When it came to pregnancy, there were more than a few things I had to explicitly ask for. When I was experiencing morning sickness all day and every damn day, I had to ask people to avoid eating certain foods around me (or wearing certain perfumes, or cooking certain meals in general). I had to ask if someone would give up their seat on the metro, and if my partner could slow his roll when we took our daily walks. However, there are more than a few things a woman shouldn't have to ask for when she's pushing and her pregnancy is coming to an end. Seriously, when labor and delivery starts, asking for necessary things should stop.
I was "lucky," in that I had a pleasant labor and delivery despite pretty horrible circumstances. I was initially pregnant with twins, but one of my twin sons died in utero when I was 19 weeks pregnant. From that moment on, and even in the throes of pushing, I was cognizant of the fact that I would have to birth a baby that was alive, and a baby that wasn't. Emotional hardships aside (and trust me, it was incredibly difficult to handle) my, um, "unique" situation was also going to make labor and delivery somewhat complicated. Still, I was respected in every aspect of the word, received constant updates, and was treated like a human being who deserved to have a say in what was happening to her body. In fact, I shouldn't consider myself "lucky," I should just consider my experience the bare minimum in healthcare.
Still, I know not everyone receives that care. Until women in the middle of pushing a human outside of their body are given the respect they deserve, and no longer have to ask for the following things, I will have to continue to consider myself "lucky."
A woman pushing a human out of her body shouldn't have to ask for a little cheerleading squad, my friends. Whether it's her partner or a bestie or a nurse or a team of doctors or a midwife or a doula, whoever is in the room needs to have their pom poms ready. The only words you know are, "You can do this!" and, "You're almost there!" and, "You're incredible."
Someone To Clean Up Her Poop
Now, this might not be necessary and if it isn't, I am officially jealous of you. It certainly was necessary for me, but I didn't have to worry (nor did I particularly care) about pooping in front of a room of strangers (and my best friend and my partner). There was someone on my birth team who swooped in and cleaned up that poop, doing the lord's work like a boss. I didn't have to ask for a clean up crew, and neither should anyone else.
Of course, there's a certain level of modesty that goes out the damn window when you're pushing a human into the world. However, if someone is trying to come into the room who really shouldn't be there, the laboring woman shouldn't have to ask for people to respect her privacy.
I had two friends show up while I was still pushing, and the hospital staff just instinctively knew that they needed to remain in the waiting area (I was in one of those awesome hospitals who will literally let 20 people into the room if you want them there).
Just because a woman is using her body to push another body out of it, doesn't mean she loses all ownership of her individual person. Whatever happens to that woman during labor and delivery, is something she needs to be OK with. Yes, sometimes medical intervention is absolutely necessary and you're not necessarily happy or OK with it happening, even though you know it's what needs to occur.
Still, there isn't a reason under the sun that a woman should be made to feel as if she isn't in control of her body and what may or may not be happening to it. Nope. Not a thing. Shouldn't happen.
My team of doctors and nurses were awesome, in that they provided me with consistent updates without me even having to ask. Whether they were telling me they could see my son's head, or simply saying that I needed to push a certain way so I wouldn't tear, I was always aware of what was going on because of my team. That's how it should be, folks.
That's right. All eyes should be on whoever is birthing a human being. Do not look at your phone. Do not wonder about a television show character and whether or not they'll make it through the next episode alive. Do not carry on a conversation with anyone else. Focus, people.
For People To Keep Whatever Is Happening To Themselves
Unless the woman pushing a human out of her actual body has given you explicit permission to talk about what is going on, don't talk about what is going on. Seriously. Don't post about her labor. Don't take pictures. Don't text play-by-play updates as if you're a sport commentator and this is the "big show." Just, no.
My best friend texted my mother every few minutes, updating her on what was happening when my son was being born (my mother was in another state and very upset she couldn't be there). I asked my best friend to do that. Other than her updates, not a single person was allowed to talk about what went down in that delivery room. That was my story to share, my friends.
A woman in labor shouldn't have to ask for endless and unwavering support. That's a given. Just do it. Put whatever fears you have aside and keep them there until the job is done. If you don't like that epidural needle and you're scared sh*tless, keep it to yourself. You're there to help someone else.
For Her Birth Plan To be Respected...
Yes, having a healthy baby and healthy mother is the overall goal when it comes to labor and delivery. However, that shouldn't be the only goal. Respecting a woman's wishes doesn't end the moment that woman walks into the labor and delivery room. She shouldn't have to continuously advocate for herself and the birth plan she has prepared. While plans do change (and usually for necessary reasons) they shouldn't change "just because." Respect should be a given, regardless.
...And For Everyone To Value And Respect Her Wishes
Duh. Just, you know, duh.
Trust me when I say that every pregnant woman knows that she won't get everything she wants. I mean, she's gone 40 (more or less) weeks without eating soft cheeses. She can and will adapt, but that doesn't mean that disrespecting her wishes and what she hopes to experience during labor an delivery is OK. It's not.