Four Reasons Natural Birth Trumped America’s Other Options

Eventually my first pregnancy got to the point that I could no longer ignore that this baby was exiting my body, whether I liked it or not.  So I decided to educate myself on childbirth.

Something you should probably know about me:  I get real squeamish around anything medical.

I don’t like hospitals.  I don’t like feeling like a patient.  I didn’t like watching ER, back in the day.  I would try to watch, because, you know, Mr. Clooney.  But, I’d be caught off guard, every episode, by some bodily fluid spraying out.  GROSS.

Many of my family members work in hospitals.  I plug my ears when they share medical stories at the dinner table.

When it comes to medication, I’ve always erred on the side of less is more.  You’ve all seen the commercials where the list of possible side effects sounds far worse than the things the medicine is supposed to treat.

And, I pretty much blacked out during health class.  Too much information about the inner workings of my body.

All that said, I’m not sure if that made me a more, or less, likely candidate for natural childbirth.

But eventually my first pregnancy got to the point that I could no longer ignore that this baby was exiting my body, whether I liked it or not.  So I decided to educate myself on childbirth, using the six resources I mention in this post, plus lots of stories of woman with positive birth experiences.  (Sign up to follow the blog and you will get an alert when the rest of the series is added).

Below are the reasons I found in favor of natural childbirth.  Some are fact based, some are preference based.  This list was enough to encourage me to make natural childbirth Plan A.

Natural Birth Part Two

A 32% US Cesarean Rate, According to the CDC:

Really?!  So one third of woman are now incapable of safely delivering their baby?  Bull Sh*t.   There are scenarios where a cesarean is most definitely life saving for mom and baby, but there were two instances I was not comfortable with:  medical interventions that lead to a cesarean (more on that later), and doctors and mothers that casually consider a cesarean a modern option for any inconvenient pregnancy issue.  I’ve heard stories of mothers scheduling cesareans so they could pick a special date, chose their time off based on work schedules or visitors being in town, because they are told their baby is to big on the ultrasound, because they don’t want to push, because they had a c-section before, because a woman has a small-frame she is told she will have trouble pushing out a baby, or just generally because labor is not progressing and the mom is getting too tired.  The list goes on.  I can’t understand why these are sufficient reasons to under go major surgery.  32% was very discouraging to me.  I needed to arm myself with the best possible scenario for avoiding becoming part of this statistic.

One Medical Intervention Often Leads to Another:  

Many women that are part of that 32% cesarean rate, don’t enter the hospital thinking that will be their fate.  They have the best intentions to labor and deliver vaginally.  But then the realities of modern medicine intervene.

1.  An epidural is administered for pain management, labor slows down because your body no longer feels the natural sensations, nurses administer pitocin (almost 30% of births use pitocin or other induction methods)  to speed up labor which causes contractions to intensify (mom often doesn’t notice because she’s had the epidural), baby starts to go in to distress because of the unnatural intensity and frequency of these super contractions, the babies heart rate spikes to unsafe levels, mom is taken in for an emergency c-section to save the baby.

2.  A mother is at, or past, her due date so an induction is scheduled.  The doctors try to artificially start and progress labor, which can lead to the same scenario described above.

Again, cesareans are a great option to have when things go wrong, but if the medical interventions used to speed labor ultimately lead to the cesarean, we are a victim of our own medical side effect commercial.  Medical intervention comes with side effects, and I didn’t like the course that those interventions could put me on.  So I chose to avoid step one, the epidural, in hopes of avoiding the other interventions.

I Wanted Support, Not Ulterior Motives, Driving My Birth Decisions:

Many hospitals have standards about how quickly you need to progress in labor before they offer ways to intervene – for your benefit, of coarse.

And, most doctors will only be there for the last few minutes before baby arrives, leaving you to labor alone or intermittently with a nurse.

