Nursing Birth

One Labor & Delivery Nurse’s View From the Inside

How one mom “Walked, moved around, and changed positions” to a successful hospital VBAC! October 23, 2009

Science and Sensibility’s Healthy Birth Blog Carnival #2Walk, move around, and change positions throughout labor

 

This month’s Healthy Birth Blog Carnival is “Walk, move around, and change positions throughout labor.”  This is a repost from a story I wrote back in March however, I feel like it is a really great example of how important movement and position changes are to a successful labor and birth, especially a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)!  This story has been a popular posts with my readers in the past and I hope by participating in this blog carnival it reaches and helps empower more and more expecting women out there!!  In reposting this story I have highlighted all the times where Alyssa used upright positions and movement to cope with pain, help her uterus contract more efficiently, help her baby find the best position in her birth canal, use gravity to her advantage, and be an active participant in her labor!  And there is no doubt in my mind that all of these things helped her have a safe, positive and empowering VBAC experience!

 

 

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Last week I had the honor to be a part of one of the most beautiful VBAC(Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) hospital births I have ever witnessed. I would like to share that couple’s story with you today as both a feel-good tale of personal triumph and a story of inspiration for all those moms planning a VBAC out there that might stumble upon my blog. Since this is a blog about “a nurse’s view from the inside” this story is probably much different than any other birth story you might have read from the mother or father’s point of view. But then again, maybe that isn’t so bad! Enjoy!

 

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It was ten to 11 o’clock am as I walked through the lobby doors of the hospital I work at, rushing towards the elevator so I could punch in on time. As the elevator doors started to close, a hand shoved through the crack, forcing the doors back open. “Please make room!”said the woman, a phlebotomist who works in the hospital, in a shaky voice, “Woman in labor here!!”Following behind was a very pregnant woman, huffing and puffing as she waddled into the elevator, followed by what looked like her husband and her mother. “Don’t touch any buttons!”said the phlebotomist, “We’re going right up to labor & delivery!” Since that was where I was headed too, I smiled at the husband and said, “Don’t worry, you’re here now and she won’t have the baby in your car! I work up on L&D so I’ll show you were to register.” Something told me that if this woman was truly in labor then she would be assigned to me since I was just starting my shift. But she had to “pass” triage first, so after helping the family to the registration desk, I hurried into the locker room to change into my scrubs.

 

 

 Fifteen minutes later the triage nurse came to the main desk, “I’ve got a term mom, 40 weeks 5 days, who’s five centimeters,” she said, “We’re gonna need to put her in a room…. And she’s a VBAC with a ‘birth plan’.” “I’ll take her!,” I said excitingly, knowing that I have my bestdays when I can assist a woman through labor, as opposed to getting stuck on the OR team or in the high risk ward running magnesium. (Not that those women don’t need a lot of TLC too, it’s just that I like labor the most!) Birth plans, natural unmedicated labor, and getting my patients out of bed…those are my specialties!

 

 I quickly set up the room across the hall as the resident finished the patient’s history and physical in the triage room. Then I quietly knocked on the triage room door and let myself in. The patient, Alyssa*, was standing by the bed, rocking her hips back and forth, as the continuous monitors strapped to her abdomen traced the baby’s heart rate and her contraction pattern. It looked like she was contracting every 3 minutes, and the baby’s heart rate was beautiful and reassuring. Her husband, Jared, was leaning nervously against the wall and her mom, Deb, was sitting quietly in the corner. I could really tell that Alyssa was lost in “Laborland” and I wanted to make the transition to her room as seamless as possible as to not break her rhythm and concentration too much. I quietly introduced myself and with the help of Jared and Deb, moved all of their belongings across the hall as Alyssa waddled behind.

  

 I could tell that Alyssa was coping well with the contractions while standing but a quick glance at her prenatal summary revealed that she was Group B Strep positive and would need IV antibiotics (our hospital’s policy and the midwife’s order) and hence, and IV. Now I feel that I am pretty skilled at starting IVs, but I have not yet mastered starting an IV with the patient standing and swaying! So in the two minutes between the contractions, I explained to the Alyssa what I needed to do before the admission process was complete: get 5 more minutes of continuous monitoring on the baby (to equal the “20 minute strip” my hospital’s policy requires before we can switch to intermittent auscultation), take a set of vital signs, draw three tubes of blood, start an IV, and ask a few more questions. “Give me 8 minutes sitting on the bed,” I said, “and I can have everything but the interview done. The rest of the admission can be done with you standing up.” “Okay,” she said, “I can do eight minutes.” Eight minutes later the IV was in, antibiotic running, labs drawn and sent, vital signs done, monitors were removed, and the patient was helped out of bed (Phew!! That was close!! J). And it wasn’t a moment too soon because Alyssa was having a lot of back labor and sitting in bed was just making it worse!

 

 

 

Then there was a knock at the door. Here’s how the subsequent conversation went down…

 

Me: “Who is it?”

Med Student: “It’s just the medical student,” (said as he walked right into the room)

(I hadn’t yet gotten a chance to ask Alyssa if she was okay with medical students so I just kind of looked over at her and Jared and tried to judge their reaction.)

Med Student: “Hi I’m Michael. I have to ask you a few questions.”

(Have? How about “Is it okay if I ask you a few questions? Sheesh!!)

Med Student: “Are you being induced today?” (asked as he stared down at his paper)

Alyssa: “INDUCED! DOES IT LOOK LIKE I AM BEING INDUCED!”

Med Student:“Okaaaaay. Umm, any problems with this pregnancy?”

Jared: “Do you really need to ask these questions right now? The resident already asked her that stuff.”

Med Student:“Umm yeaaaah, I do. There is a lot of repetition but we have to ask again.”

Deb: “Doesn’t her prenatal summary tell you all of that?

Med Student: “Ummmmm….”

Me: “With all do respect, Michael. But I think they are trying to tell you that they do not want any medical students. Or anymore residents for that matter. Okay? So I think we are done here.”

