#1 | Is A Healthy Mother & Baby All That Matters?

January 2, 2020

Tune in to our very first episode where Cynthia, Trisha, and Zuzana talk about how they met and why they do what they do. They discuss the significance of birth choices and why a healthy mom and baby is NOT all that matters when it comes to having a baby. This is about women finding their own voice in pregnancy, and about having a birth that's not only safe, but leaves you feeling respected, heard and honored. It's about having a birth that leaves you feeling at peace. Because isn't that ultimately everything?

Episode Resources:
Taking Charge of Giving Birth: https://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/Pregnancy-Birth/taking-charge-of-giving-birth.html
American College of Nurse Midwives: https://www.midwife.org
American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists: https://www.acog.org
Postpartum Support International: https://www.postpartum.net
Hypnobirthing of Connecticut: http://hypnobirthingct.com
Life After Birth: https://www.lifeafterbirthct.com
Midwives Alliance of North America: https://mana.org
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/maternal-mortality

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This show is sponsored by:
Postpartum Soothe*
*Use promo code DOWNTOBIRTH

Connect with Cynthia and Trisha at:

  • Instagram: @downtobirthshow on Instagram
  • Email: Contact@DownToBirthShow.com
  • Call: (802) 438-3696 (802-GET-DOWN)

Connect with Cynthia:

  • Email: Cynthia@HypnoBirthingCT.com
  • Text: 203-952-7299 to RSVP to attend a free information session live on Zoom. Upcoming dates are posted at HypnoBirthingCT.com. You can also sign up for our "Fourth Trimester Workshop" or Cynthia's HypnoBirthing classes and weekly postpartum support groups at HypnoBirthing of Connecticut.

Remember - we're in CT but you can be anywhere. We serve women and couples coast to coast with our live, online monthly HypnoBirthing classes, support groups and prenatal/postpartum workshops.

Connect with Trisha at:

  • Email: Trisha.Ludwig@gmail.com for online breastfeeding consulting services

We are so grateful for your reviews and shares - we love what we do and thank you all for your support!

Please remember we don’t provide medical advice, and to speak with your licensed medical provider related to all your healthcare matters. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, and see you next week!

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If you enjoyed this episode of the Down To Birth Show, please share with your pregnant and postpartum friends!

Between episodes, connect with us on Instagram @DownToBirthShow to see behind-the-scenes production clips and join the conversation by responding to our questions and polls related to pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood. You can reach us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com or call (802) 438-3696 (802-GET-DOWN). We are always happy to hear from you and will strive to feature your questions and comments on upcoming shows.

You can check out online and in-person prenatal, breastfeeding, HypnoBirthing childbirth classes and postpartum events at HypnoBirthing of Connecticut.

Please remember we don’t provide medical advice, and to speak with your licensed medical provider related to all your healthcare matters. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, and see you next week!

View Episode Transcript

I ended up firing my obstetrician.

And I love that you think of it as a higher and a fire situation because I think as a woman, as the as the woman carrying the baby and going to be the one giving birth to the baby, you must inform yourself, you must trust your own decisions.

So this is the time to start.

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast.
Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

I like that we all know each other somehow, as it relates to birth.

We are definitely bonded by birth.

Yeah. Cynthia, you were my HypnoBirthing. instructor. I mean, unless you were like my midwife or something which the two of you have in common you guys, clearly we are three women who care deeply about birth, and the birth experience and what that means for ourselves and for women in general and for babies. And there's so much about how birth has done in this country and in many countries, but particularly in this country that is failing women and failing babies.

Yes. And I just had to explain to someone else this morning, actually, who said to me something about being in the baby industry, and I said, I'm not in the baby industry. I'm in the women's industry. This is a women's issue and therefore it affects babies. It affects women's partners. It's cultural, it's global.

Well, let's talk for a second about how you got pulled into this line of work and how I got pulled into this line of work.

So as of this recording, I work with 100 and something couples per year in preparation for childbirth. And HypnoBirthing is the class that I teach, though their work with me goes beyond HypnoBirthing for sure. And I view my clients as who I was back when I was pregnant with my son Alex. I knew my own industry at the time Well, I was a business executive and a finance professor at UConn and had spent none of my time preparing for birth or knowing much about birth. And it was my own mixed emotions, gratitude, excitement and absolute fear of giving birth. That started to pull me on a little bit of a different path. And basically, I Ended up firing my obstetrician.

And I love that you think of it as a higher and a fire situation because I think that that's a big difference in mindset than many women have. I think that many women go to their provider as its provider patient, and there's a very big power differential there. To see it as a higher fire situation already just gives you so much more empowerment. And I love that you fired your ob, I insist on using that language. When I'm meeting with my couples. I say to them, every time you're at a prenatal appointment, I want you to view that as a job interview, you are the hiring manager.

And you're kind of patting your baby and you're saying, Don't worry, I'm gonna make the right decision here. I want to hire the right person. It's for them to do right by you. It's not for you to do right by them. It's for them to serve you. It's not for you to serve them.

This is not how all provider patient relationships work. There's a provider client relationship and then there's a provider patient relationship and different providers and some OBS and midwives. I mean, I've had this discussion with lots of professionals throughout my career. Some prefer to refer to their people, as clients and some prefer to refer to their people as patients.

Yeah, my the issue I have with patient is it's a little bit twofold, but really the key one is I think it doesn't necessarily serve most birthing women to view themselves as a patient because that immediately conjures up images of us, ailing maybe an IV a hospital bracelet, around the wrist, a hospital gown, maybe even a wheelchair. And really, we're thriving. This is the approach this is the assumption. There's always deviations. There's always exceptions. The assumption is always where we're the healthiest woman walking around society.

