Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Demand Better Treatment in Birth

I moved to Houston in the fall of 2009 to attend grad school at the University of Houston. My
husband followed a semester later. We decided to make Houston our home, so we needed to take care of some paperwork in order to become official Texas residents. At the beginning of my final semester of grad school, newly pregnant, we needed to get some business taken care of that required the ever-dreaded visit to the DPS. I had to go by myself that day. I called ahead to make sure I had all the required paperwork. I didn't want to be sent home for something only to have to wait in line again.

I arrived, required paperwork in hand, pulled my number, and proceeded to wait. And wait.....and wait. My turn finally came. I walked up to the woman behind the counter to take care of my business.

Guess what.

I was missing something.

I insisted that I had called ahead to confirm that I had everything that I needed. She was about to quickly and nonchalantly dismiss me. After all, I was just one of many that day. Suddenly, unfamiliar with pregnancy hormones, I burst into tears. I blubbered something about, "Dadgum HUSBAND's business" and, "Pregnant," and the lady said, "Girl, you gotta take care of yourself. Hang on a second." She proceeded to walk to a back room for a few minutes. When she came back, everything was magically taken care of. I don't remember what she did, but I remember she mentioned a system where she could look up the information she needed from me without the "required" paperwork that I was told over the phone that I didn't actually need. (I have since learned to Just. Bring. Everything.)

I was thankful that she was able to help me without sending me back home, but I couldn't help but wonder, "Why did I have to cry first? If she could have just helped me the entire time, why was she so willing to send me back home first? Why not just provide that customer service in the first place?"

Fast forward a few years to an experience I had at the dry cleaner. This time I had a toddler in hand, and I was pregnant. Again. My husband urgently needed his suit pants dry cleaned. I had accidentally washed them in our home washer, and now they were a shrunken, wrinkled mess. They were ruined. I was hoping they were salvageable enough to be repaired at the dry cleaner for one last needed hoorah the very next day. I called around and finally found where I needed to go. When I arrived, the man behind the counter insisted that he couldn't fit me in. Not even for just one pair of pants. There was absolutely no time. I remained stoic. I breathed. I tried to persuade him, but he was immovable.

I walked back to my car, where I proceeded to burst into tears. I don't know how long I sat there just crying away, when I heard a tap at my window. It was the man behind the counter. He said, "Give me the pants. I can fit you in." I thanked him, and I asked him why he was helping me. He said, "Because you are crying."

Why, if he could have helped me the entire time, did he make me cry first? Why not just provide that customer service in the first place?

Have you ever noticed that people don't seem to take you seriously until you get crazy first? Or is that just me?

My husband and I talked about this just the other day. Why do our kids insist that we get crazy before they take us seriously? And why do we do that to each other? I said to my husband, "We both do it. Think of all the times that I try to be nice and try to be nice and try to be nice before I finally just hit you in the face with a frying pan." Bonus points if you get that Family Guy reference.

Fast forward to last night's Birth Boot Camp class. In a previous class we discussed how continuous electronic fetal monitoring increases the c-section rate without improving fetal outcomes. One of my students told me that she discussed this with her OB, and he agreed. They know this is true, but they insist on continuous electronic fetal monitoring anyway. Why? Because it is easier.

At this point, I had to mention that women who insist on better treatment in birth tend to get it. They won't get it if they don't ask. It is an unfortunate truth that people will just "do what they always do" or do what is most convenient, regardless of whether or not it is in the best interest of their customer. If the customer doesn't ask for, or demand, better treatment, they won't get it.

Do you want your insurance company to pay for your home birth? Be the squeaky wheel. Keep going up the chain until you get to someone who knows what they are talking about. Those first few gatekeepers are just that. They are there to keep you OUT and keep you from getting what you want.

Demand better treatment.

Do you want to have intermittent monitoring rather than continuous monitoring? Discuss it with your care provider beforehand, and insist on it during labor.

Demand better treatment.

Do you feel like your care provider is fighting you every step of the way?

Demand better treatment.

Demand with your wallet, and take your business elsewhere if you need to. If your care provider does not want to support you in the type of birth you are seeking, you will not change his or her mind. Choose are care provider who supports the type of birth you want. They are out there!

Demand better treatment. You and your baby deserve it.

Want to learn more about all of your options for having an amazing birth? Take a Birth Boot Camp class! There are Birth Boot Camp classes all over the Houston area.

Learn more about Improving Birth and how women are demanding better treatment in birth all over the U.S.

Learn more about why consumers need to care about demanding better treatment in birth.

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