birth options: why individualized maternity care matters

This is probably the number one POINT I’ve gotten from being a doula: birth is not just another event in life. It’s unlike any other hospital visit, even if you end up with a cesarean section, it’s unlike any other surgery you’ll ever have. You pack your bags thinking you know who you are, and you come home profoundly different. You will remember that experience – the good and the bad – for the rest of your life.

Ok, yes, I think many women understand the fact that birth is a BIG deal, but for some reason this message doesn’t always make it to the healthcare staff. Or at least they don’t show it. It’s their job – I know, AMAZING to have the job of bringing new life into the world – but after a while it’s just another Tuesday and a new round belly to watch for 12 hours and another pair of screaming lungs on the ward. I’m not a nurse, but I’ve seen a few who would absolutely rather be on their lunch break than in the room with me and a valiantly striving woman working her butt off to get that baby out.

What does individualized maternity care look like? I’m sure every mom is different, but as a doula I would recommend options:

– the option of having an affordable doula
– the option of being in a birthing center or having a homebirth
– the option of affordable childbirth and parenting classes
– the option of a provider whom you trust who is also covered by your insurance
– while we’re at it… affordable health insurance…

Usually the argument against these options is one of medical necessity, or that women overall deserve the best health care technology which is only found in hospitals. The funny thing is that new science is coming out about the benefits of doulas and midwives and personalized care on emotional and psychosocial side of birth… the side that is responsible for birth as a major life event, as a rite of passage. The side that also contributes to a woman’s bonding with her child, her likelihood of developing postpartum depression, and the amount that she smiles at and interacts with her that may affect the long-term quality of their relationship.

Of course we want all mothers and their babies to be safe and healthy. And is it not possible, with all our knowledge and science, to make birth both a safe and fulfilling experience for mother and baby? We send new parents home every day from the hospital and trust them to feed, change diapers, and care properly for this helpless human being. We trust mothers to raise these children the best they can, making countless decisions every day. I kinda think we should trust them enough to make a few informed decisions on how they bring their own children into the world. IF we do, in fact, trust them.

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