Friday, July 18, 2008

Birth, epidural, initial nursing and bonding with baby

While we still have almost six months before our little one is supposed to arrive, my husband and I already started considering which would be the best way to help our baby make its entrance into the world. Well actually, I have to admit my husband was the ohe who started thinking about it - he seems to know much more about pregnancy and birth than I do. As a side note I'll confess that he knew I'm pregnant before I was sure of that. One night he pulled a home pregnancy test out of his bag and said, "You are pregnant. But go ahead, make sure!"

At first, I didn't even think of ways to have a baby other than what most women here go through: a hospital room, lying flat on your back, monitors, constantly changing faces of doctors, nurses and students fussing around you. And epidural. Oh, of course, epidural. I wouldn't consider actually going through labor pains, now, would I? And besides - you go home in a few days and it doesn't matter how you gave birth, right?

However, prompted by my husband, I began to question whether it is normal to treat birth - a natural process - as a surgery. Sure, there might be possible complications, and that's why it's wonderful we have advanced medical care available when it is needed. But shouldn't that be the exception, not the rule?

In the past, women were encouraged to move around during labor, and take any position that alleviated pains. When a woman is mobile, she may place herself in a position when gravity is to her advantage, and helps the baby come out. Epidural, I realized, limits the woman's freedom of movement and might slow down the entire process, which can ultimately result in pytocin induction - which wouldn't have been necessary, if only birth had been allowed to take its natural course. Also, I started reading evidence of women who suffered long-lasting damage to their mobility because of epidural. Damage caused by epidural can be irreversible:

"Four years ago during the routine delivery of my fifth child, my doctor (with my consent) called for an anesthesiologist to administer an epidural anesthetic. The epidural caused bleeding into the spinal column, and because of the neglect of the doctor and hospital staff, I remain a paraplegic to this day."

Now, I understand labor is painful. I have never given birth yet, so most likely I cannot imagine just how painful it is. However, I can't help but consider the following: labor pains don't cause long-lasting damage. Epidural might.

As someone who has worked in a hospital, I wasn't under the illusion that hospital is a safer place for a healthy child than, say, home. Yes, sometimes we need hospitals - thank God we have them. But I have seen more than one infant arrive to treat a minor complication, and end up hospitalized for weeks because of violent bacteria you won't find anywhere but in a hospital. I was aware of the fact that hospital surroundings are institutionalized, unpleasant, impersonal and not at all encouraging. Patients are treated as "products" on an assembly line. It adds a lot to the natural stress accompanying illness - or giving birth. But again, giving birth is not a surgery!

However, I didn't fully realize the dissonance caused by a typical hospital birth until my sister-in-law had her baby not long ago. She was in labor for 24 hours - during this time she was hooked to an i.v., to prevent her from losing too much fluids. At the same time they didn't give her anything to drink. I don't see the logic in that. Isn't it possible to drink between contractions, at least in the earlier stages of labor?

Newborns were separated from their mothers, and nursing was supposed to be done on "feeding hours". Now, I don't think it's very difficult to understand how absolutely ridiculous this is when we are talking about a newborn, who is supposed to be fed when there is need to, and not because hospital's schedule says now it's feeding time. My sister-in-law was told her baby "doesn't have strength" to nurse (of course she didn't, if she happened to be sleepy when she was "supposed" to nurse), and they gave her formula. Since they stayed for several days, this disrupted the initial nursing relationship.

So far, I realized this: I don't want to be helpless during labor, and I don't want to do anything that might cause long-lasting damage to myself or the baby; I don't want to be hooked to an i.v. and have birth treated like something abnormal, not a natural, God-designed process my body goes through in order to bring new life into this world; I don't want to be separated from my baby in the first couple of days after I give birth, and I want to be able to nurse my baby whenever there's need to. If at all possible, I would like to avoid induction, surgical intervention, and giving formula to the baby.

The remaining question was, how can we accomplish this? The perfect solution I could think of would be home birth assisted by a midwife, with the possibility to get advanced medical treatment within minutes in a case of emergency. That way, the woman is more secure within her natural surroundings, her home, and isn't exposed to foreign infections. I must tell you home births are extremely rare in Israel - which wouldn't have bothered me if it weren't for the fact that it's about 30 minutes drive to the nearest hospital from where we live. This seems like an awfully long time in case urgent intervention is needed. Of course, so far there's no reason to think this might be the case, but it would make me feel very insecure to know we are so far away from advanced medical help.