I knew labor would be difficult, and possibly scary.  As a woman you really have no idea what it will feel like.  You don’t get a practice run.  I knew I wanted a support system that would be there with me for the challenging parts, and keep me calm.  I figured the best way to do that would be to hire a midwife.   Because the majority of midwives regularly attend natural births, I felt comfortable trusting my midwife during the birth process.  You would never hire a coach that hasn’t regularly achieved that outcome you want.   That would be silly.  Why would I leave my intentions of a natural birth to someone that doesn’t regularly do it, nor encourage it?

I initially looked for a doula to come alongside my OB-GYN, but found that most were more than I had to spend.  Fortunately, I ended up finding a midwife that was approved to deliver at my hospital (I live in Orange County, CA – not some small town, and astonishingly there was still just one midwife approved to deliver at my hospital, at that time).   This meant insurance would cover it.   I got the best of both worlds: an experienced and encouraging coach and doctor, in a hospital setting in case any issues came up.

Natural Labor in the Hospital
Walking Around to Labor, Temporarily Wearing the External Fetal Monitor to Check on Baby

I Didn’t Want to Feel Like a Patient: 

As I explained, I don’t like medical stuff, which includes feeling like a patient.  By forgoing the epidural I was able to wear my own clothes (no paper hospital gown), walk around the room, try any position I wanted to find comfort during contractions, soak in the bathtub in my hospital room, eat and drink, push in any position I wanted (instead of flat on my back – which actually makes your pelvis more narrow), and generally deal with the pain on my own terms with a trained and encouraging support partner.

Labor and delivery was hard work, but I felt like my body was doing something powerful and natural.  I was not damaged goods, waiting for a doctor to make me better.

Your body is not a lemon.  Our creator is not careless.  Your body was made for this.

Come back for the rest of the series – my natural birth story, and mentally preparing for my upcoming delivery of baby two.  (Sign up to follow the blog and you will get an alert when the rest of the series is added).

Note:  my intention is not to shame anyone that has had a different birth experience from mine.  My intent is to provide a positive example of what birth can be, in spite of what most of us are exposed to about child birth in the United States.  Educate yourself so you can feel comfortable with your own decisions.

 

 

 

Natural Childbirth Sounds Insane, But You’re Still Curious

Six Resources to Help Consider if Natural Birth is Right for You, or Just for Hippies.

I’m a ticking time bomb over here at 37.5 wks. pregnant with Baby Two.

The first time I gave birth I had to learn a lot about my body.  It was a topic that I had avoided for many years (thirty-three to be exact).  So when I started to even think about natural childbirth, it felt like a bit of an ignorant pipe dream.

Could I?  Should I?  Why would I want to endure that?  Do modern women really chose such a barbaric option, or is that just for gypsy women with no health insurance?

 

First hour of life, natural birth
First Hour of Life

If you find yourself asking any of these questions, but are still intrigued whether you could achieve your own natural childbirth, we are going to first start by opening your mind to the possibility.

This post is part of a multi-post series on my experience with natural childbirth (Sign up to follow the blog and you will get an alert when the rest of the series is added):  resources I found to open my mind to the possibility, the benefits I found in favor of it, actually experiencing it with Baby One, and trying to wrap my mind around the idea of doing it again with Baby Two.

Your mind is incredibly powerful.  It will greatly help or hinder you during childbirth.   For that reason, we will start there.

Here is a list of the best resources I found to help consider a natural childbirth, and if the possibility was really for me.

