Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How Do You Know I'm in Labor?

She is a great lady, with an awesome sense of humor. Her husband called me, she had told him not to, that it was not labor. He looked at her, curled up on the bathroom floor breathing through contractions, and made the phone call. I said that they should probably head on was their third baby after all. Twenty minutes later, she walked through the door, clearly in labor and clearly well into her labor. She continued to be convinced that this was not, could not be labor and apologized for me having to come in. I just helped her walk back to the room, starting taking her vital signs and listening to her babe. Since she was positive for GBS, the nurse worked on starting an IV. She really did not like the needles, and in between contractions she argued..."are you sure it is time for that?"...."how do we know I am in labor"...."what if I don't need that IV yet?" Her husband, myself, the nurse and her doula all tried to reassure her that she was, in fact, in labor. Again, she argued, "but how do you know?" Finally, I said, "because we all have eyes!"

So, once the IV was started and she was a little more settled, I checked her cervix and low and behold!...she was definitely in labor and was actually in transition. We helped her into the birth pool and she finally began to accept that her labor was real. Less than one hour after arriving, she birthed her beautiful baby to the world.

Afterwards, we all talked about her reluctance to believe her labor. First, it had been very fast, less than four hours from start to finish. As I have discussed before, fast labors can be very difficult for women to process. Additionally, this Mama had her previous two babes in a hospital, where she was "ignored" until her cervical exam confirmed that she was "ready" and had been told not to push until a doctor arrived. So, her thoughts and feelings started to make some sense. Her husband told us that when he was getting her out of the of the house to come in, she was reluctant. He said to her, "remember that we aren't afraid to go to this place?" and she finally agreed to leave. While this may make me feel good about the care that my group gives and the style of our services...that our families trust us, it also makes me sad that women have these histories to overcome. I am by no means a "hospital hater", I am grateful to have the services available at a hospital when a woman and her baby need them. However, there must be, and in reality there IS a better way to care for pregnant women. A way that honors, empowers and uplifts while still guarding physical safety. They are not and need not be mutually exclusive!