The book is packed full of tips for those interested in the idea of a minimal intervention birth plan, and the second half of the book is dedicated to empowering and detailed birth stories.
The week ahead is pretty monumental. It’s a fresh start – a new year!
Many of us are in the middle of goal setting. If you want to read my thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions (hint: run from them) and some of my goals for the upcoming year, click here.
I actually heard from a friend today that said her goal is to read one book a week. Wow. That’s impressive. And though that is not my goal this year, I love the idea of reading more. I know many of us hope to read more in 2019.
Which was harder for you – the last two weeks of your pregnancy, or the first two weeks home with your newborn?
Here’s a recipe for an internet disaster: Tell a bunch of tired and hormonal women to RELAX already.
But I can’t. I literally can not hear another women complain about needing her baby out NOW without adding another perspective.
Note: If you are a nurse or a well meaning friend or family member – please don’t add to that notion either. Help these women relax! Buy them ice cream, rub their feet, but don’t make them feel like their baby NEEDS to come out now.
This P.S.A. is coming from someone that is currently “past due” by almost a week, so I’m in the trenches too. But not for a second will I be fooled that I can’t wait a few more days for my baby to arrive. Passing your due date is not a reason to panic. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with your body or your baby. You don’t need to start planning your induction the second you reach your last month of pregnancy. I mean, your baby WILL arrive. I have never heard of one baby that grew up and graduated in their mother’s womb.
Trust me, I get it, you are uncomfortable right now. Your ankles may be swollen, your skin may be tight and itchy, you can’t find a comfortable sleeping position. That’s all real.
But I hate to break it to you, you aren’t going to be comfortable for awhile.
If you’ve never been through it or in case you’ve forgotten, once baby arrives, your body is still not the one you are longing to return to for awhile. The unglamorous truth is that your body will be bleeding for a few weeks afterwards, statistically you’ll probably be recovering from stitches (vaginally or a c-section), and you still won’t be getting any sleep.
Sure you won’t be waking up to pee and reposition every few hours; instead it will be to soothe and feed a crying baby. Your boobs will be huge, leaky, and overly sensitive. Your mind won’t be able to shut off because you have a newborn to check on.
I’m not saying this to scare you. I’m just honestly wondering, do those sound like great alternatives to rush through the last days of your pregnancy?
Personally, I am in no rush. Baby will come, and I will be thrilled when she does. In the meantime, I am trying to relax, even in my super preggo body. Because relaxing and thinking in concise thoughts is something the newborn stage doesn’t often afford.
Have you read Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster or My Mom is the Worst? These children’s books offer a good laugh to a tired parent, and make a great gift. Check them out here.
For the women on the other side of pregnancy: Which was harder for you – the last two weeks of your pregnancy, or the first two weeks home with your newborn?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Thanks for commenting on my body’s beach ball similarity, said no pregnant woman ever. I just left shaking my head.
Sure, I’m emotional. I’m 33 weeks pregnant with baby two. I’m at the point where my tears have few limits while scrolling through social media. Puppies – blub. Babies – Blub. Blub. Inspirational stories – Blub, blub, blub.
So it’s no surprise I was extra annoyed by the Ralphs cashier yesterday. But some people really are so clueless when it comes to how to talk to a pregnant woman. That, or they like to compare everything about their birth experience to the experience you must be having, because you know, every pregnancy is the same.
As the cashier was ringing up my bounty, she asked, “So when are you due?”
I smiled and replied, “January.”
“Oh wow, you look like you are ready to go now. That’s what I looked like when I gave birth!”
Seriously – Are some people just unaware of the vomit they are about to spew when they open their mouth?! I’ve gained a total of 22 lbs., which mind you is already more than I gained in total with my first pregnancy (so I’m a bit self concise), but honestly, I didn’t think it was totally out of control…until now.
The grocery store train wreck didn’t end there. She declared, “Early January, I hope!”
“Actually January 23rd,” I mumbled.
She didn’t even pause, as if she had noticed how awkward the conversation had become. Biggest eye roll ever.
Thanks for commenting on my body’s beach ball similarity, said no pregnant woman ever. I just left shaking my head.
I’m not suggesting you walk on pins and needles around every obviously pregnant woman. Just please stop to think of something positive and uplifting to say before you open your mouth.
Pregnant mamas have a lot on their mind. They probably haven’t had comfortable sleep in awhile, they may feel like they are running out of acceptable clothes that fit, and they’re probably starting to think about this gigantic watermelon that soon has to exit their perfect peach.
After two pregnancies, the grocery store conversation was obviously not the only clueless run in I had. Here are a few things I’ve heard that I wouldn’t recommend using as your one liner:
“Is it really safe to be running while you are pregnant?”
“You wanted that decaf right?”
A coworker who said, “Your pregnancy has been way to easy, something bad has got to happen.”
A cousin who said, “Why would you want a natural birth? You wouldn’t get your tooth removed without pain meds. Why would you do it with a baby?”
“You look like you’re ready to Pop!”
Obviously none of these made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Thankfully, I’ve had some positive interactions that have taught me what can really make a pregnant woman’s day. Here are a few:
“Wow, that’s awesome that you are still working out!”
“From behind you don’t even look pregnant.”
A coworker that wished me a quick and easy delivery.
An aunt who said, “I honestly believe you are strong enough to achieve a natural birth.”
A guy who simply clapped for me when I ran by him on the trail.
Strangers that held the door open, or offered to carry things for me.
Pregnancy and childbirth can be a real mind f*ck for a woman. Please don’t traumatize her with negativity. Heed the old advice: If you can’t say something nice, please don’t say anything at all. We really don’t want to hear it.