Beyond the tub: Making your birth a victory.

Photo by Home Grown Photography, Perth, AU   

Photo by Home Grown Photography, Perth, AU   

Look at this mom is glowing with a sense of power and accomplishment. It's the goal for all of my clients. Healthy mom and baby of course, but that face. Mom is on fire. 

It doesn't matter where she gives birth. This isn't a "home birth"or birth tub thing. I have seen women defeated and traumatized after a water birth.  I've seen them empowered after an unplanned cesarean. The birthing tub is not a magic cauldron that transforms you into a birth diva. The spa like atmosphere cannot change what is going on inside of your heart, body and mind or change the attitude of the people around you.

The reasons I believe that I see so many empowered, happy births is not because of location. Sure, sometimes the home looks like a Pinterest scene, with dim lights and essential oils wafting in the air. But, it's irrelevant. I once set up for a home birth with a very healthy/artsy/crunch mom in a "Waldorf" inspired home.  The walls glowed with watercolor paint, she burned beeswax candles hand made by her older children.  After many hours of labor, the mom ended up transferring to the hospital and was visibly much happier and comfortable once she arrived. She had a lovely birth and was glowing afterwards. The doctor offered to let her go home a few hours but she declined. Even though she was hungry and there was no food available other than jello and pudding until the kitchen opened in the morning, she would rather starve than go home. She would be trying to sleep on a thin mattress with beeping machines and buzzy fluorescent lights. Her husband would have to go home and tend to the older children. But despite these discomforts, a night in the hospital was just what she wanted, and just what she needed. A break from the kids, a time to snuggle alone with her newbie uninterrupted. It was just perfect.

What matters in childbirth is not the tub or quaint environment. What matters is optimal health and wellness for mama and baby, heart...mind...body.  What matters is respect and support by providers and that your needs are met. Many beautifully decorated birthing centers have high transport and risk-out rates. Up to 50% of women who start there end up birthing in the hospital anyway. Data shows us that beautiful hospital rooms do not correlate with beautiful birth experiences. Some hospitals use Bait and switch techniques as marketing campaigns for their "homelike" expensively decorated birthing wings, include one I know of that offers a steak dinner for the parents after the birth. But luxury hospital suites are rarely funded by low revenue vaginal births. They need cesareans, epidurals and NICU stays to be profitable. Low intervention, uncomplicated births are not profitable. You cannot bill insurance for extra hours of "hands on" support but you can bill a lot for medication! Sometimes the most humble hospitals have the best outcomes and satisfaction rates. So don't be fooled by fancy decor.  

When I see a mother take labor head on, dive through her fears and discomfort to achieve her goals, it is the most thrilling and goose bump provoking moment, no matter what the location. It's especially true when a woman has had a disappointing or traumatic previous birth when she defeats the ghosts and doubts of the past. The exhilaration of a gold medal victory for the common woman is what makes doing birth work amazing. I believe that any woman, in hospital, birth center or at home can make her birth a victory.