As a doula and future perinatologist, I have seen childbirth from a variety of perspectives. Though my passion for obstetrics has never wavered, my view on it is ever-evolving. Three years ago, I was a teen doula preaching about natural childbirth on various blogs and websites, and I vowed to someday practice obstetrics from a midwifery model of care. I was a full-fledged member of the natural childbirth community and I genuinely believed that the majority of cesarean sections and interventions were unjustified and had medical professionals just “done their research” they would see that as well. Today, nearly one hundred births later, I’ve completely shifted my perspective. The more experience I've gotten, the more I've realized that things can and do go wrong without warning in obstetrics. Birth is a very natural process, but it’s also very natural for things to go wrong.
As a bit of background, I trained as a doula a few days after I turned 15 and went on to become one of the youngest doulas DONA International has ever certified. I was featured in over 20 media outlets for my work with teen moms as a doula, including "O: The Oprah Magazine", the MSNBC.com homepage and AOL News. Today, I still attend births as a doula and I also work in a research position in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at one of the highest-volume obstetric hospitals in the country, where I’m fortunate enough to have been published in some top Ob/Gyn journals. But first and foremost, I am a premed college student, with the goal of going on to medical school to become an MFM physician someday. I am passionate about obstetrics and doing whatever I can to make birth a safe but empowering experience for women.
I don't think that birth in the United States is perfect, but I do think that we’re doing far better than many people believe. I've seen countless cases where modern medicine has saved the lives of moms and babies. That being said, I'm certainly not a home birth hater. I recently had the opportunity to observe an amazing birth at home that had a perfect outcome. But I also spent the days following wondering what would have happened if the mom severely hemorrhaged? What would we do if there was a cord prolapse? If there was a prolonged decal? These aren't questions I ask myself in the hospital because I know the answer to them, and I know that the vast majority of the time, the situation results in a healthy mom and baby. Just as I believe in a mother’s right to opt for an elective c-section, I also think that she should be free to give birth at home if that is what she decides is best.
The more time I’ve spent in Labor & Delivery over the years both as a doula and in other capacities, the more thankful I am for modern medicine, but at the same time, I worry that we are over-medicalizing the process. I believe that there is a middle ground between using interventions that improve the safety of pregnancy and childbirth and standing back and allowing things to proceed without intervention, and that’s the balance that I hope to achieve someday as a care provider. I look forward to continuing to share my perspective with you here on babyMed!