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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Don't you want a doctor?

This was not written by me. I wish I could claim it. My heart claims it though.

This essay was written by Marcela Valle and was posted to the ICAN yahoo group 5/19/07. It was written after she'd had a conversation in which she explained why she was choosing a midwife for her second birth.
It is reprinted here with her permission

Don't you want a doctor?...

It is a question I have been asked, "Don't you want someone who can handle *anything*?" When I heard this question, so many feelings boiled inside me so fast that my answer constituted: "No, because I don't want someone waiting for the slightest opportunity to cut me open again." And, while that holds true, there's so much more than that and it deserves to be put into words…

I don't want a doctor because I believe in my ability to birth. I believe that Mother Nature/Creation/ God(s)-or whomever you revere- have given us the ability and the opportunity to birth, and to go through that passage for a reason. Over the years in North American culture, we have lost sight of such experience and its purpose. It has been said before, that "A child is born, and so is a mother."

I don't want a doctor because they are experts in many things, but not normal birth.

I don't want a doctor because I want a birth attendant who believes in me. An attendant who will empower me, and support me, and tell me to get it together and birth this baby. I choose someone who will encourage me to be educated and make decisions with me, not for me.

I don't want a doctor because I am not making decisions based on fear. I make decisions based on research, and logic and, all the while, I also follow my heart.

I don't want a doctor because, despite widely held beliefs, birth in a hospital is not as safe as birth outside a hospital. Birth with a midwife, at home, is a rational choice.

I do not want a doctor because I am more than a paycheck, a liability, or a 'difficult' patient.

I do not want a doctor because I do not need to wait an hour in a waiting room to be seen for 5 minutes and by someone who needs to look at my chart to know my name. Instead, I want to be welcomed with a hug, offered water, a snack, and have an hour talking about my pregnancy, my feelings, and my birth plans.

I do not want a doctor because I do not need to feel scared about being an inconvenience, or have questions, take too much time, be too "needy" or have too many expectations.

I don't want a doctor because I want to be regarded as a healthy birthing mother. I am not sick, I am not a patient. I am full with life.

I don't want a doctor because birth is NOT an emergency waiting to happen, it is NOT dangerous. A doctor makes you believe birth is unsafe and you need them. After all, they would not have a job otherwise. A midwife trusts the process and allows it to take its course without fitting it into a box or random standards.

I don't want a doctor because I want someone who can handle things without a knife and someone who knows how to help me get the baby into a better position and over a pubic bone, and whatever else, without slicing me open or using torture devices.

I don't want a doctor because my body works. And it works best if not surrounded by strangers poking, probing and interrupting my concentration.

I don't want a doctor because I know I WILL go into labor, my hips are NOT small, they're the perfect size. My baby is NOT too big, my body CAN dilate, I am NOT a failure to progress…I DO NOT need to be saved. By not having a doctor, I AM saving myself.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want him, or a calendar, or a clock to tell me when I HAVE to birth and how fast I need to dilate. My body knows it, my baby knows it. We'll do it when it's time for the baby to be born, and time for me to birth my child.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want to be offered an induction (or be cut open) because it's close to Christmas, Mother's Day, or Labor Day. I won't be hurried because there's a golf game, a cruise, or a date to be made, or it's just inconvenient for me to wake them up at night or to take too long.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want to be imprisoned in a bed "just in case" and I don't want to have to stay still so a machine can work properly and the nurse doesn't have time to come into my room.

I don't want a doctor because I do not need to ask for permission to use the rest room, move around, eat, or have an opinion. Nor, do I need scare tactics and a "dead baby" card when I opt out of a procedure done only to cover the doctor's legal butt.

I do not want a doctor because I appreciate being talked to respectfully, and acknowledged, and being taken into account. I DO WANT TO KNOW, AND I WILL worry my little head about it, after all, it is my birth, my child, and my responsibility to do so.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want an electronic monitor to tell someone how I'm doing or whether I am in pain or not, or if my baby hugs are adequate enough.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want someone to "manage" my birth, and "solve" things by using interventions, which may lead to more interventions, which would be solved with even more interventions

I don't want a doctor because I don't want to be silent. I will groan, and moan, and sing if I want to, and my midwife may sing with me.

