Sometimes the Best Choice In Birth Isn't Evidence Based

Evidence Based Birth Cincinnati Dayton Choices

We have all heard the term "evidence based medicine." The idea is wonderful, really. You look at the research, the evidence, for certain tests, procedures, or plans of action, and use that to help guide you in making informed decisions.

In the field of birth, this idea is very important. It can help pregnant and birthing parents understand the risks and benefits of certain options for labor and birth so that they feel confident about medical decisions. It helps doctors and midwives create care plans for their patients to optimize the chances of a happy, healthy outcome!

There is, however, a downside to putting the emphasis solely on evidence based medicine, and looking only to science and research to make decisions. Here it is.:

We Are Human Beings

We are more than just bodies and science and measurements. We are human beings, and to be human is a whole lot more than biology. It is to have emotions, previous experiences, preferences, fears, desires, and a worldview birthed out of those things {see what I did there?}

The Mom Guilt Is Real

The dark underbelly of putting an emphasis solely on evidence based birth looks like:

  • Emotional turmoil because of the perceived "unneCesarean."
  • Mom-shaming around holidays due to elective inductions for any reason.
  • Pressure to avoid the epidural, and not tell people when you opted for one.

If you have experienced anguish about any of these things I want you to know: there are more than just scientific or medical reasons to make a choice.

Your Body, Your Choice

The wonderful, and sometimes terrifying, thing, is that it's your body, your choice! It's your baby, your choice {with your co-parent}! As your doulas, we want you to know:

  • No cesarean is completely "unnecessary," and there can be totally legit reasons to choose a cesarean birth other than dire medical emergencies, including emotional reasons! Like the mother who had a traumatic loss, and is worried about the safe delivery of her baby.
  • There are times when an elective induction is the best choice for you, and it might even be around holiday or family schedules, and for many other non-medical reasons. Like the mother whose partner is being deployed and wants her partner to be there with her for the birth.
  • Epidurals are awesome tools, and you don't need to rationalize your getting one, even at the last minute! Like the mother who has anxiety around pain, and knows she won't be able to relax or be emotionally present to meet her baby otherwise.
  • Just the same, we support women who want to go for the VBAC if they can, who want to labor unmedicated, and who want to avoid interventions when it is medically possible. Like the mothers who have had difficult first cesareans, who don't tolerate pain medication well, or who are scared of needles and potential side-effects, and want to let their body do it!

There Are Two Sides to Every Statistic

Statistics and research are truly wonderful, and we are so grateful to live in an age where so much scientific inquiry and breakthrough is happening. We also recognize that every statistic has two sides: the majority and the minority. Even the smallest of statistics mean that someone out there somewhere will be in the minority group. And there is no way to know ahead of time which side of the statistic you will fall on.

Really, statistics apply to populations retrospectively, not individuals in the present. You do not walk into your birth having a 30% chance of having a cesarean and a 70% chance of not. You walk into your birth either 100% going to have one or not, and we won't know until you are holding your baby! So when you are looking at the research, remember to take it for what it is: just another piece in the puzzle, and only you get to decide how much weight to put on each piece of information as you make your decisions.

Finding the Balance

We believe that pregnant mothers know best what they need to birth their babies. For some moms, that means reading every shred of research and going with the statistics, and sometimes giving pushback to established trends that aren't so clear-cut in their benefits.

For others, it means finding a trusted care provider and following all of the standard policies and procedures, or even asking for interventions during labor and birth, not out of medical necessity, but out of emotional necessity. And that is totally ok too.

Your body, your experience, your choice. We are here to support that!

If you are looking for non-judgmental support as you explore not just the research and statistics, but your own emotions and gut-preferences too, let the us help you! Our doulas serve the greater Cincinnati and Dayton region through pregnancy, birth, and the first year postpartum. We would be happy to help you too.