Last November my wife and I had our third child. Due to military training and deployments in the past this was the first time I was available to be there for the entire pregnancy, and it was also my first time in the delivery room not including my own bold entrance into the outside world.
I was nervous and it didn’t help that with our second child my wife felt pressured to have a C-section. This time we were going to have the baby naturally. With all the challenges of pregnancy, one that we did not expect was that of the medical staff. It seemed as though they were always trying to influence her to have another C-section.
For fathers who are in the position I’m describing, I’m going to tell you what we did, and how I was able to transform from being mere wallpaper in the birthing process to my wife’s greatest advocate. By the way, this involved me not getting kicked out of the delivery room, which in the months before seemed like a definite possibility.
Doctors are Only Necessary for Emergencies in the Birthing Process
OB doctors are great. Without them many women would die from complications that their expertise serves. This includes C-section surgery, which is actually a major surgery.
Despite this fact, many women are encouraged to get C-sections not because they need them, but possibly because doctors want to get home for dinner or bed.
According to Dr. Judy Reichman’s MSNBC article “Why so Many Women are Having C-sections,” about 30% of women in the US are electing to have this surgery, which is twice that of the World Health Organization’s average. It could be argued that doctors performing these surgeries, even unnecessarily, are really just serving their own interests. After all, if C-sections aren’t better (and necessary) then we might not need as many OBs as we would nurse midwives.
Advocates Need to Know Patient Rights
While some hospitals have certain policies, they still have to obey the law. When we were preparing to have our baby the doctors insisted on telling my wife that she would have a C-section despite their policy allowing VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) procedures.
After several back and forth discussions at regular appointments we realized that when it comes down to the delivery, we are in charge of the pregnancy.
But dads cannot take charge if they do not know:
- Hospital procedures
- State laws
- Patient rights
One OB told us my wife had to have an IV during delivery. We didn’t want this because we did not feel we could trust them to give her one that did not have Pitocin, a synthetic form of Oxytocin that speeds up contractions.
What we found was that if they forced an IV on her it would be deemed an assault in the state of Louisiana. Also, hospital procedures did not enforce IVs, and it was my wife’s right as a patient to not have one.
The Day the Baby Was Born
We arrived at the hospital before midnight after our first non-arrival 12 hours earlier. My wife was admitted into a room and they wanted to hook up an IV. This was where my job came in.
“She doesn’t want an IV,” I said.
The nurse told me that only she could tell them not to give her one.
“Do you want an IV?” I asked my wife.
“No,” K said.
The nurse then told us it was in our best interest. K said she didn’t have one with our first child and that she wanted to maintain full mobility.
After a little more discussion the nurse returned with another nurse, or, as I call her, Good Cop. She was a junior grade officer who was showing.
“Hi,” she said cheerily.
“I understand you don’t want an IV.”
Her tone was saturated with understanding and concern.
“No,” K said. “I don’t want one.”
“I totally understand. I’m about to have my baby in a few months and I’m all for…” [some method I can’t recall] “…but we really would like you to have an IV because it might be necessary later.”
“I don’t want one.”
Good Cop turned to me.
“It’s her choice,” I said.
“It is,” came the reply, slightly dejected.
Bad Cop then informed us that they needed to take some blood.
“Do you want to have your blood drawn?” I asked.
“Oh,” said the nurse, “but it’s very important for tests, and we need her blood type.”
“You don’t know her blood type?” I asked harshly.
This was the extent of my duties, really. I was advocating for her birthing plan to be carried out. In the end K opted for an epidural which lead to the need for an IV, but it was on her terms and not the medical staff’s.