Monday, September 21st, 2009 • 4 Comments on The Quest for a Natural Birth (28w5d)
My birth plan, the rough draft version: I want my birth experience to be as natural as possible. I do not want an epidural. I do not want an episiotomy. I do not want drugs of any kind and, to that end, I do not want an IV. I want to be able to move freely, therefore I do not want to be constantly on monitors. I certainly do not want to be induced or have a C-section unless it becomes necessary (and “necessary” is subject to debate). I want to be able to eat and drink as I desire and not limited to ice chips according to the doctor’s or hospital’s protocol.
I would deliver this baby at home, if I could. Honestly, I’m still having fantasies about doing just that. But wisdom prevails and suggests having the baby in the hospital will be the safest course of action. But I still want this birth to be as natural as possible.
Jay and I went to the first of our hospital-sponsored childbirth classes over the weekend. I think the childbirth educator is probably pro-natural childbirth, but does try to be neutral in her presentation. However, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated with “the way things are” and “hospital policy” as our 5 hour class progressed. The instructor made several comments that lead me to believe that I might have some battles to fight once I am admitted to the hospital. Comments such as, “Once you’re admitted, the nurses will want you to do X, but we know that Y is better for you/baby/labor, so tell them that is what you want.” Things like that make me see red.
They (the medical community) knows that laying in a bed is not conducive to productive labor, yet I will be encouraged to do just that.
They know that skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth is best for both mother and child, yet the baby will be placed on a blanket on my chest.
They know that labor can last for many hours, yet they will deny me food and water. However, if I become dehydrated, they will give me fluids through an IV. Where is the logic there? The IV fluids become unnecessary if I’m allowed to hydrate on my own.
And so on.
After our hospital tour yesterday, I bought the book Homebirth in the Hospital: Integrating Natural Childbirth With Modern Medicine . I’m trying to be a rational person and embrace this idea that having a hospital birth is safest for me and baby, despite the statistic that over 30% of babies born in hospitals in this country are delivered by C-section, as opposed to 4% of babies born outside of hospitals. For one thing, I don’t think most midwives in this country will deliver me at home because of the “high risk” label. For another, I wasn’t able to find a ob/gyn practice that has both a midwife on staff and also accepts my insurance. So, for better or worse, it seems I’m stuck with the hospital.
So now I have this handy little book with different birth experiences and advice on how to have the natural childbirth I want in a hospital setting. Except much of it is contingent upon my doctor waiving certain protocols. And that means every doctor in the practice (there are five or six, I believe) has to also agree to waive those protocols, since any one of them could end up delivering me. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? It is.
I am tired of the eye rolling and snide comments about my preferences. Yes, no matter how it happens, I still get a baby in the end. But I have my reasons for wanting a natural birth. Not the least of which is the fact that I can’t afford to have a bad start. Jay may only be here for days—at most, only a few weeks—and then I’m on my own. I need to heal and be 100% physically just as quickly as possible because I will be the sole caregiver to this little baby.
From what I’ve read and heard anecdotally, medicated births (as well as episiotomies) do not lead to quicker recoveries—often the opposite. Medicated births can also inhibit breastfeeding. C-sections certainly require a longer recovery time. But natural childbirth means no drugs in my system—or the baby’s—which means my body is already ahead of the game in the healing process. I need that. The baby needs that.
I know I’m not typical and I know I’m rebelling against the current norm (at least in this part of the world). I’m not trying to be a martyr—I’m simply trying to do what’s best for me and my baby. The medical community won’t even let me take Aleve for back pain while I’m pregnant, yet they’re all for pumping me full of drugs to bring this child into the world. Where is the logic in that? (Yes, I know, not taking drugs during pregnancy is about preventing developmental problems, but still.) I keep asking myself that question when it comes to the medical model of childbirth versus the natural model: Where is the logic??
I don’t knock anyone who embraces the current trends in childbirth, it’s just not my choice. For those who think the medical community knows best how babies should be born, remember that it was also the medical community who once thought infant formula was superior to breast milk. Despite the fact that the American Association of Pediatrics now recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life, over 70% of hospitals in the United States dispense formula to infants. Once again I ask: Where is the logic?
So, I’m doing my research and preparing myself for battle. As if bringing a child into the world wasn’t hard enough, right? But this is definitely a battle worth fighting—at least to me. And from the stories I’ve heard from women who have had the natural childbirth I want, I won’t regret it.