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The pitfalls of 'Going with the Flow' in birth
Who's flow are you going with.

46 replies to this topic

#1 new~mum~reenie

Posted 29 March 2012 - 05:47 PM

An article from BirthTalk (a QLD centre centre that supports mums after traumatic birth, among other things) posted this on their Facebook site, and I thought I'd share it original.gif

Contrary to popular belief, birth is not just ‘one day in your life’. Why? Because we don’t just leave our feelings about our birth at the hospital. The feelings we bring home about the birth can affect our experience of parenting our new babies. If we bring home feelings of confidence, joy, and strength, our instinctive bonding is promoted with our babies. Our confidence in all aspects of life can soar and we can connect at a new level with our partners. Conversely, if we are bringing home feelings of fear, isolation and confusion, bonding with our beautiful babies can be difficult, and feelings of failure can result. Our confidence can plummet, and relationships with partners can suffer. These feelings can infiltrate all areas of our lives as a new family.

Birth DOES matter, because how we experience it can affect every single thing that occurs after it. For this reason, ‘just going with the flow’ can be risky, as it often entails ‘giving your birth over to the experts’, and following their flow, as they advise you throughout. What this process can fail to provide, for a woman and her partner, is the opportunity to ask questions, provide insights, and make decisions as part of a team.


#2 CourtesanNewton

Posted 29 March 2012 - 05:58 PM

Why? Because we don’t just leave our feelings about our birth at the hospital.

I can see where the article is coming from but TBH I did leave the birth experience behind when I left the hospital...once DS was out I thought "Well, thank god he's here and safe" and that was it for me.

Maybe my perspective is slightly different because of all the pushing and prodding I had to go through to get pregnant in the first place. Would have been lovely to have conceived in a moment of perfect passion rather than with a catheter and with my DH nowhere in sight, but that was just the reality, just like a natural uninduced labour with no episiotomy at the end would have been great, but circumstances dictated differently.

I do agree about teamwork between the ob, midwives and myself, but i felt that I got that as we had discussed my preferences for months before the birth, so they knew what I wanted

#3 deejie

Posted 29 March 2012 - 06:28 PM

QUOTE (new~mum~reenie @ 29/03/2012, 06:47 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Contrary to popular belief, birth is not just ‘one day in your life’. Why? Because we don’t just leave our feelings about our birth at the hospital

This certainly rang true for me. DS1 was a long labour winding up in forceps delivery. I felt neglected by the midwifery staff (post delivery and during labor) and had several complications from the forceps in the weeks and months after DS1's birth. I struggled to settle in as a new mother with multiple breastfeeding issues because I was never shown properly how to breastfeed and had a lot of guilt tied up with DS1's birth as the forceps did cause nerve damage on the left side of his face. I felt I had "failed" him.

DS2 was a homebirth. I was fully supported with wonderful one-on-one care. I found his birth to be very cathartic and cleansing of my guilty feelings associated with DS1's birth. I realised it wasn't my own failure, more so of the system I was tangled up in and that I did the best I could with the circumstances on the day. I entered motherhood a second time full of confidence, found bonding with him much easier than DS1 and have never looked back.

For me, birth is so much more than "one day in your life".

#4 ~Jodama_Feral~

Posted 29 March 2012 - 06:44 PM

QUOTE (new~mum~reenie @ 29/03/2012, 06:47 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Contrary to popular belief, birth is not just ‘one day in your life’. Why? Because we don’t just leave our feelings about our birth at the hospital.

For me it was just a day in my life, 3 actually and when it was over was done. I left the hospital with my babies and for me that was that. I felt my midwives did their job well and were wonderful for all our births. My DH support was amazing and once they were here it was done.

There is no one size fits all birth and every experience will be different and each person will take away different view of their own birth.

