During the last few weeks, reliving the euphoria that I experienced as I birthed my daughter naturally, there have been many thoughts that have flitted through my head. I am amazed at what my body can do. I am thankful for the support that I got. I am happy that my daughter is perfect. But, I have been also thinking about what was so sorely missing in the “care” that I got for the first 40 weeks of my pregnancy, at the hospital where I work as an Emergency Physician. As I sit here, bonding with my baby, here is what I want to say to the medical establishment providing, routine maternity care:
Don’t just give me consultations:
Tell me something about pregnancy care, about birth, about labor, pain management, about after hours, about breastfeeding, about many things I wish I was taught – because we don’t have those grannies any more who knew it all .. and told it all. (We do have YouTube!)
Don’t tell me “XYZ” is the only plan:
I am a doctor myself. I have read similar books as you have. When our books have taught us something else, why are you telling different things to a patient who is at your door, in total surrender and so much trust?
Don’t tell me that I am putting my baby’s life to risk, making me look like a criminal:
Just because I want to make choices that seem to be appropriate for myself and my baby, why would you say that to me? No mother will put her body and her precious baby willfully at risk. Give me choices. Tell me the pros and cons of doing or not doing a test, or a scan or an intervention such as induction. And make me a partner in the decision making process.
When a woman becomes pregnant, it is not just the womb, but her entire physical, physiological and psychological body is working towards protecting the unborn.
Don’t tell me I will deliver your baby safely:
I made the choice to become pregnant, worked towards conceiving, protected my womb and the growing one with love, good thoughts, positive vibes, words, music, peace, exercise, good food, rest, dance, laughter, patience. And when the grand moment arrives where I welcome this one, I stay knocked out? Why would I do that? Why should you deliver me, when I can birth my baby? I think I can give birth more safely, the way nature intended!
Don’t tell me that I can’t handle labor:
My body is meant for this, the universe has made me that way, the one task which differentiates me from a man. You are telling me that I am incapable of that? Why do you mock me by saying “You found an internal exam painful, how do you plan to handle labor?” This is denigrating and disrespectful. Instead, why don’t you try to keep me calm and reassured, and educate me beforehand, and encourage me by being with me in labor, so that I will walk through it like a breeze?
Don’t tell me that my baby will die in utero (over and over again, just because I am asking questions, and trying to make my own choices):
An unborn in the womb can die and will die simply anytime if she chooses to. There is no guarantee, there is never a guarantee. And when that happens, and if I asked you ‘Why did it happen?’Or ‘What could I have done to prevent it?’ Or ‘Why did it happen to me?’… Would you have an answer?
Don’t tell that beyond 38 weeks my baby only gains weight, which only makes labor more difficult:
This is madness. Of course the baby will gain some weight. This is nature’s way of ensuring survival of the baby in those first few hours and days post-birth! My baby was born perfect!! I am sure that my baby gained a lot more than just weight in those “extra” days.
Don’t say “Lie down, I shall remove your baby”:
I do not need to lie down in labor all the time, in order to get monitored! If you are worried about mom and child safety, then arrange a ward/space where I can just walk or sit or lay down to rest, where my baby and I are monitored intermittently. This way I will be reassured and more comfortable to birth my baby actively. Or if labor is not really in its active phase, send me home with my baby, after checking me and giving me counseling and encouragement. Tell me to come back, when anything feels different, and to stay active.
Don’t give me deadlines for progress of labor.. 6 hours and 12 hours and so on:
Poo is made in 24 hours it arrives over ten mins. This baby is made over 277 days. Do the math it comes to 2 days(OK this part am kidding!) But seriously, why is she expected to exit in 15 mins, or an hour, or just any arbitrary time that you have decided?
Please go the extra distance to make a vaginal birth possible:
It is more work for you, it demands more patience from you, it demands more observation, more checks, more space, AND it warrants LOVE. It is required that babies take the vaginal route, it is plenty of work and adrenaline – this is good stress for the unborn.
Hormones have made pregnancy possible, hormones have protected the pregnancy, hormones have induced labor, hormones have caused the birth, hormones cause recovery, hormones help breastfeeding, hormones gives best possible health to mom and baby, hormones cause love to happen naturally, hormones make the magic enjoyable.
Why don’t you let the hormones play?
~ Dr. Archana Satyam Madivada
Dr.Archana is 31 year old Emergency Physician by profession since 2009, working at Care Hospital, Banjara Hills. She loves her job and has intervened and successfully managed many lives. She finds it a very satisfying experience. Her other interests are music , dance, poetry, sketching , hanging out with friends, and movies. She is currently on maternity leave , enjoying being Mom to her three month old baby girl, whom she gave birth, completely naturally, with Midwives, at The Sanctum, Natural Birth Center, Hyderabad.