Birth Your Way Naturally
How can women birth naturally in a Hospital? With little support from Doctors & Hospital Staff, Parents are on their own if they want to birth their own way
Birthing today is scary, to say the least. We all want the best outcome for our birth. Above all we want the baby healthy and to arrive safely. At the same time we want to have an experience. To bond with our partner and our newborn baby. We all know that a natural delivery free from drugs and intervention is the ideal situation to create this experience. With that said, I am also aware that it is not always possible. But most of the time it is more than possible. We typically choose to birth in a hospital because we feel we have more options should something go wrong. This is true. What we don't know is that there are also a million routine procedures that are going to interfere with the very thing we are setting out to accomplish.
The combination of bright lights, beeping noises, baby monitors, i.v.'s, catheters, antibiotics thru i.v., rupturing the water bag, starting PIT, keeping you in a laying on your back position..... etc. etc. the list is endless. All these rules seem to make your labor so unbearable that I can't imagine anyone could or would birth naturally in this setting. They say you are free to take this natural approach, but with all these rules & regulations it really is impossible and I'm pretty sure they know it. The ideal labor is a mom who asks to be induced early and plans an epidural or a scheduled c-section. Let's face it folks, a mom who may want to birth squatting or needs to walk a lot during labor or god forbid is being a bit too vocal while she's pushing is just not what the staff feels like dealing with.
The maternity system is out of control along with hospital policies and insurance plans. Having a baby seems to be taking a "my way or the highway" approach in hospitals. They tell you that you get all these options but they quickly diminish as your due date arrives. We figure they are the experts, not us, so what do we know, we should just listen to whatever they say. Birthing has become an industry, not a special experience for the families. Think the difference between a small family owned business and Wal-Mart. I am an advocate for natural birth but even if that is not the route someone wants to go, they still need support, information and choices. Parents should never be bullied or backed into a corner when planning their labor & delivery. If Dr.'s & Hospitals allowed us the freedom and actually helped us birth the way we feel comfortable, we could enjoy birthing in a hospital setting. Unfortunately they are going in the complete opposite direction.
After two hospital births I can honestly say that next time I'm not getting near one. Get informed, read books, talk to mom's, listen to different birth stories, look at all options, write a birth plan, talk deeply with your partner about your real feelings, then most importantly, go for a walk alone, dig deep, really ask yourself.... what do you want? What kind of day do you want, what kind of mood do you want, this is your big moment...... own it, do it your way, voice your opinion and keep asking questions. Reach out, talk about it and keep pushing to have it your way. It's our money, our insurance, our moment, our birth, our right to have a say in how we deliver our babies.
Books to help you on your journey
Information and encouragement are key in making making decisions about birth. When you read, it's a quiet time for yourself in which you can reflect on your deeper thoughts and really close in on your feelings. Birthing is spiritual, powerful, new & exciting. Those are a lot of feelings going on at once and sometimes it's hard to really get to the heart of what we want. When I read positive birthing stories and had more information than the "what to expect when" books, it helped me to design a birth plan that made sense for me, not just what my doctor wanted : )
A natural birth, but a hospital birth. Why it's almost impossible to have those 2 things in the same sentence, let alone in the same experience. My birth story of delivering my 2nd child, a beautiful baby girl. Phoenix, 2 days early, 6lbs 13oz, 19 inches
So here's my story in a nutshell. I delivered my son naturally - free of drugs, i.v.'s & episiotomies, BUT it was in a hospital. I was 21, I was nervous, scared and wanted my baby to arrive safely. Everything in my being told me I wanted to birth naturally. I wanted a spiritual connection to my birth and above all I did not want to "miss" it by being loaded or being numb from the waist down. I certainly didn't want to be in pain, as no one does, but I also knew that if I gave over total medical control to the doctors and nurses that I wouldn't have a say in what was going on anymore. The experience was in most ways a success, my wishes were met and I did it the way I wanted but like all things you look back on, you start seeing how you can improve on the situation.
I wanted another baby, but not for a while. I got pregnant again at 30. At that point my husband and I had over 10 yrs together and felt ready. I also felt more assertive in my needs and comfortable with my choices. I wanted a midwife, but my insurance sent me a denial letter saying it was medically inappropriate. I inquired about birthing at home and paying for it myself, but I needed to know my options if I had a medical emergency during or post delivery. My insurance company told me if I made the choice to birth at home, then I would also be responsible for any emergency attention I may seek at a hospital during labor, delivery or post partum. What was I to do?
As you can imagine it was pretty clear to me that I could either push this baby out my way without medical help and hope for the best or deliver in a hospital and feel safe if faced with a life threatening emergency. So in a hospital it was. Which really is not the worst thing ever, it's just hard to have the experience you really want. There are procedures and mandatory things that you can't get around. So you compromise and slowly start adjusting your dreams to fit hospital policy. Ok, so still not the end of the world.
