Traumatic births fall into roughly two categories births that were traumatic because of a medical emergency with the mother or the child, and trauma resulting from poor care during labor and birth. The first category is rarely avoidable, but we do have some degree of control over the kind of care we receive during these important moments.
What can you do to avoid a traumatic birth?
Traumatic birth, and more extreme forms of bade care like birth rape, can cause depression and harm your bonding with your baby. Women who feel down, angry, depressed or confused about their horrible birth experience may not receive the validation they need either, and are often told to get over it, because they have a beautiful baby. Open and honest communication with your healthcare provider is the most successful way to avoid practitioner-induced birth trauma.
Some hospitals function like conveyor belts, where pregnant women are in and out of their OB's office without having time to ask questions about the type of care they are receiving during prenatal appointments, or the care they will have during labor and birth. Your doctor's attitude will, if they are the very one that will be attending your birth, give fantastic insights into what your birth will be like.
Women who always receive answers to their questions, and can ask any question they want, are much more likely to get an accurate picture of what their birth will be like. Openness toward more alternative birth choices like hypnobirth or water birth also indicate a care provider who respects women's wishes, even if you are not at all planning to use these options.
Some suggested questions for healthcare providers, to poll their respect toward your choices and your autonomy are:
- Will I be able to walk around in labor?
- When do you perform episiotomies? (Hint: "Only when necessary" is not a satisfying answer, while more specific information about the circumstances is)
- Will you accept and welcome birth plans? What is your view about birth plans?
- What behavior do you dislike in a patient?
- Do you obtain consent before carrying out any procedure at all?
- Can I, or my partner, remain with the baby at all times? For what reasons are babies separated from parents?
- Do you mind patients who ask lots of questions?