Emmie’s birth went off like a bang from the moment she drew her first breath.
Blood curdling screams echoed through the house for the next 8 hours. And speaking of blood, there was a lot of it. Too much in fact.
Natural birth is Best, Right?
Before Emmie was born, I was obsessed with doing everything possible to have a pain free, natural birth experience. You can call me crazy. I was.
But beyond that, it was crucial to me that I optimize our chances of bonding from the start.
I followed the Hypnobabies course and read books such as Childbirth Without Fear, which promote the idea that birth is meant to be pain free. They state that the reason we experience pain is because we anticipate it and fail to relax.
So essentially, if you feel pain it’s your own fault.
choosing to birth at home in bangkok
The c-section rate is astronomical, and I was terrified. I wanted as little unnecessary medical intervention as possible.
The unfortunate thing about Thailand is that foreign midwives are not legally allowed to practice, so I hired a midwife to perform a home birth illegally.
Because she wasn’t legally allowed to work here, my doctor couldn’t know that I was seeing her, much less planning a home birth.
We had to lie throughout the pregnancy, and pull it off the birth as an “Oops! She came so fast!” type of thing when I showed up at the hospital later.
And fast she did come. For a first baby. After 8 hours of labor, a 10 pound person came ripping through my body. Literally. She even tried to fist-bump her dad on the way out.
I was expecting this to be a precious moment; a holy moment. I was expecting to be overcome with love and joy like all those beautiful pictures of mothers meeting their children for the first time.
But that didn’t happen.
When I tried to sit down on the bathroom floor, I was hit with a searing pain in my tailbone while trying to grasp a very slippery and very angry little stranger. She was screaming at the top of her lungs.
Much to my dismay, she inherited her dad’s lungs.
I put her to the breast, in hopes that nursing would calm her down. She wouldn’t latch. She just screamed harder. Eventually I was brought to bed to continue trying to nurse. We got her on for a mere 3 minutes that night.
About 45 minutes after Emmie was born, my midwife informed me that I was losing a lot of blood, so she was going to have to pull out my placenta.
There were only two times that I cried out in pain- when Emmie ripped my insides with her elbow, and when my midwife ripped out my placenta.
I later learned that this was extremely dangerous. Had any part of the placenta stayed inside of me, I would have bled to death before I could have reached the hospital.
This is why home births are illegal in Thailand. If things go wrong and you need a transfer during rush hour, you or your baby will die.
A short time after ripping out my placenta, my midwife suggested that Chris hose me down in the bathroom. It was then that I felt the impact of the blood loss.
It took a lot of energy to sit up on the toilet while he sprayed me with the shower hose. Getting into the tub was physically impossible. And when he tried to walk me back to bed, I couldn’t.
I crawled back to bed on my hands and knees.
My midwife stood by and watched, assuring me that this was completely normal because I had a big baby. She told me that I would likely pass out, but it was fine.
She laughed off our daughter’s screaming. She said that Emmie really didn’t like being born. Then she left.
Yes, she left us alone while I was extremely unstable and our daughter still hadn’t stopped screaming.
The physical consequences
I did pass out that night. On the toilet while our daughter was still screaming her little lungs out. I woke up to my husband shaking me by the shoulders.
What I was expecting to be the most magical day of our lives was anything but.
The next day we had to go to the hospital. It was impossible for us to get out of the house by ourselves with the condition that I was in, so we called our friend, Bob.
When it came time to get down to his car, we had to think a bit creatively because I still couldn’t walk.
We got a luggage trolly from the lobby, laid a bunch of pillows on it, and Chris pushed me out to the car while Bob carried our new baby.
When we got to the doctor, she was quick to get to work on stitching me up.
My midwife wouldn’t stitch me up because it would be obvious that someone was present at the birth. But waiting 17 hours to get stitched up meant that, to my horror, skin tissue had started to die. The pain was unbearable.
Initially I wasn’t given enough local anesthesia to numb the pain of my doctor literally cutting off pieces of my insides and stitching them together like a puzzle. I was in so much pain. It would be months until I dared to even look down there again.
This whole time, my midwife assured us that what was happening with my body was normal, and that I was doing well.
She said we were lucky that we had the baby at home because the doctor would have performed a c-section due to her size.
My family was in shock that it was a whole 5 days before I had the strength to carry my own child, and dumbfounded that I didn’t see this as a reason for concern.
After speaking with several other midwives and women who have given birth to 10 pound babies, I have come to learn that what happened to me was anything but normal.
While going over the birth in extreme detail, another midwife determined that I had clearly hemorrhaged.
She had witnessed several hemorrhages during her time as a midwife, but she had never seen a mother unable to walk with assistance.
I have yet to meet anyone who has seen a baby cry for 8 hours after birth.
Every professional that I have discussed this with insists that there was clearly something wrong with my daughter, and she needed medical attention.
Hard Learned Lessons
The more I dig into the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and the differences between CPMs and CNMs, the more I have come to realize that the outlook that my midwife has towards birth is worryingly prevalent among American CPMs.
Their educational requirements, standards of care, level of continuity of care with hospitals, and legal oversight fall very short of the required standards in Europe and Canada, the very countries from which MANA derives their studies regarding the safety of non-hospital birth.
To be clear, I am not against birthing at home or in a birth center. I believe that these births can be beautiful and safe. But not in Bangkok. And not with a CPM.
For further reading, I highly encourage you to visit Leigh Fransen at the Honest Midwife. She is a former LM, CPM, and founder of the Carolina Community Maternity Center, a birthing center in Fort Mill, SC.
Leigh gave up her career and multi-million dollar business after learning the true risks of performing midwifery as a CPM in America.
Leigh has an amazing story, High Risk: Truth, Lies, and Birth which you can download as a PDF. It chronicles her journey into and out of midwifery, as well as the research she went over which lead her to discover the hidden underbelly of midwifery in America.
Wherever you are, and however you choose to birth your baby, please be safe.
Because contrary to what many CPMs say, birth is not as safe as life gets.
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