Thursday, January 2, 2014

I don't drink the Kool Aid

So last night I filled out the reams of questionnaires for my first "new client" meeting with my doula which is on Saturday. It's kind of a "getting to know you" session with emphasis on partner stuff (a big fat n/a on that one!) and birth preferences.

Some of the questionnaires made me chuckle; some made me a little angry. In the end I understand that I am not in the majority of women who seek out a doula's services - women who lean towards all things crunchy granola, who are hoping for a natural birth, who are most likely a bit younger than me, married, and first timers. But it's for those women - vulnerable, impressionable women - that I found some of the questions and information on these sheets a little troubling and even a little irresponsible.

The one that made me chuckle was the one asking about hypnosis - if I was interested in it (nope), if I am a spiritual person (nope), if I believe you can heal yourself with the power of your mind (hell to the no - I had enough of that bullshit in my childhood, thank you very much!). I laughed because my answers made me look like such a cold bitch. Oh well - at least they'll know what approach to take with me, right? Mainly that I don't want any of that "woo woo" shit. 

The one that made me mad was the information about epidurals. At the top of the page it states that they want to support whatever birth you want...but that should you choose an epidural, you should know the following...and then launches in to this laundry list of horrors headed by:

"You WILL experience the following:"

Included on this list was difficulty bonding with baby, difficulty breastfeeding, lack of control or empowerment, inability to push, inability to feel the baby move through the birth canal, etc. 

Then it moves on to another list of horrors that "may" happen - side effects, improper placement issues, etc. And I do recognize that there are risks associated with all medical procedures. So yes, all of these things "may" happen. But as a second-timer who has had an epidural - I can say based on my experience that NONE of those "will happen" things did. To me that list is patently false and nothing but agendized scare tactics. And it makes me angry. Because I know better. 

Here's what else WILL or MAY happen if you have an epidural:

You WILL feel less pain than if you didn't have it (except in rare cases where a mistake is made)

You WILL be able to rest and relax and be in the moment because you're not being racked by excruciating pain for hours

You WILL be able to make clear decisions about your birth because, once again, you'll be more rested and present than if you hadn't had it

You WILL get to miss the fun of feeling your va-j-j tearing, always something to look forward to

You WILL be made to feel like a coward by crunchy granola types once they find out you had an epidural

Mine was a bit like this: not entirely effective; I did still feel a lot of pain - although I'll never know how much pain I would have felt had I not had it! (In the case of a horrid induced labor like mine, you kind of can't not have one - the pitocin contractions are way too painful to endure). I did feel the baby move down the birth canal (kind of cool), I did feel him come out, and I did feel empowered and in control (for the first time in...well...about nine months). I'm not going to say we bonded right away, but it didn't make me feel bad - it's just not my personality. I knew we'd get there. And whatever breastfeeding issues we had were due to his nicu stay, and were quickly and easily resolved. I doubt that would happen this time because this time I know what the hell I'm doing!

So anyway. If I were a younger, scared, impressionable first timer who is very much interested in exploring the more natural methods but was still considering an epidural, this list would terrify me and push me over the edge into requesting they not allow me to have one even if I beg for it (!), which, incidentally, is the first choice offered, with "help me get an epidural when I ask for it" being the last choice offered. I'm sorry but I consider all of this very manipulative. And it's going to leave a lot of women who "cave" and ask for an epidural feeling like weak failures. I hear this story all the time so I know it's true. 

If I were more confrontational I'd mention all this at my meeting...and I may still, in a light, humorous way. But again I do understand that they are merely catering to their usual clientele which is not someone like me. And they have their opinions and agenda. Just so long as they respect that I do not accept this agenda, we're going to get along just fine.


  1. That makes me SOOO mad! I did everything I could to have natural births and was so afraid of the "complications" that would come with an epidural that I avoided one FAR FAR too long with Fiona (like, I was 33 hours into a 42 hour labor). I FINALLY progressed with pitocin and epidural and was like, "WTF Claire?! Why did you not get the epidural like a DAY ago!" 2nd birth was epidural AND c-section and again, I avoided the C-section for so so so long that now I get to wonder if my baby being in distress is what caused her hearing loss. (They say no, but I will never know for sure). Anyways, that just pisses me off. I am glad you are not afraid to assert yourself!

  2. I agree that's very misleading and agenda driven. It's especially cruel to say you will have trouble bonding with the baby.

  3. Good for you! My epidural was the only thing that saved me-it was manna from heaven getting that! I was dialated 9cm by the time I got it, and on picotin labor pains-so yes, they are soooo painful. It was the only thing that stopped me from feeling like I was going to die. And the baby had no problem bonding with me, and we had not problem breastfeeding. She latched on like Mario Andretti.
    I was so exhausted from not getting my epidural sooner, that I didn't want to bond right away, but after a few hours of rest I was fine and we bonded perfectly. WTF? That makes me angry also-it is cruel.

  4. That is so very manipulative. I had the epi & OMG was still in a fair amount of pain, all I could think was if it hurt that much WITH the epi, I wouldn't have survived with out! & for the record, I have a pretty high pain threshold. As for difficulty bonding with baby, I had no issues right from the start, & my difficulty breastfeeding was due to being induced too soon & my body not being ready to produce milk & because of the massive amounts of fluids my body retained from the induction drugs!!! I had no trouble being able to push & was just a tad preoccupied to care about being able to feel the baby move through the birth canal...& as for lack of control or empowerment...after all that, I felt pretty damned empowered for having got Elena out!!! That's just wrong to manipulate women in that way.

  5. That's crap. I hope you do say something. They need to change their paperwork!

    BTW, I had a doula, and there was nothing like that. So I don't think all doulas do that kind of thing. Sounds like you just happened to find the winner, though. Hope all goes well at the meeting, and that you lay down the lay as to what you want and don't want for your birth.