In response to my recent post asking what you’d like me to write about, Navya posed this topic:
I have a question for you. I am an ardent fan of your blog and you have inspired me to stay healthy and I always thought that one day when I would have kids ( my husband and I have been married for 2 years now), I would go the mid-wife route like you. Unfortunately, I recently figured out that I have some cysts in my ovaries that need to be removed etc… basically stuff leading to infertility and that I need to be closely monitored and operated on soon… I was wondering what you would have done had you been in my position because today I am filled with self-doubt as to whether or not go to a big hospital in a big city that is well-equipped or a smaller one which is not so technically advanced but i share great vibes with my gynecologist…
Could you write more on how you would tackle such a situation if you were me and what made you trust the mid-wife over big hospitals?
This isn’t the sort of topic that I normally write about, but health, wellness, nutrition and fitness interest me just as much as frugality and simple living. Our choice to use a midwife and have our babies at home was a pretty simple one. I knew that was what I wanted and there were no contraindications at all. I’ve always been healthy, both of our pregnancies were very healthy and complication-free, neither baby was breech, I didn’t have twins, etc. My first labor lasted 45 hours and my midwives later told me that they had started talking about transferring me to the hospital by morning if the baby hadn’t arrived yet (he was born at 11pm). But other than being long and slow, my labor was uncomplicated. I definitely had “failure to progress” as far as medical textbooks would define it, but that was just the way my body went about it. Every time our midwives checked the baby’s heart rate, it was fine. He wasn’t in distress, and I was still hanging in there (barely!). It’s impossible to know exactly how it would have worked out if I had been in a hospital. Would they have given me Pitocin? Maybe. Would that have resulted in heavier contractions and wonky fetal heart tones? Maybe. Would there have been a cascade of interventions? Maybe. Would I have ended up with a c-section? Maybe. I don’t know what the outcome would have been, but I’m definitely glad I chose the path I did. I’m aware of the fact that things can go wrong during birth, even with a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy. But things can go wrong in just about every scenario in life – we can’t wrap ourselves in a bubble and avoid all risks. My strategy is to keep myself (and my family) as healthy as possible, and do as much research as I can before I make decisions regarding our health.
I did ask myself a few times during my pregnancies what I would do if it turned out that there was some sort of complication. Some complications would have meant that my midwife wouldn’t have been legally allowed to work with me, although I put a huge amount of effort into doing everything I could to prevent complications as much as possible. I followed the Foresight Preconception plan for nearly a year before we tried to conceive. I watched my diet like a hawk – almost no sugar at all, no junk food at all, no refined carbs, etc. A pet peeve of mine is when I hear pregnant women talking about giving in to cravings for daily ice cream, cookies, etc. and saying that pregnancy is the one time when you can eat whatever you want and not feel guilty about it. My own opinion is that pregnancy – more so than any other time in our lives – is when we have an obligation to eat the most nutritious diet we’ve ever eaten. We’re growing another person from scratch! Everything we put in our bodies has an impact on how that little person turns out, and junk food shouldn’t enter the picture at all. Ok, stepping off my soapbox now. (And to clarify, that has nothing to do with my reader’s question about ovarian cysts. I’ll address her specific question further down the page, but I wanted to give a bit of background on my own approach to health and wellness, so I’m including some of my thoughts on avoiding the need for medical interventions during pregnancy. And during life in general. Don’t eat crap).
I strongly believe that a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, exercise, sunshine, and fresh air, stress management strategies, and strong relationships with loved one are the primary keys to health and wellness. But I understand that even if we manage all of those things perfectly, things can still go awry. What would I have done if my baby had been breech? If I had been pregnant with twins? I honestly can’t say. I’m not a “militant homebirther”. I wouldn’t have knowingly risked my health or the health of my babies just to maintain an intervention-free birth. Both of the midwives we used were very competent in terms of the natural birth process, but they were also not opposed to the idea of a hospital birth when they deemed it necessary. If they had told me that I needed to be transferred to a hospital, I’d have agreed to the transfer (I would have been sad, for sure. But I wouldn’t have gone against their advice).
For about three years before we got pregnant with our first child, I read everything I could find about pregnancy, birth, and health in general. I made it my mission to understand as much as possible about my body, the development of a fetus, and how the birth process naturally works without any interventions. I accepted the fact that birth was probably going to hurt like hell (it did), but that millions of women had gone through it and I could too. I felt that being armed with as much information and research as possible would benefit me, and it absolutely did. This is the approach I take with pretty much any health-related situation. And as much as possible, I try to avoid biased sources that have an obvious conflict of interest (for example, an article about the benefits of epidurals written by the drug company that makes the epidurals would be highly suspect in my opinion).
So with that background as far as my own decision-making process and strategies for health and wellness, I’ll try to address the original question. If I were in that situation, I’d start by doing as much research as I could. (I know very little about ovarian cysts, so I’m in no position to give specific advice). I’d discuss the situation with the gynecologist with whom you have a good relationship. I’d also probably set up a time to meet with the doctors at the high-tech hospital for a consultation to see how closely their thoughts align with yours and what their exact treatment strategy would be. Although I’m a strong believer in the body’s ability to fix or prevent most problems (as long as we eat right, exercise, manage stress, get enough sleep, etc.), I believe that high-tech medicine absolutely has its place. When my husband needed knee surgery a few years ago, we went to the best knee surgeon in the state even though it meant driving three hours each way to get to his clinic. So if it turns out that the high-tech hospital can actually offer better results, I would probably choose that option over the smaller hospital. A good relationship with a doctor is essential for routine check-ups and questions, but I think that if I were in need of a doctor to treat an acute problem (especially one that needed surgery and extensive follow-ups), I would seek out the best doctor I could find in terms of clinical outcomes. I would look for a doctor/hospital that did the procedure frequently and with good results. Bedside manner and interpersonal skills would definitely be less important to me in that situation. On the other hand, when I went looking for a doctor for our sons (to do well checks and have on call in case of a problem) I searched all over town until I found a doctor with whom I felt a great vibe and connection in terms of our basic philosophies about health. I don’t need her to handle emergencies, surgeries, or acute issues (which hopefully will be few and far between!), I just need her to check our boys at routine intervals and make sure that they’re growing and developing as they should.
EDIT: I know that this question was asked of me because I’ve written about our choice to have homebirths with our boys. But that decision stemmed from our belief that an uncomplicated pregnancy in a healthy mother is not a medical condition and doesn’t (for the most part) require medical treatment. So I chose highly experienced midwives instead. But if I were faced with a medical condition that didn’t respond to natural healing methods, I’d likely seek out the best, most experienced doctor/hospital I could find.
I hope that you have great results, regardless of which hospital you choose. And since you mentioned wanting to have kids someday, I hope that the cysts can be removed without impacting future fertility. Best of luck to you, whatever you decide!