A pregnant woman and yet yes, and yet it's the number one revenue producer in hospitals. This country with all of its diabetes and cancer and heart disease, the number one revenue producer, this is only possible because we view ourselves as being so greatly in need of medical care from the onset.

It's so interesting. I mean, it's, it's, why is birth even in the hospital to begin with, that's the only thing that happens in a hospital that's not around illness and pathology. It's like you said, a pregnant woman. In a normal, healthy pregnancy. A woman is in her prime. It's an optimal time for women. And it's only of course been in the hospital since was the early 1900s. That birth moved into the hospital.

Well, the interesting thing is the vast majority of the clients I've had, and I'm in the thousands now of clients that have had second hand experience to all of these births at this point, the vast majority are birthing in hospitals. And it is the right decision for those people to About two thirds are birthing in hospitals. And the way people can make that decision is where they feel safest. What happened with me, someone who always assumed she would birth in a hospital. But what happened with me was as I became educated, I started to have an aversion to the doctor that I was working with and the hospital policies in the hospital that I was supposed to birth that. And I remember distinctly, you know, I journaled about this at the time, and I talked with people close to me and my parents and my brothers. And I remember saying so distinctly, I think to my father, one day on the phone, I know what I'm running away from, I just don't know what I'm running toward. And what I ran toward was a natural birth in a birthing center. And that's what I faced my fear of giving birth. Just the woman in the woods, just my body, giving birth, terrified me and I said, Oh, my God, what have I gotten myself into now? Now? I'm birthing in a birthing center. Am I ready for this? And that's when I learned about HypnoBirthing. And that was the method that ended up really working for me beautiful, And I had like this classic HypnoBirthing birth I woke up my husband at 5am. I said, I'm not sure I'm in labor, but maybe don't go into the city today. He works in New York City. And I was holding our son at 8:01am he weighed 814. And then four years later had my daughter Vanessa, who weighed nine seven and that was a plant home birth and Tricia Of course, that's the day we met. Cuz you are my home birth midwife with with the esteemed Amy Romano, wearing my yo midwives at your cervix t shirt. I will always I will always remember walking into your home. And just knowing this is going to be a beautiful birth. I just had that feeling when I walked in the energy of the room, your energy I didn't need to have ever have met you or anyone in your family before to just know that this was going to be just a marvelous, beautiful, peaceful birth experience. Yeah. And it was it was and it was she was was born just a few hours after you arrived.

So what was it about hypnobirthing that helped you become less fearful of being the woman in the woods giving birth?

I'm not classic. I never call myself type a I don't really like even thinking in terms like that, really, but I'm kind of a classic cerebral person left brain person, a little bit type. I don't I don't I don't know if I've used myself and I don't she's you do them for fun. Right? Yeah,


Okay, fine. Yes, I do spreadsheets for fun. Let me think about this. I'm very cerebral. I'm very left brain and I am comforted by data and evidence. And with that said, I've been practicing yoga. Since I was a young woman, I take well to meditation and therefore HypnoBirthing kind of satisfied all of that, because there is so much more I went beyond my HypnoBirthing education as well to just learn more to get the data underlying what makes the safest birth. And the data supporting our safest births, evidence based data, which is what we will be providing on this podcast is what makes a woman also her most comfortable and more relaxed in labor. So all of this suited me and my husband very well. And he's a he's an, you know, he's studied the sciences. He studied astrophysics and works in business and technology. And he took just as readily to all of it because it makes so much sense in the data sense, but learning how to just be in a place of trust. The key emotion for childbirth is trust. And it's no coincidence. It's the key emotion for sex to work optimally. If the same body parts. It's the same hormones. We're experiencing oxytocin and for sex to work optimally. It's not love that we must feel it's trust that we must feel. But who thinks of childbirth in terms of having the birthing mother feeling trust, not enough providers? That's have a lot to say about women and not enough women. I mean, that's what I see my job as a midwife is to help instill that trust in women. So that that is the big reason that I became a midwife. I never really wanted to be an obstetrician. I had an aversion to the idea of medical school. I wasn't interested in really learning pathology, but I was deeply passionate about what about helping women understand birth and supporting the natural process of birth. And everything I saw around me, in my own limited experience of birth was more of this medical environment and disempowered woman and a woman who trusted the medical system more than her And I innately just trusted my body, and my ability to give birth and I needed to really understand as much as I could about why people didn't, so that I could really help support why you should. And that's why I went to midwifery school. I believed in the normal healthy birthing process and I just wanted to help my own self and other women learn how to trust themselves in that way. I mean, this is how we have existed for all of these years is interesting, the birthing process. It's only been 100 plus years that we've taken birth out of that trusting place, inherently just trusting the process and started to you know, break it down and critique it and half of July's it settled word. It is no no.

So I think what's happened over time is that the message to win has been that birth is not a safe process that you can inherently trust. It's a process that needs to be highly watched over managed, it's a high risk situation. And if you aren't really carefully managing it, you're you're putting yourself and your baby at risk.

You're just to inherently trust yourself. And the birthing process means maybe that you're neglecting the safety of your baby. I don't even think the women are thinking that much about themselves. They're thinking all the pressure is on healthy baby.

