Mark and I have been thinking a lot lately, about the type of birth experience we'd like to have. I'm currently reading Mind over Labor, and he's currently reading The Birth Book. I absolutely LOVE the fact that Mark is so involved in our research process and we spend HOURS discussing what we'd like to see happen and "what if this happens", "what if that happens", how he's going to be our "voice" during the birth process, etc. I know that this is just a precursor for how involved of a parent he'll be and that makes me fall in love with him more every day. We went to lunch with good friends on Sunday after church, and the guy said something along the lines of "I hear a c-section is the way to go these days". I was so proud of Mark for voicing what we were thinking about doing during the birth of our baby and talking about the stuff he'd learned in the books he's read, etc. He's not usually one to voice his opinion like that, so it was great to for me to see him do that and know that it's just as important to him as it is to me. He said afterwards though, that he hoped he didn't sound like a know-it-all and he was worried that our friends would think that he was "forcing" me to try to have a natural birth. And he made clear to me that if, at any time, I changed my mind about what we've been discussing that he was perfectly okay with that and he wanted me to tell him right away. I really love that man.
So anyway, while I realize that sometimes things happen during birth or pregnancy that are out of our control, and that you end up needing a c-section, in my little dream world, I would like to try to do it naturally, preferably with a midwife, but I'm still trying to research my options more on that. I thought this article was interesting and kind of sums up why I'd like to attempt a natural childbirth, even though I've had quite a few people tell me I'm nuts for wanting to try. =)
Epidural or Drug-Free Birth? By Jennifer L.W. Fink and Marisa Cohen
Should you get an epidural or go drug free? To help you decide, read the story of two very different deliveries. Going Au Naturel Story of Jennifer L.W. Fink
Early in their pregnancy, my brother and sister-in-law announced their birth plan. My sister-in-law summed it up for me with one word: "Drugs!" My brother shrugged. "She has a low pain tolerance," he said. Before she experienced a single contraction, my brother's wife decided to use pain medication during labor, a choice made by thousands of American couples each day. And why not? With childbirth widely acknowledged as one of the most intensely painful experiences known to humankind, why would someone choose to give birth without drugs? How about because it's more comfortable! As counterintuitive as it sounds, my drug-free third labor was far more comfortable -- and empowering -- than my epidural-assisted first labor, or my narcotics-assisted second birth. Natural childbirth is definitely not common in our society. C-sections, inductions, and epidurals are closer to the norm today, and many women consider any labor that ends in a vaginal delivery "natural childbirth." The idea of a woman laboring undisturbed, without drugs, seems almost quaint -- if not downright backward -- to a lot of women. My first birth was fairly typical. I spent most of my labor just wanting it to be over. It hurt. I wanted the pain to stop. I certainly didn't want it to get worse. When my doctor suggested breaking my water 12 hours into my labor to "get things going," I agreed. Anything to speed it up!
Learning a Lesson
Although I'm a registered nurse, I didn't realize then how much one intervention would affect the course of my entire labor. But I knew that breaking my water would make my contractions more intense, so I insisted on an epidural. The cascade of interventions had begun. Soon I had an external fetal monitor around my middle, an epidural in my back, an IV in my left arm, and a blood pressure cuff around my right arm. When the doctor determined that a full bladder was blocking the baby's descent, they inserted a catheter. And when my baby's heart rate dropped while I was pushing, they strapped an oxygen mask to my face and used forceps to pull my son into the world. My back ached for days at the epidural insertion site, my hand was sore from the IV, and I couldn't sit normally for weeks. I didn't feel like myself for almost a month. Later, I couldn't help but wonder, What if I'd never let the doctor break my water or had the epidural? I started to read books such as The Birth Book by Dr. Sears, and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. What I learned made sense to me: When you work with your body instead of fighting it, labor is marvelously efficient. I learned that each intervention has side effects, often leading to more interventions, a fact supported by my own experience. Deciding Against an Epidural For my second labor, I decided to surrender to my contractions instead of fighting them. Still, when I arrived at the hospital, I began to doubt my ability to give birth. I considered an epidural. We tried a small dose of IV Nubain instead. The drug made me feel sleepy. I found the hot tub a much more effective form of pain relief. I felt less pain than during my first birth, and while some might say it's because subsequent labors are shorter and therefore less painful, I think the tub played the bigger role. My nurse-midwife monitored me while I labored in the tub, and when I felt the urge to push, she helped me out onto the bed. Five minutes later, our second son was born -- pink, healthy, and happy. I felt 100 percent better than I did after my first birth. Seconds, not weeks, after delivery, I felt like myself again. Later, I wondered if the Nubain had really been necessary. I realized that in my helpless moment I'd simply wanted someone to do something; maybe I'd needed reassurance more than drugs. For my third labor, I relied on the support of my midwives and the wisdom of my own body. While my labor was intense, I wouldn't describe it as painful. I spent each contraction relaxing, allowing my body to do its necessary work. Our third son was born shortly after midnight in a peaceful, powerful water birth. The feeling of triumph I experienced was tremendous. Through my own labor, I brought my son into the world. I gained an appreciation for my body and a sense of personal confidence that persists to this day. I know that deep within me I have the capacity and strength to deal with anything. That's a gift no drug can give.
Reprinted by permission of Seal Press, http://www.sealpress.com./ All rights reserved.
Let me just be the dissent opinion and say you are NOT nuts to want to have your baby without medical intervention. First step, STOP thinking of it as a something in your "dream world" or something that would only occur in an ideal situation. Change your thoughts so that natural childbirth is the only way to go. Convince yourself - completely - that you are going to have your baby without drugs. Sure, things can change, but there's no sense in going into your birthing experience with the slightest bit of doubt that it won't go as you planned. Prepare yourself, read all you can, know your options, and visualize how it will go.
The author said that childbirth is widely regarded as one of the most intensely painful experiences known to mankind. Intense? YES! But NOT intensely painful. The author says that exact same thing about her own natural labor later in the article. Having a drug free birth is, rather than being intensely painful, intensely empowering. It's truly amazing what our bodies can do if we only allow birth to happen rather than working against ourselves.
You can do this, Monica. And you will.
P.S. I read The Birth Book (the one by Sears, right?) and thought it was great. You should also get The Baby Book by the same authors. Jason and I refer to it all the time.
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