My Child Birth Story: Of Shoulder Dystocia and Forceps

Forceps DeliveryMy child birth story is one of shoulder dystocia and forceps. As I was sliding down the birth canal, I hooked my shoulder behind my mother’s pelvic bone. My shoulder and subsequently the rest of my body became stuck, a condition medically referred to as shoulder dystocia. In order to deliver me, my mother’s doctor opted to use forceps to dislodge my body from my mother. My child birth story could be considered a traumatic childbirth. My mother, lying on her back, struggles to birth me. I stubbornly wedge myself in her pelvis. The heroic doctor rescues me and her by yanking me out by my head with a pair of forceps. I still have scars to prove my harrowing child birth story, one crescent scar on my right cheek and another on my head. I also must have been really pissed off about my traumatic childbirth from being ripped from my uterine home because I am flipping off the camera with the hand that is covering my cheek wound in my baby picture.

I always liked to think of my child birth story as a reflection of my personality. I can be quite stubborn at times, especially when it comes down to doing something that I absolutely do not want to do. Stubborn as an adult, stubborn as a baby, right? However, after reading the book Unassisted Childbirth by Laura Kaplan Shanley, I began to seriously wonder about the psychological consequences of my child birth story. Was my traumatic childbirth a result of my inherent stubbornness, or is my stubbornness a result of my traumatic childbirth. Shanley argues that the psychological effects of trauma during childbirth affect people throughout their lives. Would I be a less stubborn person had my mother been allowed to move from out of her hospital bed in an effort to get me unstuck more naturally? I am not sure how much I buy into Shanley’s argument, but the notion does make me think.

If nothing else, my child birth story of a traumatic childbirth complete with shoulder dystocia and forceps helps me in my own considerations about the births of my children. I have already firmly decided that I will not be forced to lay flat on my back in a hospital room during childbirth. In fact, I most likely will not even be in a hospital room as the child birth story of my baby unfolds. I plan to give birth in the comfort of my own home, preferably on my hands and knees or squatting. (I have already started practicing squatting to help my body prepare for its own child birth story.) I will not be persuaded or coerced into any unnecessary interventions when the child birth that I want is normal, natural, and calm. Even though I am not sure that a traumatic childbirth affects a person as much as Shanley believes. Then again, my stubbornness is going to get me the child birth story that I want, so maybe there is something to birth affecting life.

Update: I successfully gave birth to my daughter at home with a midwife. The only interventions that I received were occasionally monitoring of my daughter’s heartbeat with a fetal Doppler between contractions and an initial vaginal check at the beginning of my labor. By the time my midwife and her assistant arrived at my house, I was already completely effaced and dilated. My daughter was born just four and a half hours after my water broke. I definitely had the type of birth that I wanted.

Originally written on July 21, 2010

Image Credits

Forceps Delivery:

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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