Monday, February 11, 2013

Be your own best advocate

Perhaps this is most true when it comes to looking after your health.

I gave birth on the 15th November 2012, I was 42 weeks and 3 days pregnant and under severe pressure from the hospital to be induced. I didn't want to be induced, I had researched it and spoken to many women who had been induced, and knew it usually ended up in a cascade of interventions with a cesarean section being the end result far too often. The drugs they use for induction are off label and have numerous side effects, or direct effects as I like to call them.

I had been transferred from midwifery to obstetric care on October 5th because of three high blood pressure readings and +1 protein in my urine. When I met with the obstetrician he immediately diagnosed me with pre-eclampsia, or toxemia as he called it, and then proceeded to tell me that “pregnancy is an illness” and “women who want home births usually end up with every intervention in the book”. He then informed me he wanted me in hospital until the birth, which was October 29th, over three weeks away. My husband and I left his consulting room shell shocked. I had just secured a home birth the week before so this news was devastating.

The next six weeks were very traumatic as we advocated for our voices to be heard. They weren't. I didn't go into hospital (apart from a two day stay to check the protein levels in my urine, which were fine), but I did go for almost daily check ups for the baby. Most of the time, all I heard was I could convulse, seize and die at any moment or the baby could be still born and so on. I had to sign a release form on more than one occasion. Trying to explain that I understood the risk factors and didn't need them explained to me every day for six weeks fell on deaf ears. I wasn't the 'expert'. I felt harassed and traumatised by this form of 'health care' and tried to explain how I felt on numerous occasions, some lovely people did listen but in general I was ignored and even sneered at for informing myself.

I did not go into labour, our baby's heartbeat fell and I had an emergency cesarean which was the last thing I wanted, but it was a true medical emergency so that consoles me somewhat. Do I wonder could I have done things differently? Of course I do, I should have gone for chiropractic adjustments, I should have worked more on my psychological state which was full of fear, thinking of going into hospital to give birth. At the end of the day we have a beautiful healthy son but that still doesn't negate traumatic feelings around his birth and the last month of my pregnancy which needed to be worked through.

Too many women have traumatic experiences during pregnancy and birth and it really is time to take back our own power and be our own best advocates.

For every effect there is a root cause. Find and address the root cause rather than try to fix the effect, as there is no end to the latter ~ Unknown


Bodhirose said...

You have to be your own best advocate and hope that someone trustworthy has your best interests at heart if you should be unable to voice your own opinions. I commend you for standing your ground...too bad you had to go through all that though. First of all, congratulations on having a baby, Noreen. Don't know if girl or boy but hope you both are doing well. I just had a short stay in the hospital this past week...a colitis attack. Never had one before...never want another one! Found that the doctors weren't really interested in my questions or concerns...the nurses were very kind and helpful though. I guess doctors are the same everywhere...many are arrogant fear mongers. My best and happiest wishes for you Noreen. Gayle xoxo

Noreen Barron, MA said...

Thanks Gayle :-) He's a boy, the cutest little thing. Sorry to hear about the colitis, I'd say that was painful, hope you feel better xxx