I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

Weighing Your Options


My husband and I recently watched the documentary, “Pregnant In America” on our Netflix instant watch (gotta love it). I had wanted to see it for awhile. Having previously watched “The Business of Being Born” another birthing in the US related doc by Rikki Lake and, “At Your Cervix” where the truth behind pelvic exams was revealed. All great documentaries! I highly recommend them all if you are even remotely interested in having a child in the United States of America. Because a lot of what we’ve been told, taught or marketed to in regards to women’s bodies and reproductive health, is, well…BULLSHIT!!!

I was born in a hospital. No complications, just a typical 1977 birth. My younger brother and sister, however, were born at home with a midwife. They, too, had no complications in their births (or should I say our mom didn’t). Yet somewhere along the line I grew a nice big prejudice against home births. I am not entirely sure why, other than I typically will rebel against anything my mother is for (I have not seen her in over 15 years). But getting my info on and watching these incredible documentaries has completely changed my mind!

I had grown fearful, over the last couple of years, of having a kid because of a lot of things. Mostly passing on genetic stuff, but also because there’s a damned good chance that I’ll have a fat child (who may also end up with my hair color, not bad, but kids are merciless towards redheads). Would the government take my child away because it’s fat? I couldn’t bear the thought of living through that. Or would I even get a say in the birth of my child while also being seen as too fat for anything in the eyes of the medical world? I read the blog WellRoundedMama and have found some great articles/info/resources there, but that fear still lingers.

When I read this post on AmpleProportions I was quickly reminded of my fears and the real threat to our rights as women in America, let alone the rights of the fat! Watching “Pregnant in America” sort of snapped me back to my germaphobic self in a way: hospitals are for the very ill, not for the newly born! I mean, babies don’t belong there! They don’t have fully formed immune systems and who knows who is touching your baby and if they’re washing their hands appropriately?! My husband has long said that he doesn’t want to have our baby in a hospital because they snatch it away from you the moment it’s released from the birth canal and instantly inject, weigh, test, “clean”, etc… when the natural thing is to clutch the infant to the mother’s breast, leaving the placenta in-tact for awhile, so that the natural hormones kick in and do what they need to do: Bond, initiate natural breast feeding and so much more.

Is it possible that the rise in postpartum depression has something to do, directly, with the westernized pathology of handling birth? To inject drugs (epidural) into the spine of the mother (can lead to so many problems I don’t even wanna talk about right now) so that she cannot feel the baby moving and may even be temporarily paralyzed until after the baby is born? You see, we’re natural baby makers, women. We and our bodies know exactly what to do, if we are unaltered and uninhibited. We will find the right position for us while giving birth, naturally! While OB/GYN’s have been trained to find pathology and complications where none exist all in the name of efficiency and profit! Laying on your back, legs splayed in the air, is not only not natural, but damned uncomfortable while pushing out a baby! I have completely changed my mind and I have no intention of going anywhere near a sick house (hospital) unless it’s an absolute emergency. They don’t want me anyway, I’m fat and have no insurance. Fuck ’em!

I’m not pregnant and don’t have immediate plans to get there, but if and/or when  I am ready, I thank the stars above that these films and the experts and resources available today are there to inform and help me along the way. I cannot stand the thought of not being in control of my own body or infant. To interfere with a natural thing? Well, that’s bullshit! I won’t stand for it and I most certainly will not pay for it!

21 Comments to

“Weighing Your Options”

  1. On September 8th, 2011 at 5:43 am Lori Says:

    Interesting point of view, I am not sure I wholly agree as I worked in a maternity hospital for years and know there was babies (and mothers) that only survived due to medical intervention, certainly that is not norm but I cant help thinking better safe than sorry in a way.
    Although there is certainly no arguing with the interference of the natural birthing process I think you may be on to something when you say it could contribute PND. A very interesting subject and a well written post, so thought provoking that I may have to research it a bit.

