In which I write about the first birth-related book I read
Copyright 2009. Please do not copy or repost.
The first book about pregnancy I read was “The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy.” As much as I want to denigrate the content of the book, especially from the perspective of a student midwife, I enjoyed it at the time. I recall fondly laughing out loud at some of Vicki Iovine’s descriptions of various complaints of pregnancy, because I could relate!
My first pregnancy was unplanned and unexpected, and initially I did not have the support of my family or my then-boyfriend, so laughter and lightness were hard to come by. Looking back, I cannot completely ignore that positive effect of reading it. I do remember specifically that she’d had two c-sections and two vaginal births, and she rated them about equally. At the time, I thought, “How is that possible? One is surgery!”
The first book about birth that I read was “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth,” by Henci Goer. I read it later in the same pregnancy – which turned out to be twins – while on bedrest for Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. I was given the book by my doula, Gretchen Humphries, who is a VBACtivist and writer on VBAC-related topics, after she had twins by c-section and two HBACs. I had never read a birth-related book before. It was incredibly eye-opening.
Prior to reading it, I didn’t realize that I had a choice in anything relating to my pregnancy and birth. I just thought the doctor I was seeing – an obstetrician in a high-risk clinic; a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and a twins expert – had my best interest in mind. (In retrospect, I’m not saying he didn’t. But I assumed it because he was my doctor, not because of how he treated me.)
After reading The Thinking Woman’s Guide, I realized that I had to be my own advocate. I specifically remember asking about telemetry monitors, and my doctor gave me a funny look, which I later interpreted – after becoming a doula and seeing that same look exchanged between my clients and their providers – as his realization that I’d become one of “those” types of patients. The annoying type; the type who asks a lot of questions and want a lot of answers, and want to understand the research behind the protocols.
As my pregnancy with my twins progressed, I had a lot of NSTs and BPPs. Baby A, the donor twin, was smaller and seemed growth-restricted. One doctor in the clinic I attended recommended a c-section at 33 weeks, but I refused. I ended up consenting to an induction at 34 weeks due to possible IUGR in baby A. I had cervidil, and did not need pitocin; I had a vaginal birth eight hours after my induction, with a feet-first baby B who was 2lbs bigger than baby A.
I really credit reading “The Thinking Woman’s Guide” to helping empower me. In turn, I wanted to help empower others. Birth is so different when a woman can say, “I chose this,” versus “The doctor did this…” At first I thought that every woman wanted to be empowered during her pregnancy and birth. Later I realized that many don’t. However, those who do need the support of other empowered women, especially those who have had an empowered birth.
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