Going au Naturale

Friday, December 30, 2011

I always told myself that one day, far far into the future when I had a baby, I would of course have an epidural. I mean, they offer it, it's widely acceptable, and why wouldn't I want to minimize pain? It was a no-brainer.

My opinions started to shift when I actually had friends who were having babies. And their birth stories revealed bits and pieces that, when put together, painted pictures of things being incredibly out of their control: interventions they didn't necessarily want, emergency c-sections after hours of labor, terrible reactions to epidurals. Even though the stories all resulted in their beautiful bouncing babies - and at the end, that's all the matters - their stories really stuck with me.

Last year, just starting to think about the word "baby" and what our lives might be like with one, I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born. I'm not going to make all of my big life decisions based on what I see in a documentary, however, my eyes definitely opened a little wider at the end.

I learned a lot more about certified nurse midwives and, after doing a little more research, knew that I would forgo my regular doctor's office for a midwife. So far, this has been a wonderful decision. I love the warm, friendly environment that the midwives offer. And, contrary to what some may think, they have made no attempts to sway me one way or the other as to what type of birth plan I decide on. At my first appointment I was told I can opt for whatever intervention is a good fit for me - as my midwife said, she had already had her birth story...this birth story was mine.

Since then, I've been toying with the idea of a natural birth. Can I do it? Will I regret it, or regret not giving it a try?

Then, a couple of weeks ago I watched the documentary Pregnant in America. Overall, it wasn't nearly as well done as The Business of Being Born, but what resonated the most with me was one of the interviews - I believe it was with renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin.


Gaskin spoke about how a successful birth requires the mother and the baby to be working together. When you start intervening (Pitocin, epidural, etc) you are inhibiting this process and making it harder and harder for mom and baby to be a team. As a result, you often need more intervention because the natural birth process has been interrupted by your initial acts of intervention.

This definitely got me thinking even more (and even more positively!): why shouldn't I give a natural birth a try?

Right now I'm reading Your Best Birth which, after I got it home from the library, I realized it was by Ricki Lake (who also did The Business of Being Born). Now, I don't plan on making my childbirth decisions based on what Ricki Lake says, but so far the book is really great. It shares stories of birth from all different perspectives and decisions, and puts you on the road to being an advocate for yourself.


Since I obviously have not given birth before and I know that each and every birth is different, I absolutely will not say "I am going to do it like this." But I do know that I am ready to do more research, learn more about how to advocate for what I want, and approach birth with the plan to try it naturally and see what happens.

And "seeing what happens" will be in 4 short months. How time is starting to fly!


Kristin said...

I watched the Business of Being Born and decided that I'd try for natural, but keep my options open. For me what worked best was laboring from home for as long as possible, which gives the doctors less time to intervene. I ended up arriving at the hospital 8 cm dilated. I decided to get the epidural, which reduced the pain but not the pressure, so I definitely still felt the urge to push. 3 hours after arriving at the hospital my baby boy arrived! Overall I'd say I had a great experience, but I think the key is to stay flexible and make sure your doctor is aware of and supportive of your preferences.

Webster Edpao said...

Congrats on the baby!

I wanted to point out that the business of being born is highly skewed. With that said, there are definitely shady OBs that will intervene for dumb reasons. On the flip side of things, some midwives are not the greatest when managing labor either. It cuts both ways.

Where I trained we had midwives. Where I work now we have midwives. I don't have any problems with midwives. I think they are great. My only advice is that if you need an intervention from an MD please keep an open mind. The business of being born really puts people like me in a bad situation. Because for all the times that an intervention by a physician is not indicated, there are probably many more times when an intervention is indicated.

I've had people on my floor refusing things like antibiotics when I know for a fact that their baby is infected etc. and without my intervention of antibiotics that baby ends up with cerebral palsay etc.

The other thing that you should know is that labor is UNPREDICTABLE. So while it is good to have a birth plan, you also have to be open to that plan changing because it can and most likely will change in one way or another.

Anyways...not trying to tell you waht to do. Just want to point out that theres always two sides to a story and hoping you keep an open mind as you go through the birthing process. Not all Docs are evil knife carrying people.

I hope you are well.

Laura said...

Oh definitely, I completely understand that documentaries are always very biased to drive home their point! But on the flip side, so often with birth you don't see anything other than what your options are for a typical hospital birth. It's nice seeing what alternatives are available.

I'm all for keeping my options open, and would never do anything to put us in danger...but pitocin or an epidural if I am doing fine without it? No thank you! :)

Webster Edpao said...

Oh, and I think Gaskin is full of it. She has some valid points.

I guess my issue with her thoughts on "intervening" and "inhibiting" labor with pitocin.

Some people need pitocin to get their labor going. There are many many factors that determine whether someone needs pitocin. My issue with these types of statements is that every mother that I have walks into my office and always has a story of how her girlfriend did this and her girlfriend did that and Gaskin said this....the problem? EVERY SINGLE WOMAN AND PATIENT IS DIFFERENT. So just because one woman had it done this way or could get away without having X intervention does NOT mean that the same lack of intervention will apply to the next woman.

Webster Edpao said...

agreed...if you are dilating along without pit...then please by all means, keep on, keepin on. :)

Sarah said...

You don't know me at all, I started reading your blog after weddingbee, but I thought I would mention that I have a well-read friend who has a baby/birth bibliography you might find helpful. She is very pro natural birth, so the books (and her reviews) tend to lean that way, but it might help you if you're searching for further reads: http://robertandchristina.com/0808baby/0808baby03.html

erica barraca said...

laura! congrats on your decision. I had sucessfully given birth naturally, and alot of it has to do with believing you can do it, having a great support system, and being accepting of whatever may lay ahead of you. Are you considering a doula at all? I dont think we could have done it without her. She was worth every single penny. Also, have steve check out "the birth partner." great for daddys :) Good luck, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need any encouragement! all the best! You can do it!

Tiffany said...

I *loved* the business of being born! Very eye opening!

BigAppleNosh said...

Definitely not knowledgeable in this area at all, but really interesting to learn about all the options!

Post a Comment