They were all waiting for me to react. “I did not go through years of medical school and have years of debt to scoop “s--t” out of a tub while you birth,” her Ob/GYN told her. As my student recounted her most recent office visit to the entire class, she started to giggle nervously and fidget. It was clear that she was unprepared for the inevitable loss of choice. While some very select MD hospitals will toy with the idea of a water-birth, most only pay lip service to the possibility; luring mothers in by giving them a false sense of ownership over their birth experiences. The mother was gracious enough to not even hint at which OB this was. She looked at me for a reaction. About 57 thoughts flew through my head, most of which I would never share with this class. I landed on, “It is not about her.” So often in births the ownership is taken from the mother. Doctors take it, midwives take it, doulas take it, nurses take it, even machines take it. What can be left of the >experience if the mother is no longer allowed choice?
Back to our distressed student 3 weeks from her due date. Other than this exchange, she is happy with her practice of OBs. I help her find ways to accommodate her preference to have water therapy available to her by offering these suggestions: a bath at home before the trip to the hospital, a shower at the hospital, the off-chance she will birth on a day with an OB secure enough in their standing to scoop poop out of a tub. I however can not resist sharing the ironic fact that regardless of this OB’s preference “s--t happens” during most births and the OB is usually the one to catch it.