So the healthy baby this irony here is that we now have the number one maternal mortality rate in the entire industrialized world. And the irony is it's unnecessary medical intervention that's pointing to these poor statistics. So we want medical intervention nearby. We want that medical provider nearby. We want the opportunity to have a cc available to all of us. When we're giving birth, what we don't want is for someone to go into this process, meaning the provider to go into this process, under the assumption that they have to make the birth happen that they have to get the baby out. I talked about this all the time, try to keep the baby in. How about that. Try to keep that baby in, try to live the rest of your life without that being not gonna happen, not gonna happen, the baby is going to come out. Now we want this to happen in the safest way. That's why we want them the medical providers there. Because Syrian sections are an absolute,

you want a trusted birth professional there. You want somebody who understands the birthing process and has a wide circle of safety, which means that they have enough experience to know that that variation of normal is still normal. As opposed to To this very narrow circle of safety which says you just extended your second stage pushing by 10 minutes therefore we have to move on to C section because now you are outside the range of what I deem normal and we need to intervene a wide circle of safety. So it's the opposite. Okay? I once had a woman push for eight teen hours well, and she burst a beautiful I'll be at conehead. But beautiful, right? Baby healthy fine. Now that was definitely pushing the limits of, you know, my everybody circle of safety. But there were no indications in this labor that there was anything going wrong. The mother was fine. All of her vital signs were fine. The baby's heartbeat was fine, and the baby was never under any stress. And she did it and that is normal.

So a breech baby is another variation of normal but we've stopped looking at it that way. We're going to have as one of our upcoming birth stories, the tale of one of my clients who had a vaginal breech birth. But this is so rare and we'll see what she had to go through in order to achieve that. Yet when my mother was born, she'll tell you supposedly the story goes when she was coming out. The doctor said up and this one's coming up backwards. All right, well, where are we today? Okay, so what do we do? So I love what you said, this circle of normal Did you call it circle of safe this circle of safety. Now it's very limited. And now we go so far as to say the birth has to happen. at a certain rate, and this is dangerous. This is statistically harmful to the mom and baby, it causes more harm than good. It causes harm that very narrow circle of what they deem safe and now we're just, we're just talking about babies right here. We still haven't even touched on what it does, the risk of the mother and how the this country in particular is slipping in maternal morbidity and maternal mortality rates.

So failure to progress is the number one reason for Cesarean section in the United States. And if we can address that Issue alone, we will improve our statistics, because that is not a legitimate legitimate medical indication at all. A birth that is quick, is just as safe as a birth that is lengthy. They're both equally safe, there is no correlation between the outcome of those births and the duration of the labor. So that alone is a topic we'll definitely be getting into. With respect to women birthing in hospitals. That's so complicated as well, because there's birth from nature's perspective, going into the woods and just it's you as this organism connected to your baby and you are giving birth. And then there's birth from our cultural perspective. For example, where I was when I was first pregnant with my son was that I firmly believed I would feel safer and be safer in a hospital. And little did I know I would change my opinion about that in the course of my pregnancy. But even though I'm supporting a majority of couples who birth in a home hospital, that is often the right choice for them. Some of them do come out of it and say they won't do it the next time, but many say it is the right choice. And
how do you know part of that is, as a result of having very limited choices to I mean, that's how many babies are born at home. I think the percentage is less than one, you can be less than 1%. I think it was around 1%, about a decade ago, and I think it's climbing slowly. So we have one and a half now. Okay, we have to say divergence, that birth is becoming more medicalized, and there's a population that's getting more natural. But what I was going to say is if you as the birthing mother walk into a hospital, and relax and say, Ah, I'm here now, I'm safe here, then your birthing in the right place. And if you walk in and stiffen and say, I hate hospitals. Why are you birthing in a hospital? Because everyone is taking this business very seriously from home birth midwives to birthing center midwives?

How I how many women do you Think really, truly walk into a hospital and get that sense of relaxation and safety. I guarantee instinctively when she walks through those doors, that the air in a hospital, it's so cold there, what's cold, ever practical, I think where Trisha is going into an emotional level energetically thing, right where we've been birthing for millennia. Not in an unnatural environment. And the natural we don't we don't travel anywhere when we're in labor, through through history, right? We don't travel, we don't stop time and do it on a seat belt and go someplace. And that I think, is what you're saying it just on like a cellular level. This is unnatural to be working on strangers or mid bright lights. That's what you were saying. Right? Yeah.

And in an institution that is 99%. About illness and not health.

Well, it's an institution we identify and associate with illness. I think that's where it's harmful, even if it is a safe Place to give birth. We What does it do to us psychologically and emotionally? And this is so important and it is so frustrating. It doesn't get talked about. Well, it's frustrating that doesn't get talked about. And it's also that it doesn't have to be that way. It doesn't have to be that way. And a lot of places our hospitals and institutions are absolutely taking steps to change that birth centers that are popping up within hospitals are That's right, one example of that, but we are still so far from making the birth environment truly feel like a place of inherent trust where a woman can walk in and she feels from every corner of the space from every person in that space that you You got this. You are made to do this. Your body is made to do this and we are here to watch and monitor and protect you. We're not here to manage and intervene and potentially cause more harm than good which is what we know is happening all the time.

Write the most important birthing organ is what? I mean. I want everyone just to think about that for a second. The most important birthing organ, what are you going to say, Zu?

The brain.