Med Student:“Ummm, what am I supposed to tell the resident?”

Me: “Tell her I said that the next induction that comes in is all yours.”

 

As the med student left, Jared, Deb, and Alyssa all looked at me simultaneously and said “THANK YOU!” “I don’t think he was getting the hint,” said Jared. “Yeah,” I said, “I figured he needed it spelled out.” In hind sight, I think this was one of the moments that really helped me to bond with this family because after all, I understand how difficult it must be for families to come into the hospital and have to work with a nurse that they have even never met during one of the most intimate experiences of their lives!

 

I spent the next fifteen minutes finishing up the patient’s admission assessment as quickly as I could. I told Alyssa that if she was having a contraction to just ignore me, and asked Jared to help answer any questions he knew the answers to. (Unfortunately, our hospital’s pre-registration does not include performing an admission assessment and hence, it has to be done on arrival to the hospital. Usually, if a patient comes in for false/early labor a time or two, it gets done then but Alyssa had not been to the hospital her whole pregnancy, which is great, but it meant that I did have to bother her with some silly questions during labor. Kind of a bummer, but with the help of Jared, it went pretty smoothly.) It was during the admission interview that I found out some of the details of Alyssa’s pregnancy and prior cesarean section. Alyssa had an unremarkable health history and a normal, healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy. She was a G2P1, but since her first baby was born by cesarean section, she technically was considered to be a “primip” (healthcare slang a woman who is about to deliver her first baby) regarding a vaginal delivery.

 

Jared told me that when their son was born two years ago, Alyssa was persuaded into an induction at 39 weeks for “LGA” (a.k.a. large for gestational age, which by the way is NOT recognized as an appropriate indication for induction of labor by ACOG), was first given a few doses of misoprostol to “ripen” the cervix, followed by pitocin to stimulate contractions and continuous external fetal monitoring to monitor those contractions, then given a couple doses of Stadol and eventually an epidural for the pain, followed by artificial rupture of membranes to place a fetal scalp electrode after the epidural dropped Alyssa’s blood pressure and caused a prolonged fetal heart rate (FHR) deceleration, then an intrauterine pressure catheter to assess if the pitocin induced contractions were “adequate”, and eventually a cesarean section after 1 hour of pushing in a back-lying position for “failure to descent & cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD).” Thirty minutes later baby Kevin was born at approximately 2:00am, weighing in at 7lbs, 5 oz.

 

In my opinion, Alyssa was a victim of the “cascade of interventions.” Many maternity interventions, including elective induction, pain medication, artificial rupture of membranes, epidural anesthesia, back-lying positions for labor or for birth, etc. have unintended effects. Often these effects are new problems that are “solved” with further intervention causing a domino effect that ends up creating yet more problems. This chain of events has been called the “cascade of intervention” and unfortunately often leads to vacuum extraction/ forceps delivery, episiotomies or 3rd or 4thdegree tears, and even cesarean section. Many of these women are often also then mislabeled with diagnoses like “CPD,” “failure to progress,” “failure to descent,” and at the end of it all, the obstetricians turn around and say, “Thank God we were in a hospital; look at all the technology we needed! So when will your repeat cesarean be??”

 

This time, however, things were different. After the birth of their son, Alyssa and Jared started to research more about labor and birth, VBAC, and natural birth. They interviewed and chose a doctor (Dr. Z) that was supportive of natural birth and VBACs, with the statistics to prove it! And here they were now, at my hospital, ready and rearing to go! Alyssa said that for the past few days she had been having contractions “on and off” but that they really started to get going at 8:00 am. When the resident had checked her on admission, her water spontaneously broke during the vaginal exam at 11:15am. It was now 11:45am and Dr. Z’s midwife entered the room. Although it had only been 30 minutes since her last vaginal exam, the midwife decided she would check Alyssa again since she seemed pretty active. And boy was she ever! The midwife’s exam showed that Alyssa had progressed to 7-8 centimeters! “I don’t think I can do this anymore,” Alyssa softly whimpered to the midwife. We all reassured her that she was doing so well and that things were getting more intense for a reason and to stick with it!!

 

The midwife then offered to help Alyssa into the shower to help alleviate her back pain. Alyssa seemed skeptical at first but we assured her that if it wasn’t helping, that we could get her right back out. So Alyssa agreed and the midwife and I, along with Jared, helped the patient into the shower. What happened for the next hour was one of the most beautiful displays of love, perseverance, hard work, and dedication I have ever witnessed. Alyssa turned her back to us and rested her hands on the grab bar on the shower and her head on the shower wall. Her cadence was this: Between contractions she would sway side to side, as if she was slow dancing. During contractions she would squat up and down, up and down, moaning in a low tone as she carried out her ritual. She just moved with the rhythm of her labor, listening so instinctively to what her baby and her body were telling her to do.Jared used the hand held shower head to spray Alyssa gently with a stream of warm water up and down her body, concentrating mostly on her lower back. I quietly entered the bathroom a few times that hour to check the baby’s heart rate with the portable doptone, trying hard not to disturb Alyssa’s concentration. Mostly, however, the midwife, her mother, and I stayed outside the bathroom door as to give Alyssa & Jared the privacy they needed to facilitate the progress of her labor.

 

At 12:35pm Alyssa told me that she was starting to feel a strong urge to push. The midwife entered the room and as Alyssa knelt in a hands and knees position in the tub, the midwife checked her cervix. To everyone’s surprise Alyssa only had an anterior lip of cervix left to go (this means she was about 9 ½ centimeters dilated)! After the next contraction, Jared and I helped Alyssa out of the shower to the toilet where we both used warm towels to dry her off. Then Alyssa walked over to the bed, “Can I kneel on my hands and knees?” she asked. “Sure!” we all said in unison, as we helped her up onto the bed. “I feel like I have to push!” Alyssa said convincingly and when the midwife checked her cervix, the anterior lip was gone…Alyssa was fully dilated at 12:45pm, only 1 hour and 55 minutes after arriving at the hospital! “You can start to push anytime,” said the midwife.

