Prenatal Exams took away the beauty of being Pregnant~ Sound familiar

Another fabulous article I found on

I found that I was always very excited to go to my appointment to learn about my little one growing inside my belly but I also found myself very dissapointed with the level of care I was receiving.  Maybe I had rediculous expectations for an OB but I still felt that the doctor should spend more than 10-15 minutes answering my questions and reassuring me that I was strong and capable enough to labor efficiently…oh,  yeah, I never did get that reassurance.  I think women just need to feel empowered by their decisions and have support from the people who accompany the birth.  Happy Reading.

“Prenatal Exams Took Away From The Beauty Of Being Pregnant”

Posted by MonicaBielanko on May 15th, 2011 at 12:15 pm
freebirth Prenatal Exams Took Away From The Beauty Of Being PregnantAn unassisted childbirth. No doctor, no midwife, no nothing…

I come from a long line of pioneer women who routinely gave birth alongside the wagon trail, or in the back of a wagon, for that matter. It wasn’t a choice, it was how it had to be done.

Now, hundreds of couples around the world are choosing the experience. Not necessarily in a wagon, but alone. No doctor, no midwife, no medical intervention, a completely unassisted childbirth, and they call themselves freebirthers. They say it’s healthier physically and psychologically for the baby to enter a calm environment without the glare of hospital lights and intrusive doctors.

In the book Get Me Out by Randi Hutter Epstein some freebirthers explain their choice:

Matthew Jasper had never heard anything about do-it-yourself deliveries, but after the relatively easy births of his first two children, he said to his wife, “Next time why don’t we do this by ourselves.” And so they did. Athena Burke, another freebirther, moved from Boston to Rural Petersburgh, New York, to give birth to her first child in a ten in her backyard so he could “be born among the big hug of the mountains and listening to the birds and water flowing as his first sounds”. Natalie Picone-Louro said she “opted out of prenatal care because I trusted my body. I didn’t want the whole peeing in a cup, doing the heart rate, it all seemed so unnecessary. Prenatal exams took away from the beauty of being pregnant and I wanted to be in control.” Her toddler, Trinity, watched.

Such a warm cozy affair, no? Wait! Did she just say “prenatal exams took away from the beauty of being pregnant”? An odd statement considering millions of women all over the world are desperate for access to maternity healthcare.

Do-it-yourself deliveries are not illegal because it’s impossible to prove a woman intentionally chose that path. In fact, according to Get Me Out, in some states, like New York, it’s illegal to give birth with an unlicensed midwife but not by yourself.

As explained by author and doctor, Randi Epsein, M.D., the fundamental philosophy behind freebirthing is that women would give birth more easily if they just relaxed and weren’t surrounded by all the medical monitoring madness of doctors and yes, even midwives.

A simple search around the web shows a preponderance of freebirther websites where women write about the rush when a baby hits their G-spot. In an article on Ruth Claire writes how she was shocked by the “sensation of sexual ecstasy, the voluptuous feeling of penetration….Crouched on my knees on a little afghan, I caught the infant who rushed from my vagina into the small world between my legs, in the midst of an extraordinary orgasm from the inside out.”

Not all freebirthers are having orgasms, but a popular theory among them is that the baby should be brought into the world the same way it was conceived – between two lovers. I don’t really see the connection, but Epstein says freebirthers explain it thusly: “Think of it the other way around. Try making a baby in a hospital bed with physicians and medical students watching and commenting. Or imagine having sex in a hospital surrounded by hospital personnel and machinery and having sex at home in a candle-lit bedroom. Take away the drugs and the machinery, take away the watchful concerned eyes, take away the fear, and a whole new world opens up to us.”

Although some freebirthers just see no reason for doctors or midwives others in the do-it-yourself movement have made the choice as an indictment of maternity care as a whole. Sick of medical interventions, these women are willing to go to extremes to have the kind of birth they want. But that’s just it – the kind of birth THEY want. What about the baby?

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists is against all home births, even with a midwife. Freebirthers would reply that stress and doctors cause problems and prenatal visits are useless. So the real question becomes how often do things go wrong when doctors and nurses aren’t around? No one knows. There aren’t reliable statistics. But if there is a small risk, wouldn’t you want help nearby?

