So what does all this natural birthin’ stuff mean for me?

Well, I’m still trying to figure that out.  But I kinda feel like I’ve already learned so much information from watching TBOBB and my own research that a big shift in my mindset has been made and I’m not sure if I could ever purposefully have the same kind of birth again that I had with Evelyne.  Most of that is based-on medical facts that convince me that it could actually be safer to avoid the medical interventions I had, some of that is based-on my preferences for what I would like it to be like.

Here are a few things that I would like to be different about the birth of my next child (which will be sometime in January, hopefully):

* I don’t want to be hooked to machines that require me to lie down on a bed while I labor and push.

* I’m very interested in trying a waterbirth, or at least using a tub for pain relief and avoidance of perineal tearing.

“Warm water often helps muscles relax. Sometimes referred to the “midwife’s epidural”, the combination of buoyancy and relaxation seems to lower stress and allow the laboring woman’s body to function very efficiently. Babies seem to like it too. The transition from water to water eases the entry for many babies and has a soothing effect on the whole family.”  Puget Sound Midwives and Birth Center

* I want to know when my body is telling me to push and be able to do so the most efficient way possible as the baby is ready.

With uncoached pushing, bearing down does not occur until uterine contractions are well established and the urge to push is present. There are normally several short bearing down efforts per contraction with breath holding for 5 to 6 seconds.” In contrast, “In coached pushing, the mother is alerted to begin pushing as soon as a contraction is noted, and she is encouraged to push for 10 seconds, take a deep breath, and push again. Coached pushing could potentially increase the amount of pressure on the pelvic floor with subsequent deleterious effects….Coached pushing also involves breath-holding (so-called ‘purple pushing’), which is very tiring and can increase the chances of tearing. Purple pushing can also reduce the oxygen levels in mother and baby at this critical time.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology

* I don’t want the birth of my baby to be on anyone’s time schedule except the baby’s.  I refuse a diagnosis of Failure to Progress until I can be presented with medical facts showing me that my baby is in great distress and must come out immediately.

* I want my body to be respected as fully able to accomplish birth the way that God designed it, barring any unexpected complications.  I don’t want a doctor pushing unnecessary medical interventions on me, and I don’t want there to be an underlying assumption that something about my body is faulty and in need of things that are hospital policy rather than what’s really best for my situation.

* I want to freakin’ EAT and DRINK if I feel like it!  If I get a little nauseated and throw-up, well then I throw-up.  It’s happened before, it won’t kill me.  I want to be able to maintain my energy level in a way that makes sense, not with  IV fluids.

* I do NOT want to use Pitocin unless for some reason it’s incredibly necessary.  One huge thing I learned in TBOBB that I forgot to mention in my previous post was about the kind of contractions Pitocin gives.  I knew that they’re stronger and longer and with fewer breaks in between, but I had never thought of what kind of effect that has on the baby.  That means the baby has very little time to recover between contractions, and she’s undergoing some almost-constant major stress.  It also changes your contractions so that the uterus doesn’t function in the same way as it does in a normal contraction, so it’s not as effective in moving the baby down the birth canal.

* I want to be able to hold and nurse my baby immediately after birth.  Of course a medical professional will be present to assess his/her health, but I want that to happen next to me.  I don’t want someone whisking the baby away to the nursery for a bath where I can’t go in, but I can certainly hear her screaming down the hall.  I want there to be a level of respect of the fact that I just pushed this baby out, so I’m going to freaking hold him for as long as I dadgum please, thank you very much.

OK, so what does this mean for me?  Well…. I did a little research, and it turns-out that Washington is a major leader in midwife care in the United States.  And there is another option besides a hospital birth and a homebirth (something I wish TBOBB would’ve addressed): a birthing center.  I found an incredibly reputable and nationally-recognized birthing center (www.birthcenter.com) that is about a mile from our new house in Kirkland, Washington.  Hmmm, what a coincidence….  It’s also about 4 blocks from an outstanding hospital in case any emergency situation arises.  While theoretically I might be able to have some or most of my preferences at a hospital birth, every hospital policy and doctor is different, and I don’t know if I’m strong enough to not be bullied into accepting unnecessary treatment that I wouldn’t be able to refuse in the moment.  I also do not trust myself for one second that I would refuse an epidural that would seductively call my name with its whispers of relief and ecstasy.  I would give-in in a heartbeat.

So I’m thinking about meeting with a midwife after we move to discuss the possibility of using her for my prenatal and postnatal care and for the delivery of my baby.  (Oh, and did I mention that a typical fee for EVERYTHING would be around $4000 and insurance should cover it?  That’s about a third of what it would cost to have a non-complicated vaginal birth in a hospital, not including all of the doctor office visits.)  I suggest you check-out the website, read about what they do, look at the pictures of the birthing rooms, read about their quality of care.  Because here’s the thing:  Midwives are medical professionals.  They monitor the baby’s heartrate and they bring a stash of supplies and medicines that might be necessary. They’re not just little old ladies who like babies and act as cheerleaders while you push.  If a complication arises, they’re going to be fully trained to deal with it.  In fact, there’s a great chance that they might be MORE trained to deal with it in a safe and non-medicinal way than a doctor would.  Why?  Because they are very well-acquainted with how a woman’s body naturally labors and how to look for a problem and find a solution.  At this point, I think I would feel more comfortable putting myself in the hands of someone who does birth like this every day than a doctor who sees a few natural births a year and doesn’t have much to offer in terms of non-medicinal support.

