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Women’s Health Interview Series – #1, REBIRTH blogger

August 23, 2007

I am interviewing bloggers and others who work in or write about an area of women’s health, and am kicking off the series with an interview with the blogger from REBIRTH. REBIRTH caught my attention with a childbirth education series that explains some basics of labor in clear, understandable language. If you are interested in being interviewed, please contact me.

When did you start blogging, and why, and what do you hope that you and your readers get out of it? Who is your target audience?

I started blogging a year ago. I actually got started with a knitting blog, which has since gone by the wayside. I came across some nurse blogs and thought, “Hey, I have lots to say, too!” And so began The Life & Times of a Labor Nurse in September 2006. My hope was that readers of Life & Times would question maternity care in our country; but I also hoped they like what I wrote. Same goes for REBIRTH. I targeted mostly mom’s, want to be mom’s, pregnant mom’s, and nurses.

You’re an RN who works in obstetrics, but you’re also a midwifery student. What inspired you to make the switch between the two? How will your daily work change when you’ve finished your midwifery degree?

I didn’t necessarily see going to school for nurse-midwifery as a switch, per se. Instead I saw it as a way of increasing what I can do to help women during childbirth, as well as other times in their lives. I was beginning to feel like my hands were tied being a labor and delivery nurse, so going into nurse-midwifery was a natural decision. I think I will have more leverage as a nurse-midwife when it comes to trying to change maternity care for the better.

I have no idea how my daily work will change outside of the obvious role in caring for women. I have found my passion for improving maternity care and increasing the options women have growing the further along I get in school. I’d imagine this will continue, and I hope to be able to become more politically active on a daily basis.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about your work in labor and delivery?

My favorite things… I don’t know if I could narrow it down. I love the moment a baby emerges. I’m in awe every single time. It’s just amazing.

My least favorite thing is seeing how many women have little to no options in their care. Actually, that pisses me off.

If you could change one thing about modern obstetrics and hospital delivery, what would it be?

Obviously, that most women would be cared for by midwives. And there would be no such thing as “active management” of labor.

I’m sure you’re told birth stories all the time, and sometimes the interventions people tell you about (for example, “My doctor said the baby was too big and I had to have a c-section,” or “We’re scheduled to induce on…”) aren’t always warranted based on the medical evidence. How do respond when you hear these things from people you know, without making them feel badly about their birth experiences?

This is really tough. I do get told birth stories, prenatal care stories, postpartum stories, you name it, all the time. Many of the stories don’t make sense to me. Sometimes it could be because the woman herself didn’t have a good understanding of what was going on or because they were told things that were incorrect or misleading (never a good thing and prime example of why our maternity care system sucks). I have learned to cringe on the inside. It’s hard, though. You gave one of my pet peeves as an example (c/s for suspected large baby) and I even had a reaction to that. There are so many things in obstetrics that are not scientifically proven to be effective, and research shows in some cases such things (interventions) can lead to worse outcomes.

Many times I am told birth stories on the premise of a question. For instance, a woman could tell me about the reason she was induced and ask me if in fact it was necessary. I respond by giving them information based on research and other standards that I have read or am aware of. I try to let them come to their own conclusion. The fact that these women are asking these questions makes me think that they didn’t agree with what was recommended or done, but didn’t feel equipped to say no or ask for alternatives.

In your opinion, what should regular women be doing to ensure appropriate birth care for themselves? For other women?

I think all women should do their homework. Read as much as possible on childbirth in our country. Read information from all different sources; from professional organizations, from textbooks, from anything that discusses maternity care, and most importantly know what is available in their own community. I liked this piece of advice from Dr. Marsden Wagner on the information out there: If it says, ‘Trust your doctor’ be wary; if it says ‘Trust yourself and/or instinct’ then listen. Women can then make informed choices for themselves. Then they should start talking with all their friends. Get the word out, women!

What advice would you give women for choosing an appropriate birth care provider?

Trust your instinct. Ask them questions; if you aren’t feeling good about
the answers look elsewhere.

What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen happen during a birth?

The only thing that is coming to mind right now is not something funny, but something kind of gross. A dad was handed scissors to cut the cord. He wasn’t asked, it was just assumed he would cut the cord. Without saying a word he did so, and promptly vomited.

Many thanks to the REBIRTH blogger for her thoughtful answers.

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