 

One of the best things about being a part of this experience was the fact that it was one of the only times that I have been present at a delivery where that a birth attendant has allowed the mother to use spontaneous or mother-directed pushing, as opposed to directed pushing. I knew that Alyssa was interested in using a variety of pushing positions for the second stage of labor from her birth plan and for the next hour and a half the midwife, Jared, Deb, and I helped Alyssa get into a variety of positions including right/left side lying, squatting, hands and knees, and kneeling.

 

(Side Note: I would like to digress for a moment to point out how important it is to be physically fit during your pregnancy whether you are planning for a natural birth or not. Many a woman I take care of blindly fills out a “birth plan” they find online where they can click on the boxes for options that sound “good” to them, without actually researching or thinking over what they are writing down. For example, they say that they want to try squatting during labor and birth, but couldn’t even do a squat at the gym pre-pregnancy. Although it is definitely true that a woman can sum up and realize an incredible amount of strength during labor and birth related to not only hormones but also sheer will power, it should also be known that labor is HARD WORK and pushing out a baby is HARD WORK which both require a great deal of physical strength and stamina. This is yet another reason why it is so important to follow a modified exercise plan and eat a healthy well balanced diet rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids before, during, and even after your pregnancy.) Let’s continue with Alyssa’s story…

 

What was so amazing was that although there were plenty of times during the labor and pushing phase that Alyssa would doubt her ability to go on (“I can’t do this anymore!” “The baby isn’t moving?” “Is the baby moving?” “I am so tired!”), she never gave up on herself. Each time she made a comment like that, we all took it as a request for more support. And every time we gave her more encouragement, cheers, and reminders of her progress and goals, (“Keep going!”, “You are doing so well!”, “We can see so much more of the baby’s head!”, “She has lots of hair!”, “Just a few pushes more”, “You are so strong, you are going to do this!”, “You can do this!”), she found the ability to keep going! Towards the end of the pushing stage Alyssa was (understandably) exhausted and was pushing in a modified lithotomy position while Jared and I supported both of her legs. Then all of a sudden Alyssa popped up and said (and I quote)…

 

“I need GRAVITY! I need to be UP!” as she sat upright into a full squat and

PUSHED her baby’s head out with one gigantic ROAR!

 

“Whoa, whoa!” the midwife and I said almost simultaneously, “Easy, easy, baby pushes.” “Blow like you are blowing out birthday candles,” I said. The midwife checked for a cord around the neck (which there was none) and cleared the baby’s mouth and nose. And with only a few more “baby pushes” Addison Joy was born at 2:27pm!

 

The room erupted into cheers of excitement and tears of happiness! I put the baby skin to skin on mom as I dried her off with warm blankets and cleared her mouth and nose with the bulb suction. A quick palpation of the baby’s cord revealed that her heart rate was nice and strong and she was pinking right up! Jared and Alyssa kept hugging and kissing each other and talking to their new baby girl, “Hi Addison! Hi baby girl! I am so glad to finally meet you!”  The midwife waited until the cord stopped pulsating before she cut it (per mom and dad’s birth plan) and then checked Alyssa for any tears. Except for some swelling, she only had a small tear on her right labia that didn’t even require any stitches!! We kept mom and baby skin to skin for a full hour after birth and baby Addison nursed almost the whole time. When she was an hour old, I weighed her to satisfy mom’s curiosity and to everyone’s surprise the baby weighed 9 lbs 3 ozs!!!

 

So much for “cephalopelvic disproportion” huh!!

 

And it was as I handed baby Addison back to Alyssa that she looked up at me and said softly, “I needed to know my body could do it. I knew my body could do it! I really needed this. Thank you.” So as you can imagine, I started to well up. I have never felt so honored to be a part of something so special. What a privilege to have a job where I witness the miracle of birth and the miracle of motherhood every week!

 

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So let’s recap shall we. Alyssa, after having a cesarean section for her 7 lb 5oz son two years earlier for “CPD” and “failure to descent”, pushed out a 9lb 3oz baby after a 6 hour and 27 minute labor, including 1 hour and 42 minute of mother-directed pushing, without any pain medications or an epidural, monitored by intermittent auscultation, needing not a single stitch to her perineum! Her tools included good and relevant labor & birth preparation, appropriate and helpful family support, sheer strength, determination, and will power. The midwife’s arsenal included extensive knowledge of and experience with natural birth and labor support, a doptone, a trust in birth, and a belief in Alyssa’s ability to do it! No medications, no vacuums, no scalpels, no scissors, and no doubt!

 

Boy how I love my job sometimes 🙂

 

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*As always, names and any identifying information have been changed to protect privacy.

 

For more information on VBAC please visit: International Cesarean Awareness Network and Childbirth Connection

 

For more information on how you can move and groove through your labor check out: 

  • The Healthy Birth Practice Paper, written by Teri Shilling, MS, CD(DONA), IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE
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  • The Healthy Birth Your Way handout on movement in labor(PDF), produced by Lamaze International and InJoy Birth & Parenting Videos
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  • Companion tip sheets, “Maintaining Freedom of Movement” (PDF) and “Positions for Labor” (PDF)
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    The Ol’ Bait and Switch, OR Finding Out Your OB Has Been Leading You On October 21, 2009

    Submitted on 2009/10/20 at 3:24pm

    Comment under: Urgent Message from ICAN! Please Spread the Word!!

    Dear Nursing Birth,

     

    I’m a day short of 35 weeks pregnant today and went in for an OB appointment this morning. My doctor said that if I don’t go into labor on my own in my 39th week that (depending on how much and if my cervix is dilated) she might put me on pitocin- although she did say that “they don’t induce labor for VBAC patients”. But that they won’t let me go to 40 weeks, and that by 40 weeks they will have to schedule another c-section for me. (I live in Cedar Falls, IA)

     

    I am shocked and angry! First of all- since when is 40 weeks, too late? My OB says it’s not wise to go to beyond 40 weeks due to increased risk of uterine rupture. But this just sounds like B.S. to me!