Right now my husband and I are considering the option of a natural birth center in our area. It's on hospital territory so help can be received within minutes if there's an emergency, but birth is allowed to progress as naturally as possible, with the help of a doula and monitoring now and then. The birth center encourages use of warm water pool, shower, essential oils, candles, birthing chairs and balls, soothing music and anything that might alleviate a woman's labor pains and make her feel better. Mothers are later given the option to remain with their babies around the clock, until they go home. It's costly, but if it's really what it promises to be, we feel it would be worth it.

As always, I cherish the advice of more experienced ladies. I would appreciate it if you could share about your birthing experience: did you give birth in a hospital, at home, or someplace else? Did you have epidural - if you did, were there any side effects? If not, why did you choose not to, and which alternative methods for pain relief did you use? What soothed you and kept you afloat during labor? Were you given the chance to be with your baby and nurse your baby whenever it was needed, and what overall effect did it have on your entire nursing relationship?

93 comments:

danandkeren said...

First, congrats on the pregnancy. I subscribe via a reader, so don't always make it over to comment. I suspected you may be pregnant based on the content of some of your posts after you were married, but the "Jewish women wait 3 months..." statement basically solidified the question in my mind. ;)

I am a recent new mother (my daughter is 5 months), and we had planned a home birth with Christian midwives (I live in SC in the USA). In fact, I secretly hoped my labor would go so quickly that it would just be my husband and I at home when the baby came. To make a long story short (and it was long ;)), I labored almost 24 hours before the midwives came. Then, I labored about 12 more, but my body did not progress the amount that was required, and they were coming to the point where they would be required by our state law to transport me to the hospital. After a few more hours of laboring at home, lots of prayer, we went to the hospital. By that time, I'd been in labor for about 30 hours, and my body had grown very weak.

I had not even thought I'd end up in the hospital because my pregnancy had gone so smoothly. My midwife stuck with us, and was such a blessing. However, because I had grown so weak with the unprogressive labor, I was given an epidural in order to help me regain my strength. Still, the baby did not come, and then I was given pitocin, because my water had already broken, and there was some concern with the heartbeat. I had tubes and the like, which I did not want at all.

But by that time, I didn't mind so much, and the concerns I'd had didn't happen. In all, my labor was 46 hours long. I had wanted it at home, but God gave great grace in allowing me not to become bitter over my circumstances. Once I was in the hospital, my greatest fear was that I'd need a C-section, and I was very thankful that I was able to deliver vaginally. I would not have chosen a hospital birth or a birth with lots of medical intervention, but I rest happily in the providence of God and could not be more thankful for my little girl.

We are praying that God will give us many more children, and I hope to attempt a home birth again. The condition that caused my labor to go so long rarely happens more than once with a mother, so as long as I don't have a 30-some hour labor, I'll be happy!

One thing I wish I would have thought through is what it might have been like if I'd needed to go to the hospital--and I would have packed some bags!! :)

Seung said...

It's been a long time. As someone who's been through multiple OB/GYN rotations -- high-risk and non-high-risk -- I agree that there are some horrid things that can go wrong in the so-called Labor/Delivery ward. And if those things are so obvious that even I, a male physician, can't help but notice them (and be horrified), well, draw your own conclusions ...

Lora said...

I have five children. The first was born when I was 33 and the last when I was 42. My first was a c-section that I later realized was not necessary. The rest of my children were home births with an excellent midwife and her assistant. It was such a relief to be able to eat and drink as needed for energy,to be able to move about into any position that was helpful to me. My midwife prayed for me and the atmosphere was peaceful despite the hardship of the pains as the time of delivery drew near. I am a shy person about my body and it was comforting to not have to deal with a lot of male drs.,interns,and students constantly checking me usually right in the middle of a contraction as had been the case with my first birth. Instead I was being cared for by another woman who had been through this herself and supported our desire to let God plan our family. The atmosphere was warm,in the hospital it had been cold and clinical. I never felt rushed to hurry up and deliver or I would be given a c-section. Each of my home births was slightly different with some minor difficulties. I trusted my midwife that if she said I must deliver in a hospital or go to a hospital at any time I would have gone. Read Five Standards of Safe Childbearing by David Stewart and also Silent Knife by Nancy Wainer Cohen. God bless you and your baby and it must be wonderful to have a midwifery clinic nearby. I would find out what their birthing practices and rates of certain procedures are because some are as rigid as any routine hospital setting.--Lora

Karen said...

