I Fired My Prenatal Healthcare Team At 31 Weeks Pregnant
I'm a firm believer that we hold all the power when it comes to our health. There is truly no one that cares more about my well being than I do. So once I knew I wanted to get pregnant naturally, I dove deep into learning about all things women's health, fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum. As someone who doesn't typically spend much time in hospitals, it has been shocking for me to experience the hospital model of pregnancy care. To be honest, I am blown away by the many ways our current medical system is so quick to intervene with nature. I've truly had to be my own (and my unborn child's) health advocate or I could very easily fall victim to a cascade of medical interventions. All of which can lead me down a path towards an unnecessary c section.
Let me take a moment to be clear. C section births are still birth and can be absolutely necessary. This blog post is in zero way shaming c sections for I believe that all birth is beautiful. However, after lots of research on babies microbiome/gut health, immunity, ability to breastfeed more easily, and so much more ... I have many personal reasons for wanting to give myself the best chance possible for a normal non-medicated vaginal birth. The way nature intended. Aside from many health benefits of vaginal birth for both mom and baby, I can't help but shed some light on the fact that our current c section rate in the US is far higher than it should be according to the World Health Organization. This means there are too many c sections being done that may not truly be necessary. Both children and mothers suffer because of the high c section rate. Unfortunately the maternal death rate in the US has gone up over the years and it's been said that hospital births are more dangerous than out of hospital births due to the many interventions that accompany giving birth in a hospital setting.
If you read my blog about my first prenatal visit you will have more background about my personal story and why I originally chose a Midwife that is located in a hospital. Which at the time seemed like the best fit for me.
Now fast forward many months later and into my third trimester where I have purposely kept our Balanced Friends community in the dark about my pregnancy. I needed more time to hash out some important details and ride the wave of emotions that came along with making this very important decision. Pregnancy and birth are not easy to talk about considering all experiences are unique (and that's how it should be). My intent is to never shame but to share my personal story in hopes it helps another Mama who could be traveling down the same path as I am. You are not alone Mama! You are strong and I want you to feel empowered to truly take charge of your pregnancy in a way that works best for you!
Now that I'm in my third trimester and getting fully prepared for my baby's birthday, my Mama intuition is stronger than ever! With my holistic background, I couldn't help but notice that the path at the hospital was leading me down a slippery slope of potentially unnecessary interventions that have proven to lead to more c sections. I was no longer feeling supported, confident, or empowered by my prenatal healthcare team. I knew it was time to make a change.
The first red flag that I ignored was being shamed by the hospital staff. I was newly pregnant and over the moon excited about the new life growing in my belly! I couldn't wait to call to schedule my first prenatal appointment because it just makes the whole pregnancy feel so much more real. But sadly, scheduling my first prenatal visit didn't go as planned. When I called to schedule my first visit the woman on the phone shamed me and made me feel terrible that I had not seen a prenatal healthcare provider as early as she thought I should. I got pregnant at the very beginning of COVID. There were so many unknowns. I was scared and the last thing I wanted to do was step foot into a germ filled hospital with my lowered immunity from pregnancy. I knew deep down that I was ok and my baby was ok and that my pregnancy was going exactly as it should. I was above average in the health department considering I took 12+ months to really prep my body for fertility/pregnancy. I had already done a ton of my own research about pregnancy before my husbands sperm ever met my egg so I was feeling confident that my first trimester was going well. But when I hung up the phone with the front desk woman at the hospital, I sobbed for hours. Which was quite the opposite of how I thought I would feel after scheduling my first prenatal visit. I really let this woman's words get to me. This was just the first opportunity given to me to tap further into my Mama intuition. Something I just wasn't used to yet.
