As Lord Xenu Commands

I’m not saying that I want some eerie Scientology birth where there’s no sound and everyone treats the affair as some induction ceremony. I do want things to go smoothly. Problem is, much as I like the tenets of the Bradley Method (for those of you who haven’t been playing along, this is a father-coached, natural childbirth method), it sets you up for delivery room combat.

Bradley spends a lot of its time teaching you the evils of things like epidurals (meant to numb pain for the mother), petocin (meant to induce labor), episiotomy (just… just don’t make me think about it), fetal birth monitor (meant to track the health and progress of a baby in labor), c-section (an “easy” surgical method to deliver the baby), etc. etc. etc.

All of these things, Bradley argues, are unnecessary for birth and cannot be proven to be entirely safe for the baby. In some cases, they can make things unsafe for the mother as well. This is of course assuming things don’t go as planned which is pretty common in just about all things. There are cases where each of these items can make sense or be necessary for the mother and baby (except for the epidural, which is really just about pain relief and not safety), but Janelle and I are determined to make a go of it au naturel.

To hear it explained, over and over and over again in Bradley class and Bradley reading materials, going a doctor-driven, medicated and surgically motivated birth replete with an episiotomy to make delivery faster, petocin to speed labor up, a fetal birth monitor to track progress and then a c-section if, gosh darn it, you’re taking too long versus going a totally mother-driven natural birth is not just a matter of making a choice. It’s a matter of a throwdown in the birthing room.

The expectant couple is cautioned and trained repeatedly to wait as long as possible before going to the hospital. This is both to try and ensure the mother can remain relaxed in a comfortable environment as much as possible, but also to ensure that you’re not put on the hospital’s clock once you are admitted. Hospitals are a busy place and Bradley method canon teaches that many to most decisions made about how to handle a mother’s birth are a factor of trying to get births over and done with at the hospital’s pace and not the mother’s. I’ve seen several videos and read many stories about mothers who are talked into drugs and birth techniques that they went in adamant that they did not desire. The underlying message behind all of these stories is that the doctors will try and screw you, and that you need to be educated and ready to handle them.

Never have I read a story about doctors who suggest something, and then decide to honor the wishes of the parents. Or seen a video where a doctor and a patient disagree, and then the doctor acquiesces (or even just consents grudgingly). It’s making me a little tense.

Janelle is a Kaiser patient, and Kaiser has rolled out a policy to make all their hospitals “baby friendly”, meaning they will allow mothers to be with their babies just after birth for bonding time and various other policies that enforce the notion that the hospital needs to help conform to the will of the parents in a birth scenario. This makes me a little less tense.

I’m sure that the birth will go well and the doctor’s will honor the birth plan we’ve laid out. They may try to push things that we don’t want, but I’m hoping they’ll be sensible and won’t lie to me about the medical necessity of any particular procedure. Just the same, the Bradley Method, so focused on peaceful relaxation, is continuing a bit of a campaign of terror to convince me to adhere to its tenets.

I know there are some parents that read this here blog. How was your hospital experience? Break it down for me in the comments, if you please.

  1. #1 by Oliver Grigsby on April 9, 2010 - 11:28 AM

    Of course I’m curious to hear from people who actually know the answer to this (ie. actual parents) but I suspect/hope that the reason you haven’t read stories about a Doctor agreeing to the parents wishes is a simply the “negative review preponderance” (a corollary to the greater internet fuckwad theory).

    That is to say, people are far more likely to post “horror” stories or even “I’m mildly upset” stories than they are to post, “yeah it all kinda went as expected” stories. That’s my hope anyway.

  2. #2 by Abby on April 9, 2010 - 12:54 PM

    By the time of the delivery, you and Janelle will have done so much research about labor and delivery that you will be able to tell if a doctor is feeding you lies or even bending the truth. Also, technically the doctor has no choice but to honor your wishes. Performing a service on Janelle that she has refused is assault, not to mention the pain that would be created if you reported the doctor’s actions to the CA Medical Board. If the doctor starts to do something that you don’t want him to do, throw a fit.

    In normal HMO or PPO situations, hospitals worry about getting patients in and out quickly because of various restrictive payment rules from the private insurers. Here, since Kaiser is both the provider and the insurer, any restrictive payment rules are completely internal to Kaiser. So if they try to pull the “we need the bed so we’re going to induce” bullshit, call them on it. They don’t need the bed. Kaiser insurance will pay Kaiser hospital no matter what. And they can just calm down or else you’ll call your attorney, who happens to specialize in healthcare law, and who would be willing to zealously represent you for a fee of $0.

  3. #3 by Jessica on April 9, 2010 - 6:48 PM

    Here are my two cents: I think people should go in with a plan, but they have to know that a situation may arise that will require you to be flexible with it. I think birth plans are great in that you have an idea about how you want things to go, and it keeps you focused during the most intense moments of your life. But, I think they can also be dangerous for some people in that sometimes things come up that require a change, and I think some will walk away feeling like they failed their plan. For this very reason, we went into things with an idea about how we wanted things to go, and at the end of the day, our plans had to change for both my medical safety, and Madeleine’s. It was disappointing and scary, but I felt that our doctors explained things to us in a way that we understood, and there were clear reasons for everything that happened. I did have to be induced, I did have pitocin, I did have anti seizure medication – not one of these items was in our plan. But we had a great experience with our hospital, and every doctor and nurse spent time with us helping to ensure we understood why they made these recommendations. Signs of a great hospital and staff – and I’d deliver where we did again in a fast heartbeat.

    I know that I will go into things differently next time, as I learned a lot through our process, but I am in no way disappointed with the fact that we had to adapt to our situation. I would almost say that it was a great introduction into parenthood – adapting from day one. And we’ve been adapting every single day since!

    I think anyone who makes it through childbirth has won. Straight out – the first thing I thought when Madeleine was born was – we won! You guys will too, no matter what happens along the way.

  4. #4 by Nina on April 9, 2010 - 8:06 PM

    Having also chosen the Bradley Method for both of our children, lo those many years ago – I cannot say that anyone tried to change our minds or methods. The staff was familiar with Bradley’s theories and what that entailed. I’m sure that their knowledge had to do with the fact that the doctor we used regularly delivered babies at that facility and he was a fan of the Bradley Method. Granted, there were no unforeseen difficulties that warranted a change in plans, but we were not pressured into thinking that we ought to do things in a different manner.
    The only instances I have ever heard of women being subjected to an experience other than they planned are from the early 1950s when doctors apparently simply followed what they thought was best and did not consult the patients.

  5. #5 by Badmoodman on April 10, 2010 - 7:48 AM

    Hey look, Abby’s a lawyer!

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