I've given birth both at the hospital and at home. Everything you said about intervention is true, though I was allowed to nurse on demand in the hospital.

The first thing to remember is that every woman is different. For some, labor pains are like mild cramps, for others they are the end of humanity lol. I'm the 2nd. I have mixed feelings about the epidural, because it was such a relief from the pain that made me actually pray for death, which is not something I would normally do, but you are correct it is better for the baby to go without, which I did the 2nd time around. And although that made me feel proud of my hard work, it was traumatic too because of the intense pain. I can't say I bonded more or less with either child...it takes time to bond and I was only in the hospital for 2 days.

I have no choice but to do a hospital birth this time around. Midwives here are very expensive and hospital care is covered by our insurance. I also couldn't have midwives while I was having bleeding during pregnancy, which thankfully has resolved now. There are no birth centers here either, and the only midwives who do homebirths have an EXTREMELY high hospital transfer rate.

If it were another normal, low-risk birth and we had the money though, I would consider another homebirth. It was wonderful to be at my own home doing things my way from the start and getting the rest I so badly needed, and Rachel seemed to really relax better that way.

Heather said...

Anna- As for the birth do what ever is the best for you. With my boys they were able to stay with me the entire time we were in the hospital and would only moved to the nursery if we asked.

My first didn't go as planned and I had to be induced with pitocin and I had an epidural. Pitocin is nasty and if you can avoid it due but if they deem it necessary then go with it. My second and third I induced by choice and ended up with an epidural with both of them also. I had no lasting effects with the epidural. It wasn't that I didn't want a natural birth with my boys but the way my labor progresses if I hadn't had relief then I may not have had the ability to push and then may have ended with a c-section.

As for nursing and formula if you are able to nurse your little one do so. Again I am unable to nurse my children and such they have always had a bottle. They are fine and healthy. Don't put it out of your mind that you won't give them a bottle though. Nursing is wonderful and a natural thing but sometimes it is nice to give dad a chance to participate too, and you may need a break from time to time.

I never thought I would want time away from my children but at 6,3 and 5 months (all boys) there are times that I could use 5 minutes alone. That doesn't make me a bad mom it is actually makes me a better mom. I get a chance to refocus and I am then I am off running again.

Good luck and just remember that you need to do what ever is the best for you and your baby. No one else's opinion really matters.

God Bless
Heather

Neuropoet said...

My two labors were both very different - mostly due to how much control I had during them. With my first baby I was in the hospital, and while I didn't have any pain meds (no epidural or anything), I was still connected to a monitor and spent most of the labor in the bed -- not at all comfortable. My labor went faster than they thought it would and the doctor wasn't even there when I was ready to push - they made me wait 20 minutes with my son in the birth canal - it was awful - and then the doctor came in, gave me a snip that wasn't really necessary, and my son flew out on the first push. One entire side of his head was one big bruise from being forced to wait in the birth canal so long - they assured me that things like that happen all the time and he would be fine -- but sometimes I wonder if his traumatic birth had anything to do with his autism. By the time my other son was born I knew better. I had a midwife, and had planned a home birth, but my pregnancy ended up being complicated (I was on bedrest for much of it) so I had him in the hospital with the midwife attending. I was free to get in any position I wanted - and I found that soaking in the tub eliminated all my labor pains (which was a nice surprise since I had experienced so much pain during the pregnancy itself). Three hours after entering the hospital my son was born. The midwife was wonderful - when I stepped down from the table after a brief check to go back to the tub, my son dropped and started to crown. She wanted me to get back on the table, but there was no way I was going to be able to climb back up. I went down on my hands and knees, while they scurried around putting plastic down and such - I gave birth right there. :)
I would definitely recommend a midwife and a more natural approach if at all possible. Remember, women have been giving birth since the beginning, and if the birth process is left alone it will go at its own pace - only in very rare circumstances will there be problems, and most of the time you'll know because the pregnancy itself will be difficult.
I know the idea of birth is a bit "scary" - but I was only 18 when my oldest was born, and afterwards - despite how the birth went - I knew I would do it again. I'm so thankful that my husband and I had our children right away since I've been infertile since my second son was born - and at 29 now my chances of having another blessing are not getting any better. I'm grateful for the two I have...

