Rural parts of Ayacucho, Peru, have had some of the country’s highest death rates in pregnancy and childbirth. As in many poor countries, most of the deaths occur because women give birth at home, and those trying to help do not know how to deliver a baby safely and prevent or treat hemorrhage, infection and other deadly complications. In 1999 in the Santillana district, part of the Ayacucho region, only 6 percent of births took place at a clinic.
Health workers set out to change that. They started by asking people in the community about traditional ways of giving birth, and about what the clinic was doing wrong. They got an earful. Workers at the clinic did not speak the local language, Quechua. They treated patients brusquely, and barred husbands and other relatives from the delivery room. They forced women to wear hospital gowns instead of their own clothes, and made them give birth lying on a table instead of squatting. They threw away the placenta instead of giving it to the family to bury in a warm place.
I handed over our birth plan right away and made perfectly clear my thoughts on the upcoming labor: I trust in my body. I trust in Mark. Together, we’re going to get this baby out. If you think you want to be a part of that, great, but above all, I trust in us and our ability to have a peaceful labor.
They handed my care over to their midwife on staff, but we’d still have to have a doctor present at the birth. Soon, I learned something important to natural birth: just because she’s called a midwife doesn’t mean she won’t “medicalize” your pregnancy.
The ‘internets’ scare me. Before I found the natural birth/vbac blogosphere, I spent a lot of time feeling pretty bad about my cesarean depression – mostly because of other clueless women on the web telling me that “it doesn’t matter how they came out” nonsense. But then I found one blogger, then another, then another, who totally validated my feelings. Then I saw The Business of Being Born, and felt like there was an entire army of women out there who understood that c-sections are sucky, sucky things.
I’m a member of The National Childbirth Trust (NCT), and I’m a big believer in educating pregnant women as much as possible. They can can then make informed decisions on their birth, and be free from fear.