#5 wannabe30

Posted 29 March 2012 - 06:55 PM

Birth DOES matter, because how we experience it can affect every single thing that occurs after it. For this reason, ‘just going with the flow’ can be risky, as it often entails ‘giving your birth over to the experts’, and following their flow, as they advise you throughout. What this process can fail to provide, for a woman and her partner, is the opportunity to ask questions, provide insights, and make decisions as part of a team.

Actually, some of us are quite happy to let the expert do their job - ie get the baby out safely, in whatever way they, with their years of training and experience, feel is best. I get frustrated at articles that imply that women who choose an OB-led ( or other more "medicalised") birth don't ask questions of their care provider and inform themselves of what "going with the flow" might entail.

#6 SuboptimallyPooks

Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:00 PM

Edited to tidy up any identifying info on eB.

Edited by pookems85, 30 April 2012 - 04:25 AM.

#7 laurs

Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:01 PM

For me it was a case of being informed about the possibilities and options beforehand but not having fixed expectations about what was going to happen. I had hopes but not expectations. Neither of my births went as I would have liked, but I was prepared for that and therefore not devastated that I didn't get the experience I expected.

#8 Fright bat

Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:07 PM

I don't think you can make any generalized comments like that. For some women, it is just one day in their lives. For others it's not. Having or not having a birth plan/expectations etc works for some people, and not for others. It just depends what you are comfortable with.

As a health professional, I am entirely comfortable in a medicalised environment. I see it as safe and controlled. I trust my nursing and medical colleagues; I spend every day of my life seeing the amazing things they do (not just in obstetrics) and I have an enormous amount of faith in their expertise and the work they do. I do not want to labour at home; that would not make me comfortable. I like lino floors and medical equipment and an intensive care ward and theatre down the corridor. I do not work in obstetrics and know my very basic knowledge of the area cannot equate to that of a midwife or obstetrician - a junior midwife probably still knows more about what's going on than me. I WANT to hand over the bulk of decision making; I do by want to bear the responsibility for my medical care. I choose caregivers on the basis of their experience and philosophy, and then want them to just sort it out within that framework. I want to be included, but info not want to be in charge, because I know my limits. For me, its about surviving childbirth and takkng home a healthy baby. Sure, I'd prefer not to have interventions, but if thats what it takes to survive a notoriously dangerous process (look at populations with lack of midwifery/medical care), then thats why inhave highly trained professionals around me making decisions. I teust my caregiers to not intervene unleas they hink its needed. For me, childbirth is a means to an end, and just one day. But that's just me, and what I feel comfortable with.

For many people hospitals, doctors and nurses are foreign, scary, uncomfortable. For most healthy young women, childbirth is the first time they will have been in hospital, or exposed their bodies, or done any number of confronting things. For many it's the end of a nine month journey and the start of a lifelong one. Childbirth can be empowering, but it can also make you feel deeply vulnerable and extremely scared.

I despise when people make bald statements like 'it's not just one day' or 'you carry that experience with you for a long time' because a) not everyone does, and b) not everyone might take a notion to doing so unless they had their heads beaten in with that ideology.

We take five year olds to hospital to show them it's not a scary place, if ever they get sick, or break a limb. Why do we not normalize childbirth in the same way? Why do women go into the experience scared, and are told that hospitals are just scary, and the only way to feel safe is by being in an alternative environment (birth centre, home, whatever). Why don't we normalize the full range of birth options, and encourage the idea that birth is just one day?

I'm not suggesting we go back to the days of husbands sent home, shave and enema on arrival, lie on your back with no choice how to deliver, accept interventions as they come, bub off to a nursery and bottle feeds for all.

I do think it can be embraced as a natural process, but with a small amount of respect for how badly the human race has birthed through history and how much midwifery and obstetrics has contributed to vastly improved maternal and neonatal mortality rates.

Maybe it is just one day, maybe it isn't.... But is that even the point?