I go into labor around 2am, take a long bath, light some candles, contractions are pretty strong but I'm in the zone. I lay in bed with my husband and son, the lights are low and contractions are at 5 min apart. They are intense but in between I am fine, brushing my teeth & getting things ready to go. It's 5:20 and I am feeling like I want to squat.... uh oh, that feeling doesn't usually show up until the end.... we better get in the car. It's September 22nd, we're having unusual weather, it's raining and lightening, we're only 10 minutes from the hospital though so we're not worried. My water hasn't broke and I can still crack a smile. So we're pulling away from our house and my body starts to push. I can feel her head through the water bag, I fear she will arrive before we get there. We contemplate pulling over and calling 911 but my husband knows we are only minutes away. We get to the hospital, they are pushing me in the wheelchair as fast as they can. Up the elevator, through the security doors and finally into the maternity ward. Here's where it goes wrong.......
The three of us are in a delivery room now, I am still in the wheelchair. The nurse asks me to get up and lay on the bed. I tell her the baby's head is out and I am holding her in. They casually agree with me as if what I am saying is normal. We are puzzled by this..... she says for me to get on the bed while she gets my i.v. ready, now we are even more puzzled.... I begin to get out of the chair and get on all fours on the bed, the nurse corrects me and tells me I need to lay on back, I tell her that if I do, the baby is going to come out so to be ready.... she is still not taking me seriously. She does turn to my husband and say that he needs to remove my 9 year old son from the room. So my husband leaves to take him to the waiting room just 3 doors down in the same hallway and then quickly return for the birth. I sit my butt on the bed with my legs still over the sides, swing my left leg up & try to take my pajama pant leg off so the baby won't be born in my pants. The nurse pulls once or twice on the baby's neck area or shoulders, I presume, and possibly breaks my water at the same time but I really don't know, and ta-da my baby girl is out.
My husband and son have only made it a few feet away when they hear cries... they pop their head back in and in disbelief ask if she had already been born. They never handed me the baby, they took her away quickly to the warming table and kept her there for what felt like hours. My son is by my side and I have sent my husband to fetch the camera. They ask me to cut the cord, which I don't understand because they must have already cut it if they took her from me. So I perform the gratuitous cut that really means nothing because she is no longer attached to me. Then they wisk her away again telling me she needs to get warm. I ask if I can warm her and nurse her, they keep stalling. I get it, they are nurses, the Dr. wasn't there and they are doing what they can and following procedure. It's fine, they are not wrong or bad, it just sucks for me that I am caught up in the system. The room is starting to fill up, my Dr. comes in to give me a couple stitches, they start bathing the baby, nurses are changing shifts, it's a zoo. The lights are bright, it's loud and I am trying to come to terms with the baby being out because I feel like I'm dreaming. At least a half an hour has gone by and my constant nagging has gotten to them, they give me the baby. And just as I am beginning to nurse her and gaze into her eyes, they come give me a shot in my arm. A routine shot of pitocin to make my uterus contract back (which happens naturally while you are breastfeeding, which I am doing at that exact moment). So I begin having contractions that feel like I am in labor. Suddenly my "natural" birth starts to feel not so natural. I am in pain all day but I am in the I don't give a crap mode because I am determined to enjoy this magical day no matter what they do to me.
I had a natural birth, it's what I wanted. But I felt like I had everything working against me. I don't know how you can have a natural birth in a hospital. It's not encouraged, it's inconvenient for them, your are loud, needy and a pain in the hospitals butt. Plus they think you are right in line with Joan of Arc for even going through with it. Like it's some sick pain we want to feel just so we can say we did it. When it's so much deeper in your soul than that. I am not a hippie, a vegan, naturopath, holistic healer.... but I think all those things have something to offer. I think birthing is not the same as being sick. I think doctors and hospitals and medicine are wonderful for people who are ill and if you were dying you would feel forever in debt and in awe of the amazing medical world. But a low risk, young woman who has a desire to birth free from those aids should have that right.
You have heard the saying "It takes a village". Well, it certainly does. Birth should be exciting, beautiful, meaningful, intimate and loving. The woman should have loving and tender voices of encouragement all around. It is a celebration. Let's start acting like it! Instead of being terrified of birth we should be counting the days in wondrous excitement. Every woman I talked to was either terrified or thought it wouldn't be that hard to have their 1st baby. They either told me it was every bit as scary as they thought or that they couldn't have imagined it would be that difficult. We need a caring, supportive team. Not just a doctor that comes in during the last 5 minutes. Where's the love?? So maybe everyone doesn't want a natural experience. It's cool..... I understand. But shouldn't the choice be there. I mean a real choice. Not "well, you can try to do it without drugs but I'm sure you'll change your mind once labor starts" or "sure, go ahead and try for a natural birth, while you are strapped to monitors, you have an i.v., a catheter, you have to lay on your back and pee in a bed pan". Is that really creating an environment of choice?
Did labor & delivery turn out the way you wanted?
Was the big day all you expected it to be? For most of us it veered far from the original plan. Even if it wasn't perfect or every detail wasn't how you thought it would be, was it still a desirable experience? Were your original wishes respected? Were you able to birth the way you wanted to?