Peace,
~Jenny

EllaJac said...

Anna,

I've had three daughters. My first was in the hospital, no epidural. It certainly hurt, but for me it's a 'job' to accomplish - the only way out of the pain is through it. She was 9 lb 5 oz (not sure the kg equivalent, but a larger sized baby). Due to her size, they were concerned about her blood sugar level, and during the day we were there, she endured MULTIPLE heel pricks to test her blood sugar before and after nursing (and they insisted on formula because of this low blood sugar issue), before and after a bottle. Within a few days we were able to toss the bottle completely.

My second daughter was induced, and I eventually opted for an epidural. They did all the annoying and painful insertion, then gave me a 'sample' of the medication (to make sure I didn't drop dead from allergy?). Before it took effect, I was having a baby and the anesthesiologist ran screaming from the room. AFTER giving birth, my left side and leg were numb for a short time. I think the epidural catheter was not perfectly inserted, and the epidural (had I really gotten it) would've only worked on one side. I'm not sure how that would've made giving birth. Also, they billed me for the epidural, too. :]
My third daughter (10 months old, nearly!) was born at home with a midwife. We're about 30 minutes from the hospital as well. She was my biggest baby, by an ounce, and the whole experience was more than worthwhile. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Each practitioner is different, but for me, my midwife required a good, healthy diet, exercises and other care done to help prepare the body for birth, and different herbal things as well. Her care is more 'preventive' than 'reactive,' if that makes sense. I did tear a bit, as I always have, but instead of stitches and days and days of pain, the herbal remedies (and possibly much of that prep work) healed it faster and with FAR less pain. More herbs again made the 'baby blues' CONSIDERABLY lessened. I still can't believe the difference. My baby was born in familiar surroundings (sounds, germs, etc), and didn't have to undergo the crazy amount of testing and vaccinating and medicating (eyes) that is so routine. And I think she's the better for it.

Overall, I think you should do that which gives you peace. Early in my midwife search, I was a little unsure of some of the aspects of the one I went with, but I had peace about it. I had some trepidation about things 'going wrong' and being far from the hospital, but I prayed and had peace. Having done both the conventional and the alternative, I will sign up for the alternative again if I have the chance.

Also, congratulations. I am so happy for you.

EllaJac said...

Anna,

I've had three daughters. My first was in the hospital, no epidural. It certainly hurt, but for me it's a 'job' to accomplish - the only way out of the pain is through it. She was 9 lb 5 oz (not sure the kg equivalent, but a larger sized baby). Due to her size, they were concerned about her blood sugar level, and during the day we were there, she endured MULTIPLE heel pricks to test her blood sugar before and after nursing (and they insisted on formula because of this low blood sugar issue), before and after a bottle. Within a few days we were able to toss the bottle completely.

My second daughter was induced, and I eventually opted for an epidural. They did all the annoying and painful insertion, then gave me a 'sample' of the medication (to make sure I didn't drop dead from allergy?). Before it took effect, I was having a baby and the anesthesiologist ran screaming from the room. AFTER giving birth, my left side and leg were numb for a short time. I think the epidural catheter was not perfectly inserted, and the epidural (had I really gotten it) would've only worked on one side. I'm not sure how that would've made giving birth. Also, they billed me for the epidural, too. :]
My third daughter (10 months old, nearly!) was born at home with a midwife. We're about 30 minutes from the hospital as well. She was my biggest baby, by an ounce, and the whole experience was more than worthwhile. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Each practitioner is different, but for me, my midwife required a good, healthy diet, exercises and other care done to help prepare the body for birth, and different herbal things as well. Her care is more 'preventive' than 'reactive,' if that makes sense. I did tear a bit, as I always have, but instead of stitches and days and days of pain, the herbal remedies (and possibly much of that prep work) healed it faster and with FAR less pain. More herbs again made the 'baby blues' CONSIDERABLY lessened. I still can't believe the difference. My baby was born in familiar surroundings (sounds, germs, etc), and didn't have to undergo the crazy amount of testing and vaccinating and medicating (eyes) that is so routine. And I think she's the better for it.

