The people in my life can be classified into three groups regarding my decision to have a natural childbirth: those who are supportive, those who are not, and those who don’t know anything about it and don’t have an opinion. While talking with friends of ours a while back, I was surprised to discover that they did not even know that natural childbirth with a midwife was an option. In fact, they didn’t even know that it existed. Denny and I told them all about it, and they were amazed at what they didn’t know. Then there are the ones who think that I am a complete idiot and are sure that I will change my mind, or wish that I had. The last group is extremely supportive, and is mostly made up of women who have gone through natural childbirth themselves a time or two (or six). I figured that I should write a blog about why I am choosing this alternative, so that those who don’t know, and those that don’t agree with me will have a chance to understand. I’m not saying that I think that everyone should go this route, because everyone cannot. C-sections are necessary at times. There are complications that require hospitilization, and I don’t yet know from experience, but I’ve heard that it does hurt – a lot – and that’s why there are Epidurals.
- Natural childbirth = no medication. No needles. No epidural to numb the pain. There are natural methods of pain relief, such as relaxation, rocking/swaying, water, etc. and supposedly, they do work to some extent. But I guarantee you that no doctor will be sticking a needle in my spine. And in doing reasearch, I found out getting an epidural is not just a needle prick; they feed a cathether through the needle, and it stays in your back. Yeah, I didn’t know that, but I am so glad that I do now. No way, no how. Not for me. There are numerous risks involved and I would have to be catheterized, monitored, and I could have a negative reaction to it. Plus, some women have pain at the injection site for the rest of their lives. And most importantly, the drugs go to the baby. Babies born to mothers who have had an epidural are more likely to be less alert, have trouble latching on, have breathing problems, have poor muscle tone, strength, and responsiveness, and are more likely to be jaundiced.
- IV needles. Um, yeah. I know that if I have an IV in my arm or hand or wherever they might put it, they might as well go ahead and do a C-section, because I will not be able to concentrate on anything but that needle. I will not be able to get through labor and push this baby out. I just know it. Um, hello! Remember how I almost passed out when I had blood drawn for the first time? And that only lasted a few minutes. I cannot have a needle in me for hours. I simply cannot.
- No hospitalization! I will deliver this baby at the birthing center. The same place that I go for all of my appointments and childbirth classes. A place that is familiar to me and is more like a hotel than a hospital. In the birthing rooms, there are no machines, and no monitors that I constantly have to be hooked up to (requiring me to constantly be in the bed). There is a queen size bed, a HUGE tub, a bathroom, and a kitchenette. The baby will stay in the room with us, and will never leave. Everything that has to be done – exams, shots, cleaning up, etc. – it’s all done right there in front of us. The baby will even be in the bed with me, not is a bassinet. The midwives told us that in the twenty-something years that they have been in business, only 1 woman did not put her baby in the bed with her. And I can understand that. After I’ve waited for 9+ months to hold my baby girl, the last thing that I want to do is be separated from her. But the best part is the length of the stay after she is born. We can leave in as little as 4 hours after the birth, as long as the baby and I are doing fine, and she is breastfeeding with no problems. Most people are there for less than 24 hours total – from the time they walk in the door in labor until the time they walk back out with their baby. I think they said that the average was around 15 hours. The only negative is that we won’t have the opportunity to have visitors (other than our family that will be waiting there during the birth) like we would if we were at the hospital. Oh well, they know where we live.
- Freedom! I will have the freedom to do just about anything that I want while I am in labor. I can eat, drink (two things you can’t do in the hospital), walk inside and outside, rock in the rocking chair, use the birthing ball (it’s like an exercise ball – it helps you to relax and moves the baby down further into the birth canal) stand in the shower, sit in the tub, lay in the bed, and on and on. The choice is mine. And Denny has freedom too. He can participate as much (or as little) as he wants. He doesn’t have to just hold a leg up for me.
- No doctors. I love this one. We all know that doctors do not want to be at the hospital at 3:00 a.m. if they can avoid it. At the hospital, a doctor might try to give me drugs to speed things up if they don’t seem to be going fast enough. Then if that doesn’t work, he or she can do a C-section and have it all over with in 30 minutes. And then there’s induction. So what if I go past my due date? Apparently she isn’t ready to come out yet, so don’t force her. Most of the time when labor is induced, it ends up in a C-section. Why? The baby is not ready to come out yet! But my midwives will not suggest than I be induced. Nor will they offer me Pitocin to get the baby out faster (I don’t think that they even have any there to offer). And a C-section? Not even an option.
- I was born naturally. Although not by choice (I was coming too fast and there was no time. Which is great news for me – since my mom had a fast labor and delivery, my chances of having one increase!), my mom admits that it really wasn’t that bad. My grandma had 6 children naturally. Her mother had 7 naturally. And they got through it just fine. If it really was that bad, I think they would have maybe used some preventive measures and stopped after 1 or 2. Not 6 or 7. Besides, women have been doing it this way for thousands of years. It’s a natural bodily function for a woman. Our bodies were made to carry and deliver babies. So why have it any other way?
So please, respect my wishes and opinions, even if they are totally opposite of yours. I have never questioned any woman who chose a hospital birth with medication. I would never say anything negative to her about her choices. It’s none of my business what you do (or did in the past) and it’s none of your business what I do. But the funniest part of all of this? Most of the comments that I get are from men. One guy told me that it was going to hurt more than I imagined and I would be begging for an epidural, so I should just go to the hospital to begin with. I wish I had stopped him and asked when the last time was that he gave birth, but then I remembered that he doesn’t have a vagina! So yeah, if you have no experience on the topic, you really have no right to put your two cents in.