Today I met a random pregnant stranger who told me some things about birth in Oklahoma that I already knew, VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section) is not easy to do, not because it is actually harder than any other labor, but because Oklahoma doesn’t support VBAC.
After meeting this woman, and she had explained to me that she was to have a c-section, because she lived too far from the hospitals who provide other options and she was frightened of home birth, I began to think about fear.
We are often told as laboring moms that we should be able to ‘birth without fear’. It is the title of a book about birth, it is the phrase most doula’s want to turn into truth for their clients, it is what Midwives hope to accomplish with the women they serve. But we have far to go before fear is abolished. And sadly it isn’t just the mothers who are experiencing fear.
Right now, this weekend, the future of home birth is lying in the hands of Senators, they will choose the future of many mothers and their yet to be born babies. A proposed bill that would say that certified nurse midwives would not be allowed to attend VBAC births anymore will be heard in session Monday. Another bill (not sure when it will be heard) is saying that certified professional midwives and lay midwives would no longer legally be able to attend home birth.
I have met midwives who are scared for the mothers, scared of each other, and scared that the career they have spent their lives building and love doing will be taken from them. I have seen how they have stood together, and how they have fallen short of being united, but mostly I have seen how scared they are.
But surely the fear stops there? Sadly no it doesn’t. Fear is in the hearts of our Dr.s, They don’t practice evidence based care, they practice hospital policy, insurance regulation, and cover your tracks medicine….They are scared that if they miss something vital it will ruin their career, that it will harm someone, that they will loose someone, mother or child.
Doulas are not above the fear either. Doulas are scared that if they speak up for a client it will soil their reputation with the Dr.s, or even their certifying agency. Or if they do something that someone might deem as medical, then they will be held responsible for the outcome…. They are also scared that they wont be getting enough business. Over the last year I’ve heard time and again that doulas all over the state are getting less clients than they have had in the past. Why? Why are we getting less work? No one knows but it is enough to make them worried, and even at times lash out at each other, a network of people that have bound themselves to each other to uphold and support one another.
These are scary times… what are we to do? What do we tell our clients or patients? What do we tell ourselves?
The more I consider it, the only answer is found in the Bible.
When I prepared for the birth of my daughter last August I wrote several phrases and bible verses out on paper, and hung them in a corner of my bedroom where I envisioned I would labor and deliver her. Turns out I didn’t really look at any of them in the two hours I labored and delivered my baby. But in the time leading up to the birth I often fell on one particular verse. I couldn’t understand why I would be drawn to it, but I was, drawn to the words, the meaning, the essence of the verse.
“‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’” Isaiah 43:1b-2 (NIV)
Do not fear. You wont be overtaken, You wont be burned…. God gives us several passages in the bible about fear, and how we should not let it control us. He knows…
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13
He has plans to prosper you, all you have to do is seek him.
Are you scared? Seek God.
Are you worried? Seek God.
Are you hurt? Seek God.
Don’t know what to do? Seek God.