Allow me to preface this by saying that I know many wonderful, damn near perfect mothers that had medicated births. Personally, my mother had two c-sections because she wasn’t a good VBAC candidate and we were both flipped all the wrong ways. Some of my best friends have the most perfect children ever–smart, kind, funny, and ahead on all of their milestones…and they had medicated childbirth. I know of people who schedule their c-section at week 20, and that’s what works for them. This is not meant to “mommy shame” anyone, or make anyone feel like less of a badass for how they brought their child(ren) into this world. Because really, just creating another life makes us all pretty extraordinary, doesn’t it?
“Natural childbirth? As in you aren’t going to get an epidural?”
“No, I’m not going to get any drugs if I have my way.”
“You say that because you haven’t had any kids yet. You’ll be begging for it by hour four.”
To say that people have had some interesting reactions when I tell them that we are training and prepping for a natural childbirth would be a massive understatement. After conversations quite similar in nature to the one listed above, I’m almost always met with the question of “But….Why?”
So here’s my “But…Why?”
As an inquisitive mind, I can remember talking to my friends that had experienced childbirth and being truly in awe for years before I ever even imagined it being a blip on my radar. What an amazing thing that our bodies were fearfully and wonderfully made to do, right? I mean think about it for a second. Right now, at the moment I’m typing this post I can feel life moving around inside of me. Life that I made (with a genetic donation from my husband), without having to tell my body what to do! That thought goes through my mind a lot lately, especially in regards to our desire to have a natural childbirth.
In college I had a child development professor that recommended that we watch one documentary from a selection that he had chosen. One of the titles really caught my eye, and it I selected it for my project. The documentary was The Business of Being Born and in the year previous to my assignment, it had gained much momentum in the press. I could talk about the infatuation and lady crush I developed on Ricki Lake and the natural birth movement for months and not be finished. You can find a summary of the documentary here, or you can go watch it on Netflix!
That lead me to devise my five things I knew I found to be true before I was ever pregnant list:
- It never made sense to me that we protect these little creatures by not taking so much as an ibuprofen for nine months, then jam drugs like demerol, bupivacaine, chloroprocaine, or lidocaine into their systems at the most traumatic point of their lives. Seriously, birth as a process has to cause stress on them to start with–why is it so readily alright in the United States to do that?
- For millions of years before me, women were doing this just perfectly without non-stress tests, glucose testing, constant heart rate monitoring, and treasure troves of medical interventions…why not now?
- One medical intervention (like an epidural) can really lead to a domino effect of interventions that, while you may have wanted pain relief, you didn’t want at all.
- In what world of logic, and on what cosmic day, did a doctor tell a woman to LAY ON HER BACK to push a watermelon out of her lime? HELLO GRAVITY? HELLO SQUATTING? A male doctor, surely. Well, I guess if they can’t feel their legs it would be a bit necessary.
- If I can have a baby naturally, I can literally do anything.
Once I found out I was pregnant I starting diving deeper into the more recent studies of natural childbirth and all it did was solidify my desire to strive for one myself. Here are some of the things I jotted down in addition to my “Five Things” above in the last few months.
- I can move? I can MOVE! Having a natural birth allows you the freedom to use your limbs and get more comfortable.
- Babies born without pain medication are often more alert and active than babies that have them.
- When labor is allowed to happen on its own, you tend to need much less interventions from a medical standpoint. This lowers your chance of a c-section, too!
- Knowing how to effectively push/move to get baby out. Instead of blindly pushing, being fully alert and aware of the pressure and placement of baby can make your pushing way more effective–meaning the possibility of a much shorter pushing stage in labor.
- Your body will know. An epidural and medication can make your body numb to knowing what exactly is going on. There are things that naturally help labor progress. Things like walking, changing positions, rocking, or squatting can help the process immensely.
- Breastfeeding is easier! With a baby being more alert and awake following birth, it can help them be more coordinated when it comes to breastfeeding.
- Shorter recovery time for Mama. You mean being able to get up and walk after delivery, without waiting for feeling to return to your limbs? Cool beans.
- You can always tap out. If the pain gets to be too intense, or things stop moving altogether–that’s what the doctor/midwife and medical team are there for.
Every woman chooses what is best for them, and their baby.
When Matt and I got pregnant, I knew that my first choice would be a home birth–but that there would be absolutely no way on God’s green earth that I would ever be able to convince Matt. I can’t imagine him trying to be cool with me casually birthing our baby in the living room while I was watching Real Housewives of New Jersey. In his mind births happened in hospitals, and in my mind they just happened–the where wasn’t all that relevant. That lead me to research birthing centers in our tri-state area, as a bit of a compromise between his idea of birth, and mine. After doing the research and contacting my insurance providers about coverage for birthing centers we quickly had to toss that idea out the window as well. With student loans being our main priority to destroy–we couldn’t really “afford” to pay thousands out of pocket for a birthing experience at a birth center for this first pregnancy. Which, in hindsight, probably eased Matt’s mind a little bit as well. That lead me to to midwife/natural birthing in a hospital setting. Luckily, we found a practice with plenty of doctors and midwives to go around. When I had my first appointment I asked so many questions about the possibility and probability of having a natural birth, and the doctor responded with a version of: “Of course you can. We all work as a team to get you where you need to be, and baby here and healthy. We might disagree–but we can always make sure you’re as informed as possible.”
DING DING DING, we had a winner.
To that point, I still didn’t really know what our version or dream of natural birth would look like. We hadn’t decided on having a Doula versus not, what natural birthing class we wanted to take, hypnobirth, and all of the other million dollar questions we still had to answer…but it was a start. I felt like I had a medical practice to support me. My husband was relaxed because if I was one of the two percent of OMG WTF births where something went terribly wrong horribly fast…we were covered and down the hall from surgery.
Now, allow me to be the first to say that I have no grand illusions that this won’t suck. Because it will be horribly painful, messy, and likely not “enjoyable” for all parties involved–shout out to my Coach, Matt.
But, we are interviewing Doulas, midway through Bradley classes, working with my medical professionals, and reading everything I can get my hands on to give us our best possible chance at doing something that seems to be so unpopular.
Obviously, I understand that things happen. I very well may be writing a companion post to this in four months saying, “Why I Went Back On Natural Birth And Had All The Drugs”…and that would be okay, too. Because isn’t a healthy and happy baby the most important thing?
I would love to hear from you! If you have questions, myths, a post you want to see written, or a story to share please send it my way!