  2. On September 8th, 2011 at 8:47 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Lori: Thank you! I am not well versed in matters of baby birthing, but I did see my sister being born (enough to make ya wanna get fixed! Ha!). The documentaries I mentioned did give me, I feel, quite a lot of information to make my own choice. I do not undervalue the positives western medicine has given us, only that it is best used in emergency scenarios in my opinion. I have known women who were refused a natural birth due to their size. Who were given an epidural when they refused one. Who were given a c-section so the doctor could go on vacation…these things suck and do happen. But I have no doubt that the lives of babies and mothers who were saved through intervention, were well worth every effort given! <3

  3. On September 8th, 2011 at 7:18 am Heather Says:

    I totally agree with you… firstly about the snatching away… there’s no reason not to just let a baby sit on it’s mother’s chest and in her arms for an hour or two.. we’ve become so overly clinical with birth and completely forget about instincts and evolution and how the human body is supposed to work (birthing on our backs? really? we should damn well know better by now!)

    I also used to be against home births, thinking that hospital births were safer (i’m still against unassisted home births.. there should always be a medically trained midwife there because things can and do go wrong- women and babies used to die routinely going at it alone) and then I learned that the US has some of the highest infant mortality rates among industrialized nations.

    I find it outrageous that women aren’t allowed to drink or eat (yes, i threw up while in labor- it happens.. even if you only eat the jello they give you). Here you are, laboring, and when your body *needs* food it’s denied it.. so you become weaker and weaker and then they have to intervene unnecessarily! Oh, but before they let you labor long enough to get hungry they just break your water for you and pump you full of some pitocin to advance your labor.. nevermind that it makes the contractions more painful.. so they give you an epidural for the pain which slows labor (as well as increases risks for all kinds of things for the baby). So many of these birthing problems are self made.

    My birthing experience was awful- even though I read all of the books when it came time to give birth I let the doctors bully me. Firstly they wouldn’t let me out of bed (i had partial back labor) to use the birthing shower or the birthing ball or just to walk around. Then they artificially broke my water (it’s incredibly rare that that’s actually necessary- they do it to artificially advance labor before your body is ready). The doctor, when she came in, told me “you’d better get this done before midnight, I don’t work past midnight” and then shot me a nasty look. Even though I told hubby I didn’t want an epidural he didn’t coach me *at all* and when i went into transition i finally asked for one (at 8.5 centimeters- transition is when most women ask for the pain meds- that’s why you need a good coach) and then the anesthesiologist was yelling at me because i couldn’t keep still *during* a contraction and my muscle kept involuntarily jumping (because he was sticking me in the freaking spine! he knows that controls all kinds of things, right? yet he insisted i was doing it on purpose). Then when my son was finally born I let them mutilate his poor little genitals (something i’ll always feel bad about and i plan to apologize for when he gets older.. doctors basically told me if I didn’t then he’d get cancer and have infections all of the time and have to get it later anyway- fucking liars). It was a traumatic experience- for both me and my son.. and i’ve come to really distrust doctors in general.

    I have no plans to ever get pregnant again (thank you IUD!) but i’m still going to check out those films

  4. On September 8th, 2011 at 8:53 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Heather: You will love these films! Your experience is in all of them! It’s a crime against nature, if you ask me. And yes, unassisted birth is dangerous and I do not recommend that. But getting your knowledge on the topic way up before you’re in a vulnerable position is the right thing to do (go you!), but sadly in this country MDs rule it all and will hear nothing of anyone’s objections or opinions. I’m sorry you had to go through all of that. A good friend went through the same thing. She had everything planned and had a great pregnancy, no problems or even predictions of any. But her labor was taking too long for the doctors and so they intervened again and again. Why are there not a million law suits against these jack asses? Ugh! If you do watch those films, I hope you let me know what you think. Thanks as always for reading and commenting. You’re a doll! <3

  5. On September 8th, 2011 at 11:13 am erylin Says:

    i am lucky in a way because i have 2 beautiful daughters that are all mine…and i didn’t have to give birth to them. thier mother, who has now passed on, had horrible complications after birth of her second daughter znd ended up ODing on painkillers 2 years later. While giving birth to our youngest, she got an epidural and the anesthesiology accidentally drew up spinal fluid and blood during it. SHe had a bad epidural and had constant back pain and headaches from then on. by the end of her life she was downing enough opitates, muscle relaxers and xanax to deal with the depression of being disabled that she would have disabled a horse just with her normal allotment of meds. epidurla s are no joke they are dnagerous and can cause pain, even partial paralyzation.

