Tales of a Traumatized Doula II

I’m not sure exactly how many of these I’ll share at this point but I said I’d share this one so here it goes…

A lot of my clients are on the crunchier side. This couple was no exception.  They are wonderful people.  They were seeking a vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean) and had done their homework.  They were duped into the first cesarean because her obstetrician caught wind of a condition she had as an infant that was completely resolved during infancy.  She was told that having the condition at all- resolved or not- precluded her from giving birth vaginally.  She believed it and against her better judgement, she gave birth via cesarean and was very unhappy about it.

She wanted more children but no more cesareans so she went to see a perinatoligist (high risk specialist), who after taking her past into consideration, told her there was absolutely no reason she couldn’t have a successful vbac.  Of course this made her very happy.

She found a midwife who was on board with her plans and had a back up obstetrician who was also on board with her plans for vbac and she found me so she figured she was all set.

On the day labor began, in the midst of supporting her in her home, she confided in me that she no longer trusted her midwife was on her side.  My heart dropped because if this is how she felt, 9 times out of 10, it was so.  She stayed home as long as possible and then we made our way to the hospital.

When we arrived, she informed the nurse who immediately wanted to do a vaginal exam that she didn’t want any vaginal exams.  Now let’s stop here.  Many think vaginal exams are totally necessary and think it’s absurd to think of not having one because how on earth do you know if or how you’re progressing without one?  Simplifying this, let me ask you something…  How do you know when in the process of having a bowel movement that you are progressing and ready to push?  As the woman who was *not* in labor, I can attest to the fact that it is actually quite obvious most of the time when a woman is progressing and ready to push.  Even when it isn’t so blatantly obvious a  big “clue in” is when she tells you she has to push and feels enormous pressure.  It’s not rocket science.  She needn’t be subjected to uncomfortable and painful vaginal exams which not only increase risk of infection but also have been known to change the whole face of the birthing process when a woman finds she is not as far along as she thought.  This client knew all this and wanted nothing to do with vaginal exams.  In the end, she had 10 vaginal exams done by her midwife, back up obstetrician and nurses.  It was horrible.

Not only was she railroaded in that way, but when she was found to be at 10cm, the midwife suddenly declared that the baby’s head was moulding in the vaginal canal (which is normal and expected) and  a subsequent cesarean was needed.  Cue Twilight Zone theme music.  As her doula, all I could do was stand by and support her, answering her questions if she asked but I couldn’t voice my concerns or speak up on her behalf or anything.  Freakishly enough, it was the obstetrician who came in and suggested that she be given 30 minutes to try and push the baby out since she had reached 10cm.  So the midwife calls for a cesarean while the obstetrician calls for a normal birth… hmmm…  Never mind that 30 minutes is an unrealistic amount of time and pressure to put on a woman in the heat of labor who has never pushed a baby out before.

It didn’t happen.  She tried and tried but no baby…  After the “allotted” time for her to push passed, she was pressured into signing up for a second cesarean.  She appeared to be in shock, completely numbed concerning what was happening.  As she was being wheeled away in preparation for the cesarean I heard her tell them, “You’re not doing this to me ever again.  While you’re in there, just tie my tubes.”

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