Natural Childbirth, is it right for you

  1.  Book – Expecting Better – This book is a great place to start, natural birth or not.  It helps you to better understand all the “advice” (like “Don’t eat cold cuts”, “Don’t sleep on your back”, “You need a c-section if you had one before”, etc.) we receive as pregnant women, so that you can make educated decisions for yourself based on actual statistics.
  2. Movie – The Business of Being Born – you can find it for free on YouTube.  The documentary shares the opinions of doctors that are for and against births by midwife.  You get to see what natural childbirth looks like, something most women have never seen:  minimal intervention, not hooked up to an I.V., fetal monitor, catheter, and epidural.  Painful, intense, beautiful, and empowering,  There is even a story of one woman that planned to have a natural birth but ended up in the hospital because of complications with her baby.  It reminded me that I feel blessed to have the option of western medicine, when necessary, to support my birth wishes.
  3. Hire a Midwife – I liked my OB-GYN, but at 32 wks. pregnant I finally decided that if I wanted to try for a natural birth, a midwife was my best bet.  OB-GYN’s are trained in all the ways to intervene during childbirth.  Most have had minimal experience with a natural childbirth.  I thought, if it it foreign to them, how are they going to keep me calm and reassure me that everything is normal?  I found a midwife that was approved to deliver at the hospital I planned to deliver at.  I decided to meet with her, and was impressed how much we discussed the mental side of childbirth and what kind of experience I wanted.  There were far fewer rules about how things had to progress.  It was about letting my baby and body do their job, and my midwife would be there to coach me through it all.
  4. Book – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – This book is divided in to two parts.  The first part is natural birth stories.  The second part is observations from Midwives that live on a farm in Tennessee and have attended thousands of natural births.  I didn’t have you start here, because the book is pretty hippy, but awesome, once your mind is ready for it.  Please do not skip this resource if you are considering natural birth.  You will gain an entirely new perspective on birth from what our western culture teaches.  Plus, Ina has a bit of a sense of humor, “There is no other organ quite like the uterus.  If men had such an organ, they would brag about it.  So should we.”
  5. Positive Affirmations – Birth will be an experience like no other.  Give yourself the best possible chance of dealing with it by having a phrase or two that you can repeat when you start to doubt yourself.  For the first birth, mine was something along the lines of: You are strong, capable, and safe.  Your body was meant for this.  A similar one that I found for birth two is: Your body is not a lemon.  The Creator is not careless.  Your body was made to give birth.

That’s a lot of homework right there.  But you’ve got time.  Start with one or two of resources and see if you are still interested.  Or just come back to this blog for part two:  The Cliff Notes Version of Why I Decided on a Natural Birth (Sign up to follow the blog and you will get an alert when the rest of the series is added).

Have you checked out the recent release of my second children’s book?  My Mom is the Worst is available now!

If you have a positive affirmation you plan to use for childbirth, please share it in the comments.

 

Parents Find Freedom, Then Screw It All Up

Oddly enough, we are all pregnant again, and will soon be losing this freedom we worked so hard to reach.

My little human turned 22 months yesterday.  I’m kind of in love with this stage.

Happy Baby

I don’t even recall when it happened.  But I can now leave the room and not have anxiety about what she is doing, and how many seconds I have before she notices I am gone and starts crying.

She self entertains while I make dinner.  Not every night, but it still feels magical when it works.

She can watch Elmo on the iPad for fifteen minutes at a time, without even noticing me.

When we have dinner with friends and their kids, there is an actual kid table.  This one blows my mind.  But it has happened twice now, so I think it’s an actual thing.  On NYE three toddlers sat at our mini princess table, while the adults sat in big chairs around a grown-up table and conversed about things other than kids, mostly.  Oddly enough, we are all pregnant again, and will soon be losing this freedom we worked so hard to reach.

Best friends, 22 months

This is the first time I have actually sat down to write while my daughter is awake, EVER.  Mind you, I’ve had to stop three times now to read her a book, wipe her snotty nose, and stop her from shoving a half eaten Lara bar in to my notebook.  But, it is happening.

Coincidently, this also happened yesterday.

Halo bassient for newborn

We set up the bassinet in our bedroom because this month is the birth month of baby number two.  It’s almost funny that the same month we enter a land of freedom with our first child, it’s also the birth month of our second child.  What were we thinking?

I’m about to enter the newborn stage again any day now, and I’m forced to remember how poorly I dealt with that stage the first time.

