"We carry the lives we’ve imagined as we carry the lives we have, and sometimes a reckoning comes of all the lives we have lost."Helen Macdonald, from H is for Hawk (Jonathan Cape, 2014)

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Tulip Fields - Vincent van Gogh
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Cecily Parsley Makes Cowslip Wine by Beatrix Potter


me: hey i’m kinda good at this writing thing
*reads other people’s writing*
me: i am a literary potato

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How are you improving birth?
By speaking out?
By becoming a part of your birthing community?
By supporting mothers with similar stories to your own?
By refusing to accept that this is ‘just how things are’?
Submit you photo and sign up for an Improving Birth rally in your area today!

something very similar happened when I was in labor with my son. My doctor “wasn’t on call” and I got one of her partners that I had never met (still haven’t met) she strolled in with no sense of urgency. Then was surprised when she saw that I was crowning. Told me not to push because she hadn’t even donned gloves. I told her that I couldn’t just NOT push and she said I had better if I didn’t want my child to fall out onto the concrete floor (after making a smartass remark about how I refused an epidural)… After Kai was born, they immediately cut his cord against my wishes, then he was rushed off to the “warmer” without me getting to even see him. I begged for my child while she shoved her hand back into my uterus and scraped my placenta and the wall of my uterus with her hands.. Weeks prior to Kai’s arrival, I had set it up that his placenta/cord would go to science research, they disposed of it without consulting me. I cried for 2 hours until they brought me my child. I will NEVER have another hospital birth.

THAT IS SO AWFUL! I’m praying that the midwives at the hospital I’m going to be delivering in will better adhere to my wishes.

Wait, so in America they pull your placenta out? For real? What the actual fuck guys?! :( we get the choice of breastfeeding to allow it to come out naturally, or to get given an injection which will contract your uterus for the placenta to come out on its own.

In America it is standard practice to manually remove the placenta. They give the mother a bag of pitocin, then encourage her to push as they gently tug on the umbilical cord to help the placenta dislodge. Some doctors will not have the mom push and just pull. Some doctors will reach in and manually remove the placenta. It usually depends on whether or not the mother has had an epidural, needs more medical care, or if the doctor has another patient waiting or another patient needs the delivery room. They also want to examine the placenta for any tears or abnormalities before they leave, which doctors like to do fairly quickly as the delivery, so waiting around for the mother to naturally expel the placenta isn’t something they want to do. They also feel that the risk of hemorrhage is high if the mother delivers the placenta without supervision by a doctor or midwife, and since they like to leave, they want it done sooner rather than later.  All of this, of course, is against evidence based medicine and are things that should only be put into practice in an emergency medical situation, but since we treat every birth like it’s an emergency waiting to happen here in the states, everyone gets mostly the same ‘preventative’ treatments before, during, and after birth.

Oh wow :( that sounds awful! The injection we get also helps stop you bleeding out as well as contracting your uterus. It’s all over and done with in about 1-2 hours after birth. This is the time you spend skin to skin with the baby. This is all obviously based on a pretty normal labour and delivery, but even if something happens, they try and stick to that as much as possible.It may vary from place to place though. The place I’m going to give birth has had some pretty horrific stories, but I’m actually beginning to feel a lot more grateful that it’s not like the US!

Yeah, here the time after baby is born is commonly used to do injections, weigh, measure, get Apgars, deliver placenta, sew up tears, deliver any emergency care that is needed. Usually breastfeeding isn’t initiated until 1-2 hours after birth hence our abysmal breastfeeding rates. You have to ask specifically for skin to skim in most hospitals since it’s not the norm, even at so called ‘baby friendly’ hospitals. The pitocin injection we get here is supposedly to help with bleeding, shrink uterus, etc, but evidence based medicine actually points to it being more of a hindrance than a help. It can accelerate bleeding if it is too strong, interrupt breastfeeding by causing afterbirth pain which is intensified by breastfeeding, and cause uterus exhaustion which can lead to hemorrhaging, too.
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Fig. 85. Earth in the sky, as seen from the Moon. 1881.