Overall, I think you should do that which gives you peace. Early in my midwife search, I was a little unsure of some of the aspects of the one I went with, but I had peace about it. I had some trepidation about things 'going wrong' and being far from the hospital, but I prayed and had peace. Having done both the conventional and the alternative, I will sign up for the alternative again if I have the chance.

Also, congratulations. I am so happy for you.

Kacie said...

My thoughts EXACTLY.

From what I've been able to research online and from books ("The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" has been helpful to me), I've decided that I'm really leaning toward using a midwife and trying for a natural birth.

I'm worried about unnecessary interventions for my sake and the baby's sake.

Even though labor will be painful, it's a pain with a purpose.

It's not the same as saying to your dentist, "No thanks, I'd rather not be numb when you pull out this tooth."

Best wishes as you continue to explore your options and prepare for your upcoming delivery!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
It is good for you to consider all of this while you are pregnant....but let me advise you that if you do not have the birth experience that you will be dreaming of all these months...it really doesn't matter as long as you and the baby come out of it healthy. Please have no guilt over how the baby enters this world: hospital, home, birthing center, doctor, midwife... I can tell you that you will never experience anything like it...it is wonderful and all of my birth experiences were wonderful no matter how we decided to go about it. I have had all of my babies using different methods. I have had several natural, one with a little bit of medication, and one with an epidural. All of these experiences resulted in a healthy, happy baby and a content mother.

I tell you this because I did feel very torn with my first about needing to rest and have an epidural because we (me and the baby) had been at it for almost 2 days and I couldn't get any rest between contractions. With the epidural, my husband and I were both able to get some rest, and in the end I was still able to move my legs and push her out rather easily. She was very active and crying loudly after she entered this world. I was thankful for the help....and that is the only thing that matters.... trusting in your "team" whoever that consists of, to help you make the best decision for you and the baby.

Ruthie from california

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your blog so much--I think this is my first reply.

I think your option of a close to the hospital birth center is a great choice. I delivered 9 years ago in OH in such a place. The midwives were wonderful, the calm and peace were unmatched.

I am a VERY part-time labor nurse in a community hospital. We don't give bad care but we do interfere with natural processes under the guise of being cautious and protecting caregivers from legal situations. Many of our "rules" are made because many women do not care properly for themselves and become high-risk. Then we interfere and sometimes make things more risky.

Thank goodness Pitocin, epidurals and C Sections exist because they have saved lives. But, you are right, until something breaks and needs hospital intervention, I'd go where natural processes are expected not a "surgery."

In my experience, choosing a caregiver who truly has the same philosphy as you do, is the best way to have a birth that you want.

You might read Ina Mae Gaskins books, especially Spiritual Midwifery.

I managed to deliver a beautiful dd after 42 weeks of pregnancy, 2-3days of on again /off again contractions and a labor pattern that would have yelled Pitocin or C Section to 90% of the MDs I know. We also had to be very patient getting the nursing started but after persistance we were a nursing pair for over 3 years.

Thank you Lord, for giving my dh and me the wisdom to choose the right caregiver.

J in VA

McNabb Clan said...

I really enjoy reading your blog.
I have had three little girls, all at home with a midwife. Each birth was different, yet I never had any medication. I have had long marathon births, back labor, one baby born with the cord around her neck, and even tore once. But even with all those "complications" we stayed home and had three incredible births! I would recommend finding a midwife who has lots of experience - that is what I attribute my wonderful experiences with. And she really encourages the fathers to be right there with you. My husband practically delivered my third girl. Its amazing to have such control over the entire experience. Anyhow, I hope you find the perfect place to have your baby!

Michelle Potter said...

Anna, I have to say that I think you are on the right track here. I would absolutely give birth in a birthing center if I had the option. (Birthing centers in my city are not *allowed* to take women who have had previous c-sections. Never mind that I've had 3 normal births since then with no problems.)