At some point when Clay and I were watching TOBB, I turned to him (after watching a beautiful homebirth and crying my eyes out) and tentatively asked him, “Do you think I could ever do something like that?”  That was a VERY scary question for me to even ask myself.  Because I am the biggest BIGGEST weanie when it comes to pain that you have ever met.  I’m not kidding, I can hardly even handle a headache.  And I’m a huge fan of medicine, I would never consider living without Tylenol, and I take it at the slighest hint of any kind of pain.  So the idea of laboring and delivering without pain medication scares the HECK out of me.  I mean, it really really scares me.

But at the same time, I can’t help but wonder if there’s something to be said for experiencing everything, the good and the bad, that comes along with giving birth.  If women have been doing this for thousands of years, there’s a part of me that wants to identify with that.  I’d like to experience my body doing what it was meant to do, despite the pain.  I know that the pain will feel insurmountable… but in what ways would it completely change me to push through that pain, experience it to the fullest, and then overcome it?  Childbirth is not an illness, it’s not a disease to be avoided, and it’s not something that’s scary and dangerous unless there’s a surgical knife nearby (as much as the medical industry would like for us to believe that), it’s a beautiful thing that God designed.  I’m interested to see how it could completely change my view of myself, my body, and my capacities if I were to do this.  I’m still not 100% sure that I’m going to do this, of course it completely depends on how the rest of my pregnancy goes and if there are any complications or risk factors…. but right now I’m thinking that it could be the most physically and spiritually challenging and healthy decision that I could make, despite my terror of the pain.

So, I’ll let y’all know….

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16 responses to “So what does all this natural birthin’ stuff mean for me?

  1. It’s great that you’re exploring your options. The birthing center you described is exactly how a friend of mine recently delivered. It was quick, and while she described it as painful, she was extremely happy with the experience and rebounded very quickly. If you don’t decide to go that route I’d look into if any of the hospitals practice “kangaroo care” after delivery. The hospital I delivered at did this and it means that the priority after birth is bonding and skin to skin contact with the mother. I had at least an hour holding my daughter, trying to breastfeed, etc before they even weighed her or fully cleaned her. One cool thing about it is that when your baby lies on your chest, your breasts actually regulate their temperature to keep the baby at the perfect temp. Anyway, just thought that might be another something you could look into if you end up at a hospital…

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  2. you are definately going to the right place! i totally agree with you and wish i could have had a more natural labor/childbirth- i am fascinated by water birth. i have a friend (blog friend) at http://www.goodlikeamedicine.com who is about to have a home birth (in the next week or two) and she might be able to offer opinions. you CAN do it without an epidural. it hurts. but if i can do it, so can you! i can’t wait to see what you decide. thanks for clueing us in to your thoughts. they are a blessing to read.

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  3. Ok Emily, I too watch TBOBB a couple months ago and absolutely LOVED it. It made me so sad that I will not be able to experience that type of birth (with all the complications I tend to have, I surely need an MD). I actually wanted to have Lilliana drug free, but at the hospital but the little stinker would never turn around so I ended up with a c-section. I had Cooper naturally, granted he was small but the contractions and pain on that behalf is the same. I actually felt more contraction pain with him then I did with Lilliana as I dilated fully with Cooper and only to 4 before they took me back for my section with Lilliana. I would love to try a VBAC next time if my MD allows and I would love to try it without drugs but I am just not sure they will allow that with a VBAC. Not sure, guess good questions for my OB. Good luck in your endeavor and keep us updated on how things go.

    Melody

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  4. Great thoughts. It does sound like you’re heading to just the right place! It’s exciting to think about the different kinds of resources that will be available to you in WA….sounds like another one of those neat ways God is opening the door to a path you might not have even been interested in before. I have read nothing but positive things about birthing centers. It’s like the best of both worlds. Can’t wait to hear more about where all of this thinking leads you!

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  5. Wow, a natural birth with the help of a midwife sounds great. I gave birth to my first child in December. It was at the hospital, hooked to the IV, of course and, well you know how it goes. Unlike you I can take pain, I am NOT a fan of medicine. I’d rather not take it, unless it is absolutely necessary. I remember I had sliced the top of my index finger one time and it required stitches, i did get anesthesia shots there, but after I did not take any painkillers. Later though it got infected, i started getting a fever and it was really bad, for that I did take painkillers it was, in my opinion, necessary.
    So when the contractions started coming I was ready. I got to the hospital and in my mind I thought I’m not going to get an epidural. But once I started to become more dilated and the pain started getting more severe. Forget it, i couldn’t take it, I practically begged for an epidural. I was a wussy when it came to that.
    I don’t know if I would be able to take the pain, but a midwife helping with natural childbirth sounds wonderful. I always had questions though, won’t the baby drown? I don’t know why that concerned me. I’m sure he/she won’t, but it still concerns me.
    Back in the day midwifes were the mainly the ones who were there and not really doctors. I remember in a history class I had, I read about a lot of women dying giving birth but if there was medical advancement like there is today, in terms of technology and medicine, then they would have survived. That is also one of the things that concerns me.
    You have a very interesting blog. I hope you don’t mind me adding you to my blogroll! It makes it easier for me to access your blogging site. 🙂

    learningbaby.wordpress.com

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  6. Have you thought about trying the Scientologist’s silent birth method? The thing with that is you are not allowed any pain drugs and you have to be totally quiet during delivery. That way there is no negative imprint on the child’s delicate new born psyche. Tom Cruise swears by it.

