So I have found out I have group b strep again. I’m pretty devastated to be honest because I cannot imagine any scenario going forth where I won’t have to fight and stand my ground in the face of immense pressure/resistance from HCPs.
When I went into hospital to have little A, I genuinely went with an open mind. I thought things must have moved on in the last ten years, it doesn’t have to be some horribly medicalised birth where they will strip me of my autonomy and treat me only from the neck down. I was wrong, the minute I stepped through that door they were insisting on continuous monitoring, refusing to believe me when I told them I was contracting (because as it turns out their machine was broken, and why would you ever listen to a person over a machine?) And they were putting me under immense pressure to get on a synto drip to speed things up. I had a literal succession of doctors and midwives parade through the room for two hours to tell me how wrong I was, and how I was putting my baby at risk and that I needed to make a decision now. Let me tell you, it had NOTHING to do with what was right or best for me and my baby. It had everything to do with the fact the wards were bursting at the seams and they wanted to get me through as quickly as possible. I have zero faith in the staff on that ward. I don’t expect them to be honest with me and I don’t expect them to respect me. What I do expect is a patronising, paternalistic attitude and an argument.
So what are my options?
Well… what they will tell me is my only option is to go to hospital at the onset of labour to get IV antibiotics. This will involve continuous monitoring (so restricted movement) and if my waters break before contractions begin they will push me to have my labour augmented. After the birth they will require the two of us to stay in hospital for 24 hours for monitoring, and if I happen to give birth at night they will chuck the husband out as soon as they want to move me to the postnatal ward. Sounds f**king horrid right? If I don’t want to submit to all of this I will need to fight them over it, and split my attention and energies at time when I really should be focusing at the task in hand.
Alternatively I can go in there and tell them I intend to have a home birth regardless, they will no doubt tell me that I can’t, that they can’t provide antibiotics at home, that no one will be wiling to cover it, that there are staff shortages etc. I can argue with them about it, I can start a letter writing campaign right now, contact the Supervisor of Midwives, the director of women and children’s services for the trust, my local MLA etc.
I absolutely resent that in my first birth when I meekly went along with everything they told me that I must, I ended up genuinely feeling like I had been sexually assaulted, totally disempowered and humiliated and I honestly believe this contributed to the severe postnatal depression I experienced afterwards. In each subsequent birth I have literally had to fight to get the births that I wanted and to keep my sense of personal autonomy intact. It is utter bullshit that it has had to be this way. I have never felt supported or respected for my right to exercise decisions over my own body. I feel completely sick at the thought of having to speak to another midwife, never mind submit to their way of doing things.
I couldn’t sleep last night because it just kept tumbling over in my mind the stress and the arguments that are to come. I don’t want to fight anymore, but I’m too damn stubborn to just give up and let them take my birth from me.
This isn’t about me putting the birth experience before the baby. I’m okay with taking the antibiotics, despite the latest Cochrane review concluding that prophylactic antibiotic treatment of GBS is not evidence based and does not have a statistically significant effect on outcomes. I am okay with intermittent monitoring. I’m okay with most things if there is a medical need for them. What I am not okay with it is doing things a certain way because “that’s how it’s done” or because it suits the institution rather than it having the least bit of connection to what is best for me or my baby.
Of course the other option is to disengage from services completely, which I’ll admit I am very tempted to do. I’ve already cancelled the midwife appointment I had booked for next week, in theory it is to give me time to think, but I’m not sure I can bring myself to book it again and put myself through this level of stress. Is it really too much to ask for to have the last month of pregnancy not to be a stressy mess?
I really don’t know what to do, but I’m heartbroken to be sat here having to contemplate all of this.