Oh, yay, yay. How did I know that? After all these years Remember, a truly good student. The brain is the most important birthing organ. And what that means is how is she feeling because if she doesn't feel trust, her cervix closes, which is those blood rushes away from the cervix and the uterus exactly what we are biologically designed to do, so that if we're giving birth in a dangerous, harmful environment, our labor stops, which is so great. It's by nature, so perfect. We just appreciate how to work with it right? But if so much as the receptionist at the hospital is rude to us. See, we're at a really strange point in evolution right now. We have this fight or flight response, and now they're saying it's fight or flight or freeze But either way, we're at this weird point in evolution now because Because of how rapidly society impacted our living, and our bodies haven't really caught up, that if we so much as spill mustard on our shirt, we go into fight or flight mode, we react as though a predator just showed up. So it would be nice if we could still give birth having that component of us that turns off labor if we are truly in a life threatening situation, if God forbid, the building has a fire and we have to leave the building, or if something really harmful is at hand. If we're outdoors and there is a predator, this is how all the human babies didn't get eaten by lions through the years because one single fearful thought in the mother turns off labor. But look at where we are now. Now if the woman feels humiliated, embarrassed, stressed. Afraid that shuts down labor and you know that feeling that you have like, I hope I don't get that ob oh please not that one. I hope I get it. I always Don't think you deserve better. I mean, if you're a birthing and a part of this country where we have options, why are you settling? Right? This isn't a game of Russian Roulette where you're praying for one provider over another one. You deserve to feel and this is what I was gonna say earlier. You want to be able to relinquish wherever you're giving birth. You want to be able to relinquish and trust and trust and fall into that place of trusting yourself.

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Let's talk about you for a little bit. Oh, boy.

Okay, so you're as far as the podcast goes, you're a technical producer and many other things. That's right. That's the hat you're wearing. But, but we're all super close friends in reality, and you and you and I have been really the best friends for years, including our husbands and our families. And it's all because you took my hypno birthing class I did and your bold husband had the audacity to invite me and my husband out to dinner.

Oh my gosh. And I was like blending into the cost. Like what are you doing? What are you doing? I'm the introvert here. So yeah, you took HypnoBirthing and that's when I met you guys. So many years ago. I mean, I've been I've been teaching since 2007. You must have taken the class in 2008. Yeah. Okay, giant kids now.

So here's what I remember. So first of all, what I remember was asking everyone to think how often is a woman asked this question. What do you want for your birth? Almost never. Almost. Now if I were a provider, I would love to ask women that question because because we don't ask. It almost has what made it makes you think in a very it's a different mindset. What would you like for your birth? It's like you want a healthy baby like just all those things. So the assumption is that we don't have any control over what's going to happen. That's why I think no one considers this question. Because I think so frequently, the message to that woman is well, we'll have to see how it goes, we'll just see how it goes. Now that we're not going to see how it goes. This is like a pie chart, where you have a little sliver in the pie chart. And when women get pregnant, they assume the vast majority of that pie chart that 90 95% is totally out of their control. And they can control the little sliver. But the reality is, you can control most of that pie chart, you can drill who you hire, you can control where you're going to give birth, what position you're going to be in, whether you're going to eat or drink or nourish yourself, or who is going to be in the room with you, but you what you can control shore, the position of your baby you can influence so that's kind of straddling both parts of the pie chart, that when you go into labor, you can't control some things. So that was what was going on for you. And I asked that question. Yeah, no one has asked you this before. It's what you were thinking. No Really? No. Okay. Do you remember what your? No, do you remember what your husband said? When I asked that question? Okay, so I asked all the couples, what do you want for your birth? And when I said women, please answer this question no matter what it takes sit quietly for a minute, and articulate. And the reason I did that is coming from something we all know from yoga, it's called intention. When you go into anything with intention, you're significantly more likely to achieve that outcome. So it's actually, I believe, a very important practice in anything so important as giving birth. So what do you want for your birth? And for some women, it's how they want to feel. I just want to feel safe. Or for some women, it's I want a natural birth because I'm planning on birthing in a birthing center. So my whole mindset is around a natural birth. And for some women, they're saying, I don't really care if it's natural. I just, I want to feel like I'm the one making the decisions, even if it's a C section, even if I get an epidural or any kind of intervention. I want to feel like I'm a key player. But in your case, your husband answered the question first. God bless him. He said, he raised his hand. And he said, I want you to have an orgasmic birth.

My goodness. And to this to this day, yeah, did you and did you have no but I also wasn't expecting.

So, right, your response was so great. Your response was even better than his one. Then you spoke after Eric, after we all laughed a little. And you said, My expectations are somewhat lower. I just want to feel comfortable, which was great. It was it was so rare in a birth companion and a partner to have that attitude. It was it was really wonderful.

Yes, he wants the best for me.

The highest achiever? Yes, he watched the movie. He's like, I I know what I want from my wife. He Like, if that's possible, we're doing it. So the most common response that I've gotten over the years from partners, you can guess what it is. Can't you Trisha? What do you think most partners say to that? What do you want for the birth? a healthy baby, healthy baby and a healthy mom. That's it. So there? Of course, that's what we all want. Absolutely. You'd think that he doesn't, I already said it's everyone's highest priority to say that that's all that matters, right? Like, I think that's where people fall into the trap.

When people are planning to run the marathon, a marathon. They don't go into it praying that they're going to survive it. But every year so we'll do fine. That's true.

Okay, so new example.

No, no, no, nope. No, this is the example. Because every year there are people who don't survive it or they collapse and there are ambulances there every time in case something goes wrong. dehydration is a big risk and consuming sustenance, right? On nevermind injury. But who thinks about that I've had I don't know how many friends run marathons and triathlons and they're treated like the rock stars that they are. But that's a far less natural thing to do than giving birth. So yes, there's always risk in any of these pursuits. So how is it that we all start off? terrified? And how does that affect our decisions? How does it affect the decisions we're making around our birth? Well, why are we all starting off terrified?