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  7. I did the majority of my laboring with my first child in the tub and I LOVED it and I recommend it myself. Also, if you can, I strongly recommend prenatal yoga.

    My 2nd child was too quick to do anything in the tub 😦 and at the time, the hospital didn’t allow waterbirths (they do now though).

    Anyway, I’ve shared my two birthing stories on my blog and there are links and other stories listed in the comments. 🙂

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  8. jessicaabruno

    Congratz on this pregnancy and becomin more progressive then conserve.

    Good luck with everything and hope it turns out wonderful.

    Jessica

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  9. Pingback: Saw this on Word Press Front Page and wanted to share it with you « Jessica A’s Weblog

  10. sdchristensen

    Hi there,

    I had my amazing daughter almost a year ago (july 31st will be a year to date) and we used a team of mid-wives and I delivered without any medications and with a small tear. I have to say that while the pain was harsh, having a natural birth was well worth every second! My team was able to suggest different birthing positions as well as ways to eliminate having to use scissors to avoid perineal tearing and take my mind off the pain or help coach me through it. They also helped keep my squeamish husband involved by giving him little jobs to help me and keep him focused off of the issue at hand. I was able to hold my daughter the second she was born and because we were in a birthing center, my little one never left the room we were in until she had to go for hearing tests etc. After they cleaned her up I was able to feed her immediately (20 mins after birth I guess). If we have more children I will use mid-wives with each of them. I honestly believe that they made a HUGE difference in my birthing experience.
    I hope that you are able to achieve all your goals!

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  11. Good for you for investigating your choices! There is a big difference between OBs and midwives. And you’re right: Midwives are trained to know if something goes wrong. From my own experience and having attended births as a doula, I would agree with sd christenson’s comment that having a natural birth is well worth every second. There is nothing more empowering than to give birth to your baby and trust your amazingly designed body to do it wonderfully. I think so many women miss out on the feeling of being active at birth! Yeah, it hurts like stink, but there is no greater high. (Not that I have that much experience. 😉 ) Besides, a natural birth is good for the baby in so many ways.
    You go girl!

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  12. Hi,
    I have 3 kids.With the first one, I had an epidural. The person that did the epidural was a student and stuck me twice in the wrong spot, causing my right leg to fly uncontrollably into the air. Then the professional stepped in and did it. Because I was poked twice before they found the right spot I got air in my spine and that caused some major headaches for about 2 weeks after I had him. After delivery, which I had no pain with, the doctor was checking stitches and ripped some of the accidentally while checking them. I ended up with another epidural and on an operating table and feeling everything they did to me. It was awful. My son is now 11.

    My second child I was in labor with for 11 hours, I spent most of that labor at home. After about 9 hours I went to the hospital where they poked me a million times and I had the baby out about 2 minutes after they broke my water. She is now 9.

    My youngest, I was resting on the couch at 11pm and woke up to some very sharp labor pains. He was born at around 4 am a few seconds after they broke my water. He is now 7.

    When the 2nd and 3rd children were born, I had no time for epidurals or any other pain relief and am glad I didn’t have them.

    Since then, I have seen a lot of birthing shows that have home births and midwives and I often wished I could have done that instead of the hospitals.

    Best wishes to you!

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  13. In the mean time, get a yoga ball and sit/bounce/rock/sway/etc on it daily. It puts gravity to work, helps open the pelvic floor, and strengthen the core muscles you need while pushing Baby out. I had the kind of delivery you’re describing with #1 and am hoping all goes well with #2, too! Best of Luck!

    ps- I found mine at Wal Mart with a sand bag weight in it so it won’t roll away from you

    ps2- bouncing on this ball while holding a fussy newborn is a great way to soothe them, it mimics being bounced around as they were in the womb when you walked!

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  14. Oh yeah!! The ball! I used one of those too. It was a fitness ball, but the hospital called it a Birthing ball. It was good too.

    Did I mention prenatal yoga? If you don’t have a class nearby, at least do squats.

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  15. naturalchildbirth1

    I am glad to hear about your decision to birth naturally. I have done it three times, and I have a blog devoted to helping women do it. Come by if you have a chance. I used the Bradley Method with two of mine. The book “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Revised Edition (Paperback)”
    by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg . Is very informative and has some great relaxation techniques. I also like the bathtub. I dilated 4cm in two hours using it with no pain. Good luck 🙂

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  16. naturalchildbirth1

    P.S. I thought my link would show up. Here it is if you are interested: http://natural-childbirth.net/

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