Today I had the OH SO FUN procedure of having an IUD "installed" (haha, I loved calling it that). I am a cyborg, now. :P Anyway, I was very nervous as I really can't stand vaginal exams of any kind and I was trying really hard to relax (because then, maybe, it wouldn't hurt?) and I think the midwife who was doing it for me picked up on my tension because she engaged me in very lively conversation regarding my favorite subject: birthing my children. I had used the practice way back when I had my first and she was curious to know why I didn't have my other two with them. I explained that I have this little thing about not EVER birthing in a hospital unless I have a good reason to. The conversation went on and somehow we got to talking about who I did use and do you know *this* person? Oh yes? And what about *that* one? Who did you have at your births? Oh you did your second YOURSELF (wtf, of course I did it myself, WHO ELSE IS GOING TO BIRTH MY BABY???)? ON PURPOSE (yes on purpose, for heaven's sake)? And so on and so forth. At one point she asked me something (I don't even remember what) and part of my answer was that I hate VE's and I absolutely will not allow them during labor/birthing. AT ALL. Her response was, "Oh. Well I guess it's lucky that you have short labors, then."
Um...what? And now, we get down the crux of the issue and the reason why I don't use them at all for birthing. Don't get me wrong, I love this practice, I've recommended it to many women and their online review got 4 glowing stars from me. HOWEVER, the practice is affiliated with a major hospital down here and there are SO MANY bull-shit things they "have" to do as part of that affiliation. All of the midwives are CNM's (and I have nothing against CNMs as a rule) and they tend to be more medically minded than I, personally, am comfortable with. Here is a young midwife, suggesting to me that it's a GOOD thing that I have short labors because I don't allow VE's. The implication being that if I DID have long labors, I would need an exam. PUHLEASE. There is only ONE time during labor that a cervical check is even appropriate, and that's IF IF IF labor is NOT progressing NORMALLY. Excuse all of my caps but the more I think about this, the more irritated it makes me.
I AM lucky I have short labors, but it's NOT because there wasn't anybody there to shove their fingers up my hoo-ha, breaking my concentration and causing me a lot of pain for NO GOOD REASON. It's because it means that labor didn't take all damn day!
Women of the world, partners of the women, please hear this and do a little digging to verify what I say: Cervical checks pre-labor and during labor are, 99% of the time, a complete and utter waste of time at best and at worst a triggering, awful experience that can quickly spiral a happily laboring woman right down into the pit of despair. THEY DO NOT TELL YOU ANYTHING YOU CAN'T FIND OUT JUST BY LOOKING AT OR ASKING THE WOMAN IN LABOR.
A little known fact by lay-people (and apparently, by medicos, as well) is that how dilated a woman is at any given point is absolutely NO indication of how "well" she is doing OR when he baby is going to come out! The MYTH that the average woman dilates a centimeter an hour is LABOR MATH. It means NOTHING. It is a) a lie and b) completely false. Oh wait, that's the same thing, isn't it? SOME women dilate at that rate. Some women get halfway there before even starting labor. Still more women get halfway there in 24hrs and THEN go from 4/5 cms to birthing in an hour! The midwife and mother knowing how dilated mom is doesn't DO anything except set up expectations that her body has no need or reason to honor!
I could rant about this all day. Instead I will give you a link to a MUCH better written article about it, by someone more qualified than myself (a practicing midwife): http://www.nurturingheartsbirthservices.com/blog/?p=50 EXCELLENT POST, I might add, and a HEARTY "Huzzah!".
Another thing. I am a survivor of molestation. In my case, a family member made medical pretenses for needing to stick his fingers into my vagina on many occasions so I have completely valid and utterly unrelated reasons for despising vaginal exams, particularly when I'm doing something as intimate and PRIVATE as giving birth. I know that I am not alone in this, that birth tends to bring to the surface abuse issues anyway. Women, you do not have to put up with this. There is literally no reason to ruin such a triumphant experience with a procedure that makes you uncomfortable. Believe me, the baby is coming out. If the midwife really wants to know what is going on, she should either pay attention to what you are doing or she can ask you because YOU will know when that heads starts coming down. Trust me on that one, lol. There isn't any mistaking it. OH LOOK something the size of a watermelon is coming out of my vag! I think the baby's coming! Quick, stick a finger up there and verify it for me, ok? *snort* Please.
When I had my first (with same practice, different midwife) I didn't know ANY of this. I mean, I knew a lot about natural birth. I just had no idea that VE's would HURT and that they would piss me off. I had a fabulous birth experience with my first except that the thing that stands out in my memory is NOT labor pain (and that was pitocen augmented, I might add). It was the pain of having the Midwife "give me a stretch" to help me finish dilating because I was pushing! That hurt possibly more than anything I've ever experienced (and I've got a broken bone and an infected tooth nerve on my list, here!) and there was NO REASON FOR IT. I knew that much, anyway. You can't tell me I have a "lip" that needs to be pushed aside when I've been in transition for less than 20 minutes, lady, I did my homework.
I guess I'm just still flabbergasted that there are MIDWIVES out there that don't REALLY trust birth. I mean, I know it, I read lots of blogs by midwives, but my personal experience with them is minimal and the midwife that almost attended my son's birth (she missed it by mere minutes!) just wasn't like that. At all. I said no VE's she said "Great, I don't like them myself". RIGHT ON. Useless and invasive, is what they are, not helpful. I want a midwife that respects me enough to expect me to know my body as a rule, not as the exception. I want a midwife that expects me to know what I'm doing, not to have to "teach" me everything. I certainly don't want a midwife telling me what I HAVE to do while I'm in labor or that I'm "lucky" I didn't NEED some useless intervention.
I guess, in the end, I'm LUCKY that I trust myself well enough to know what I don't want and to stick with it. Though, truthfully, "luck" has nothing to do with it. Hard work, determination and respect for myself are more like it.
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