#9 MrsNorthman

Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:13 PM

I didn't know if it was going to be just another day in the life of for me...as it turns out the 3 days I have spent giving birth have never been left at the hospital...they are days I think about quite often.  Less often for DD1 maybe because I felt the least in control in that birth (?) but often enough with DD2's and DD3's was only 5 weeks ago and I think about it nearly every day original.gif

So I guess my advice for first timers is that you don't know if you will walk away thinking about it often or if you hardly ever think about that day again so arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible, know what you feel comfortable with and in the end hope for the best.  

#10 bettymm

Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:17 PM

It is different for everyone, ive known people to be honestly traumatised by their birth experience, cascade of interventions and feeling so powerless and vulnerable which made the first few months of mothering so difficult as youve not really had time to process what just happened before youre onto the next challenge of breastfeeding, settling, adjusting to motherhood etc.

For me, my two births were like chalk and cheese , so completely different.  after the "easy" first birth i felt so empowered and pretty proud of myself , the second, was scary, traumatic and pretty awful actually sad.gif

BUT the feelings i have had for both babies have been the same, no issues with bonding or breast feeding or anything like that.  In fact, i even feel like the bonding happened quicker after the second birth as we had come so close to losing her, i was overcome with gratitude and love to have her here safe, it didnt matter what happened in the birth.

#11 SuboptimallyPooks

Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:20 PM

QUOTE (MsN @ 29/03/2012, 08:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I do think it can be embraced as a natural process, but with a small amount of respect for how badly the human race has birthed through history and how much midwifery and obstetrics has contributed to vastly improved maternal and neonatal mortality rates.

I think I understand the point you are making, but I also think you can be traumatised by your birth experience and still have heaps of respect for that, and a strong desire to birth in hospital, and a strong belief and trust in the medical expertise of your caregivers. I think this is two separate things. I don't really get the connection, in fact. I didn't see the bit about hospitals being scary and going in scared, causing the problem? I'm not scared of hospitals at all, been in hospital many times including for procedures involving my lady bits, I'd never want to birth anywhere else, and I still found what happened to me traumatic (and medically unnecessary) and I wish that somehow it had been different and that someone had listened to what I wanted. I think the point of the article was not about hospital births being bad, it was about going in as a person actively involved in the birth process. Maybe I'm reading it wrong?

#12 CherrySunday

Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:28 PM

My Doula posted this on her FB page, and it was prefect timing for me.

I've been really fixated on DD's birth lately, and it's become a huge hurdle in preparing for the birth of this baby.
I found myself thinking, 'stuff it, I'll just go with it' because I couldn't motivate myself to think about it properly.
This article, and hopefully the birth debrief we'll be doing next week will put me back on track to be able to focus on getting this baby earthside with no intervention, and I can come out of it feeling empowered, rather than bullied like with DD.

#13 mumandboys

Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:34 PM

For me, the births of my 4 children were "just one day".  I barely think about my labours/births these days.  

I did not have any complications, so I can't comment on how I would feel had my birth experiences been traumatic.

#14 Fright bat

Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:37 PM

I'm not denying that you can be traumatized by what happens! Sometimes awful things happen, and I'm really sorry you had a terrible experience.

I also absolutely think that the whole obstetric game remains over-medicalised, and that no one asks women what they want, and many women don't ever think to say. It wasn't until DS was crowning and my Ob said 'oops, she's tearing a bit, can I have the scissors please' and then did the episiotomy that I thought 'but I really really didn't want an episiotomy, please stop and don't cut, or at least put in some local first!' - but it was too late. Even though I had thought through the whole pregnancy 'gee, I really really don't want an episiotomy' (having seen them) I had never thought to mention it, or been asked if I had any preferences. This time around I have spoken to my (new) Ob about it and she's promised local early just in case as it was the only part of labour i really hated. But I initiated that conversation, not her. (btw I changed obs only because my previous Ob is on mat leave herself, not because she did an unwanted episiotomy!).

I totally agree that we have a ways to go with allowing women to make it clear what they prefer, and working to achieve that, and in that sense I do agree with the 'it's not just one day' philosophy... A Caesar or an episiotomy or a horrendous experience is for life... But I also think that it can go too far in the other direction, and the call for inclusiveness and informed consent sometimes doesn't address the actual issues.