     

    And how does the doc get away with not telling me something important like this until NOW? Unbelievable!!  My doctor and I have already gone through my birth plan, line by line, because I want as few interventions as possible and no drugs, seeking a natural vaginal childbirth. I’ve taken 12 weeks of Bradley method birth classes to help my husband and I be better prepared this time.  I also have a fantastic, knowledgeable, and supportive doula. But I can’t believe what a fight it is to have a VBAC!

     

    If I had known sooner that this was the doctor/hospital policy for VBAC, I probably would have gone somewhere else. Since it’s so late in the game now, I’m probably going to stick it out. I don’t have to do anything they say, I can always stay at home and come in when I’m ready, and that will be after I am already in deep labor on my own.

     

    I was just wondering if perhaps this reflects a change in my hospital’s policy for managing VBAC? One of the other OB’s I met with at the hospital said that after a high maintenance VBAC patient a few months ago (who also insisted on a natural vaginal childbirth, and did it, but most of the hospital staff were very unhappy dealing with this patient…?) that the hospital is reviewing whether to allow VBAC at all. I’m probably not helping the situation by openly trying to avoid their planned interventions. I KNOW I’m required to have continuous electronic fetal monitoring… but I’ve also been told that my labor has to be pretty much “text book” regarding continuous dilation of my cervix, and of course no tolerance for fetal distress…or else!

     

    I just wish all women would know this before their first c-section. If you thought recovering from a c-section was bad, wait till you try to have a VBAC and deal with the red tape and lack of support from the medical community. It’s just so frustrating to have to be prepared to battle, and yet relax at the same time! 

     

    Have you heard of this kind of change in management of VBAC? That VBAC isn’t even allowed to go to 40 weeks?? Thanks for writing such an informative, educational blog and for being so supportive of natural childbirth! I have enjoyed your tips and insight from the hospital perspective (about writing birth plans, and managing your OB, and also the many ways hospital staff really will be supportive- even if you barf!).

     

    Sincerely,

    Kelly

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    Dear Kelly,

    WOW!  I am so sorry that this is happening to you.  You story deeply saddens, frustrates, and angers me because unfortunately YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  Women all over this country have to fight everyday for their VBACs.  Too many are unsuccessful.

    First off I want you to know that your gut is absolutely right; 40 weeks is NOT too late and the research does NOT support your obstetrician’s claims.

    Second, if that hospital is actually considering revising their entire VBAC “policy” in response to one mother who, as it sounds to me, shook the boat a little bit by demanding better care as well as exercising her right to informed refusal, they are absolutely outrageous and ridiculous!  I would be skeptical of that story if I hadn’t recently read this about the sign placed at the entrance of the Aspen’s Women Center in Provo, Utah.

    Third, sounds to me like you did everything right!  You found what you thought was a VBAC supportive care provider, you researched your options and decided you wanted to stack as many cards in your favor as you could for a successful VBAC by planning a drug-free/intervention-free childbirth, you wrote up a birth planthat you painstakingly went through “line by line” with your physician early on in your pregnancy, you have sought out and taken childbirth preparation classes that are geared towards not only providing knowledge about how to have a successful natural childbirth but also help in preparing mentally and emotionally for such an important journey (and on top of that you took those classes with your husband!), and you even hired a doula.  (Yup!  Just as I suspected…you did everything you could!)  So what happened?!?!…

    Unfortunately you are a victim of the ol’ bait and switch.

    It happens to women everyday around this country.  And its existence is further proof that our maternity system is broken, in shambles really.  There are some obstetricians, family practice physicians, and yes, even midwives that have become really friggin’ good at this awful game.  Women write in to me all the time with similar frustrations and complaints as yours, Kelly.  And I always find myself helpless and speechless.  I don’t know how to help women avoid it and I struggle everyday in my own professional life with how to fight it and stop it!

    The worst part of the ol’ bait and switch is the feeling of betrayal that most women report experiencing after they have been victimized they this outrageous action.  (I want to note that I used the terms “betrayal” and “victimized” on purpose.  I understand that they are very strong words but I feel they are the best to describe this very serious phenomenon).  So why does it happen?  Both from what I have personally experienced as a labor and delivery nurse as well as what I have read (for example: Born in the U.S.A by Marsden Wagner and Pushed by Jennifer Block) there is not one simple answer for why some healthcare providers use this “technique.”  But there is no doubt in my mind that money, greed, fear of litigation, fear of losing patients, competition, superciliousness, willful ignorance, impatience, convenience, blatant disregard for evidenced based medicine, favoritism for the “because we’ve always done it this way” model of practice as well as favoritism for the paternalistic provider-patient model of practice (that is, the care provider only presents information on risks and benefits of a procedure/test etc. that he or she thinks will lead the patient to make the “right” decision (i.e. the provider supported decision) regarding health care) all have something to do with it.  Providers who practice the ol’ bait and switch fall somewhere on the, what I like to call “Asshole to Apathy,” spectrum.   Some may be bigger assholes than others, but in the end, they all fall somewhere on that spectrum in my experience.

    [PHEW!  Okay, WOW!  Now I’m all worked up!  Sorry, sorry!  I don’t know where that rant just came from!  But this kind of thing really burns by britches!]

    So Kelly, you must be thinking, “Where does this leave me?”  The good news is that Kristen, a philosophical doula blogger friend of mine over at BirthingBeautifulIdeas is author of an amazing series she calls “VBAC Scare Tactics” which I think is a resource that you, and other moms in your situation, might find very helpful.  What you are describing sounds to me like VBAC scare tactics (#3): An early eviction date (aka “I’ll let you attempt a ‘trial of labor’ just as long as you go into labor before your due date.  After that, we’re scheduling a repeat cesarean.”)