For someone who wishes to have as natural a birth as possible, giving birth in a hospital setting with a medical doctor is a constant fight. You end up having to compromise on at least a few things to get the things that are most important to you. One of the compromises I have had to make is an epidural. I'm not concerned about the pain, but it helps me relax enough to give birth on *their* time table. I still hate it and hope to avoid it this time. If you can avoid this experience, I encourage you to do so. It will absolutely be worth the money.

BTW, my husband was the one to tell me that I was pregnant not just the first time, but the second time, too.

Kris said...

Anna:

I've had three kids, all natural births. I'll tell you what no one told me...that contractions feel like cramps. Everyone says "when you have a contraction, blah, blah" but they never tell you what they feel like.

Breathing techniques helped tremendously. Regarding drugs, one lady told me "you're not sick, you're just having a baby." That stuck with me and made me realize that my body was doing what it was intended.

BTW...all three were in a hospital setting, and the nurses were always sweet.

Just go with the flow and work with your body, but please don't be so stubborn to refuse a treatment if you or the baby need medical help. (I know you are a smart cookie!)

Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

My goodness, Anna....you have had a lot to think about lately! I just read your post about prenatal testing. You must feel so pressured to submit to these tests by the experts; as you point out, the tests can be valuable (if Mom & Baby need special care during the pregnancy), but are so often used to determine whether or not the woman is carrying a "perfect" fetus. And then, if not (or even, if there is only a suspicion that there are abnormalities), abortion is quickly suggested. So sad. I believe you are wise to stand your ground about too much prenatal testing.

I did not have epidurals with any of my three pregnancies. The births were at our local hospital. With my first, I did have something given to me intravenously, to help me relax between contractions. My second labor was actually my easiest, & I think it's because I exercised as much as I could. And chasing after a toddler certainly contributed to that!! The only two types of exercise I could do comfortably were walking & bike-riding. I would put my 17 month old in the baby seat behind me, get on & go. Really, it felt good to move, & my little girl loved it too. Anyway, I had no drugs at all with this pregnancy...I just walked throughout the early labor (we went to an art fair!), & by the time I arrived at the hospital, there were only 2 1/2 hours to go. It was hard & fast. My third labor was the toughest, & I would have appreciated some kind of pain relief, but I arrived at the hospital too late for them to give me anything.

All told, I'm not sorry my labors were handled as they were. My doctor & the nurses who were with me were helpful & supportive. I was alert afterward, & able to rest naturally, instead of in some kind of weird, in-and-out stupor caused by drugs. I had my babies with me as much as possible afterward, & I did nurse them. The biggest difference I noticed between all three experiences was the increased encouragement I received concerning having the baby in bed with me. There was some trepidation with the first one, a little less concern with the second, & by the time my third came along, "Would you like your baby with you most of the time?" Of course, I did!!

thinking of you fondly,
Brenda

Beverly said...

Ohhh Anna congratulations!! How in the world I missed your good news, I have no idea! (( hug! ))


I am a firm advocate of home birth ~ PLEASE find a copy of The Business of Being Born and WATCH IT, asap! Though I don't know how applicable it is to other countries' systems.... it really is loaded with VERY essential information.

My daughter was born at home ~ 2 weeks "late" but NOT late, totally on her own time. I had been in prodomal labor for months, and when she finally came, labor started and 2 hours later she slipped out, 10 lbs and no tearing, just happy as a clam. (^_^)

Breathing ... walking LOTS ... lots of praying and singing praises... dancing ... and taking hot baths and showers ... all those things helped with both of my births. (^_^)

To answer some of your other questions...
I do NOT recommend hospital birth, EVER. Birth is not a DISEASE, birth is something that we are MADE to do. God designed us PERFECTLY for this and He watches us through every step of the way... the only thing hospitals are good for is intervention, which LESS THAN 5% of ALL women EVER actually NEED. !!! For the other 95%+ of the entire female population: relaxation... hot water... and yes FOOD and drink. Women should be left to be relaxed and deal with contractions as they come, change positions, eat and drink if they're hungry and thirsty ... oh so much more info I can't possibly cover it, but, read Mothering Magazine ... and Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth, and Jeannine Parvati Bakers' Prenatal Yoga and Natural Childbirth... also anything by Michel Odent, and Grantley Dick-Read's Birth Without Fear. That will get you started.

(( HUG! )) I'm so thrilled you're expecting!!!! I'm so happy for you!!!