#15 niggles

Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:42 PM

I'm not sure I use the phrase 'going with the flow' in the same way the writer does. When I've used it I mean I am flexible and happy to respond in a number of different ways as I see fit throughout the birth.

#16 MAGS24

Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:49 PM

"Birth DOES matter, because how we experience it can affect every single  thing that occurs after it. For this reason, ‘just going with the flow’  can be risky, as it often entails ‘giving your birth over to the  experts’, and following their flow, as they advise you throughout".

For me it was a matter of the supposed "experts" not knowing what they were doing.
The midwife that I had during my second labor had no idea what she was doing and that resulted in a lot of unnecessary pain for me. I did everything that they told me to and it was a quick labour but the midwife insisted that the baby wasn't ready to come yet, even though I needed to push. She didn't bother checking how dilated I was and kept telling me the baby won't be ready to come yet because I had only been seven hours so don't push. It was so painful that I would have been happy if someone just shot me in the head and put me out of my misery.

Thankfully DS2 was born healthy and is now five months old and is such a great baby. I would never resent the baby for the horrible time that I had during the labour but I had a lot of resentment toward the very stupid and badly trained midwife that I had that day. It took me a lot longer to recover from that labour and I am definitely not having anymore kids after that.

DS1 was a 20 hour labour and the midwife was wonderful but that was a private hospital and DS2 was a public one so I guess you have to pay to get some good service.

Edited by MAGS24, 29 March 2012 - 07:50 PM.

#17 lakurumau

Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:17 PM

I had my bub at the local public hospital and was very happy with the care. I was unnecessarily induced but we only knew that afterwards, and at the time they checked and double-checked and all the evidence showed the baby needed to come out NOW. So no begrudging that. Baby's health/safety comes first.

Fast labour, so I had the same two midwives throughout , which I was grateful for (one was an unexperienced student midwife, so still getting the hang of everything, the other one seemed very young). I hardly noticed the episiotomy, and although I was shouted at to push before I quite felt the urge, it wasn't long before I was ready to push anyway.

Haemorraged after, but had good care with that, baby never left my side/chest, I was being gently shown how to feed her as they stitched me up and fixed haemorrage. I also had repeated breastfeeding lessons upon request during the two day postnatal stay.

All in all, it blows me away that we got all that care on the public system, no out-of-pocket cost (or very, very little). I feel incredibly grateful.

Left hospital and left the birth behind. Going back to the same place for bub number 2 in August. Of course it won't go the same way, but I have trust in the pros who work with these "natural" processes day in and day out.

A friend of mine felt she had a traumatic birth there a few months later; funny enough she was in the more "natural/home birth type" part of the hospital while I was in the bog standard labour ward. So yes, every birth is different, but maybe it's also what you expect that affects your perception.

#18 Monket

Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:35 PM

Going with the flow most certainly did not work out for me!  I tried to leave it at the hospital but I think about it quite a bit and I still get a bit angry.  Antenatal classes had me believe that I would have choices and I would be consulted about every aspect of my sons birth.  Sadly once I arrived at the hospital, a monitor was placed on my tummy and I was forced to labour on my back with a posterior baby.  The visions of sitting in the bath, using the fit ball and moving around as suited quickly faded.  My child ended up being manually flipped and then whipped from my body using forceps while my legs were restrained.  Epidurals were not available at the hospital I birthed in. My son was not under any stress and my whole labour lasted 4 hours so I am pretty sure that I could have laboured a bit longer and had I been able to move it would have been far less painful.

I felt powerless and was a little shell shocked given the vision the midwives had created during antenatal classes.  Had I thought for a minute it would be like this, I would have spoken in more depth to my DH who could have made sure I ended up with the labour that I invisaged.

This experience was certainly not "just one day" and has changed the way I talk about birth to those that have yet to experience it.  Whilst once I would have told them to go with th flow, I now recommend birth plans and a strong advocate.