    In each post she identifies one particular scare tactic, supplies a list of questions that a mother can ask her care provider in response to this scare tactic, and then provides an analysis and/or summary of the research that either challenges or even debunks the scare tactic and its insinuations.  In the introduction to the series she writes,

     

    “Many women who want to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (or VBAC, pronounced “vee-back”) in this country have faced some sort of opposition from their care providers when they have expressed their desire to VBAC.

     

    Sometimes this opposition is blatant.  Sometimes this opposition becomes obvious only at the end of the third trimester. (Many VBAC-ing moms refer to this tactic as a “bait-and-switch” since it involves a supposedly VBAC-supportive care provider rescinding this support once the actual VBAC is imminent.)  Sometimes even a care provider’s “support” of VBAC is instead a conditional, half-hearted, or perhaps sneakily-disguised opposition to VBAC.  These “scare tactics” are often misleading, exaggerated efforts by OBs (and yes, even midwives) to discourage women from VBAC and to encourage them to “choose” a repeat cesarean.  (Of course, it’s not really a choice if your provider won’t even “let” you VBAC, is it?)

     

    If you do find yourself facing such scare tactics, and if you do want to have a VBAC, there are some questions that your care provider should be able to answer when s/he hurls those scary and/or outrageous comments and standards your way.  And if s/he refuses to or even cannot answer these questions, then you might want to consider finding an alternative care provider–one who is making medical decisions based on research, evidence, and even respect for your patient autonomy and not on fear, willful ignorance, or even convenience.”

    Things I love about BirthingBeautifulIdeas’ VBAC scare tactic posts include:

    #1    Her writing is organized and clear.  (You know how much I love organization and lists!)

    #2    She respects research and understands the importance of evidenced based medicine. (In fact, the reason BirthingBeautifulIdeas is aware of much of the research she cites is because she actually used said research studies in weighing her own decision about whether to have an elective repeat cesarean section or instead prepare and plan for a VBAC.)

    #3    She has personal experience with this subject.  (In fact she not only experienced a VBAC scare tactic and the “bait-and-switch” with her former OB, but also made the difficult decision to and successfully did transfer her care to a VBAC supportive care provider late in her pregnancy (at 37 weeks to be exact!) as well as experienced a subsequent and successful VBAC hospital water birth.  Check out her story “My very own VBAC waterbirth”.)

    #4    She does not provide advice.  As she said herself, she is NOT anti-OB nor is she telling women to do anything.  Instead she provides tools that allow women to make their own decisions and stick up for their own decisions about the birth of their babies hoping that in doing so women come out of their birth experiences feeling positive and empowered, regardless of the outcome.

    Kelly, please check out the post VBAC scare tactics (#3): An early eviction dateI was going to write to you about the research and such on the topic but BirthingBeautifulIdeas has already done such a fantastic job herself that it wouldn’t even be worth it to summarize her article.

    While I’m at it, here’s the entire VBAC scare tactics series:

    VBAC scare tactics (#1): VBAC = uterine rupture = dead baby (aka “Why would you want to risk a VBAC only to have a ruptured uterus and a dead baby?”)

    VBAC scare tactics (#2): When bad outcomes in the past affect patient options in the future (aka “I’ve seen a bad VBAC outcome, and it was terrible.  You really don’t want to choose a VBAC over a repeat cesarean.”)

    VBAC scare tactics (#3): An early eviction date (aka “I’ll let you attempt a ‘trial of labor’ just as long as you go into labor before your due date.  After that, we’re scheduling a repeat cesarean.”)

    VBAC scare tactics (#4): No pre-labor dilatation = no VBAC (aka “Since you are 39 weeks pregnant and your cervix isn’t dilated or effaced, it looks like you probably won’t go into labor on your own ‘in time.’   We need to schedule a repeat cesarean and forgo a VBAC attempt.”)

    VBAC scare tactics (#5): VBACs aren’t as safe as we thought they were (aka “You know, VBACs aren’t as safe as we thought they were.  They are much more dangerous to you and your baby.  A repeat cesarean is the safer route.”)

    A VBAC scare tactic interlude (Thoughts and resources on transferring your care to a VBAC supportive care provider, inducing labor when you have a history of a cesarean and weighing the pros and cons of pain medications and interventions if you are planning a VBAC.)

     

    VBAC scare tactics (#6): CPD or FTP = no VBAC (aka“Here in your chart, it says that your cesarean was for failure to progress (FTP).  Oh, and there’s also a note here about cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD).  You’re not really an ideal VBAC candidate since your cesarean wasn’t for fetal distress or breech presentation, so we need to schedule a repeat cesarean.”)

     

    VBAC scare tactics (#7): Playing the epidural card (aka “An epidural can mask the signs of uterine rupture, so I do not permit my VBAC patients to have an epidural during their labors.” OR “In case of an emergency cesarean, I require all of my VBAC patients to have an epidural in place in early labor.  That way, we will not have to wait for the anesthesiologist to get the epidural in place if a uterine rupture occurs.”)

    VBAC Scare Tactics (#8): The MD trump card (aka “Look, I’m the one who has earned the medical degree and I am telling you that you cannot attempt a VBAC.  Your only choice is a repeat cesarean.  Period.”)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Kelly you wrote, “Since it’s so late in the game now, I’m probably going to stick it out. I don’t have to do anything they say, I can always stay at home and come in when I’m ready, and that will be after I am already in deep labor on my own.”  You are right.  You don’t have to do anything they say.  You have the right as a patient to both informed consent as well as informed refusal.  However I want to say a few things.  (Here comes my cyber pep-talk, meant of course to be 100% supportive of whatever you chose and not at all meant to give you advice.  But I don’t think many women get a chance to hear from anyone what I am about to tell you.  To get the full intent of this pep talk just picture me standing behind you vigorously rubbing your shoulders as I squirt water into your mouth from a sports bottle and wipe the sweat off your face.  So here it goes…)

    You deserve the opportunity to have the unmedicated, intervention-free birth that you have planned for.  Your desires for said unmedicated, intervention-free VBAC are well supported by the research.  You deserve to be cared for by a birth attendant who shares your philosophy regarding (among other things) childbirth and VBAC.  You deserve to NOT have to worry about fighting anyone to be given a fair chance at having the birth you have been planning…not the hospital, not the nursing staff, not your obstetrician, NOT ANYONE.  You deserve it for THIS birth.