  6. On September 8th, 2011 at 12:49 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @Erylin: That is awful, but I am glad that you have two lovely girls now. *Hugs*

  7. On September 8th, 2011 at 11:40 am Twistie Says:

    The US has a terrifyingly high rate of C-sections. When last I heard, we were only out C-sectioned by Brazil (where the slogan was about keeping your vagina ‘honeymoon fresh’ forsooth!), and the rate of C-sections only got higher among women who – according to medical theory – had the least risk factors. IOW, women with money and health insurance who had received plenty of pre-natal care had the fastest rising rate of C-sections in the 1990s.

    I have personally known women who had C-sections for no reason that could be adequately explained to them.

    A woman I worked with once nearly got thrown out of her sister’s delivery room. My co-worker was acting as her sister’s coach. The sister had told her (co-worker) that if she (the sister) started thinking about accepting pain killers to remind her (sister) that she had originally said no drugs and ask clearly ‘have you changed your mind on that?’. Well, the pain got bad and the medical staff were all pushing the drugs. My co-worker reminded her sister about her previous wish to give birth drug free.

    And that’s when the doctor told my co-worker that she could stay in the room only if she didn’t say anything more on the subject.

    As far as I’m concerned, a trained, practiced midwife with close access to medical intervention in case of need is the ideal birthing option for any woman who has no reason to automatically expect a significantly difficult birth. The majority of women, left to their own natural devices and allowed the option to move, eat, drink, and pick a gravitationally-appropriate position to give birth in, can do just fine without further medical intervention. I do, however, believe in having doctors and nurses readily available, because sometimes the unexpected does happen, and it can happen quickly.

    What we need is not necessarily more home births, but more options for the choice of assistance and level of intervention involved in giving birth. We need respect for the historically important business of midwifery, along with careful training and licensing of practitioners. We need doctors who respect that giving birth is not something easily fit into a rigid schedule, but a natural process that may take a long, long time without being a problem. We need women to be more aware of what’s happening in their bodies and who are educated to advocate for themselves.

    In short, we need to stop thinking of giving birth as a medical problem, but begin to see it again as a (as in one of MANY) natural function of the female body.

    Yeah, I’ve thought a lot about this. After all, there was a time when I fully expected I would be a mommy one day and I damn well educated myself.

  8. On September 8th, 2011 at 12:51 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @Twistie: More options is exactly right!

  9. On September 8th, 2011 at 1:02 pm Nicole Says:

    I am all for women having lots of options to have babies, but please don’t denigrate women who choose to have pain relief. I have had two babies; the first one was breech, and I had him with no drugs, vaginally. I was in so much pain that I was unable to relax and ended up having to be surgically repaired “down there”–under general anesthesia–because of the tearing I experienced. My second baby was not breech, but I chose to have epidural pain relief because of my experiences with #1. My experience was much more relaxed, and I was able to bond immediately with my baby rather than be put under general anesthetic and have the baby taken to the nursery with my husband.

    Childbirth is natural, and women have been doing it since time immemorial, but that doesn’t mean it’s uncomplicated. I have plenty of friends who have had wonderful homebirths, but it’s not for everyone. I’m not saying birth should be overmedicalized, but keep in mind that it used to be commonplace for women–and children–to die in childbirth. Thank goodness that’s not the case anymore.

  10. On September 8th, 2011 at 3:39 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @Nicole: I agree with you completely. Options are the key! But when you see the current mortality rates of babies and mothers in the US? It’s offensive to say the least…and it’s gotten worse! I understand that some pregnancies are complicated, but there was a time when they trained MDs on how to assist with breech births (this is mentioned in more detail in “Pregnant in America”) and now it’s a total taboo! That is ridiculous. But with our current health care system, what can we do? We are at the whims of these maniacs (not all of them I realize) and in our most vulnerable moments. That is the bullshit to me. Not that the medical care is available to those who can afford it (I cannot). Thank you for sharing your story here. And for reading and commenting. It means so much to me to even have these discussions. =0)

  11. On September 8th, 2011 at 6:06 pm Ashley Says:

    Yay homebirth! One thing you’ll love is that, in my experience, there’s WAY less emphasis on weight in the homebirth community. My midwife never weighed me, never brought up weight gain, and was generally pretty wonderful in all ways. Unfortunately my homebirth wound up turning into a c-section due to a spectacular malposition, but both me and baby were very fine the entire time. I’m pregnant again and planning a homebirth, largely because everything went so well last time (minus the actual ending, that is).