#19 NotBitzerMaloney

Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:48 PM

I am a "just move on" kind of person, but nearly five years after the birth of DS, I can safely say I didn't just leave stuff behind - although it was childbirth and breastfeeding and isolation and lots of pain afterwards for years, not just the one day.

Very concerned about what's going to happen with #2 - by which I mean concerned about how I am going to feel about whatever happens...and how much baggage I am bringing with me.

#20 Soontobegran

Posted 29 March 2012 - 09:01 PM

My 5 labours were a means to an end for me and was also more than happy to go with the flow as I had surrounded myself with a birthing team which I trusted 100% as having mine and my baby's best interest at heart.

I look at my children now and what amazing adults they have become and the way they arrived on this earth is absolutely irrelevant.
I would never have imagined I would feel this way in the few months after DD1's birth.

#21 kboomba

Posted 29 March 2012 - 09:20 PM

I went into my first birth experience after watching a good 50% of my friends have emergency caesarians. One in particular stood out to me. She had gone into the birthing suite armed with a birthing plan, determined to do it naturally. After the caesarian she suffered a lot. So much that she decided not to have any more kids, anti depressants, the whole thing. But at the end of the day her baby could have died if she didn't have that Caesarian.
I talked to my OB, I asked lots of questions, he knew what I wanted. Then when I had life threatening complications I told him to do what he needed to do. I questioned him. He assured me. As long as we were safe it would be ok.
I thought if I went into it with demands, with a birth plan, then I was setting myself up for disappointment.
I applaud those who have a trouble free birth and can do it how they want. But let's remember that childbirth is not easy. It's not safe. It's not trouble free for a lot of people.
So let's make it ok to not have a birth if you don't want one.

#22 new~mum~reenie

Posted 29 March 2012 - 10:22 PM

I think part of the issue with traumatic birth is that it isn't 'recognised' or understood by society.  Or mums suddenly find themselves in this situation feeling very alone and with a lot of questions and insecurity.

People can go through the exact same experience and that experience will effect them differently. I don't believe it is just a matter of attitude.  It is a mental health issue that many feel lost in.

Edited by new~mum~reenie, 29 March 2012 - 10:24 PM.

#23 Lokum

Posted 30 March 2012 - 12:04 AM

QUOTE (wannabe30 @ 29/03/2012, 07:55 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Actually, some of us are quite happy to let the expert do their job - ie get the baby out safely, in whatever way they, with their years of training and experience, feel is best. I get frustrated at articles that imply that women who choose an OB-led ( or other more "medicalised") birth don't ask questions of their care provider and inform themselves of what "going with the flow" might entail.

Me too! Being a highly educated, empowered informed and with enough money to choose - I choose to let a specialist doctor with many years of formal training and experience manage my pregnancy and delivery.

When the sh*t goes down, I want her in control. When I'm a bit out of control, I want the m/ws to make suggestions. When it's a line call about induction, c/s, episiotomy vs tear, suction or other interventions - I've only done it once before. She's had a few of her own and been involved in thousand of Pgs and births.

My choice is deliberate, well-informed and happy. I go with the flow. It doesn't make me an idiot. If I end up with another c/s, it doesn't mean I was hoodwinked by the medical profession, or that it was unnecessary.

#24 Onyx

Posted 30 March 2012 - 12:53 AM

My labour was far from ideal, but I have moved on from it.
I think about it often, but more from the point of view that I am so grateful I had the OB I did and the midwife I did who picked up something wasn't right and acted straight away.

I do get upset sometimes that I was not awake when DS was born but when I think of how lucky I am that he arrived safely it doesn't bother me.

Before things started to go wrong I was able to go for walks, use the bath, fit ball etc, I was worried prior to going into labour I might be bullied by a midwife, especially as this was at a private hospital but this wasn't the case at all.

#25 SuboptimallyPooks

Posted 30 March 2012 - 02:50 PM

thank you fertile woman, you said that perfectly.

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