January 2008

So if the careproviders won’t tell you and the majority of hospital birth educators won’t tell you I thought I’d share something with you: there are a LOT of very special women out here who KNOW birth and WANT TO share it with you.

We come from everywhere, all around the world literally and from a lot of different personal experiences and perspectives. We chose different certifying backgrounds (including none at all but our healthy birth experiences, self-education and birth support through Independent Childbirth) for different reasons but we share one thing: a desire to help women enjoy their births and leave no stone unturned as they ready for that special day that never gets old: each baby’s precious first moments in her arms.


“The baby could be born in a breach position, or with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck. The mother could suffer from significant tearing or from a maternal hemorrhage and bleed to death in as little as five minutes.”

Dear Women, the above quote is by a physician who was interviewed by Good Morning America, January 8, 2008

Please feel free to repost what I’m about to tell you. I think it’s very important to address the statement that a woman can hemorrhage and bleed to death in as little as five minutes. This is a very horrifying comment for a dr to make and, for anyone who doesn’t really know birth, it could be enough to send them running for the hospital.

First of all, yes, it’s possible to hemorrhage and bleed to death quickly in birth IF YOU HAVE A SURGICAL WOUNDING. Women die from bleeding in cesareans and with episiotomies. The closest to death that I have ever seen a woman in childbirth was in a hospital birth where the ob/gyn cut an episiotomy, pulled the baby out quickly with forceps and then left the family doctor to repair the poor woman. We were skating in the blood on the floor and desperately trying to get enough I.V. fluids into her to save her life while the family doctor tried to suture as fast as he could. I have never seen anything like that in a home birth setting or a hospital birth that didn’t involve cutting.

Think about it, would any midwife ever go to a homebirth if it was possible for the mother to die from bleeding in five minutes? I know I wouldn’t go if that could happen. We had a visit here in Vancouver BC from an ob/gyn from Holland back in the 1980’s. Dr. Kloosterman was the head of Dutch maternity services for many years and he was a real friend to homebirth and midwifery. He told us that you have AN HOUR after a natural birth before the woman will be in trouble from bleeding. Does this mean that you wait for an hour to take action with a bleeding woman? No, of course not. If there’s more blood than is normal, you need to call 911 and transport to the hospital within the hour, but you’re not going to have a maternal death before an hour is up. I have had 10 transports for hemorrhage in the many homebirths that I have attended (over 1000). Two women have required transfusions. The other 8 recovered with I. V. fluids, rest and iron supplements. Of course, no one wants to see blood transfusions in this day and age. We also don’t like to see a woman anemic after having a baby because it makes the postpartum time very difficult. The most important action after having a baby is to keep the mother and baby skin to skin continuously for at least the first 4 hours.

What doctors won’t tell you is that the most severe cases of postpartum anemia are in women who have had cesareans. Major abdominal surgery results in anemia. I have a friend who is a pharmacist in a hospital. He spends most of his days trying to figure out individual plans to help cesarean moms get their hemoglobin counts up. He finds these cases of severe anemia in post operative mothers very distressing.

I hope this information is helpful to you.

As far as the other nonsense this person is trying to frighten you with:

1. Significant tearing—if you look with a mirror at your vulva after birth and there seems to be skin that “flaps” away from the rest of the vulva structures, you can always go into the emergency ward and have someone suture the wound. Tears do not bleed like cuts do. This should not dissuade anyone from staying away from the place where the scalpels reside.
2. Breech position—you’ll know if your baby is breech. When the membranes release, you will see black meconium coming out the consistency of toothpaste. With a head first baby, the meconium colours the water green or brown but with a breech, the meconium is being squeezed directly out without mixing with water. The other way that you should suspect a breech presentation is if you have a feeling from about 34 weeks of pregnancy on that you have “a hard ball stuck in your ribs”. Breech presentations are about 3 percent of births.
3. Cord wrapped around the neck—the smart babies put their cords around their necks to keep them out of trouble. If you have a baby with the cord around the neck, it can be unwrapped very easily either during or right after the birth. The most important thing is to keep the cord intact.

Gloria Lemay, Vancouver BC Canada – Advisory Board Member, ICAN – Contributing Ed. Midwifery Today Magazine
Teaching midwifery on the internet at www.consciouswoman.org
Meet Gloria at the Trust Birth Conference, Redondo Beach, CA in March 2008 www.trustbirthconference.com

It seems that birth can be a very contentious battlefield. That birth choices would cause arguing, even among women, of the sort that leaves our society tearing each other down is more alarming than the state of maternity care in America today.  That’s the smoke and mirrors approach: the success of the medical birth model in dividing women and the attempt to remove the focus from health care to hide behind the red fish of ‘women’s choice.

‘Then there’s the either/or argument: the sense of a competition to scare the newly expecting mother with the most scariest birth experience birth mothers can tell or sensing anxiety that if they don’t have a spontaneous, unmedicated, vaginal birth over an intact perineum then they have somehow failed the class or will be ridiculed by friends and family with the “I told you sos…”.

Mothers are looking for a place where everyone is supportive of her desire to not only inform herself but also to have a birth that does not blindly follow the majority of births today which is in a hospital, medicated and with technology to bring the baby from mother’s body.

Mothers share how her pleas to turn off the pitocin were ignored, their desire to birth naturally met with scorn “Why do you want to suffer?” in birth forums, independent birth classes (you can bet most hospital birth educators will be quick to shut that conversation down).

Where is the support for these mother’s choices?  If you really claim to preserve women’s choice then these choices need to be respected and protected as well.  Unless you’ve been to a birth class where the emphasis was on credible information, sources were cited and the information was presented as educational, not a marketing tool for one option over another then you haven’t been to an independent birth class.  In a manner of healthcare speaking, an Independent Childbirth class provides you with the ultimate preservation of personal, individual choice:  the information you need to give informed consent OR informed refusal.  Two options clearly protected by patient rights.

Maternity care should be no different than any other field of health care.  Informed consent should be a given and parents need to know that not every physician is comfortable with their skills in obtaining informed consent.  It doesn’t make them a bad physician.  It makes them human like you or me and like any other field they need practice and they know it.

Exploring birth education shouldn’t be confusing or feared. To quote a birth book “A Good Birth, A Safe Birth“: ‘ ‘if you don’t know your options you don’t have any.’Br/>
Perception is reality.

Take charge. Create your reality! Put the blame for birth outcomes where it belongs: those who let their own agenda overpower yours.