    I know that it is scary to even think about transferring care to a new care provider so late in the game.  But I encourage you to at least think about it.  Even if you think that there are many limitations in your options regarding availability, insurance, distance, etc. etc, it is worth it to you to at least check it out.  I also encourage you to get in touch with your local ICAN chapter (unless, of course, you have already done that.)  Some of the members might be able to give you some suggestions on VBAC friendly care providers that they know actually attend VBACs!  Sometimes even if a VBAC friendly midwife or doctor is booked they will make an exception for a late transfer of care if a doula friend or former patient calls and asks for a favor.  (I’ve seen it happen before with my local ICAN chapter).  Also ICAN’s website has a variety of helpful articlesfor moms planning a VBAC against hospital or provider resistance.

    I can tell by your story that you are a very strong woman and my gut tells me that you will indeed fight for your rights even if you stay with your current obstetrician.  You just shouldn’t have to do that and it saddens me that any your energy is going to be dedicated to defending yourself during your birth.  Even one tiny little bit of energy devoted to that is too much!  You deserve more!  You deserve better!  I think you said it perfectly when you wrote, “It’s just so frustrating to have to be prepared to battle, and yet relax at the same time!”

     

    I couldn’t agree more!

    So Kelly, I wish you the best of luck!  And like many of my readers, I really wish I was going to be your labor and delivery nurse!  CONGRATULATIONS on your pregnancy and on your upcoming birth!  I will keep you in my thoughts and I hope that you will one day come back and tell us how your birth went!  I hope that this post has helped you in some way.  Oh and please apologize to your friends and family for me since you probably will be wasting a lot more time in front of the computer now that I have provided so much reading material!  Haha!

    Sincerely,

    NursingBirth

     

    No Doula in the Name of Privacy? Oh Come On! September 26, 2009

    This comment was recently left by a reader named Jessica under one of my older posts.  Since I read every comment that is posted on my blog I happened to stumble upon it this morning.  When I read it I couldn’t help but think “I Hear Ya Sister!!!”and felt that it was so well stated that it needed to be its own post!  I know that there are quite a few doulas out there that read my blog and I just wanted to take this opportunity and give a shout out to them all and say thank you for all you try to do to educate women before they get to me on L&D!  Unfortunately, they don’t all listen but I hope you know that there is at least one L&D nurse out there that appreciates your efforts, both before and during labor!!!

     

    For all you expecting moms out there please check out DONA’s website to learn a bit more about what a doula is, how you can find one, the effects a doula can have on your birth outcome and experience, and how a doula can advocate for you!

     

    And just for the record, there is NOTHING private about a hospital birth experience.  Even in the most well meaning hospitals with the most well meaning birth attendant and the most well meaning nurse(s).  Albeit some women’s hospital births might be more private than others and I personally have had the priviledge to be a part of a few totally amazing hospital births.  But to not hire a doula for your hospital birth (especially at a university hospital!) because you want a “private” experience is a very VERY naive and misguided idea!  I am not saying that to hurt anyone’s feelings and I am certainly not judging anyone out there who decided not to hire a doula for one reason or another.  I am just telling it like it is.  Some food for thought…

     

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    Hi NursingBirth!

    I am a certifying doula and have recently had an interview with a perspective client. She is 36wks pregnant with her first. She was strongly considering a doula, but everyone else in her family was on the fence, and pushing a “private” birth experience. However, they are planning a delivery at a university hospital, she has yet to see the same health care provider throughout her prenatal care, she has no idea which one will be at the birth, or if it will even be someone she has met. They are planning a natural birth. She assured me that the hospital she is birthing at offers a multitude of birth options, including water birth, birth ball, position changes, etc… and the childbirth education from the hospital has given them confidence in their ability to get what they want from this birth. After much “deliberation” they decided that they were not going to hire a doula, based solely on their confidence in the hospital to give them what they want, and their desire for privacy. While I can completely respect their privacy request, I fail to see how birthing in a university hospital will give her much if any privacy…AND if she doesn’t even know who will be her health care provider at the birth…how is she confident that the hospital will give her what she needs? I wish there was some way to help open her naive eyes to the reality of birth in hospitals today. Her chances of getting to work with a mother friendly doc that understands and respects natural birth have got to be low! Reading your blog was comforting (because I know there are others who struggle with this) and depressing(because we have to struggle with this). I don’t want to have her hire me for her VBAC next time around. I want her to have the birth she desires now. I realize there isn’t much I can do for her at this point, which is why I am here, leaving my frustration with a bunch of like minded individuals. I am hoping things will go well for her and in the mean time, I’ve let her know that I am and will be available until the baby is born. just in case. Thanks for the space to rant.

      

    Sincerely,

    Jessica

      

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    Jessica, you can rant here anytime!!!  I Hear Ya Sister!  Loud and clear!!

     

    And now I leave you with one of my FAVORITE Monty Python skits of all time.  I have seen it a million times but it is still as hilarious (and eerily true) each time I see it.  Notice how the doctor invites in an army of people to watch.  It often feels like that where I work no matter what I do!!!

     

     

    The WORST Idea Since Routine Continuous Fetal Monitoring for Low Risk Mothers September 7, 2009

    My husband (being the techie cutie that he is) reads CNET news, a website about computers, the Internet, and groundbreaking technology as part of his morning routine.  The other day, while I was enjoying my Kashi cereal and checking out the latest blog posts on my Google Reader, my husband hollered over to me from his office and said,“Hey Melissa, have you heard of LaborPro?”  Until that moment I was having a pretty good Sunday morning.  I mean, I woke up refreshed and smiling, the sun was shining, and I was looking forward to what I felt was going to be a “good” day at work.  But my attitude quickly turned from happy-go-lucky to blinding rage when he uttered those eight little words. 

