It's starting to hit me that sometime within the next 7 weeks I will be having a baby. Those of you who know me well will know that I research EVERYTHING no matter how big or small (Many people think this is often to my detriment which is probably true. Sometimes it's possible to know too much I guess). So, it should come as no surprise that I made a point to research all of my options when it came to childbirth. And after that research, I came to the conclusion that I prefer to have a natural childbirth without interventions and pain medication.
Let me first say that when I got pregnant, I didn't realize that I had options. I thought the only difference between getting an epidural and not getting one was how much labor would hurt. I thought you just go to a doctor who told you everything to do then you went to a hospital and did everything they told you to do and then you have a baby. While I do recommend doing what your doctors and hospitals advise, it's so important to know that they are usually more than happy to give you options if you only ask.
I know that this is a serious hot button topic for many women. So let me first say, I think every family deserves to make their own decisions on what kind of birth they want. There is no right or wrong way to have a baby - only right or wrong ways for you. That said, I think many people make decisions without learning about their options and the pros and cons of those options. Many women spend more time picking out a car or a camera then they do considering their birthing options. I would just encourage any one who is planning to have a baby to look at all of the options around childbirth before they decide what is the best fit for them. Read books, talk to friends who have different birth experiences, interview doctors and midwives, and make sure you hear many different perspectives. And then, do whatever you feel is best for you and your family.
I also understand that childbirth is often unpredictable. Even the best made plans have to be flexible and that medical situations can arise that require those plans to change. If our birth doesn't go according to our plan, that's ok and we will will deal with that as it comes.
Whew, that was a long intro. I remember my first appointment after finding out I was having a baby. They take you into an office and talk about your medical history and then quickly find out how you plan on paying for all of this (hey, it is a business after all). One of the questions was whether I wanted an epidural. I laughed. Um, yes! Why should labor hurt if it didn't have to?!?! Several months of research later I realized that there is so much more to it than that. I think Jason was pretty nervous about it at first, but we have decided that having a natural childbirth is best for our family.
When I tell people that, I get a lot of funny looks. Americans aren't too keen on natural childbirth these days, so few people understand why I would want to "put my body through that." On our recent labor and delivery hospital tour, I was the only one of the 9 women there that was planning on a natural childbirth. I also have a lot of people tell me that I will change my mind once the time comes. I just laugh - those people clearly do not know how stubborn I am once I put my mind to something. Same goes for those people who tell my I won't stick to cloth diapering. So, why did I decide to do this? These are just some of the many reasons I feel like it is best for ME:
- I can't help but be curious about what labor feels like. This is probably the silliest reason but it is the reason that I started considering natural childbirth to begin with.
- I do not want to use Pitocin to induce or speed my labor. I plan on laboring at home as long as safely possible to avoid this. Pitocin is the synthetic form of oxytocin, the chemical your body releases that causes you to have contraction. The thing is, Pitocin contractions are longer, closer together, and much stronger than the contractions that your body has naturally. This means you have less time to rest between them and it hurts much worse! It's much harder to not get an epidural when you start with Pitocin due to the pain.
- I do not want an epidural for several reasons
- I hate the idea of having to lay in bed the entire time I'm laboring and not be able to walk around or go to the bathroom on my own
- Complications for mom and baby may be rare, but they are not worth the risk to me.
- It often slows down labor
- I am a bit of a control freak and being numb drives me nuts. I want to be able to feel what my body is doing
- Yes, I know that it's going to hurt. But, there are so many pain management techniques that can be done to minimize and distract from the pain and make it a more calm experience. It usually isn't anything like what you see on tv or in the movies. Our childbirth class was so helpful with learning these techniques and making me feel confident in our decision.
- Augmentations can sometimes lead to emergency C-sections. Because of the intensity of Pitocin contractions, many women need an epidural. The epidural slows down labor so they need more Pitocin to speed it back up. This can cause fetal distress (babies like breaks from contractions too) which can lead to an emergency C-section. I'm totally freaked out by being cut open and want to avoid having a major abdominal surgery if at all possible. The risks of infection and other complications kind of terrify me. This goes for all types of surgery. It's also interesting to look at statistics on the C-section rates in American over time and compared to other countries, but I'll let you do that on your own :)
- Recovery time is usually much shorter. The women who I have talked to and researched who have had both medicated and unmedicated childbirth almost always say that their recovery was much faster, easier, and less painful after natural childbirth.
- The high created by the Oxytocin release after natural child birth is said to be incredible and unlike anything that you experience with augmented labor (this is according to my friends who have had multiple children and have done it both ways)
- Because I know I can! It sounds cheesy, but my body really was made to have babies and knows what it is doing. I think it's exciting and empowering to think that I will be able to do something so amazing!
Now I just have to wait patiently (yeah right) until she decides she's ready to join us!