I hate not being able to be productive, make decisions for myself, and not have someone hanging on me 24/7.

The silver lining of round two is that I know it is a finite moment in time.  I’m ready to try to enjoy it better the second time around.  Not perfectly,  I’m sure, but better.

Twenty Two Meals and a Bottle of Rum

So instead of European vacations or a trip home for the holidays, I scheduled some other fun activities. 

Various doctors appointments.  Finally sitting down to write our Will.  Cooking over twenty freezer meals before Baby Two disrupts our routine.

I clearly know how to keep a marriage hot.

My husband had the week between Christmas and New Years off.  The younger versions of us would have never let this week pass us by without making some amazing travel plans.  The current versions of us let finances, toddlers, and the third trimester of pregnancy get in the way.  Lame excuses. I know.

So instead of European vacations or a trip home for the holidays, I scheduled some other fun activities.

Various doctors appointments.  Finally sitting down to write our Will.  Cooking over twenty freezer meals before Baby Two disrupts our routine.

I clearly know how to keep a marriage hot.

22 freezer mealsWe did the freezer meals before Wynn was born and it turned out to be a life saver for us.   There was already going to be plenty of chaos in our house as first time parents of a newborn, and typically we cook a hot breakfast daily, and 5-6 dinners a week.

There was no way that was going to happen those first few months, so being able to pull out a meal from the freezer was one very appreciated amenity.  Between a tired mama, and a crying newborn, nothing good happens in the kitchen.  We would have ended up eating Chipotle or Pizza Hut every night, which contrary to what some of you believe, probably isn’t the best idea.

Actually, it could have been even worse than that.

We could have reverted back to our early marriage days where lean pockets and ramen noodles were considered full meals.  You can read about the entire ridiculous year we spent learning to cook here. Expect to read lots of embarrassing stories and many, many typos.  You’ve been warned.

You don’t have to be pregnant to benefit from stocking your freezer with meals.  This is great for all of us with a busy life.

Stocked with freezer meals

Here is the game plan we used to stock our freezer with 22 meals (88 servings).  I recommend spreading the tasks over three days so that you don’t overwhelm yourself:

  1.  Day One (30 min/1 person):  Gather recipes on Pinterest for freezer meals.  I actually had these saved on my computer from last time we stocked the freezer.  We chose 11 different recipes and planned to make two batches of each recipe.
  2. Day One Cont. (30 min/1 person):  Create a master shopping list, organized by the section of the store the ingredients would be found in:  meat, produce, canned goods, etc.  Make sure to double ingredients if you plan to make multiple of the same meal.
  3. Day Two (1 hr/1 person):  Go grocery shopping. I went to two stores, Grocery Outlet and Ralphs, and spent $230 ($2.61 per serving).  The most expensive part was that we chose to buy organic meat and ingredients when possible.  It adds up, but organic meat is important to us, especially when I will be nursing and passing everything along to my young baby.
  4. Day Three (3 hrs/2 ppl. steps 4-7):  Label all the freezer bags with date/recipe name/servings/and cooking day instructions.
  5. Put all the meat in the bags so that you only have to touch meat once before moving on to other ingredients.
  6. Recipe by recipe add remaining ingredients.  It’s great to have one person reading the recipe and adding the dry ingredients while the other person is chopping the fresh ingredients.  Lay each bag flat in the freezer, and stack them on top of each other to save space.
  7. Clean up.

For a price, there are sites out there that will email you a monthly menu, shopping list, prep instructions, and bag labels.  Once a Month Cooking is one that I have used a free sample menu from in the past.  But I also enjoy finding recipes of my own that I know my family will eat.

If you looked in our freezer on a typical day, it’s freakishly barren.  To the point you might feel bad for us.  A few mini bottles of airplane booze and an ice pack.  But now it is completely stocked.  We look like a real American family, with the status symbol of abundance, the ‘overflowing freezer’.