Warning: This post contains material which many find controversial or inflammatory. I am discussing these topics in the way they pertain to me, my husband, and my child. This post is NOT meant to insult, degrade, or judge women who have made other choices. The reason we are able to MAKE a choice is because we are all different, and have different beliefs. These are simply my/our choices based on my research.
Whew! Glad to have that off my chest. What am I going to write about? Birth! That marvelous moment when one becomes two and tears are shed and a lifetime of worry begins! Well, I guess for many that lifetime of worry started with a line on a stick.
Our niece Alie was born May 31st, 2009. As in last spring. And yes, Piglet is due right before her first birthday. Don’t worry, I have already forbidden him to come on May 31st. Absolutely not, I will hold him in with my own hands if I have to. But anyways, in the time surrounding SIL’s last month of pregnancy, Alie’s birth, and the first little while of her life I became fascinated with pregnancy and birth. I read every book I could find in the library and spent countless hours reading on the internet. I read medical studies and midwifery articles and everything in between. I might have gotten just a smidge obsessed for a little while. I get a little compulsive when I get interested in something. I also had a couple of conversations with my mom.The end result was a three page “Birth Plan” that outlined what I believed I would want from my pregnancy and birth experience. Mind you, this was months before I even got pregnant. We weren’t even thinking about getting pregnant. We really didn’t want to be pregnant! But I was ready (and a good thing too!)
What I decided was that I wanted a natural childbirth. Natural as in vaginal, unmedicated, sweaty, unglamorous, moaning hard work. There were a lot of reasons and a lot of research behind my decision that I won’t get into here. The very most basic thing I can think when I need a little encouragement is, women have been having babies for centuries without medication. Women around the world right this very second are birthing naturally. My own mother had all three of us naturally. Birth, in most cases, is natural rather than medical and our healthcare system in the US medicalizes birth more than any other country in the world. And I’ll stop there, because I could go on for pages.
I also decided that “breast is best”. I feel pretty strongly about breastfeeding and feel that the mother’s determination is more than half the battle. I have a LOT to say about this topic and I’m pretty opinionated on this one but let me just leave it with this: the nurse that gave the hospital tour last weekend mentioned as part of her talk that the NICU gives donated breastmilk to their preemies and babies with surgeries or illnesses because that is what helps them thrive the best.
For the sake of keeping my head intact let me mention that I am well aware that sometimes natural childbirth is not what is best for baby or mother. And I am well aware that breastfeeding doesn’t work out for everyone. I don’t even know how things will work out for me—I am just an idealist primipara!
After meeting my doctor and getting to know him over the past few months, and after taking the hospital tour and getting a sense of how they do things I was able to cull my list down to a half-page “Birth Wish List”. I kept it short and sweet, and only included the most important things. Obviously if some adverse situation arises I will be prepared to compromise but this is what it would look like in my ideal birth.
Birth Wish List
This wish list is for a normal, uncomplicated birth. I understand that complications sometimes arise and different decisions must be made. Informed consent—as issues arise—is important to me.
• Prefer Hep lock over IV.
• Prefer intermittent external monitoring. I would appreciate being able to walk/move around as much as I feel up to.
• I am striving for an unmedicated birth. Please help me in my wish to remain unmedicated by not offering an epidural or other medications. Please feel free to suggest nonmedicinal options for coping.
.• Please allow me to try breathing down vs. directed pushing.
• Would like mirror to watch birth.
• Would appreciate perineal massage/support/hot compresses and prefer tearing to episiotomy.
• We are glad that [Hospital name] promotes the first hour after birth for skin to skin bonding and breastfeeding. We would like the Vitamin K shot and eye ointment delayed until after that hour.
• I plan to breastfeed. I would very much appreciate assistance and/or a visit from a lactation consultant.
Now, let me say this. I’m nervous. I know it’s going to be painful, and I doubt myself. Sometimes I worry about having to be induced. Pitocin contractions are twice as long and hard as natural ones, and I don’t know if I could deal with that. Obviously we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but it’s still in the back of my mind. I’m nervous because I have very little support in these choices. Nathan is behind me, and Melissa, and my mom is because she had all three of us naturally. I completely avoid the topic with my inlaws because, nice as they are, I’ve heard what they have to say about women who give birth naturally and it is NOT nice. To be honest I avoid discussing my choices with pretty much anybody not because I am ashamed but because I have not had one single solitary person say “you can do it”. They all just smirk and say, “You’ll change your mind”, or “Just wait till that first contractions hits.” Well, it may be true that I won’t be able to handle it but can’t I at least get a little support to TRY? So I don’t talk about it because I need to believe that I can do it.
I’m not ignorant. I know that I’m buying the hospital ticket and so going for the hospital ride. While I would like a home birth with a midwife, my hubby isn’t comfortable with that so I am respecting his wishes and we’ll be in a hospital. Thankfully the Dr. and hospital I’ll be in seem to be pretty pro-natural. And I am very well aware that sometimes things happen and that’s why those doctors and nurses and medical procedures are there. The only person I will be disappointing if I don’t have a natural childbirth is myself. And I would be very disappointed. But at the end of the day it’s really all about a healthy baby.