Got a call from my favorite midwife today. She is the leader of the Home Birth Option of Cleveland, an informational group that meets monthly, to discuss… yep homebirth. She asked me to speak at the next meeting, along with a few other women, about my varied birth experiences (hospital, birth center, and finally home). This is very flattering to me… I can’t even express how much I look forward to these monthly gatherings with other like-minded women/couples! But a stray comment got me thinking… she half joked that I’m ‘credible’ or at least viewed as such because I am a nurse. And she’s right; many people have commented to me that it was OK that I chose homebirth simply because I’m a nurse. Well let me tell you how much of my nursing experience came in to play during my hours of labor… zip, zero, nada.
Fast forward to another conversation with a friend/co-worker of mine who shares my passion about breastfeeding. We know many women who sometimes encounter normal issues when getting started with breastfeeding, and who do they turn to? Their pediatricians. The usual response, to whatever the issue, ranges from a prescription being given, supplementing with formula, or even worse to stop nursing altogether. Again, how much of their medical training prepares them to answer these questions? Again, the answer is very little if any. Are these women being referred to lactation consultants? Or local La Leche League groups? Very rarely. Yet they all feel confident that they’re doing the right thing because ‘that’s what the doctor told me to do’.
The same applies to birth. I feel so frustrated when any pregnant woman starts a sentence with something along the lines of ‘my doctor won’t let me…’. Doctors are trained to treat pathology. It may be a surprise to many people to learn that pregnancy is not a disease or state of illness. Neither is getting over some of the bumps in the early stages of breastfeeding. If you are a healthy person with no signs of cardiovascular illness, nobody suggests you should start seeking the advice of a cardiologist. If your blood sugar is normal and you show no signs of diabetes, nobody wonders why you aren’t being treated by an endocrinologist. WHY THEN do people assume that a healthy woman having a normal pregnancy should be under the care of someone trained to treat problems associated with pregnancy?