It's cultural. In fact, remember, you said you made that choice to be a midwife. Instead of a doctor, you reminded me of a little anecdote that came up this year with one of my couples, they shared with me that they both went to a prenatal visit together. And the woman's husband said to the female obstetricians, he was just trying to get to know her better. He was being smart. He was looking casual, but he was being really intelligent about the whole approach to getting to know the doctor. And in that casual conversation he said to her, so what made you want to become an obstetrician? And she looked up wistfully and said, I've always wanted to do surgery, right to their face right to their face this couple who they knew were planning a natural birth. And she another question, she meant it. She didn't even see anything ironic about it.

She meant it. And that is the institution of Obstetrics and medicine versus midwifery, and why I went the other route.

Now. I have to throw this caveat out there and I throw it out there no matter what. I have heard the story on occasion of the obstetrician who just sat and held the hand of the birthing mother and didn't leave her when their shift ended, and stroked her hair and just sat by her and supported her. And I've heard the occasional story of a midwife who intervened unnecessarily I left that woman feeling betrayed the way we typically only associate with obstetricians. So you're never your work is never done. No. And when you're interviewing enable, I think it's it's not just the occasion there are plenty of midwives who practice more medically and there are plenty of OBS, who practice more naturally, it's it's not really about. So binary versus midwife. It's about how they're trained, and how they're educated and the philosophy of birth that they're coming, the perspective and the philosophy that they're coming at the practice with. So by nature, because obstetrics are about surgery, and they are, obstetricians are trained in a medical system. They're going to be more focused on pathology and thank God that we have that we need that, right. We have to have people who know how to intervene and who know how to cut and sew and do all the things that obstetricians are really good at, unfortunately, they don't get the other side of the education. They don't get trained, and then the normal process of birth, but healthy, normal, low risk women, but they take care of them, but they're not trained in that way. Whereas midwives are not trained to do surgery. And they're not trained to practice a high risk level of medicine. They're trained to care for the low risk, normal, healthy woman. And that's what they're best. That's what they're best at. And they shouldn't be doing surgery. Although midwives have are trained to assist in Sicilian section, and that's fabulous because they get to maintain that continuity of care with with their patient or their client. But we each need to focus on, you know, the areas that we're really good at. And I think the problem is that maybe women might want to be supported in that normal, healthy way. If They're low risk, but they are there, they have hired a provider who doesn't really have the training or the skills or the practice to totally support that they just come from a different perspective.

The best way to go through this is to ask yourself or to talk with your provider enough to determine that they have the same outcome and intention that you do for your birth. So if you say, I'm looking to have a vaginal birth, or to increase my likelihood of having a really comfortable natural birth, or to have their just own it and have a natural birth, if the provider, whoever they may be, if they respond with Well, we'll have to see how it goes. That's a red flag. It should be we have I have the same intention for you. And I'm here in case we need to intervene in case this needs to deviate from the birth you're planning. But not like well, we'll just have to see. And that comes from when the a cog was established. They actually made decision to pursue active management of labor techniques as opposed to expectant labor. Yes. And that's why it's all about getting the baby out intervening in a certain time frame and certain criteria have to be met or certain interventions are, is that the same time where women were giving birth basically unconscious?

That was around the 40s and 50s. They practically clubbed them over the head. And it's, it's upsetting. Yeah, well knock them out and you'll manage it from start to finish and it's all under our control. That was how, that's how it was sold to women, correct that it's like, oh, you will sleep through the pain.

You don't have to experience it. Basically, you just, you're gonna close your eyes and you're gonna wake up and your baby will be here.

And they were really having vaginal births almost entirely, but it was like the Zerrin It was like three or 4% back then. So you wonder what they did. What happened you know, they were using forceps and cutting up a PCR dummies so frequently. birth, it's this is what we're talking about. It is so cultural, it is so determined by culture. And you though most people don't hear any hint of an accent, but English incredibly is your third language. Oh, well, so you grew up with Czech and I check parent and a German parent and you were influenced by another culture to begin with. But you say it wasn't so like, I know, Germany and I know they're more natural in a lot of the Western European countries. But for you, it wasn't right. How was childbirth for you in your mindset growing up.

It was something that only happens in a hospital. Okay. And it episiotomy is where even as a little girl I remember my mom explaining to me your birth we're like, and that's one that done the doctor cuts you and just that's done so you don't tear. And I really, really believe that it was just like a mantra everyone wants if you really present It was really from very early, you know, age, my mom would educate me about things. And that was one of the things was like, yep. And then they give you a cut. And that helps you not tear and heal so much better. Because it's a straight line. And it just all believable, it is totally believable at the same time now, my mom would tell me like these little gruesome stories of, you know, from her hospital visit after we you, you had to stay in the hospital for a while.

That was this medicine in those days. I don't know.

So where does that leave us? So you're in the United States, you're married and you're pregnant and you wanted a more?

You wanted a different experience from all of that, right as in my 20s. Before I got pregnant, I had friendships I was I, I was friends with a couple of women who gave birth at home, and it was quite eye opening. I mean, I didn't witness it. I wasn't there for it. I just talked to them and it opened my eyes. Like, wait, that we can do that? Like I didn't, I didn't know that at the same time. Like it was just like, yes, we can do this is amazing because I'm scared of needles, I'm scared of hospitals, all these things were falling into place. And I can just wait a minute, I can say no to a doctor. That is amazing. Like that the fact that I am deciding things for my own body and it Yeah, it's kind of sad that I was like in my mid 20s when I had all these realizations. I feel that's kind of late. You know, I don't think that it's, well, a lot of women never have those realizations.

