An Article I read today in the SMH prompted me to write this post. It was about women who felt disempowered, traumatised and depressed regarding their birth experiences and the short term and longer term after-effects. In particular, the main woman in the article had been significantly physically and emotionally traumatised by her birth experience, (having sustained a third degree perineal tear and an avulsion injury to her pelvic floor muscles), after an instrumental delivery. The article then went onto discuss that many women were not often given the chance to make decisions during labour about the proposed interventions and had not given their express “informed consent”, for certain more interventional procedures. Also mentioned, was the lack of warning of the potential risks to the woman, of such procedures.
Whilst obtaining “informed consent” is the ideal in the world of patient care, I think any of us who have either been through a “successful”, (or attempted, but unsuccessful) vaginal birth, would agree that we are not always thinking rationally, or able to make great decisions in the face of immense pain and often great fear. With the birth of my (almost 10lb) first child, when my wonderful obstetrician arrived, if he had have told me he was going to slice me from neck to pelvis to get this baby out, and end the excruciating pain I was experiencing, I would have screamed my agreement. Thankfully he did not…lol, but thanks to expert forceps manoeuvring and a fairly large episiotomy… (oouch…that 19 years later still sends a shiver down my spine) ..both my big boofhead of a son and I, got through the experience relatively unscathed. And I will be forever grateful to my wonderful obstetrician for this!!
This is why expectant parents need to do thorough research, ask questions and seek advice, prior to engaging their medical team. They need to find an obstetrician/team, with whom they feel comfortable, can relate to, and that they can trust will make the best decisions (based on their expertise), at such a time, that they are incapable of making good decisions themselves. Discussing possible birth scenarios, the pros and cons, the medical rational for one type of delivery as opposed to another and the varying options, should all be discussed prior to labour and delivery. The vast majority of obstetricians and midwives, (particularly those that I work with, anyway), are deeply concerned about achieving the best possible outcomes for the mums’ under their care, and of course the safe delivery of a healthy baby. We need to trust in their decision making and care… after all that is what we pay them for….
Next week…. the importance of a 6 week post-natal physiotherapy check..