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….