You are free to choose, but you are not free of the consequences of those choices.
One of the things I hear most often in my practice is this: “I really want a natural birth, and I know my gynae mostly does C-sections/won’t let me labour without an epidural/says my pelvis is too small BUT I really love my gynae and I can’t imagine giving birth without him.” And yes, it is almost always a “him”. If I wasn’t a mother myself, perhaps I would be absolutely bewildered at the way that these strong, beautiful, intelligent women are so ready to give their power away but you see, I get it. I really do.
I love my gynae too. An older, incredibly experienced Scotsman, he has seen me through both of my high risk pregnancies, and he delivered my daughter. He literally saved my daughter’s life when I went into preterm labour with her at 20 weeks, and he continued to offer me compassionate care throughout the remainder of my pregnancy, which was spent on bedrest. Although he just missed my son’s birth, he stopped by at the hospital on his way home from holiday to check on us. This was typical of his style of care. He has never rushed me, he has patiently answered all of my questions, and I remain deeply fond of this wonderful man.
Throughout the centuries, medical men and women have been revered and celebrated in their communities. A good doctor, witchdoctor, wise woman or midwife holds the power to heal, to ease pain, to make childbirth easier and to save lives. I think it is entirely natural that we look up to these people. And the psychology of the relationship between a pregnant woman and her male gynae is even more complicated. There is the male/female power dynamic, and also the fact that a gynae sees a woman at her most physically and emotionally vulnerable. So yes, there are very good reasons why women feel bound to a particular gynae for the duration of their reproductive lives. I respect and understand that.
But I see the other side of the story too. I counsel women who feel deeply betrayed by their doctors. Having trusted them completely and, I would say, blindly they are traumatized and saddened when they are drugged, cut, shouted at to push etc etc. When I hear many of these stories (but not all), I can hear the red flags. The doctor who refused to look at a birth plan because “I know what I’m doing, trust me.” The doctor who openly said from the first appointment that his patients are ordered an epidural long before they go into labour. The signs are there, but the woman has given away her power, and regrets it too late.
So, what do you do if you love your gynae, but are not sure if he/she is the right support person for this birth?
- Firstly, decide what kind of birth you want. In my HypnoBirthing classes, we spend a great deal of time talking about the choices that you have, and we also write a birth plan to share with your medical team.
- Once you have visualized your birth, look at your provider honestly and rationally and assess whether they are able to offer you what you want. Want a waterbirth, but your gynae doesn’t do waterbirths? Well, that’s a no brainer. Want a natural birth, and all your friends have had C-sections with your gynae? That requires some further investigation and some honest questioning of your doctor. Don’t leave all of this to the last minute. Until your baby is born, it is not too late to change doctors – but it certainly becomes harder, the more advanced you are in your pregnancy.
Take it from me, no matter how much you love your gynae, you need to love yourself and your baby more. You need to take back your power, even though that’s hard, and you need to make the choices surrounding your baby’s birth mindfully so that you can live with the consequences in peace.