    (Okay, okay, so I think I am being a bit dramatic.  Maybe blinding rage is a bit strong.  But I was pretty upset!!)

    So what is LaborPro and why did it put me into such a tizzy you ask?  According to Trig Medical’s website (the Israeli company that is developing and recently won a Frost & Sullivan Technology Innovation of the Year Award for this GARBAGE), LaborPro is “a novel labor monitoring system that using ultrasound imaging measures continuously and objectively fetal position, presentation and station along with cervical dilatation. LaborPro quantitatively assesses and records vital labor parameters in real-time to enable obstetricians to make informed and accurate decisions throughout the labor process to improve both the quality and cost of obstetric care.”

     

     

     

    The website lists LaborPro’s capabilities as able to:  

    • Determine continuous station & position of fetal head by ultrasound imaging,
    • Provide radiation-free pelvimetry & birth canal modeling.
    • Perform one-step computerized “non-invasive” trans-vaginal digital examination (I’ll touch on that in moment)
    • Determine intermittent or continuous accurate measurement of cervical dilatation
    • Record comprehensive labor data recording

     

    It also toutes its “unique benefits” as the following: 

    • Non-invasive, precise measurement of station & position
    • Improves assessment of non-progressive labor
    • Supports decision-making before operative delivery
    • User friendly, on-screen display of all labor parameters
    • Enhances patient comfort and sense of security

     

    Okay okay okay….Just HOW does it do this you ask?  Well it’s EASY!  (*rolling eyes*)  Well according to the website’s one mintute educational video (check it out here, it’s worth it).  FIRST you have to place “just four little electrodes” externally on the mother’s pelvis in order to continuously assess fetal station and position and also enables the user to “recognize CPD early”.  SECOND you just have to clip (or screw) “just a few position sensors” to the woman’s cervix to accurately and continuously measure cervical dilation.  And THIRD you just have to screw “just a small little electrode” into the baby’s head.

    Fetal Scalp Electrode  (notice the little corkscrew tip)

    Close up of a fetal scalp electrode, or FSE (notice the little corkscrew tip, that screws into the baby's scalp.)

    According to Frost & Sullivan, the organization that awarded Trig Medical for the LaborPro technology writes, “The LaborPro is staff and mother-friendly and requires only basic training in ultrasound usage, obviating the need for an obstetric ultrasound expert,” adds Ms. Prabakar. “Moreover, the technology employs non-invasive, radiation-free pelvimetry as well as a single-step computerised digital examination. All labor progress tracking data including the fetal heart rate monitor are integrated in the LaborPro display and automatically recorded by the system, which helps reduce staff workload.”

     

    Oh great!  We only need “basic ultrasound skills” to work it!  (*double eye rolling*)  Here’s a novel idea!  How about every hospital (including my own) in the United States that has a L&D floor actually provide labor support training to their nurses instead!  That would go a lot farther for us than freaking ultrasound skills!! 

    (Just for the record, my hospital does NOT include labor support training as part of orientation and we are NOT alone.  At my hospital, if you want to learn how to provide labor support you have to seek out other learning opportunites on your own, like I had to.  But we do get extensive training on how to work and interpret the fetal monitor.  Oh and about 1/3 of our three month orientation is dedicated to learning how to care for a patient who is being induced.  In fact, I had to teach myself how to do intermittent auscultation and hence, I am one of the only nurses that I work with that isn’t “scared” of intermittent auscultation and will actually advocate for it!) 

    The most terrifying thing is that although at this time LaborPro is not available in the United States (Oh Hallelujah!!!) there is another company called Barnev based out of Andover, MA that has developed an almost identical product they call BirthTrack™ Continuous Labor Monitoring System which they describe as “a revolutionary continuous labor monitoring technology that provides obstetric caregivers invaluable, precise, objective, real-time information about the physical progress of labor. The BirthTrack System provides tools for a more informed decision making process through which hospitals can reduce the risks and costs of childbirth and assure the safety and comfort of mothers-to-be and their babies.”  I remember hearing about this product a couple of years ago when it was still in “development.”  Well guess what?!  Development is over!!  Marketing here we come!!  (GAG me!)

     

    So now there are at least TWO companies that are actively marketing this HORRIFIC, INHUMANE, and OUTRAGEOUS product.  Just wait  until LaborPro makes it to the United States (which according to their website they are actively persuing).  Then they will probably start to compete with eachother!  Now now only will labor & delivery wards around the country have to deal with Similac and Enfamil representatives competing for our money and attention in house (which already makes me sick to my stomach), but now I have to worry about this??!!  THIS IS TERRIFYING!!!

     

    I’m telling you right now, I will UP AND QUIT my job and never look back if either LaborPro or BirthTrack EVER  appears in even just one, JUST ONE of my hospital’s labor rooms.  QUIT ON THE SPOT!  And I will make a Hollywood exit too!  A HUGE scene!!!  Hooting and hollering!  You just wait!!  LOL!  As if our moms aren’t already strapped down enough with the often unnecessary and sometimes downright harmful technology we already have.  This is just TOO MUCH TO BEAR!

    I have taken care of MANY a laboring woman (often as a result of an induction, mind you) who are connected to:

     (1)  an IV line with IV fluids and Pitocin running through,

    (2) an electronic fetal monitor to measure fetal heart rate,

    (3) a tocodransducer to measure contraction pattern

    (OR a fetal scalp electrode to measure fetal heart rate and an intrauterine pressure catheter to measure contraction frequency and strength),

    4) an epidural catheter in the back giving a continuous flow of anethetic and narcotic medications into the spinal column,

    (5) a foley catheter in the bladder since it is very rare that one can empty their bladder with an epidural,

    (6)  a pulse oximeter to continuously measure blood oxygen level (necessitated by the epidural),

    (7) a blood pressure cuff to record one’s blood pressure every 15 minutes since an epidural can drop your blood pressure dangerously low, and finally

    (8) if the baby has shown any signs of distress, an oxygen mask for your face!

