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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

About Me--or, How I Became a Birth Junkie.

I'm such a perfectionist that I sat here with a blank blog for weeks, waiting for the time to draft the "perfect" first post. Since my house isn't quiet until the kids are in bed, at which point my brain is mush and I'm ready to melt into the couch, I'm just running with this.

How did I get to the point that I read birth research for fun? I had my first baby in 2002 in a hospital, and thought I had a "normal" birth. I didn't prepare much, and by the grace of God, I did not end up with much in the way of unnecessary birth interventions. To make a long story short, I had an unmedicated labor and delivery with a bad perineal tear thanks to doing what the nurse told me to do. Recovery was miserable for months. Later I learned that what happened to me was preventable, and I sought midwives and a homebirth with my subsequent pregnancies. I really started researching birth when I took personal responsibility for my pregnancy and my health during my second pregnancy. By the time I was pregnant with my third and fourth children, I spent a lot of time on pregnancy and birth message boards, reading the latest articles and research on pregnancy and birth safety. (I'll try to post my birth stories another day.)

I read hundreds of birth stories and started seeing a pattern. I now know that it's called The Cascade of Interventions, and it's well documented. One intervention necessitates another, which causes another side effect necessitating more intervention or medication, and ultimately, it ends in fetal distress or diagnosis of FTP (Failure To Progress) or CPD (Cephalopelvic Disproportion) and either instrument delivery or cesarean. By that point, the final intervention *was* necessary, but it was likely preventable and caused by the previous interventions. Many people are vaguely aware that "too many cesareans are being done," but they are unaware of the cause-and-effect that lead to preventable cesareans and other interventions. I know this because almost every woman who has had a cesarean, thinks that *her* cesarean was necessary/life-saving/not preventable. Statistically, over half a million preventable cesareans are performed annually in the US, so SOMEBODY'S cesarean was preventable.

I mentioned to my midwife that I might actually like to become a real childbirth educator some day instead of just sitting around complaining about the state of affairs. She gave me the link for ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association), and I checked their upcoming schedule of childbirth educator workshops. There was a two-day, 16 contact hour workshop not far from me, coming up three weeks from the day I looked it up. It took a lot of finagling to procure childcare, but I made it happen!

I'm currently working toward ICEA certification. The childbirth educator workshop was the first step; I've applied with and joined ICEA, and I taught a childbirth class series (meeting once weekly for a month) with four couples, which was videotaped to submit to my ICEA mentor for approval. I also need to attend two births and complete a huge reading list before I can take my 150-question written exam, then I'll be certified.

As a childbirth educator, I love ICEA's motto: "Freedom of choice based on knowledge of alternatives." I want for my clients never to have to say, "I would have chosen something different if I had known that X is a common consequence of Y." Sadly, while 2/3 of expecting mothers watch birth dramas on TV, fewer than 25% of American pregnant couples attend childbirth class today, and moms are coming into their deliveries with an almost laughable misconception of birth and their bodies. I hope to bring couples a better understanding of how birth works along with confidence that mothers' bodies were perfectly designed to birth and breastfeed their babies.

Among other things, I'd like for this blog to be an extension of my childbirth classes, elaborating on things we don't have enough time to cover. I'd like to blog to warn moms how not to become a statistic of preventable complications with birth and breastfeeding. I'd like to keep you updated on the latest and most fascinating birth safety research. I might even share some of my own birth and breastfeeding stories, from time to time.

I would also like to make this blog a place to bring forth information on standard birth and postpartum policies of WV hospitals. I don't think anything like this has been done before, and I've had a lot of clients ask me about the differences among local hospitals and their policies. How can expecting parents make informed decisions, if this info isn't public? I'd like to facilitate that discussion.

I've been interrupted no less than ten times by four different kids over the course of four hours as I attempt to write this, and I know it sounds fragmented, but I hope you'll bear with me and get to know me over time. I really do have some innovative ideas for promoting physiologic birth and empowering families to have birth their way. Now if you'll excuse me, the baby is writing on herself with Crayola markers, so I think it's time to close for now.

10 comments:

  1. Sarah, Thank you for taking the time to write this blog. I think it will be such a wonderful help to so many. Being a mom of 2 preventable cesareans and 1 challenging hospital VBA2C, I especially look forward to reading more about WV hospital policies. I feel that as much as I prepared myself w/ my hospital VBA2C that I was still put up against oppostion of what I wanted for my birth and postpartum care. I am sure it was part of the hospital's policies. I remember once even being told that my baby needed to warm up in the nursery, when I promptly replied, that him nursing skin to skin would warm him plenty. Any how, I learned so much from my experiences, and from that knowledge gained power. With my last pregancy I had a peaceful home waterbirth in which I felt safer that ever. Thank you again for your passion to help women..I too share that passion.

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  3. I have a babe in my arms, so I can't type out a very long comment. But I wanted to let you know that I read and enjoyed your post. You are going to do great things for women and babies in WV!

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  4. I think it's awesome that you are trying to inform local mom's about childbirth. I was very unaware even with my 5th child. I feel like I was scared into a c-section even though I would have loved to have another "natural" childbirth. Even with my first child being a large baby, I think having a midwife around would have helped the outcome greatly.

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  5. good for you sarah! this is awesome! so many women can be empowered by your message and information. good luck and i look forward to future posts!

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  6. Hooray! You have a birth blog! I'm so happy that you are helping women to have educated, natural births! As you know, I am also a HUGE birth junkie!!! I am thoroughly convinced that if women are left alone to do what their body innately knows what to do, they will birth just fine. True complications in this scenario are very rare. Because our culture feeds women a fear of birth mentality, and fear can indeed impede a woman's natural birth ability, education is vitally important. Women need to know that we are designed and created to birth, and are fully capable of birthing without medical interference. Thank you Sarah for all you are doing to help families. Moms, dads, and their babies benefit in so many different ways when they have a natural, gentle birth as God intended.

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  7. Thanks for your encouragement. <3

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  8. I am excited that you are pursuing your passion! There is definitely a need for your information. As I read, I thought about some of the things that probably helped contribute to the issues that I had. Women definitely need to know that there are alternatives to the "status quo," because some of us are simply not satisfied with it!

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  9. Yep, I'm now here on the 3rd of 3 posts labeled "about me."

    Now I'm going over to my blog and putting you on my roll as well as quoting you (if you don't mind).

    Thanks for leaving a comment so I could find you!

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  10. Linda, I'm so glad that you are not satisfied w/ the status quo! You deserve better. All women deserve better.

    Sarah, Thanks for stopping by my posts and commenting. You've made my day. I'm honored that you would quote me. <3

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