July 12, 2007 § Leave a comment
last night i was at a birth in one of the hospitals downtown. she was 20. her boyfriend the baby’s dady was in jail on a federal charge. at any one time there were 5-10 of her closest friends and family and me, the doula, and her, the woman in labor.
she never really cried out in pain. instead she held it all in. tears in her eyes but no sound. she arrived at the hospital at 1 cm dilation. and i new it was going to be a long day. she went to 3 cm before asking for the epidural. maybe she wouldnt have needed the epidural if she had not felt the need to hide all her pain, not express it. it was hard for me to know that she was having a contraction. she would get quiet, tense her lips, make her body rigid. but there was her younger sister there and her younger sister’s best friend and her best friend/baby godmother and another friend who was determined to see a birth after her csection. there even more cell phones and ringtones and difficult birth stories and jokes and text messages. and then the grandmother and the grandmother in law and some other friends dropped by. it was so loud and exhausting and i found it difficult to connect with her because of the noise and 3 or four conversations and the television. the epidural stopped working on one side and i massaged her hips and obliques until the doctor finally came to readjust the epidural. she hates needles.
she was amazingly strong and stoic. but when it came for her to push the nurses came in to the party looked at the little boy on the floor sleeping and said that some people would need to leave there were just too many. so the grandmothers decided to leave. and i stepped out. and the nurses looked at us like we were crazy. how could we leave her with three 17yearolds? three very insecure 17 year olds.
a couple of hours before the doctor had told her that she had not dilated past 6 cm for the past 3-4 hours and so they wanted to break her water and give her pitocin. she asked for the doctors to leave and then the whole room the whole crowded room gave their opinion. i asked her what were the benefits, the harms, the alternatives of the inductions. artificial oxytocin aint like the real thang. and that bag of water is there fro a reason. it provides cushioning during the labor. is a shock absorber for babys head against the cervix. the younger sister accused me of wanting her ‘to do it natural’. i had an epidural, pitocin, my water broken, and csection in my birth so i am obviously not completely against inductions. i also planned for a home birth so i am not against the ‘natural’ approach either. i just want to give her the information so that she can make an informed decision. everyone was tired. wanted the birth to over. wanted to go home get some sleep go to work in the morning. this is not my birth it is her birth. she decides to get pitocin but no water broken. the earlier doctor had said that there was no medical reason to break the water studies show. the earlier doctor was a woman and respectful with a little nose ring. more noninterventionist than some midwives i know. and calmer.
i decided to go home and went to gather my stuff from the family lounge that the two grandmothers and i were inhabiting waiting for the birth. oprah was on the tv. her show was about siblings. the first successful african american sextuplet birth. i had taken a walk. the mother had gone to check on the birth and it turned out that ‘nothing was happening’. she wasnt pushing. there was a little lip of cervix still hanging out. i told the grandmothers that the soon to be mother needed to relax her mouth. she needed to scream. she has been holding it all in and now she needs to let it out. it is the sphincter law of ina may gaskin. it is the reason we have to make noise when we take a shit.
as i was in the car with the maternal grandmother in the parking lot about to go home, she gets a call that the baby is born. we go back to the hospital. i see the baby boy. and the paternal grandmother takes me aside and says that she told the mother what i had said and it worked. she didnt have to push the baby just slid out after she finally opened her mouth. i smiled. and slipped out the door blowing a kiss a blessing to the crowd. on the bed, the mother was pushing out the afterbirth. bloody umbilical cord between her legs.
‘A 1993 study by Kennell, Klaus and Kennell showed that women who have doulas during their labors experience:
50% reduction in cesarean rates.
25% shorter labors.
60% reduction in epidural requests.
40% reduction in the use of pitocin.
30% reduction in requests for pain relief.
40% reduction in forceps deliveries.’