A second we as as you said before, with you know, you have to look at doctors as hire or fire kind of situation. That was that was the fact that that realization when I had that, that was amazing. Just like we informed consent, I can say no to all these things. Doctors are not gods. They're wonderful helpers. They're you know, they have all this knowledge they can say People, all these things cut into things wonderful sew them back up. But they're not gods, they don't know a lot of things and they don't know what's best for you until something goes wrong, something goes awry, then they do then that is the place to step in and say, This is not right. This is what we have to do. This is where, you know I have an advantage. It goes back to the to the sentiment of like doctors are great in emergencies, but not just like for regular care. It's like yeah, ask around. Well, another thing we'll be getting into plenty is that the number two reason versus a cesarean section in this country is fetal distress. And the first one being failure to progress. We have a lot to say about that. To me, that is just a non issue because there's no medical indication associated with that one, but fetal distress is a real thing. It can be called when there isn't actually men, it doesn't really qualify as fetal distress, which is Very confusing to the to the to the woman into the couple. But what's frustrating for any informed person to understand and what's important for women to understand is many of the very hospital policies we're still implementing today cause fetal distress. Having a woman give birth in the supine position on her back can cause fetal distress, epidurals, epidurals Of course, depriving a woman of food I mean, I mean, I mean hospital policy, right they say she can't eat or drink which of course she can and we have a lot to say about that was a deal breaker Okay, okay, but that also causes a prolonged labor and B fetal distress, the very two things that drive up cenarion section rates. So many of these policies are causing fetal distress unbeknownst to the client, unbeknownst to the to the family are definitely contributing to it. And they will they drive up the legs You heard of it? Yeah. Yes, absolutely. And there are so many others that we'll be getting into. But I think one thing that comes up a lot for people as well, is well, aren't doctors so concerned about litigation. And I find that to be very manipulative argument. In fact, my own doctor when she rattled off all the reasons she gave c sections before I fired her, you know, she said, I don't like if the mother is too young or too old or too thin or too heavy, or if the baby comes too early or too late, or the baby measures too small or too large. She listed off 12 of these things right in front of me. She added on the end, and I'll be honest, litigation plays a big role. And I feel like that is manipulating us to infer that SRM is the safer means of delivery and it is not. According to statistics from the World Health Organization. The mother has a 300% rate of an adverse out higher rate of an adverse outcome than then over a vaginal birth. And for the baby, it's fourfold to tenfold it's 400% to 1,000% to life. have an adverse outcome. So when they say, well, it's not unnecessary since their anxiety is sharing in general, but we're talking about ordinary Syrians putting babies and mothers at risk that they weren't otherwise out.

And this is what makes our work so difficult. And I don't mean our work as educators, I mean, our advocates, a woman's work is difficult because we don't want to rule out Syrian sections, because they are such a blessing when they needed. We want to let unnecessary ones. Right.

And I love that.

Yeah, it is a great honor. I didn't know that. This is why our work is difficult because we don't just say no to it. We have to keep open that possibility. So when we need it, we have to have that possibility there at every birth. Yes, but how do we now know if we need it?

And how do we not overuse it?

Because clearly, we are way overusing it with some hospitals having a 50% scenario.

I was in my head just sitting here and I was thinking I was like So it's more than 30. So is it up to 35? That's fake it. That's not the national average. Oh, some hospitals 50% the hospital that I left when I was pregnant with Alex, that was an insider told me three years ago that it was 52%.

Now we know as a species, there is no chance in hell we would be here today, if 50% of babies needed to be born surgical and look at all the other mammals giving birth all the time, except for the English Bulldogs. I think oh, giant c section. Right.

How do you know that is so classic. That is so classic. We're all just like your story. It's here. Watch. Go ahead. I know you're like 80% like no, forget it almost because they're like their head size. They're functionally extinct. Yeah, they have to be born by C section. Hey, they are the biggest moneymaker for vets. And now we're gonna get all the angry emails from vets. But
hang on a second. I have to finish that point. Sorry. Evolution didn't make them that way. Oh, no. Yeah, no, that that argument is no. Out with me.

Also, just to jump in how each of us gave birth is not how we were planning on giving birth. Right? Not most of us. We didn't come in to our birth experiences with a plan. We were sort of diverted in our birth experience because of things that we learned through our pregnancy and choices that we ended up making as a result of experiences and learning during our pregnancies. Yeah, so this podcast is about helping women have access to that information so that they may make the best choice for them the best choice of provider, the best choice of place of birth and have ultimately, a birth that is not only safe for the mom and baby, but it's also a birthday that they feel at peace with that they feel happy about that. They feel that they chose.

There are even ways to have a planned scheduled Zerrin in a safer and more positive way than the default 100%. So we can always make childbirth, a better experience for the mom and a safer experience for the mother and baby. And that's why we do what we do. So my son was born in a birthing center. And the idea of having a home birth was unthinkable to me. until four years later when we had our daughter and by then I had taught hundreds of couples and seen many of them have home births, and I opened my mind to it a little bit and it was enough. You never planned on a home birth until you're you're in midwifery school and your midwife told basically told you that's what you're going to do. And you said, Oh my gosh, I was young.
I was in school, I didn't have a lot of options. I had never thought about home birth. I didn't know anyone who had a home birth and i i was like many people have the mindset that home birth was something you did if you had no other access to care. Or you were sort of on the extreme end of, you know, really anti medicine or something like that. But I ended up having a home birth three homers. And I ended up becoming a home birth midwife after sort of falling by default into having my first child at home because I was didn't have a lot of other options at the time simply based on insurance. It was insurance. And I was influenced by my professor who was a home birth midwife who took me under her wing and said, this is how you're going to do it. Like you can do this. This is how you're going to do it. It also ended up being an awesome learning opportunity for all my student fellow midwives.

