Thursday, August 13, 2009

In which I write about the first birth-related book I read

Copyright 2009. Please do not copy or repost.

The first book about pregnancy I read was “The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy.” As much as I want to denigrate the content of the book, especially from the perspective of a student midwife, I enjoyed it at the time. I recall fondly laughing out loud at some of Vicki Iovine’s descriptions of various complaints of pregnancy, because I could relate!

My first pregnancy was unplanned and unexpected, and initially I did not have the support of my family or my then-boyfriend, so laughter and lightness were hard to come by. Looking back, I cannot completely ignore that positive effect of reading it. I do remember specifically that she’d had two c-sections and two vaginal births, and she rated them about equally. At the time, I thought, “How is that possible? One is surgery!”

The first book about birth that I read was “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth,” by Henci Goer. I read it later in the same pregnancy – which turned out to be twins – while on bedrest for Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. I was given the book by my doula, Gretchen Humphries, who is a VBACtivist and writer on VBAC-related topics, after she had twins by c-section and two HBACs. I had never read a birth-related book before. It was incredibly eye-opening.

Prior to reading it, I didn’t realize that I had a choice in anything relating to my pregnancy and birth. I just thought the doctor I was seeing – an obstetrician in a high-risk clinic; a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and a twins expert – had my best interest in mind. (In retrospect, I’m not saying he didn’t. But I assumed it because he was my doctor, not because of how he treated me.)

After reading The Thinking Woman’s Guide, I realized that I had to be my own advocate. I specifically remember asking about telemetry monitors, and my doctor gave me a funny look, which I later interpreted – after becoming a doula and seeing that same look exchanged between my clients and their providers – as his realization that I’d become one of “those” types of patients. The annoying type; the type who asks a lot of questions and want a lot of answers, and want to understand the research behind the protocols.

As my pregnancy with my twins progressed, I had a lot of NSTs and BPPs. Baby A, the donor twin, was smaller and seemed growth-restricted. One doctor in the clinic I attended recommended a c-section at 33 weeks, but I refused. I ended up consenting to an induction at 34 weeks due to possible IUGR in baby A. I had cervidil, and did not need pitocin; I had a vaginal birth eight hours after my induction, with a feet-first baby B who was 2lbs bigger than baby A.

I really credit reading “The Thinking Woman’s Guide” to helping empower me. In turn, I wanted to help empower others. Birth is so different when a woman can say, “I chose this,” versus “The doctor did this…” At first I thought that every woman wanted to be empowered during her pregnancy and birth. Later I realized that many don’t. However, those who do need the support of other empowered women, especially those who have had an empowered birth.


Anonymous said...

The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth was the second book about birth that I had ever read, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth was the first. Both books changed my perspective greatly and helped me make birth choices that I'm happy about.

enviromama said...

Iovine's book was the first I read as well, given to me by my 2 childless friends. I also laughed at it and was in an unplanned, unsupported by my then-bf, pregnancy like you. I only wish I had read Henci Goer's book as well.

I did avoid a c/s (barely) and went on to birth my next 2 babies at home.

Jenny, who followed you here from MDC sig link (back when they allowed them), aka lovemysunshine on MDC

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