Laura Shanley, a freebirther and author of the book Unassisted Childbirth, had a baby five weeks premature that died after delivery. She believes the baby, who had a congenital heart defect, would have died despite hospital care and suggests the baby was better off dying peacefully at home rather than hooked up to hospital machinery for a few extra weeks of “life”.

From Shanley’s website:

Over the course of the next several hours, he nursed and slept. My boys woke up, David came home, and everyone was excited to meet our new baby.

At some point I decided to change his diaper. I picked him up, laid him on my bed and realized something was wrong. His eyes stayed closed and he didn’t move at all. We called the paramedics but they were unable to revive him. Efforts by the doctors in the emergency room were also unsuccessful. Our little one was gone.

An autopsy was done, and several days later, the coroner explained to me that our baby’s body had never developed properly. He had a congenital heart defect, influenza, pneumonia, and sepsis. The coroner also said that the defect was severe enough that he didn’t feel Nicholas would have survived regardless of where he had been born.

Are freebirthers onto something? Are they trailblazers sticking it to a medical community trying to interfere and milk mothers out of every last cent? Or are they taking unnecessary risks with their child’s life to chase some crunchy, hippie fantasy of their own? Do their children have a right to have access to medical care?

What do you think?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kara
    May 20, 2011 @ 08:11:32

    I understand that some doctors, nurses, and hospitals are not warm, relaxing, homey places to give birth. And I also realize that especially first time mothers might not feel confident enough to insist that certain things are done or not done during labor. But I think not taking advantage of prenatal care, and SOME home births (depending on how far away a hospital is) is irresponsible. Yes, womens’ bodies are designed to give birth and we’ve been doing it for “hundreds of years” without doctors and medications. But how many women and babies died “back in the day” and in third-world countries from easily treatable problems? And how would the parents feel if the baby was born not breathing or the mother hemorages at birth? By the time help arrived even from a hospital 5 minutes away it would most likely be too late. Sure, there are still fatal situations even in hospitals, but why is medical knowledge a bad thing? I don’t think I could live with myself if I avoided those annoying pee tests and had a miscarriage or premature baby due to diabetes I wasn’t aware of. Seems like a pretty big negative “what if”-I’ll pee in a cup every month if it prevents that from happening. And does anyone personally remember the noises and lights and machines from when they were born? I don’t, and I was born by c-section…and I turned out fine and well adjusted. I think more mothers need to be empowered to insist on what they want and don’t want during labor and if your doctor doesn’t impress you with their excitement, understanding, and expertise, FIND A DIFFERENT ONE. Even in smaller communities you should have more than one choice in OBs.


    • princesspipersmama
      May 22, 2011 @ 04:45:47

      Thank you for your very valid and important insight. I do believe women should seek prenatal care and not doing so is neglectful of both woman and child. Home births are most often guided by a well trained midwife who would know whether the woman is a good candidate for home delivery. A couple needs to decide if this option is best for them and make an informed, educated decision about their birth in order to make it safe. As for your comment about babies dying in homebirths way back when, the United States has the highest mortality rate for babies of industrialized nations which refers to hospital births. Home births have much lower mortality rates than hospital births if you review the research. I realize this is not common knowledge and not the norm but dont you think as an industrialized nation, our birth success rates should be higher? Yes, C-Sections are necessary sometimes. I believe many many practitioners are abusing the elective surgeries (as well as parents) for many reasons, including making it home to dinner on time. Sorry if that sounds cynical but it is often reality. With modern day working women, it is very appealing for people to plan their child’s due date and I hear all too often “how easy it is” to just have a Csection instead of going through labor. I like to justify that with the reality that recovery time is often much more painful and lengthy than what it would be had it been natural. I understand your point of view and it is accepted but I do feel strongly about my opinion and it stands.


  2. kara
    May 27, 2011 @ 09:29:56

    I would agree that c-sections can be overused, especially when natural labor has benefits for baby. And hopefully I didn’t come across as someone who believes that all people who opt for home birth are uneducated hippies because I don’t. Recovery time is important, especially with other children at home. We’ll have to see how that works out for me this time and if this baby stays in the right position (last time it was all set until the week before labor). Hopefully he does and we can try for natural this time….


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