This fall brings lots of new things for our family, a new baby, homeschooling, new schools for two of our kids, and Glenn’s job is expanding. Lots of new exciting stuff. In the midst of all this newness, we are starting another adventure. It actually has to do with our new baby. All of our previous three deliveries have taken place in a hospital with an OBGYN. This time we are trying something new and going to a birth center and having a midwife attend our birth. Yep, we are one of those nutty people. I suspect if you have been reading this blog long you already knew that though. 😉 We are just not mainstream in what we do and we are okay with that. You might be wondering how we decided to go with this new type of birth experience when our first three births were so conventional. ( warning there are descriptions of birth experiences below, proceed with caution and I will try to keep it G rated)
Well, before my first birth with our oldest son Sam, I had said I wanted to try to have a natural birth, meaning not using any type of drugs for pain. The problem was I had no idea I was setting myself up for failure by not researching my options when it came to birth. I thought everyone had babies in a hospital with a doctor. I had no idea there were other options out there. I also incorrectly assumed a hospital would support my decision to try to have a natural birth. I was in denial I guess, I didn’t read any books about labor and didn’t research any pain medications or options during labor. I thought I would just go in there and have my baby, no problem. Once I got to the hospital at about 8am having been in labor all night and was told I was only 3cm dilated and it would be all day before I gave birth I realized maybe I was unprepared for all this birth stuff. My labor stalled out at that point and they gave me pitocin, a horrible medication that makes contractions hurt much worse. A few hours of that and I was begging for some pain meds. They gave me a narcotic, which did nothing for the pain just made me loopy. I ended up delivering Sam having just had narcotics, no epidural or anything. For some reason all the nurses and doctor’s were super impressed by this and told me I was one of the only patients they had ever seen deliver without an epidural. I realized something at that point, my idea of having a natural birth in a hospital was a strange idea indeed.
I got pregnant with my second son Jordan and again, didn’t do any research on birth, but I knew I was in a lot of pain with Sam’s delivery and I didn’t want to do that again. I decided I would have an epidural this time. Everyone else I knew did and said it was great. So, I did. The problem was when they gave it to me it caused me to be short of breath and I panicked. They had to give me oxygen and use a vacuum to get Jordan out. It was a traumatic experience.
On to baby number three, Elijah. At this point I had heard about midwives and birth centers from my sisters in law, but was really nervous about trying that for myself. Jordan’s delivery was very traumatic and I didn’t think I could have done it without the medical interventions I had. So, Elijah was also born in a hospital. His birth was also very worrisome as we discovered before he was born that his cord was around his neck. That led to me having non stress tests for weeks before he was born and I was told I must go to the hospital as soon as labor began or I would risk his life. I was terrified through his delivery and very thankful when he was born just fine.
Right after his birth, I saw a documentary on birth called the Business of Being Born. It was eye-opening for me. I would highly recommend all women see it so they can be informed about their birth choices. This documentary totally changed my mind about birth. I realized if I ever got pregnant again I wanted to do things differently. Three years went by and I found out we were expecting. I went to my OBGYN just because that is what I had always done. I was nervous about really making the switch to a midwife and doing a different kind of birth. After 24 weeks of pregnancy I began to question my decision to go with an OBGYN. I was feeling like I wasn’t being heard, like she didn’t have time for me and wasn’t going to be on board with a natural delivery. I discussed the idea of checking out a birth center with my husband and he was all for it. I was still trying to decide what to do when God intervened. I got a call from my OBGYN office saying my doctor had left the practice unexpectedly and I would need to transfer to another doctor. The nurse on the phone acted inconvenienced by having to get me scheduled to see another doctor who already had a full schedule. I knew then that this was my open door. I made an appointment to tour the birth center later that week. I was still skeptical though. I have a heart condition and was questioning whether it was safe for me to give birth outside of a hospital. We went to the tour and spoke with a midwife and she made us feel so at home. She spent over an hour with us discussing our fears and previous experiences. We feel in love with the idea of the birth center. She requested that we get my cardiologists approval before we would be allowed to deliver at the birth center. I was thinking there was no way this doctor would allow that. Surprisingly, he was very supportive and we are now patients at the birth center. We are really excited to have this birth we have always wanted.
Some people are probably thinking what is so bad about a medicated birth? Well, there is not a short answer to that, but if you have never informed yourself about birth options and medications given to women at birth please study up on it. I would recommend the documentary I mentioned above called the Business of Being Born. I would also recommend some books that are available at the library. “Creating your birth plan” by Marsden Wagner and anything written by Ina May Gaskin. Please educate yourself about the types of birth experiences available and what you want for your birth. Also, it is very important to educate yourself about common medical procedures done at birth and also the drugs used for pain relief at birth. While you are in labor is not the time to decide what medications or procedures you are comfortable with. And don’t count on the hospital to inform you of the risks of these medications or procedures. Inform yourself.