natural hospital birth, but yet are open to medical solutions in case anything should go wrong. – Patricia