Thursday, August 15, 2013

informed consent

The buzz around my area birth network is that there is a particular midwife's office in our city that is refusing to accept new patients who are taking the Bradley Method childbirth classes. As if that were not outrageous enough, it is the office that I use! It is the office that delivered BOTH of my Bradley babies and continues to provide my well-woman care. I am in total shock. I am also disgusted. The reason they gave was that what the couples are learning in the classes is "making them" distrust their care providers at a time when "trust is so important". Excuse me?

I am so offended by this that my head is spinning. Bradley classes provide couples with facts. Couples use those facts to decide how they would like to give birth. They then become interested in how to advocate for themselves in a hospital setting so that they may give birth the way that they want. If your couples do not trust you, that is your fault. It is your responsibility to cultivate a relationship of support and confidence. Are we on some sort of Mormon cult or Amish compound where education is considered a sin? It is not an adult's job to be a mindless, compliant drone while you rip their baby out of them as soon as possible so that you can go home or the room can be used by the next patient in line. The labor and delivery wing of a hospital is not an assembly line.

I could write on this for HOURS. I am so excited to start teaching my first Bradley Method series this weekend. I hope the couples leave feeling so empowered that they argue with any doctor who tries to direct them like servants or treats them as an inconvenience when their labor goes "too long". A doctor's goal is to end a labor with a live baby and a live mother. My goal is the end a labor with a healthy baby and an elated mother. There is a difference but both are very possible.

Now, go read this and get as revved up as I am! It is not about my story here, but it is certainly reminiscent. Whether or not you even want a natural childbirth, the point is that you deserve honest information and support from your healthcare provider. And if you go into labor having taken no childbirth classes or doing no research, believe me when I tell you that you are not getting those things. Your OB/midwife/doula should be throwing books and magazines and websites at you, encouraging you to carefully plan and prepare for the kind of birth that you and your partner want. Will everything turn out the way you want it? Of course not...but that is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Now, have a smile - compliments of my cousin ;)


  1. while I agree that couples need to be informed, I believe that the bradley class I took had a decidedly negative tone toward providers. it made me fight my provider every step of the way - causing tension and questioning every thing he did. While it's important to know all the facts about interventions and why they can be bad, it's ALSO important to know the facts about interventions and know they can be helpful. know that while you have a plan, it's really more of an idea of how you'd like things to go. In birth, as in raising children, things don't always go the way you want them to. When you build up birth to be all natural and to go exactly as planned, it won't, and that in itself can cause distress and more problems with already overwhelmed new parents.

    I am thankful that I went through the bradley classes, but instead of effectively saying 'all providers are out to give you c-sections and dope you up through a birth and prevent happy healthy birth/breastfeeding etc., it's important to note that these providers go through a lot to help you in the best way they can. I guess it's more about believing your provider will help you, and anticipating that they will, goes a long way to making that happen - the self-fulfilling prophesy.
    I had 2 very different pregnancies with 2 different providers & hospitals. Both pregnancies went to 42 weeks at which point I was induced and had a vaginal birth 1-2 days later.

    1. I will certainly keep that in mind while I am teaching. I have no intention of creating enemies between a couple and their healthcare provider. I do intend to encourage couples to find a provider who is like-minded, though. A mid-sized city like this is has plenty of options, too many options to stay with one who is going to be an obstacle rather than aid in getting the scenario that is closest to the birth story of your dreams. The fact that your provider supported your decision to go to 42 weeks shows that he/she was on your side, which is wonderful!

      I don't think the Bradley Method should be about convincing people that if they do X, Y, and Z that they will get exactly the birth that they want. That is not realistic and that's not the message I took away from my classes. I hope I can convey the same message of realistic hope that I understood after my classes. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned...but that's no reason to never make a plan.

      Would you ever be interested in coming to share your birth story with my class?