  12. On September 9th, 2011 at 10:11 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Ashley: Thank you for sharing your experience here. I wish you an easy pregnancy and a wonderful birth experience!

  13. On September 9th, 2011 at 10:41 pm E. Ai B. Says:

    I 100% disagree. And will probably go into a rant now.

    I had a bad hospital birth the first time (covering MD was not my regular, and she was a monster-she no longer practices) but my second, also a hospital birth induction (thank goodness, b/c I had low-fluid and never would have known if I hadn’t requested just one more routine u/s before hitting due date-his induction saved us both a ton of grief) went just..beautiful. Everyone was sweet. Every. Single. Staffmember. I had a doula (no med. interference, she’s just there to help you get through the pain). I had pain med. just before he was born so I was rested and awake and got to keep him with me for hours after he came into the world and breastfeed him unhindered. The only thing diff. was the MD and the hospital. You pick a talented MD. One that had bed-side manner may not be the best trained or able to save your life. You have to go with talent. And you pick as lovely and well-staffed hospital as you can.

    Homebirth…even birth centers…what can I tell you? My cousin’s son DIED at a birth center birth with a CNM (higher trained than CPM/DEM). They don’t have the years of training. They just don’t. My ex-friend kept going to her midwife after she was diagnosed with high blood pressure and the lady (CNM) almost let her have a heart-attack and had her driven to a further away hospital so she “wouldn’t have a c-section”. Guess what? Bad baby position, poor health for mom and days of immobility and bp meds, and a blue-non breathing baby who is, thankfully, looking fine today. These stories…they aren’t NEW. It’s everywhere. What you are referring to is a counter-culture movement. It costs people their lives, and their children’s lives. Most of the time, I do not care what people choose. It is, after all, their CHOICE. But many are making choices that are misleading based on the two shitty documentaries you mentioned and many other sources(sorry, but they are so HORRIBLE and filled with misinformation. They were made by lay-people who don’t seem to even understand what they mean…). It’s not that a choice for the birth you have in mind is wrong, but you’ve been mislead into thinking it is in any way safer. It isn’t. The data shows it. It’s naked and unmistakably so. And recently there have been a swarm of homebirth-related deaths. The well-rounded mama…I want so much to love her and rally around her (NCB for FAT WOMEN TOO!) But all women deserve to know the harsh risks of choosing anyone other than a hospital or OB. They need to know that pregnancy and birth are times when DEATH IS LITERALLY AT YOUR HEELS. I had no risk factors with my first birth. I stood up just a short time after she had arrived…and in that moment lost so much blood that I lost consciousness. It happens so fast…most of the time, there is no warning. Even the leaders of this so-called movement…almost all of them have had dead babies. Nothing is worth that… I leave you with a few links, one from the blog of dreaded Amy Teuter, who is, actually, quite a nice and lovely woman…

    And here, where home birth and birth center deaths are not quieted down by masses wishing you to believe these practices to be in your best interest…and yes, my loved one’s story of loss is on here…

    Maternal mortality is rising on some areas (california, etc…believe it or not I might attribute this to the terrible economic times and lack of getting good care…but it hasn’t been sort out yet…), but for babies our rate is measured inaccurately, and we actually have a better outcome rating than the Netherlands and many other places (who really on midwifery care…)

    Good luck to you, whatever you choose.

  14. On September 9th, 2011 at 10:55 pm E. Ai B. Says:

    ^I should probably add that, though I am quite fat, never ONCE was I belittled for it in either pregnancy… I had severe sickness and my MD was terrified that I was loosing a few lbs. here and there. I know mds can be assholes about weight…but mine were not. And no one should settle for one that is in any situation, let alone one in which you’ll carry another human being.

  15. On September 10th, 2011 at 7:51 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @E. Ai B.: I think your main point stands out most for me: find the best “talent” in your medical professionals! I agree. Only access is a major issue. With today’s current health care system and standards, I personally do not have the luxury of choosing, well, anything at this point. Even when I had insurance recently, I didn’t get to choose a damned thing. And with the current obesity maniacs blaming and shaming us? I don’t know that even with the best insurance money could buy that I wouldn’t be subjected to the constant stream of hate. I had not previously heard of any statistical figures on home birth deaths, but I will certainly look into it. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and opinions here. I value everyone’s input and appreciate that you feel comfortable doing so here. <3

  16. On September 10th, 2011 at 9:30 am E. Ai B. Says:

    If you become pregnant, if it works there like it does in my area, you can apply for state-funded insurance. You should be able to pick your OB in that situation.