I don't want a doctor because* I *will birth my baby. My midwife will be present at my birth but nothing (besides food) will be *delivered*.

I do not want a doctor because I am not birthing on my back, or holding my breath or counting to 10.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want my child to be poked and prodded before we have a chance to hold each other. I want my baby to hear my voice first.

I don't want a doctor because I cannot bear another cut into my uterus and my heart, nor can I bear to watch another baby of mine born into blinding bright lights, deep suctioning, IV's and antibiotics.

I don't want a doctor because I have all it takes: wisdom, strength, courage, faith and a vagina.


  1. I agree! Your birth will be better with a midwife. I wouldn't want an OB, either.

    Denise, a Family Physician in Florida

  2. Beautiful. I wish I could claim it too. ;)

  3. Is it okay if I put this on my blog? I'd *love* to have my audience read this.


  4. So maybe I should just know when to leave well enough alone. I appreciate the thoughts you express here and you will have to trust me when I tell you I had the perfect birth planned. Midwife, no drugs, very little intervention.

    But life doesn't always work out the way you plan.

    And I DID want a doctor when it all went wrong. I NEEDED a doctor. Sometimes birth does go awry and a doctor saves lives. I know he saved mine and my son.

    I appreciate that what you are battling against has become so big...the medicalizing of birth. Without medical intervention and a doctor performing my cesarean we would both be dead.

    I know you likely did not intend your writing to be taken in this way, but it hurts those of us who truly DID need a doctor. I also had wisdom, strength, courage, faith and a vagina. But it wasn't enough. Most of the time it is, but sometimes it just isn't.

    The last phrase is like saying to me that YOU had it all takes but somehome I don't because I did need intervention.

    Thanks for reading,


  5. I just wanted to say...I attended the homebirth of my friend's 9lb 4oz baby boy. I am POSITIVE that if she was in a hospital she would have been shot up with pitocin (she didn't dilate at all in 3 hours at one point), needed an epidural as a result, and been sectioned because she has a curvy pubic bone. And to add insult to injury, they probably would have claimed CPD when they saw he was over 9lbs. BUT SHE DIDN'T. She had it at home and everything was perfectly fine. Just wanted to let you know.

  6. Dear Lori,
    I think what you have said is precisely the point of this post...the fact that MOST women do not need surgeons to attend their births, but need a person who is highly trained in what normal pregnancy, labor and delivery entail. For the times in our lives that we need surgeons, thank goodness they are there...but for the other times, I'd rather free up a surgeon's valuable time to deal with the women, like yourself, who *truly* need a surgeon.

    As for hurting those that needed a doctor...well, it might just be a perfect opportunity for all of us to look inward, as to why our feelings are hurt by such statements, or maybe why such statements might hurt another woman's feelings.

    I've been on both "sides" of this discussion, there is no right answer, the only right answer is what is in your heart, and your heart only.


  7. Angela:

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I appreciate your comments. I would never have *chosen* such a medicalized birth. But to intimate it is a choice is what I take issue with.

    You mentioned searching my heart for the right answer. The right answer in my case is not debateable. I am not sure if you took the time to click on me and go over to my blog, but I almost died of Class I HELLP syndrome when I delivered my son at 28 weeks. My liver was about to rupture, necessitating a cesarean section to save both our lives. During my cesarean I almost bled to death.

    I didn't have the opportunity to do anything any differently. the context of that knowledge, reread all the "I don't wants". I didn't want one either. But I didn't get that choice. So the statement about having everything needed to give birth without a doctor presumes that if those things are present, a doctor is not needed. Obviously not the case.

    Those of us who *COMPLETELY* missed out on the birth experience because we were under general anesthesia and about to lose our lives are diminished by the idea that birth is always under our control.



  8. After rereading my comment I felt the need to clarify that the bleeding out was not negligence but rather the fact that Class I HELLP means you have virtually no platelets in your blood. Thankfully I began to clot and survived.