     

    Well I have a message for both Trig Medical and Barnev, LABORING WOMEN DO NOT NEED ANY MORE THINGS SHOVED UP THIER VAGINA!!!!  And furthermore,  CLIPING ANYTHING TO A WOMAN’S CERVIX OR SCREWING ANYTHING INTO A BABY’S HEAD DOES NOT COUNT AS “NON-INVASIVE”!!!  LABORING WOMEN AND BABIES ARE NOT ROBOTS THAT DON’T FEEL ANY PAIN OR DISCOMFORT!!!!  RESEARCH HAS SHOWN TIME AND TIME AGAIN THAT LESS IS MORE WHEN IT COMES TO LABOR FOR HEALTHY MOMS AND BABIES!!!  CONTINUITY OF CARE IS MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE, LESS PAINFUL, LESS INVASIVE THAN ANY “COMPUTERIZED FINGER.”

    Furthermore, LaborPro and BirthTrack are a slap in the face to every labor and delivery nurse that cares about giving appropriate, effective, competent, physiological, and compassionate care to childbearing families.   Unfortunately I would bet my hard earned money that at least half of the doctors I currently work with would think that this is a good idea. 

    Okay, okay, now that I am all riled up again I have to go to work  😦   Please check out Rixa’s post over at Stand and Deliver about BirthTrack.  It was written about a year ago and I stumbled upon it when I was searching for a picture of a fetal scalp electrode!!

    Change has GOT to come!  It’s GOT to!  For the health and wellness of our mothers and babies!!  Remember ladies, YOU actually have more power than ME and all the other L&D nurses out there!!  That’s right!  If you do not hire birth attendants that do not support evidenced based medicine and physiological birth and do not patronize hospitals that do not support a family-centered approach to maternity care then and only then will they start to listen.  You know why?  Because when the customers aren’t comin’, it hits them where it hurts… in their WALLET!!

     

    Believe! A Tear-Jerkin’ Inspirational Midwifery Ad September 4, 2009

    The other day I stumbled upon a YouTube video advertisement for a midwife in Albuquerque, New Mexico via a friend’s facebook page.  You’d think that I must get sick of watching videos of births and babies since I am, after all, a labor and delivery nurse but alas, I am a true birth junkie and just can’t get enough!!  I don’t know anything about the midwife in the movie but I have to say that not only do I BELIEVE everything she quotes in the video but I wish that every health care professional that provides care for childbearing familes felt and practiced the same way as she does! 

     

    I believe that every mother DESERVES a midwife and that every baby DESERVES to be born into gentle hands!

     

     

     

    The following is from Citizens for Midwifery:

     

    The Midwives Model of Care

    The Midwives Model of Care is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes.

    The Midwives Model of Care includes:

    • Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
    • Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
    • Minimizing technological interventions
    • Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention

     

    The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.

    Copyright (c) 1996-2008, Midwifery Task Force, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

     

    Coming Soon: Free Movie “Reducing Infant Mortality” July 1, 2009

     

    Thanks to Maria at the Massachusetts Friends of Midwives Blog, I just stumbled across a a trailer for a new documentary that will be FREE to view on July 26, 2009.  The video is titled “Reducing Infant Mortality and Improving the Health of Babies” and is sponsored by the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute Center for Clinical Studies and Rearch. 

     

    Watch the trailer here!

     

     

    As stated on the website, “This free film will be a tool for everyone to use to draw attention to infant mortality and health issues as national health care policy is debated on Capitol Hill.”

     

    The movie’s official website also reads:

    The current US Health Care System is failing babies and families before, during and after birth. At this critical moment when the US government is re-envisioning our health care system, we are seizing the opportunity to make a 10-12 minute video not only to point out the flaws in the way we care for babies and families, but also to identify the keys to improved care. Our infant mortality ranking is 42nd on the world stage which means 41 countries have better statistics. This places us right in the middle of the following countries: Guam, Cuba, Croatia and Belarus, with over double the infant deaths compared to the top 10 countries of the world. (CIA World Factbook).

    Our astronomically high African American infant mortality rate at 16 deaths per 1,000 is similar to countries such as Malaysia and the West Bank. Not only are babies dying needlessly, but the ones who survive this failing system are also often adversely affected by unnecessary procedures and separation from mother and family. Our intent with this video is to encourage policy makers to consider a health care system that holds prevention of these calamities as a high priority.  The midwifery model of care for healthy low-risk women is a simple solution which addresses many of these issues simultaneously.

    We are advocating for a health care system in which it will be standard procedure for mothers and babies to thrive and not merely survive through birth and early life. The midwifery model of care will save our health care system millions of dollars each year.
     

    To read about the credentials of the experts you see in the film’s trailer please visit  About the Film  and scroll to the bottom.

     

    Spread the word!!

     

     

     

    Stand And Deliver! Research Shows Upright Labor Positions Reduce Pain, Speed Birth April 15, 2009

    As if we all didn’t already know this!  🙂

     

    Medical News Today posted a story on a new study published in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library which found that women who walk, sit, kneel or otherwise avoid lying in bed during early labor can shorten the first stage of labor by about an hour and are also 17 percent less likely to seek pain relief through epidural analgesia.  On the whole, the review examined 21 studies totaling 3,706 births.  After reviewing the research the authors’ concluded, “Women should be encouraged to take up whatever position they find most comfortable in the first stage of labour.”

     

    The Cochrane Collaboration is an international organization that evaluates medical research by performing systematic reviews and drawing evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical studies on a particular topic.

     

    I would probably bet money on the fact that every savvy birth junkie or mom reading this blog already knows this J.  I just love when the research supports what midwives and mothers have instinctually known for centuries!!

     

    So get up and move girl!!  Beware of any intervention that restricts your movement and, YES, this includes unnecessary and elective inductions.  This is the #1 reason women end up with all the needless and risky interventions in the first place.  The LESS unnecessary interventions the MORE you will be able to move!