Monday, August 30, 2010

From the beginning

I became a big advocate for natural birth with the birth of my first child almost 8 years ago.  I had her in a hospital and I felt that, while I had a natural birth, it could have been "better".  I didn't care for the care I got (although, it was great care).  I felt that I was being herded in, measured and rushed out--always reminded that the doctor who took the most "care" of me would probably not deliver my baby.  My doctor never really spent a lot of time with me and when I made it known that I was working towards a natural birth, I got "the look", a chuckle and the reassurance that "only 20% of new moms can have a completely natural birth.  Most give up and want the epidural or other drugs to deal with the pain."  That turned me off really fast...but it was too late to change doctors and at the time, I didn't know there were other options.  Everyone I knew got pregnant, went to an OB, went into labor, went to the hospital and had the baby.  I didn't know about home births, or midwives.  Honestly, I didn't even think to look.

I was finally induced at 43 weeks (although the doctors of the practice took turns telling me what a horrible mom I was for not inducing at 40 weeks, I'd have a dead baby, etc) with Pitocin, I actually cried.  Everything I had read about Pitocin ended in two words: Cesarean Section.  This was not what I wanted and honestly, it's not what I prepared for.  I spent months preparing for natural birth and I was determined to have a natural birth.

I was induced at 5:00pm and had my daughter at 4:01am.  Despite the constant interruptions from the nurses, the anesthesiologist and the super strong Pitocin contractions, I did give natural birth.  But, when it was all said and done, I felt more exhausted by the constant interruptions from the hospital staff than I did from the labor.

The one thing I realized throughout this whole process is the importance of having someone who is supportive of your goal.  Someone to run interference with the unnecessary interruptions (if you are hospital birthing) or someone to give you a pep talk, rub your back, help you relax.  In the end, it really does not matter who fulfills that role.  Your husband, a doula, a midwife, your mom/sister/aunt/uncle.  You need someone who is committed to your ultimate goal.  My husband ran interference for me, as much as possible, in the hospital.  He turned the lights on and off as I wanted, same with the CD.  When I wanted to get out of the bed (I was hooked up to an IV line for the Pitocin) he helped me maneuver around with that.  He was there to rub my back during my massive back labor, he rubbed my shoulders, got me food (yes, food and the doctor was not happy about that, LOL) and whatever I wanted to drink.  He was up with me the entire time, doing whatever I needed.  We practiced the Bradley Method for months together and he would help me with the visualizations and meditations; help me to relax my mind enough to let my body do what it needed, and knew how, to do.  Natural birth is not easy, but it is doable, especially if you have someone who believes in you, your body's ability to birth, and has practiced your birth method (Lamaze, Bradley Method, Hypnobabies, etc) continuously for a few months.

It was after this experience that I realized that there had to be more to birth than what I experienced.  In my mind, natural birth is when the people in supporting roles realize that this process happens naturally and they fully support it.  They do not tell the laboring mom how she's going to be begging for drugs later; they give her different positions to help relieve the pain.  They do not confine her to the bed and tell her not to move around; they encourage movement and water and help when she needs it.  They do not constantly interrupt her to take her pulse, ask how she's doing; they learn to watch for the signs and cues.  They can do this because they've come to know the mother; she's become a person to them, someone they want to support and not just some number on the obstetrical chart.

I felt that the births I've always wanted were what I got when I had my homebirths.  My midwives knew who I was and when they needed to lend an encouraging word.  They helped support my husband in his supporting role of me.  They didn't give me a schedule of labor, they let everything run it's course all while keeping tabs on the baby by listening without disruption.

I have had all 3 of my children naturally, and while each birth taught me something more about myself, the one thing it has consistently cemented into my mind and my heart is that, as a society, we need to support laboring moms and the natural process of birth.  I do believe that C-Sections are an important part of the equation, but there are very few reasons to have a true emergency C-Section.  If we can get to the point where women have a choice of where to birth and have the support to birth naturally in any setting, then that is when the overall maternity care in this country will go from abysmally bad to good.  

No one should have to fight for the right to have a natural a hospital setting or outside of it. 


  1. I respect you for being able to go all natural I always new it wasn't for me. Although I would have never had the chance anyways. With Tyler (my eldest) He was an emergency C-section cause his heart rate kept decreasing rapidly. After that I had such a great recovery i decided to also have a C_section with Dylan which was a horrible experience due to the doctor that did it. Then there was Gavin after my C-section with him i Had a thyroid storm and was rushed up to the cardiac wing. I am just happy I was in such a great hospital and had great nurses. The nurses were actually sad when I left. They all came by my room to say good bye. I admire you for your ability to do a natural birth. Specially with twins. I would ask for double epidurals and some vodka lol

  2. Great kickoff post! Looking forward to following the latest adventure!

  3. Very well said! I love this -- Natural birth is not easy, but it is doable, especially if you have someone who believes in you -- Yes! SO true!

  4. My son came 6 weeks early via a premature rupture of membranes. I was induced about 8 hours after my water broke with Cytotec. I had not yet made it to my first childbirth class so I was completely clueless as to what happening to my body. By 2 PM I was having contractions that lasted about a minute each and came every minute and a half. After 5 hours of that, I finally caved and got an epidural with the lowest possible dosage because I was hyperventilating and passing out from time to time. Thankfully, my midwife kept her promise and as soon as my breathing returned to normal and I took a 30 minute nap (I had been up at that point for 36 hours, she had them turn it off. I had regained all the feeling back and about 2 hours after the epidural I gave birth to a premature but healthy baby boy. I must say my midwife team at the end saved me fom a C-section I think. They gave me impromptu breathing lessons the best they could and did what it took to get me to relax so I could avoid my biggest fear, a C-section. So you are absolutely right, the correct support makes it doable...cheers for the doulas and midwives of the world!!

  5. Cassandra, thanks for sharing your story! I'm glad your birth story ended the way you wanted it to!