Words are important.
It really bothers me that my job title is Labor & Delivery Nurse. Women don’t deliver/aren’t delivered … they give birth!
Delivery implies a service/act/procedure that someone (a doctor or midwife) does for/to someone else (a woman). That is NOT what happens when babies come out of women’s bodies.
Women open themselves up ~ in different ways ~ to give life to their babies. They might stay at home and give birth in water. They might go to a hospital, get an epidural placed, then give birth. Or they might consent to an OB-GYN surgeon performing a C-Section, and give birth via Cesarean. Birth happens in different ways, with or without anesthesia, through the vagina or through an abdominal incision, in a hospital, birth center or at home. But women are the ones who do it. Their bodies bring babies into the world.
Why are words important? Because when we say women are “delivered,” it implies that without medical professionals, their babies couldn’t be born.
In reality, the majority of the time, babies could be born safely with very little medical intervention. And at the end of the day, without pregnant women, we healthcare professionals (nurses, doctors, midwives and doulas) don’t have a job!
To say a woman is “delivered,” takes away from the fact that she is the one who is giving life.
Mothers-to-be, don’t be intimidated by words. You don’t have to be a “good girl” and “do what you’re told” and “don’t ask questions.” Ask every question. Any time any one asks you to do anything, or performs a single assessment on you (even takes your temperature!) you have the right to know why, and what your other options are, and what happens if you do nothing. You aren’t a child, you’re an adult woman. You’re not imprisoned, you have free will and the right to make EVERY decision for you and your baby. If you feel bullied by your provider with your clothes on, then it’s highly probable that during the vulnerability of labor things will happen that you don’t want or consent to.
Trust me ~ there’s always an alternative.
For example, a physician saying, “I’m going to break your water now,” is actually asking, “do you consent to let me break your water?” You can always say no, unless it’s a true medical emergency. (In reality, those are incredibly rare.) As a nurse I’ve seen mothers fire their provider during labor and we’ve assisted her in finding a new one.
The excellent doctors, midwives and fellow nurses I work with are my heroes. I have witnessed a male physician with 30 years experience catch a woman’s baby in a squatting position by flashlight because that’s what she wanted. I’ve heard an anesthesiologist say to a woman while placing her epidural, “I know that this isn’t what you originally wanted, but you are so strong and brave for adapting your birth plan.” I’ve seen a smart and kind young female OB-GYN offer her patient (client, actually) true informed consent regarding the risks of VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 Cesareans) versus repeat C-Section. How did I know it was true informed consent? Because as the doctor explained it, she did not recommend one option over the other! I had no idea what her perspective was. She just shared the information and let the woman and her family decide.
There are wonderful, kind, intelligent and respectful providers out there ~ OB-GYNs, CNMs, CPMs, anesthesiologists and MFMs. They will give you all the information you need to make the best decision for you and your baby. They will respect that decision and will adapt your plan of care accordingly. And they will understand and respect that they aren’t “delivering” you, YOU are the one who is giving birth.
This post features photography by Cresta Kruger. Cresta is available for private bookings in NYC. Visit her gorgeous website at Belly Buddha.
If you need help finding a respectful provider, regardless of whether you are planning to become pregnant or you’re in active labor*, please contact me. I will do everything in my power to get you the resources you deserve.
*Note: it may take me up to 24 hours to answer an email.