Looking back on it, I can't believe I let that woman make me feel powerless and like I had already failed at motherhood. She made it seem like I was purposely putting my unborn child in danger and that's not ok with me. After gaining more knowledge, I realized that most hospitals schedule a first prenatal visit around 8 weeks while our local birth center doesn't see patients until 10-12 weeks of pregnancy. I will let you come to your own conclusions as to why this is for I have my own and it has to do with hospitals being a business and very insurance driven. Regardless, we should NEVER feel shamed by a provider (even if it is just the front office staff). So if you too are feeling shamed by your provider of any kind, it's time to fire them. We deserve better Mama!
Aside from the shame, the second red flag started to become more and more clear as I tapped further into my Mama intuition. I started to feel very worn down by the front office and hospital nursing staff. I had to have the same conversations over and over to advocate for myself and my baby whether it was declining the glucola drink, my early anatomy scan, etc. It was getting exhausting and causing me a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety. I got concerned about the communication among the staff and my care. It made me feel like there would be major communication errors on my baby's birthday regardless of me hiring a Doula and putting together a detailed birth plan. I don't want to wait until birth to have a major communication error!! I'm not blaming the staff. They are just doing things the "normal" hospital way.
Hospitals have strict guidelines around pregnancy and birth and even when research gives us new information it can take a decade or more before we actually see change in a hospital setting. Even though I was seeing a Midwife to help me take a more natural approach to pregnancy and birth, she could only control so much since she was located in a hospital. She had no choice but to follow certain guidelines and regulations the hospital put in place. And despite seeing a Midwife, the other staff still functioned as a western medical hospital. I thought I was strong enough to advocate for myself in a hospital setting but after a while it truly wore me down and I knew I wouldn't have the energy/wouldn't want to spend my energy during birth constantly advocating for me. I just wanted to be in a place where I could move through pregnancy and birth as nature intended. A place where everyone is on the same page and shares the philosophy that birth is not a medical intervention. A place where insurance doesn't dictate treatment. Mostly a place where less is more when it comes to birth.
So with a little encouragement form Alyssa, a loud and clear message from my Mama intuition, and a false diagnoses (more on this very soon), I made the decision to continue care at our local birth center. It's actually the place I wanted to give birth since day one but wanted to make my husband happy and thought that the hospital would be more convenient with lab testing and ultrasounds. But deep down I knew the birth center was the place for me all along. When I toured the place I got those butterflies that you get when you finally found the right house for you during a house hunt. I could actually picture myself giving birth here!! It came as no surprise to me since I never once pictured myself giving birth on a hospital bed. I actually couldn't picture myself even driving up to a hospital and being admitted for birth. My hospital fears are something I mentioned in a previous blog post. I said I would try to work on it, but truth is I never could get comfortable going to the hospital. My heart always raced thinking about death and sickness and I just couldn't shake it. This is just a me thing. Many women feel perfectly comfortable in a hospital and that's really wonderful too. I am now receiving my prenatal care at a place where I feel empowered, comfortable, and at peace. A place where I know they will not intervene with natures way of birth unless it's absolutely necessary.
I have done everything in my power to set baby and I up for a non-medicated vaginal birth including but not limited to drinking raspberry leaf tea, eating dates, seeing a prenatal chiropractor, enrolling in a virtual pregnancy fitness routine that focuses on baby positioning, routine prenatal massages, acupuncture, lots of long walks, keeping my mind calm, proper supplementation, avoiding toxins, eating a healthy diet, creating a beautiful birth plan, being mindful of early unnecessary birth interventions, and not being afraid to speak up for what I want. I suppose you can add not being scared to fire my healthcare team last minute to the list. But the cold hard truth is, birth is highly unpredictable and I have very little control over it but choosing to give birth in a place that makes me feel comfortable and confident gives me all the control I need over my birth journey. I truly believe that I was perfectly made for my baby and my baby was perfectly made for me and together we will have the perfect birth for us. I trust my body and I trust in the process of low intervention non-medicated birth. I hope all you Mamas feel empowered to keep speaking up for yourself during your pregnancy journey and know that it's never too late to make a change in plans!
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