**SENSITIVE TOPIC ALERT!!**
"A natural birth, are you crazy?!"
We get that a lot. People are opinionated and defensive about the way they choose (or are forced because of medical reasons) to bring their children into the world. And rightly so...you made the choice for a reason, and if you weren't passionate about the choice, you wouldn't have taken that route.
That being said, we have chosen to birth our girl at a birthing center, as opposed to a hospital, and we couldn't be more excited! We never would have even known there were other options if it weren't for my sister and brother-in-law, who had their baby at a birth center. When we walked in to meet her for the first time, we knew that is where we would have our baby when the time came (little did we know it would be less than a year later!).
If you are considering the natural birth route, or are just curious as to why we chose this way, read on. And keep in mind, I am in no way a medical professional, and this is all just a quick summary of what I think we've learned thus far. The purpose of this post is to raise awareness of other options, and to answer the many questions about why we are going this road.
Ina May Gaskin is, in my opinion, one of the most fascinating people I have come across in my research on natural birth. She is considered the mother of authentic midwifery; her books are phenomenal and give the best, most down to earth explanations of the Midwifery Model of Care. If you are pregnant or considering pregnancy, "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" is an absolute must-read.
Ricki Lake's documentary, "The Business of Being Born" was also another eye-opening learning experience for us. It is on Netflix if anybody else wants to see Ricki Lake give birth to her kids in a bathtub.
Natural birth is different from mainstream America's idea of birth, in that no drugs are used to induce labor or to inhibit "labor pains". That means no epidural, no pitocin, no nothing. The idea is that when women are left alone, the naturally occurring hormone, oxytocin, is way more effective than when superseded with man-made drugs. Mothers are left alone to labor how they feel most comfortable. Eating, drinking, and changing positions during birth are all encouraged. Techniques such as light touch massage and different positions on a birthing ball are used to cope with discomforts during labor. The tub is kept at body temperature and serves as a comfort during labor. I have heard that the warm water also helps to prevent tearing.
You can give birth at most birth centers when you reach 37 weeks, all the way until 42 weeks. It is my understanding that they will induce you sometime right before the end of 42 weeks, because there is apparently a time that the placenta stops working. Also, most birth centers will only accept patients who are considered low-risk. I think that typically means no prior C-sections, no multiples, below a certain BMI, and no gestational diabetes. This may be different for each different center, but definitely something you would have to check out on your own.
We did all of our prenatal care at Charleston Birth Place, and will be birthing there if all continues to go well. If for no other reason, we have LOVED being able to walk in for an appointment, never once having to wait even a minute to be seen. They are efficient and careful with their patient's time. There are four midwives at CBP, and we have loved getting to know each and every one of them. We don't know who will be on call for us when the time comes, but we are 100% confident in each and every one of them.
If complications do arise during labor, they are located less than a mile from a hospital, and we were required to meet with the Doctor who will deliver us in case we do necessitate a transfer.
This is a difficult question, since we almost didn't even consider other options. As soon as we found out we were pregnant, we went to the informational session at CBP, and we felt immediately that we were drawn to their model of care. After doing a lot of reading, our feelings and thoughts were confirmed. We never went to a hospital or visited with any OB/GYNs. So, just like most people tour hospitals and never give it another thought, we basically toured the birth center and never gave it another thought.
Nutrition plays a huge role in preparation for birth. It makes total sense. It wasn't easy to skip out on donuts and Chick-fil-A, but I did it because I wanted to take my commitment to natural birth seriously. I have enjoyed a bit more flexibility towards the end of the pregnancy since I did so well at the beginning. Totally worth it.
Another big premise of the natural route is eliminating fear of childbirth. Our generation has "enjoyed" unprecedented access to births on TV, whether real or staged. Most of the time, for the sake of drama, these births are surrounded by fear and panic.
Something everything goes wrong, resulting in an emergency procedure, etc. Of course, these things do happen in reality, but it is not a cause for fear in every situation. I remember being terrified of birth, and now that we have been in such a calming, non-medical environment, I don't feel like something is "wrong" with me. I know that women have been doing this for thousands of years, and that God made my body to do this.
Again, we know that this isn't the route for everyone! I am just so grateful that I was introduced to another option, and wouldn't miss the chance to share with others what we have learned thus far. There are pros and cons to every option, and something that each family must weigh on their own. We have gotten so many questions about our choice to go natural, so summarizing in a public format was an easy way to answer those inquiries.
Of course, baby girl is still incubating, so I will have a full report detailing our actual experience after her birth day.
Has anybody else out there experienced natural birth? Or are there any questions I can answer thus far?