    My ex-friend’s midwife was actually a big harper on weight, b/c they want so badly to make sure you don’t hit risk criteria (like gaining too much, or popping up with gestational diabetes) that weight is a BIG deal to them. I actually corrected the woman at one point, b/c she was telling my friend that if she got too fat, she’d get gestational diabetes…That’s not really how that works…>:( But If you gain too much, you might not be able to deliver at home or at their center, and many of them are anti-obesity:you can look at blogs like the navel-gazing midwife and see what she (a fat woman) says about things like that. It’s not empowering to have to reach an ideal criteria to deliver in what is apparently even to them a less safe environment than a hospital (hence the strict criteria), and even then the loss is around 3x that of hospitals (who deliver many, many more ppl and even take care of botched home birth babies). I wouldn’t let anyone speak to me the way these women speak to their clients. The Mds I had barely even asked on my exercise plan, they trusted me to do what was best for my body at the time. They never once commented offensively to me, and if they ever had, I’d of stormed the fuck away. You can’t tolerate being inhuman in a doctor, because you basically need them to be super-human in so many ways… and walking in the door you can probably tell who you are dealing with. I am sorry I am so outspoken on this. But I saw too many devastating outcomes, too many things that I knew were wrong even in my barely med. educated mind… I can’t possibly feel any other way about it at this point.

  17. On September 10th, 2011 at 10:12 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @E. Ai B.: Thank you so much for speaking up about this. Certainly if I had as much first hand experience as you I would feel differently, too. =0)

  18. On September 12th, 2011 at 3:09 am Karen Says:

    The stories on HurtbyHomebirth are heartbreaking. While I personally know several successful homebirth mothers, I chose an OB who supported unmedicated, natural childbirth in the hospital. With #1, my water broke and I had severely hard cascading contractions – I realize now, those could have been warning signs and if baby went into distress, I was right where I needed to be. With #2, labor was textbook, but still, there was meconium in the water and a low Apgar, but a pediatrician was there immediately and lungs were checked (and we stayed overnight). I was obese and never heard a word from the OBs in the practice, too.

    Advocate for yourself and unborn child. If natural childbirth is desired, it IS possible to experience that in a hospital delivery room.

  19. On September 12th, 2011 at 9:09 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Karen: Thank you for sharing your experiences here. I’m wondering though about birthing positions, freedom of movement, etc…how much were you allowed to do and move while in the hospital? Because I hear horror stories of women being strapped to beds and forced into terribly painful positions and that freaks me the hell out! Thanks.

  20. On September 12th, 2011 at 4:06 pm Karen Says:

    I’m happy to share more details. I had a doula and a birth plan. Not hooked up to a thing, except with #2, where I was positive for group B strep. In that case, I consented to a small IV bag of antibiotic, strapped to my arm and removed when it was empty. The baby was monitored sporadically, always externally.

    Positions? You name it! On my hands and knees, walking, on my side, sitting on a birthing ball, bent over in the shower…my doula would check me and roll me into a position she felt would be most effective. I sipped water and sucked on cherry popsicles, too.

    One doctor (whom I left) had asked, what if the placenta doesn’t come all the way out and I need to put my hand in and you are not on an epidural? That did happen with #2 and it was no worse than a hard contraction and I survived. Little tears can be sown with no anesthesia, or with a squirt of lidocaine.

    Epidurals are life-saving, and the high tech equipment has a place in birth. I believe that – and counted on it to be available if needed. In conclusion, after thinking about my experience and those on the Hurtbyhomebirth site, I would advise mothers-to-be choosing midwives and homebirths to carefully investigate whom they hire, asking hard questions like – what complications can arise if the water breaks early in labor and what would you do about them? what events would make you transfer me to the hospital and how far would it be? If I ask to transfer, will you do so immediately?…. You get the idea.

    Anyone interested in a natural childbirth in a hospital need only to find an OB that agrees with that philosophy, make a birth plan, and visit hospitals to determine friendliness to laboring drug-free.

  21. On September 12th, 2011 at 5:28 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @Karen: Thank you so much. You answered all of my questions! =0)

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