Monday, June 24, 2013

{Becoming Mother} A Hospital/Unmedicated Birth Story

I've gotten quite a few questions about my hospital birth with Cannonmy birthing center birth with Cason, why I choose those locations and why I wanted a natural birth. I thought it might be fun to do a blog series on women who have had different birthing experiences and what they've liked about them. I'll be back at the end of the series to share what we liked about our hospital birth and what we liked about our birthing center birth. 

This is not a promo for a particular type of birth, in fact I've tried to cover as many types of births as possible from natural at home to c-section in the hospital. This is more of a "what can you expect" if you were to have one of these types of birth. Hopefully they will encourage you, help you make a birth decision that's right for your family, and most of all simply rejoice in the way God creates life. 

Let me introduce you to my precious friend, Jenn. She and I met through The Village Church back when our first babies were merely crawling. We did a summer Bible study together and were becoming great friends when her sweet family moved north, to the Midwest. I'm so thankful to call her a friend and am encouraged by her love of her family, her desire to create a beautiful home and her writing over at A Simple Haven

We are all given various gifts and talents. Turns out one of mine is giving birth with great speed. I had my first baby in 4 hours. That includes any kind of pre-labor, however you want to define pre-labor. I woke up at 5:30am with mild contractions and had my sweet daughter at 9:42am. 20 months later, her brother was born after 2 hours of labor. It’s a good thing that my goal was to have a natural/unmedicated birth, because in both instances, I showed up at the hospital too late for an epidural anyway.

Why Natural?

When I became pregnant for the first time, I was already making slow but steady progress into granola girl world and had a curiosity about natural labor. So, I consumed various books, articles, and documentaries like The Business of Being Born, all of which opened my eyes to the benefits of laboring and delivering baby with as few medical interventions as possible. In particular, learning about the effects of Pitocin on both baby and mother, the way that it interacts with an epidural, and how the combination can lead to the need for a C- section gave me a strong preference to avoid induction. The more I read, the more it seemed that the average American woman’s birth experience is often shaped by factors like doctors’ schedules or convenience and, simply, fear--of the unknown, of complications, of pain. Now, I’m not saying I wasn’t scared of the pain. But the more I learned about how our bodies and the birth process were designed, the more confident I became that it was possible--and even desirable--to have a natural birth without being some kind of superwoman. For me, having an encouraging, knowledgeable advocate like my doula Leslie and a supportive husband who sat through all of my hippie birth classes (and listened well enough to know how to handle me in labor) bolstered this confidence.


Why the Hospital?

Often, women with preferences like mine will avoid the hospital setting and its more medical model of L & D in favor of a more natural-friendly birthing center or even a home birth. Not me. Once I found out that they kick you out of our local birthing center 6 hours after you have your baby, I said no thank you--I’m having this kid someplace where they’ll take care of me for a couple days. Really, that’s it. I wanted the free meals and 24 hour care. We don’t have family close by, so there was no chance of having one of our moms come as soon as the baby was born to help with cooking, etc. I briefly considered hiring a postpartum doula, but it wasn’t in the budget. And while I’m all for the whole post-delivery bonding with baby time and a supporter of rooming-in (at least in theory), I’m also a fan of letting baby spend a little time in the nursery while I sleep. I have the next ___ (fill in the blank with your preference) months to “room-in.”

How Did it Go?

In both cases, about as well as it could have gone. However, I will say that I avoided the bumps in the road that can arise when labor isn’t progressing as rapidly as doctors would like by:
  1. Having very rapid labors
  2. Only spending 20 and 30 minutes, respectively, in the hospital before producing a child
I realize this is not very helpful or intentionally reproducible. So, I will direct you to my tips for having a natural birth in a hospital setting. For me, the only negative aspects of either hospital birth were related to decisions my first doc made: giving me an episiotomy to help deliver my daughter and Pitocin, post birth, to help deliver the placenta.* At the time, I was unaware of the effects of both and thus wasn’t very vocal about preventing them. With #2, I talked to my (much more natural-friendly) doc about wanting to avoid an episiotomy and Pitocin at any time. She was very agreeable and was a fantastic support during L & D. *Having experienced contractions without medication and contractions amplified by Pitocin, I can say that latter are ridiculously stronger. Anyone who takes Pitocin and turns down the epidural gets a gigantic high five from me.

hospitalbirth21Next Time
If there ever is a #3, I would happily have him or her in the hospital. I love my current doc and had a great experience with the L & D and postpartum nurses at my local hospital. However, if #3 comes more quickly than #2--as I hear they’re prone to do--I’m just not sure that’s going to be an option. Last time, we started packing up the car about 5 minutes after feeling my first contraction, left home soon after that, dropped our toddler at a friends’ house, and arrived at the hospital only to have our son 30 minutes later. I simply don’t think I could move any faster than that. I also don’t think Hubs could handle a roadside baby delivery. So, check in with me if #3 happens, but my guess is I’ll be signing up for a home birth-- out of necessity.
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About Jenn:
Jenn writes about homemaking with intention, beauty, and mirth at A Simple Haven.  She enjoys making pretty things out of random bits, painting furniture, and hosting just about anything.  She is not afraid to lead a one-woman crusade against the rampant overuse of the apostrophe.

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