Posts Tagged ‘interventions’

Do’s and Don’ts in Labor & Delivery (a.k.a. Getting What You Want, Kindly)

Monday, April 20th, 2015
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Birth plans. Epidurals. Natural Childbirth. Doulas. Induction. Cesareans. And more…

The list of decisions about birth goes on and on…

More women are becoming dissatisfied with the status quo in American maternity care, and are asking for something outside the norm for the hospital where they plan give birth. Naturally, this might make for some conflict between a birthing mother and her care provider and nursing staff.

Conflict.

There. I said it. Right out loud.

There might be conflict in the labor and delivery room when a mother is giving birth. I am not writing this post to tell anyone how to avoid conflict, but how to manage it in a healthy way, so that the birth experience is not characterized by the conflicts that arise, but by the solutions everyone involved is able to come to.

Here are some do’s and don’ts that may help you in the labor and delivery room to self-advocate effectively, while creating a human connection with the nurses and provider caring for you and your baby.

DON’T: Expect care providers or nurses to offer much in the way of comfort during labor.
It is not the responsibility of a care provider or nurse to make a birthing mother comfortable. Their first priority, and indeed, their entire job, is the safety of mother and baby. Period. Your comfort is a distant second to safety, and that’s exactly the way it should be.

DO: Hire a doula to offer you comfort and support.
Your comfort is the entire responsibility of your doula. Period. That is all that she is there for. Emotional, physical, and informational comfort and support are her expertise. You will not be disappointed if you lean on a doula for this need.

DON’T: Make demands.
This only causes a heightening of conflict. If you want something different than protocol, shaking your fist and demanding it is not the right tack. You might get your way, but you may not end up getting the best care if you treat the nurses as if they were there to grant your every wish.

DO: Ask for exceptions.
Think about it. How would you feel if a stranger came to your house, and began to dictate to you how to load your dishwasher, feed your kids, or fold your towels? You would be offended. This is what we do when we demand our way in labor. When you want something outside protocols, try this: “I understand that this is your normal protocol, but I need you to make an exception for me this time. Thank you.” This invites conversation and cooperation, and is less likely to put a nurse (who is technically your advocate) on the defensive.

DON’T: Be rigid.
Refusing to budge on the smallest things is unfair, especially when you are asking for things outside the box. Remember, you are a rare breed to these nurses. Asking them to step outside their norm is a big deal. Respect that.

DO: Be flexible.
Compromise is the name of the game. For example, here in Colorado Springs, a Hep lock buys you pretty much anything you want in most of the hospitals. It helps them to see that you are reasonable, and that you understand why they do what they do. It makes them far more open to your requests and out-of-the-box needs.

DON’T: Wait until you are in labor to make your birth plan known.
It is completely unreasonable to spring a birth plan on unsuspecting staff and providers. You can’t count on appointment conversations to be remembered, simply because of the sheer volume of patients a hospital-based provider might see in any given month. Not to mention the fact that you are likely to have a care provider you’ve never met catching your baby!

DO: Discuss everything on your birth plan prentally.
Write your birth plan early, in second trimester, and tackle one issue at a time in those 7-10 minute appointments. Discuss the benefits, risks, and alternatives ahead of time, and really make sure you and your provider are on the same page. If they are willing, have them sign it–this doesn’t make it a legal document, but it proves to the staff and on-call doc that your care provider is on board with all your requests.

In short, it pays to be kind. Always be kind. You never know what kind of day your nurse or care provider has had. You have no idea what is going on in the room next to you. I am not making excuses for bad or disrespectful or hurried care. I want to remind you that everyone in scrubs is a human being, just like you. There is rarely a reason to walk into a labor and delivery ward with guns blazing. Even if you had no other choice in your care. The ones providing it are just as human as you are, and if you can leave them feeling respected and understood, you are helping to pave the way for the next woman who wants out-of-the-box care.

It may be your birth, but it has ripple effects. Whether it’s for the positive or negative is, at least in part, up to you.

How do you handle differences of opinion in your care? What are the most diplomatic ways you have used to self-advocate without a situation erupting into WWIII?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

A Message About Preeclampsia to Every Mother

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

If your care provider is seeing a slight increase in your BP, a bit of protein in your urine, and asks you questions about headaches, swelling in your hands and face, pain under your ribs on the right, and if you’ve been seeing spots, they may tell you that you are turning preeclamptic. The Preeclampsia Foundation website can help clarify a lot of what they are telling you, and give you some tools to partner with your care provider in making sure of your diagnosis. Before you can proceed, having a good understanding of what you are facing is important for you and your baby’s health. A preeclampsia diagnosis is nothing to sneeze at, and therefore, it behooves you to learn what you can in order to participate fully in your care, and to make decisions based on information and instincts, rather than fear.

However, it is important to note that, if you do have preeclampsia, you are in a situation where the benefits of certain interventions (such as induction or occasionally cesarean section) very likely outweigh the risks of waiting it out. Preeclampsia doesn’t play fair. It is imperative that you speak clearly with your provider, and make sure you understand why they are suggesting certain procedures. Even if they are necessary, they can be hard to take in if you were planning an unmedicated vaginal birth. Knowing really is half the battle in this case. Do not be afraid to learn about preeclampsia, learn about the way your care provider treats it, and walk forward in confident awareness of the power you still have to choose rightly for you and your baby.

Some things to consider if your blood pressure slightly elevated during only one prenatal visit, and in the absence of other symptoms:

  • What is your stress level like?
  • Have you been sick lately?
  • Are you dehydrated?

Some questions to ask if you have more indicators and/or symptoms:

  • “Am I being diagnosed with preeclampsia, or are these numbers borderline?”
  • “Could this be pregnancy-induced hypertension? If so, how do you normally treat it? Can it lead to preeclampsia?”
  • “What other symptoms might come to light if it is preeclampsia?”
  • “Do I have the option of monitoring BP at home, and being checked every couple of days, or does this need to be taken care of now?”
  • “Is the protein in my urine shown via a reagent strip, and if so, can we double-check it with a 24 hour catch?”
  • “What are my options for induction if it becomes necessary? What are the benefits/risks/alternatives of each method? Which do you prefer, and why?”
  • “How soon do you typically decide to move on to a cesarean section if the induction does not work?”

Preeclampsia is not the end of the world, though it is serious. It is just one of several curve balls that get thrown at some women. It is not something that we currently know how to prevent with any degree of scientific certainty. We have a lot of ideas of what seems to help, but nothing we can hang our hats on just yet. One thing that I think is so important to understand is that we can do everything “right,” have a textbook healthy pregnancy, and still end up with preeclampsia or other problems. We are never guaranteed a “good” outcome when it comes to anything in life, and we should not expect our births to be any different.

What matters most is to do the best we can with what we have, and to be flexible when we are handed something unpleasant, difficult, or even downright terrifying. We face our fears and challenges head-on, and make the best decisions we can within our circumstances. We do not lose our power just because of a medical diagnosis. We just lose a few options we otherwise would have had. Never be afraid to ask your care provider, “Why?” The more you understand, the less scary it will be for you, and the better you will be able to process your birth after the fact.

Preeclampsia or no, your birth is still your birth. You are already a good mother. You can do this.

What do you know about preeclampsia? Where did you get your information? Have you had preeclampsia before? What was your experience with it? What did you learn from it? What advice would you give to someone facing a similar situation? Share your story in the comments…

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany