Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why We Chose a Natural, Out of Hospital Birth

Disclaimer: I would like to start by saying that I think that hospitals and technology are a blessing from God. I am very thankful that should something be abnormal about my pregnancy or labor, we have the option of going to a hospital. It is however our belief that under normal circumstances a woman’s body is fully capable of delivering a baby without drugs or medical assistance. Pregnancy and delivery are natural physiological processes that are beautifully design by God. We do not judge or look down on anyone who has had medicated births (I was a C-section baby) or choose this option for their family this is simply our conviction on the issue.
            I knew I wanted to have a natural birth from the beginning even though I wasn’t really sure why. I think I probably liked the idea of having the option of pain medication in case it got too difficult, but once I started educating myself about the birthing process my desire for the option was completely quenched. I was determined to learn as much as I could about birth, the process and the interventions.

Here are a few things I learned in my studying. 
·      I learned that the politics of birth are absurd in our country and insurance only likes to cover births done in a hospital that most likely costs between $15,000-30,000. But they wont cover a Birth Center birth performed by a professional midwife (the only certification that requires actual experience) which costs only $6, 000.
·      I learned that most doctors have never even witnessed a “normal” birth and that it’s much more common for the doctors to treat you like an ill patient in need of a remedy than a mother giving birth to a child.
·      I learned the term “cascade of interventions” and the effects that the interventions would not only have on me, but on our baby and I was shocked.
·      Most of all I learned that I, along with the rest of the American female population, had been very misinformed about pregnancy and birth. And we are all terrified! We watch sitcoms about women in excruciating pain as they are being rushed to the hospital and we cringe at the thought of giving birth. No wonder we are all screaming for the drugs and C-sections, no one is telling us that labor is normal and natural and that our bodies are made to accomplish this beautiful challenge that results in bringing a new life into the world.  I am not saying that labor isn’t painful; God promises that we will experience pain. Genesis 3:16a says, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” The pain is to be expected, but in a normal, healthy pregnancy it isn’t unbearable.

Cascade of Interventions:
            The question a lot of women ask is “why should I put up with the pain if I don’t have to?”  Which, I think is very valid, the best way I can answer is by giving a common example. You are 40 weeks pregnant and you go in for a prenatal checkup. The doctor will say “wow your baby is 10 pounds we need to get him out!”  Even though it is completely possible to deliver a 10 lb. baby the thought is scary and not knowing that it is normal and that most first time pregnancies are 41 weeks or even later, you agree to an induction. You go in and they start by giving you a prostaglandin cream or more commonly now Cervidil (I wont even tell you what this was originally made of) to soften your cervix, then they give you Pitocin (which acts like your body’s natural hormone oxytocin….only not) to speed up your laboring process, it also causes your contractions to be much stronger and more frequent so the pain is intensified. You will most likely then ask for an epidural which numbs your pain and confines you to laying on your back (the worst position to actually give birth). Then the epidural slows down your labor so they increase your Pitocin to speed it back up and your contractions get worse, only you can’t feel it, but your baby can. These drugs have been given at a dosage that is safe for a woman your size and weight but a 160lb woman’s dosage is not the same as an 8lb baby’s, who is also being delivered the drugs through your blood stream. Not to mention that the FDA deems NO drug safe for a pregnant woman. All the drugs cause the baby to go into distress (the heart rate drops) and an emergency C-section is needed. And everyone screams “thank goodness for C-sections!” without realizing that all the previous interventions caused the need for a C-section. For me, the risks of the drugs outweigh the benefit and I prefer the pain.

            Some of the main reasons that we chose the Birth Center:

·      No IVs (once an IV is in it is much easier to administer other drugs such as Pitocin)
·      No hospital gown or hospital bed (we have a big plush queen size bed and can wear our own clothes)
·      No epidural, episiotomies, forceps, or vacuums
·      The option to deliver in water (a natural way to help with pain and prevent tearing)
·      Freedom of position, birthing ball, showers, and tub
·      A staff that really gets to know us. They care about our health and our baby and we aren’t treated like just another number.
·      A caregiver who shares a common view on pregnancy  

The place of interventions

There is still a chance that I could have a high risk pregnancy and need to be in a hospital for safety reasons. In this case we would come up with a strict birth plan and attempt to follow it in the most natural way that is still safe. There should be no shame for someone who hopes to deliver naturally, but ends up needing assistance. Hospitals and medical interventions have their place and they are a blessing when something goes wrong and if that should be the case for us we will gladly do what is best for our baby.

Some Resources:

The Business of Being Born  (You can also watch this on Netflix)

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

The Bradley Method

The Humbled Homemaker: This is one of my favorite blogs to follow and she has been doing a series on Natural Birth

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