My friends were there to assist.

So it was a great experience for them. You were the guinea pig a little bit, a little bit, but it ended up being the most amazing birth experience. And I ended up my sister ended up having a home birth and not my sister is the last person on earth I would ever expect to have a home birth. She's the actor.

Yes. Okay. Yes, yes, yes. And I definitely would have expected her to want you know, the top ob with the highest credentials and you know, giving birth in the best hospital. And after my experience, she ended up having a home birth too. And then I had two more numbers and then I ended up practicing as a home birth midwife. So it it just became the right choice for me after I had the experience with it that I had, but it's not, it is by no means the only way to have a safe satisfying natural birth. There are many ways to have a safe, satisfying natural birth in a hospital, in a birth center, or at home.

You can also have a safe and satisfying birth that isn't natural that this Yes. And that's also frequently the case a zoo that does justice that does take that in order to have a safe, satisfying non natural birth. You do need to educate yourself so that you are sure that you're making the choices for yourself and these things aren't forced upon you because a lot of the times, Syrian births and medicated births are not by choice. And that I think is where women end up feeling dissatisfied, right.

She is directing what she wants and needs during that birth shy of any medical indication. And as soon as there is one, they have our attention, we want to hear what our options are. No one wants to take risks here and chances here the mother Least of all, so your first birth was a hospital. Yeah, with epidural.

I'm like you guys I actually started off with I'm going to have a home birth and I prepared and I had a home home birth midwife, and it was an I took your class. I felt like I am ready for this. This is great. I had all the plastic sheets that I needed. We were ready for the all the goods, all the goods and everything. And then I kept, yes. And then the labor started and it just didn't. It just was forever and I cannot remember exactly how many hours it was. But I just I just gave up after, let's say, 20 I'm not really sure. Not really, you know, getting anywhere and I was like you were exhausted. Yeah, I was exhausted. I was just, I couldn't sleep. I it was bad. It was very hard. So the most common indication for women being transferred is but and so then I I talked to my midwife, we exhausted all the natural options. And I made the decision was like I wanna I want like outside help. Now. I'm ready to go and my midwife, you know, the team They were like, yep, let's go. And they took me. Actually, my husband drove me Of course, yeah, we just got a non emergency transfer to the nearest hospital. And I was very okay at that point with, with an epidural. And it was wonderful. It was really, really that's what I needed in that moment. And I was just like, yes, that's, this is good. This is this is going to work out and I finally slept for like three hours or so. And then then your body was ready to move and I was ready to push and it was all like it just it worked out beautifully. And everyone was wonderful. Everyone was respectful. Yeah, it was a good birth. I mean, it was, you know, I, I think I was sad that that I had this idealized version of like, you know, it's gonna be at home and data, but it's as as long as I call the shots and I knew the baby is not in danger. So it was kind of easy to call the shots.

So then your second for three years later, and the second birth, I planned the freestanding birthing center. And that one was so much faster. The second babies mind, they just know what they're doing.

That is while my second one was slower, three hours, three hours versus five and a half. Well, my total labor duration for Alex was three hours from the moment I woke up, my husband said, I don't think I'm in labor. But you can then do an ESA I called Amy and said, I don't know if I'm in labor. I hate for you to come to my house. If this is going to be waste of your time. And she said, Don't worry, I'll come and we'll see. And then I had Vanessa five and a half hours after that. So both were exceptionally short. My first one was like 60% longer than the first. It was a really long Yes, yes, that is unusual. Yes.

But yeah, my second birth was in a freestanding birthing center in the bathtub much faster. It was I loved how it was like, in the middle. It was not a home birth. And it was not a hospital. It was in the middle. And I was very happy with that. I was like I am just that straddling both worlds seems like the perfect solution. Time. places you have freestanding birth centers. I think it's financially just it's it's a, it's a tough model to make. This particular one is across from a major hospital. So that was a whole nother like, you know, doing this perfect arrangement. Yes, it just and it worked out beautifully.

And just to clarify what you're saying about finances, you don't mean it's difficult financially for the couple because they do tend to take insurance but you mean the model of the birth mother? Exactly. Yes. The model is hard to charge so much less that they make so much less revenue than they have this facility that they have to maintain. It's a tough model, but it is the ideal.

No, it's wonderful model wonderful care. So many people are very intimate. I think a lot of women who have hospital winners would probably Choose a free standing birth center if it were more available.

Yeah, the decor everything kind of looks like a hotel room. It's just a b&b.

Right? Well look your grandma's b&b. We were joking that it's like going to some do something I would say. I would say. I would say it looks like a, like a New England to be in being. Oh, just like that kind of the big wooden armoire and the floral beds rustic.

Yes. floral bedspread. Yes.

So I think the key reason this work has to be done by us and others is we need to eradicate this notion of all that matters is a healthy mom and baby. In fact, Trisha, I almost forgot. That's what prompted this whole discussion. So Trisha comoderates the life after birth, postpartum support group that I run at HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, and she's been working with me there for quite a while now and after the postpartum group let out a few months ago, it'll go on from 10am till noon and at noon, but the women all hang out and talking and feeding their babies and mingling and they love to visit with each other even after it's over. So Trisha and I walked into the back room at my business, and we were just talking and my phone rang and it was one of my clients who had finished hypnobirthing Class a few months earlier. And she was very, very emotionally distressed.

