Women tend to be defensive about their childbirth choices, much like they are about their parenting decisions. Which is why I’ve hesitated to write a blog entry about a topic that has actually become a passion. Childbirth. Done properly. Which is a big part of why I am becoming a doula. As a disclaimer, I am not attacking you, no I don’t think you are a horrible mother and so on and so on.
I think most of my readers also read my A Little Bit of Us blog and will know about the choices I made when pregnant with Josephine. If that includes you, feel free to skip these next two paragraphs.
While pregnant with Josie I decided that things this time around were going to be different. Over the years I had learned a lot about the body, health, natural living, childbirth. I happened to go to a prenatal yoga class taught by a wonderful instructor who also was starting up the first Hypnobirthing classes in Saskatchewan. I signed up the minute I found out about them. Hypnobirthing, which really does not involve any hypnosis in my opinion, is about relaxing and trusting your body to give birth, fearlessly, perfectly, just as intended. I loved the classes and had almost complete faith after the very first class. Hypnobirthing encourages you to avoid any and all interventions and unneccesary tests (getting your membranes stripped, being checked repeatedly for dialation, induction, epidurals, any medication at all while birthing, etc.) So I practiced relaxing. I learned to trust my body, to know that it knew what it was doing. I came to understand that my muscles and body would work in perfect harmony to birth my baby.
Josie was 12 days late. I unfortunately did end up being induced because my blood pressure was rising. If there weren’t any health concerns, I without a doubt would have refused induction. I wasn’t impatient. I was excited to meet my baby girl but I knew she’d come when she was ready. I was disappointed to have to be induced. I cried, got over it and decided to roll with the punches. I had my first surge (contraction) at around 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 24th. I went to my bed to relax and listen to my hypnobirthing cds with my husband. He rubbed my back and we relaxed. I was so comfortable, in NO pain whatsoever. I convinced myself I wasn’t in labor and turned off my cds and trotted off to the bathroom disappointed. When I got up, the surges became strong. I told my husband to call his mom to come watch our oldest daughter and I headed back to the bed. Within 2 minutes of getting to the bed and turning my cds back on, I was again so relaxed, so comfortable. We called and told my mother-in-law not to come. Around 1:00 a.m. I turned off my cds for good and we decided to go to bed since I was clearly not in labor. The surges were there, I could feel my muscles contracting, they just didn’t hurt. Flex your stomach muscles as tight as you can. That’s about how it felt for me. I got up to get a glass of water and the surges came back strong. I told my husband to call his mom and that we should just go to the hospital. She arrived at our house at 1:20 a.m. My body started shaking a little and at this point, I feel like I introduced fear. I knew I was far along. I got nervous. I started to get uncomfortable as the surges intensified as we waited for her. We arrived at the hospital at 1:40 a.m. I got changed into a gown, laid on the bed and said to the nurse “Something is happening RIGHT NOW.” She checked and sure enough, I was 10 cm and Josie was all by crowning. She was born 13 minutes after arriving at the hospital with no doctor present. I can honestly say that I experienced pain for the car ride over to the hospital and that’s about it. It was amazing. It was shocking. It was incredibly empowering and a little surreal. A healthy baby girl. 8 lbs 10.5 oz. September 25th, 2007. A hypnobirthed baby.
I’ve had to deal with some personal grief over the last 53 minutes of my labor. It was not as I planned it to go and while I am still proud of how well it all went, I wish I would have arrived at the hospital a little sooner so I would have had time to relax and then birthed Josie a little more calmly. I feel like just recently I’ve dealt with that. Since she is my last baby, I feel that I had to mourn the loss of the ‘perfect’ birth that I will never have.
So that’s my story. Now here comes the cold, hard facts. My honest feeling and thoughts on childbirth.
I think childbirth is completely 100% backwards from the way it’s intended to be. It is not a medical condition or a disease that needs to be treated. It’s a natural process. One that most of the time, goes perfectly well. But from the minute we find out we are pregnant we are told about the risks of miscarriage, our babies are screened for diseases while still in utero, etc. It’s crazy.
We are filled with all the wrong information and don’t have enough of the information that we really should know. For example:
The affects of epidurals on our bodies and on our babies.
Did you know that …
Epidurals can and do lead to:
– higher c-section rates
– fetal distress
– IV Cannulation
– Trauma to blood vessels
– Punctured dura (which I’m 99% sure happened to me)
– abnormal uterine contractions
(Click here for more info: http://www.healing-arts.org/mehl-madrona/mmepidural.htm#medical_risks_epidurals_rates)
And it’s proven fact that one intervention starts the ball rolling for more interventions. People who get induced often get epidurals because the labor can be stronger. Then epidurals can slow down labor so you need pitocin to speed things back up, etc, etc.
My biggest issue is that I think women are making uninformed decisions. I think that if they knew what they were doing to their bodies, what harm it could potentially cause their babies, that epidurals can lead to troubles with breastfeeding and so on, we’d be making a lot smarter decisions.
And it truly does confuse me why so many women are making decisions that are not in the best interests of their babies. Like choosing to have a c-section when it’s not medically neccesary. Like being induced just because they are sick of waiting. Or how some women avoid even gentle medications like tylenol while pregnant but in the hours leading up to birth fill themselves with drugs much more powerful and damaging than that. Parenting begins at conception and from that point on, it is your job to take care of that child.
My only request of anyone would be to get informed before you are faced with making these decisions. A few of my book recommendations would be:
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth
Birthing from Within
and of course,
Hypnobirthing: the Mongan Method
Would you rather watch a video? Check out The Business of Being Born. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0995061/
Want a little humor about what childbirth has unfortunately turned into? Check out this 4 minute Monty Python clip.
We all try to make the best decision we can with the information we have. The problem is, we don’t have the right information or enough of it.