Last night I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at The Scarborough Hospital (Grace Campus). The discussion was organized by the Family Advisory Council on Maternal and Infant Care. My role as a member of the Advisory Council was to speak on the valuable role that choice plays in improving outcomes in pregnancy and birth care.
Overall, I think the presentation went very well! I was very pleased with the points that I chose to raise, as well as the audience response. The bad news is that my digital recorder failed on me (or maybe I failed on it) — so was not able to present My First Podcast (as I’d hoped). Well, maybe next time. Instead, I’ve listed some of my notes here of the main points that I put forward in my presentation. Your feedback and comments are always appreciated.
What solidified my interest in Family-Centered Care (FCC) is what I call my two-track prenatal experience
RELATIONSHIP WITH PHYSICIAN: My physician and I had a good relationship prior to my pregnancy
She was open and kept me informed on all matters, illnesses, checkups, etc.
Bonus: We also had a shared cultural background so she understood my issues and perspective, jokes i.e. “I’m wearing my Sunday baggie.”
My pregnancy changed the Code of Conduct, script, choreography of visits
I lacked an understanding of this new “prenatal culture” — i.e., concept of “trying to get pregnant” and question of “are you keeping it?”
Suddenly I was not qualified to participate in my own care
Even shared cultural background wasn’t enough to bridge the gap (the culture of prenatal care trumped our previous relationship)
Handouts were not culturally relevant
Ongoing issues around diet, midwifery, homebirth, birthplan, sick vs. healthy attitude, etc.
My husband and I would joke about what government secrets were lurking in my med file (information not shared, results of tests not forthcoming)
Increased tension; not enough information provided to make informed choices and doctor seemed offended by my questions
Issue of control of my care at a time when I was “losing” control of my bodily function — control of any kind was very important to me
Parted ways with physician over issue of HIV Test (physician made bad judgement call when I refused an HIV Test that I believed was optional)
MIDWIVES: I transitioned my care into that of midwives
I was treated with respect
I was allowed and encouraged to participate in my care
Weighed self, tested own urine and reported results to midwives — medical file always open on the desk, I could see and comment on the comments
Debated pros and cons of all tests, final choice always mine
Birth plan was encouraged, discussed and respected
I didn’t always get my own way but discussion helped me to understand why not
My culture was respected
BLACK WOMAN AND CHILD: At that time, I felt that mothers of any cultural difference or having any difference in perspective could not get fair treatment or choice in a physician-run hospital system
As a result, I began publishing a magazine to promote and validate the cultural perspectives of Black women around the world
I held fast to the ideology that “smart,” healthy, empowered women gave birth at home with midwives and only “sick,” scared women gave birth in hospitals with physicians
home birth = choice and hospital births = challenges
Working with the magazine, I had an opportunity to speak to many different kinds of women
Learned that some women were having healthy, safe, empowered and successful births in hospitals too — what made the difference was the level of involvement or choice
I learned that it doesn’t have to be polar opposites
Home birth is not for everyone but having choice can empower birth outcomes for families even in a hospital
NEW VIEWS: Hospitals like TSH are promoting that they are open to Family-Centered Care
Women and their families can benefit from having options, benefits also roll over to staff and overall view of hospital
Example: a birth plan helps to address issues and opens dialogue between pregnant mothers and caregivers
A birthplan also takes pressure off staff: the hospital is note solely responsible for successful birth outcomes
Example: Cultural ideals can be good ideas that staff can learn and pass on to other patients
Culture doesn’t happen in a vacuum
We all want to belong; not check our culture at the hospital door
In childbirth, we may be at our most vulnerable but mothers are not monsters — we can actually be reasonable
Example: I like to eat barley porridge right after giving birth. I don’t expect to get that in the hospital cafeteria BUT is the hospital open to having a family member bring some for me? Let’s work together.
When a mother is relaxed, happy and confident, we get better outcomes, better births, less snapping at nurses and bad attitudes
The input of relatives is validated, helps mother, speeds healing
The birth experience, whether hospital or home, set the tone for future attitudes about childbearing and child-raising
I am on Baby Number Four, so I know that there’s some truth to this
So I heard on the news that cold medicines are being recalled because they aren’t good for infants and young children. I’ll tell you who already knew that: my great-grandmother (and she didn’t have to hear about it on CNN). I remember all of those down-home remedies that many of us scorned when we were younger: herbs, honey, soup, ginger, garlic, massage with “Chinese Oil,” you name it. Now these same remedies are the ones that mainstream culture is promoting! Wow.
I’m curious: what do you do for your children when they have colds? Or what tricks have you learned in your family to treal an illness? I’m curious…and so are our BWAC readers. Please leave your comments and take our poll.