I put her on speakerphone I said, I said Trisha Ludwig's here, so she just said head came for a checkup and everything was fine. They did an on stress tests, you know, one of those unnecessary non stress tests really, and everything came out fine. And but she said during that visit, they were trying to pressure her into being induced right then and there. And she and her husband felt completely betrayed. This was with a midwifery practice and They felt betrayed. They said, This is nothing at all like we've talked about and planned all this time. And someone at that visit, either the midwife or an obstetrician who checked in on them made this comment and said, Look, for all we know, you could go home and in two hours, fine, there's no heartbeat. And then what do you do a perfectly healthy low risk woman in every way, simply add a prenatal and they throw that comment out there. And you know, that's enough to haunt anyone. Oh, my so and then she said the words while she was crying on the phone with us, she said, I mean, all I know that all that matters is a healthy mom and baby, but I really wasn't. I really wasn't feeling ready for this. And it's just you want to stop right there and say, No, that is not all that matters. It's the most important thing that matters to every one of us. We all agree on that every single player in this agrees you cannot argue that point. No, wait, no one would. But it is not the only thing. Right? The most important thing it is the minority.

There are other things that matter.

It's not The only thing that matters and how she felt and right there, she felt betrayed. She felt confused, overwhelmed. Her husband was texting me at the same time that she was trying to call us. They were both frantic. Of course, understandably, because they didn't know what to do. So I'd like to contrast that with another story that just happened. I had a lovely couple take the class a couple months ago, I think the mom is 42, early 40s have a daughter already who's about six or seven years old. They're from New York, they tracked up to Westport to take the class. And they you know, they were getting educated and feeling increasingly uncomfortable week after week with their obstetrician. And she finally came to me and said she was just so she was so upset. She was so stressed and said they're treating me like this. They're calling me high risk. I know I don't want that test and they're pushing it on me. I don't even want to get another ultrasound and the pushing that on me. And I said I can put in touch with my friend and mentor Nancy Wainer, who's a very famous author and home birth midwife in the Boston area. And I suggest before warned if you go meet with Nancy, she'll evaluate you. And she will definitely try to talk you into home birth because she is very pro home birth and very anti birthing anywhere else. So if you're prepared for that, and you want to go get her expert opinion, go for it, but just be prepared. She's gonna rock your world a little bit. They did go up and visit her. They all fell in love with each other. And that mother she coasted into the room next week for class all the other couple saw her she looked like a woman looks when she's in love. She was beaming. She was smiling. She said we're so happy. I'm going to birth with Nancy. We're going up to Boston to have our baby with Nancy. Cindy. I can't believe it. It's just she couldn't. She couldn't take the smile off her face. And I had everyone look at her. I said Look at her. Look at that. That's how you all deserve to be a look at her. She's She's telling me she was surprised. She was glowing. And you know what? She just had her baby. And they just send me pictures Mansi texted me Did you hear from her yet? Then she texted me photos and there they are and Nancy's guest bedroom holding, holding her baby and her older daughter is there.

It's beautiful. So let's talk about the contrast. One is instilling fear. And one is instilling trust. Yeah, I mean, it's just that simple. And these were the first woman was told to fear her body and fear the process and therefore take the intervention of fear that you will be if you don't, you'll have a bad outcome and the other was, trust your body. Trust yourself, trust the outcome, and the first woman was low risk in every way. I don't really buy into the maternal age thing much at all. I have a whole lot that I feel and want to say about that at some point, but the second woman would be considered by almost anyone Standard high risk just by virtue of her age, and she's the one who had that simple, beautiful, very joyful birth with fancy. So quality of care, and these are both midwives. So it's if you do want a more natural birth, and a lot of people aren't looking for that they just want to feel informed. But if you do want a more natural birth, it's not a binary decision. It's not so easy to say I'll just simply hire a midwife. Go ahead and hire a midwife. But your work is beginning there. It's not ending there.

I think the point in all of this is that the provider is important and it is important that you feel safe and respected by your provider. But most importantly, though, as a woman, as the, as the as the woman carrying the baby and going to be the one giving birth to the baby, you must inform yourself, you must trust your own decisions. And in order to trust our own decisions, we have to have knowledge because you deserve a birth, at least a birth where you feel at peace with You can have a Syrian section you can have an epidural and all the interventions, knowing when they're needed, feeling deeply at peace with how that went. So a natural birth is not better than birth with intervention but how the mother feels in that realm of a safe birth in a safe outcome is what matters most. And just to add to that, it matters not just because you want to carry forth in life with a birth story that you feel good about and that you want to share. It matters also because this is the beginning of you as a mom, this is the beginning of motherhood and having that faith and trust in yourself through feeling that you that you trusted the birth process and you made your own choices and you feel safe, you feel satisfied and at peace with that experience, I think launches you into motherhood with a trust in your ability to take care of your baby and be an amazing mom. So it's so important for the beginning of this journey, I would say it is almost a requirement, though I would I would almost go that far because you're about to become the adult in your life. For a lot of us, we don't see ourselves as the adult in our lives until we become parents. So we could be 35 years old and pregnant for the first time and still think of our parents as the adults. And we're the child. You're about to become the adult in your own life. And if you're having a baby, you're going to step into that role. And start now with the birth if you haven't started already, because who else is going to speak to that pediatrician directly in defense of your child, if you disagree with something who else is going to call that school principal, to address something happening at school or in your child's community? You are that person now and you must trust your own decisions.

So this is the time to start.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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