Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Trusting birth...

I don't pretend to know the ins and outs of the Trust Birth movement. I know there is a lot of controversy and drama surrounding it, and so like most things in the natural birth and parenting circles, I tend to stay on the sidelines with my mouth shut. I don't like getting pulled into drama. I hate it, in fact. And if the choice is perhaps missing out on a group of kindred spirits (or people I can't stand...) in exchange for not being privy to drama, I'll happily miss out.

But, being a home birther, I hear Trust Birth a lot, in both good and bad context. Home birthers are not all hippies pulled from an SNL skit. There are people who home birth but are just as ok with the idea of an elective c-section with no medical indication. Home birthers who don't like their local hospital otherwise they'd be in line for the epidural in their 38th week! And yes, home birthers who feel that any presence besides their own (including their partner, a midwife, a doula, or children) is detrimental to the birth process. We, like any group of people, run the gamut.

Me? I trust a point. TO me, it means I trust birth like I trust breathing. Keep in mind you are reading the blog of an asthmatic who has had very severe attacks. I trust my body knows how to breathe, but I accept it doesn't always do it like it should. Just like I trust that my body knows how to give birth, but I accept that it doesn't always happen like it should either. There are conditions and complications.

If I have an asthma attack, I use the resources at my disposal to remedy the attack. Sometimes that means natural remedies. I drink a glass of black coffee. Sometimes it means using my nebulizer here at home. And other times it means hauling my wheezing butt to the hospital because I know that getting my lungs under control is beyond what I know how to do at that point.

Similarly, I can give birth. I've done it three times, and done a fantastic job if I do say so myself. My body labors quickly and efficiently and I've been blessed to have no complications and easy recoveries. I have no doubts I can give birth a fourth time. But, I have breathed with no issues for the vast majority of my 26 years. It's just the few times I didn't that could've been a big problem.

I guess I'm saying that yes, I trust that my body knows how to grow and birth a baby. I also trust that just like I know when I need help during an asthma attack, I will know if I need help during birth. For me, the process would be different. I personally would not try home remedies first, then medicine at home, then hospital. If I were in labor and had anything that was *off* from my other births, I would not hesitate to transfer. I know this seems highly alarmist to some, and highly crazy to others who don't think a mother will always know.

I also trust that with birth, like anything else in life, there are no guarantees. If I consent to a hospital birth with all of the interventions that are in place to save mothers and babies, guess what? My baby or myself may still wind up seriously injured, ill, or dead. Maybe because we were in the hospital to begin with, and maybe because sometimes bad things happen that we have no control over.

At home, whether with an attendant or without one, same thing. Staying home takes away some risks, but (ducking from home birth advocate's rocks here) it does create others. If baby or I wound up injured, ill, or dead at home it may have been because we didn't go to the hospital. It may have been because for reasons unknown to us, it was just time.

It is a reality that, frankly, sucks. There are no guarantees in life. Life is full of unknowns and risks and benefits. It is scary. So how do we really trust anything? I think rather than trusting birth, or breathing, or any other natural process, we need to first trust ourselves. Trust in God, or whatever spiritual source you look to (if you do at all), that we have the ability to handle the unknowns that are thrown our way. That we are smart enough to do our research and prepare ourselves for what we face in life whether it be parenting, birth, our health, finances, relationships, any of it. And that we can look at the risks, look at the benefits of all our different options and know which has the risks that are acceptable to us.

So, maybe I don't trust birth after all. Maybe instead, I just trust...Me.