Beverly said...

OK other things ... my son was born in a hospital (NOT my choice, just circumstance: I already had a dr appointment scheduled and once they realized I was in labor they didn't let me leave). 17 hours of hard labor, 3 hours of pushing, and restriction to laying on my BACK, for no reason other than it was hospital policy ~ NO food for the ENTIRE 17 hours, NO water just IV fluids ~ I tore VERY badly both internally and externally which ended up being one contributing factor to my first miscarriage... I didn't get to eat anything until over 2 hours after he was born, I was literally shaking and almost passed out from hunger ... I had so much external trauma they had to keep me in the hospital an extra two days, as I was so swollen I was unable to urinate ~ something I didn't even know was a risk, until afterward, but apparently can and DOES happen frequently when women are forced to deliver laying on their back ... and as far as a nursing relationship, with my first there was NONE. I got NO support, the nurses were extremely mean about it, I was told to cover up, they GRABBED my son away from my several times... just awful. I had LOTS of trouble bonding with my son. Plus all the medications they forced on us in the hospital ~ who knows what long-term effects they have? What I know is that my son has problems that can't be traced to their cause, so who knows if that's where they came from?? ~ I ended up bottle feeding him because my milk didn't come in in time, and even if it had, my breasts were so damaged from their "help" in nursing they were literally cracked open and bleeding. Just. Terrible.

In contrast, my home birth (2nd birth) ~~ my daughter stayed in my arms and was able to nuzzle me while I delivered the afterbirth, than we made our way to the bed and I laid with her and she crawled up me (fact: babies will crawl to their mother's breast and latch THEMSELVES on in an unmedicated and unhurried, non-messed-with birth!!) ~ and she latched herself on, and we nursed and nursed... until she was 3.5 years old, and she weaned herself. It was a beautiful experience and we bonded so well.

Women are SUPPOSED to have this time, unhurried, lazy, hormone-flooded, to bond with their children... it's this amazing gift that GOD has given us, so that we take care of them and that they always know who we are ~~ and the hospital experience tears that away from us piece by piece, until this cascade of interventions they place on us artificially overwhelms instinct, it overwhelms these God-given gifts and in its place, sets up this mechanized process...

AYAAH! can you tell I feel strongly about this? lol
(( hug )) I know you will come to the best decision and I will be praying for you, and your family, and your new little one! that all the best will come to you in this and that your experience will be a fantastic one. I have come to feel like I really know you, as over the years I have read all of your posts... And I really feel you will be a great mother.

Candy said...

HI Anna
Its Candy :)
Ive only had one birthing experience and our son Rock is 10 years old right now. But I still remember well what his birth was like!
This is funny... I went for a regular check up (2 weeks before Rock was due) and the doctor checked me and said "Oh you are no where near ready to have this baby. You will be lucky if he comes out on his due date. I suspect he will come later".
So I went on home and thought nothing of it as well, I was feeling totally fine.
I went to get in bed around midnight and as I stepped up into my bed, my water broke. I pretty much went into disbelief because as I said, I went to the doctor earlier that day and apparently this wasnt going to happen until at least my due date or later. Meanwhile, my water is breaking and that means Im 2 weeks early!
so my sweet husband runs all around the house. I am laughing right now as I am typing LOL He runs around the house looking for his keys and off we go in the middle of the night to the hospital. Well, it turned out I was in labor for 36 hours. I actually didnt feel much pain at all until the very last hour. ha ha ha yep, that was something :) But I did chose to have an epideral but it didnt do anything for me, it did not help with the pain at all. At least I dont think so. Oh yeah, my doctor left for holidays the day before and there were 12 other ladies having babies at the same time, so I didnt have a doctor, I had nurses helping me deliver!! I basically did it all myself. That last hour was painful but "God doesnt give you more than you can handle!" I pushed him out in 3 pushes and that was it. The pushing part was easy. Its just the cramps and pain before it, for me anyway.
After I delivered (in a pretty room --I did not share a room) the nurses and my husband went to do stuff with the baby and shortly after that, they brought my baby back to me and I kept him with me until I left the hospital. I never heard of having your baby taken from you. That doesnt happen here in Canada. You get your baby right away. I stayed a few more nights in the hospital just to get rest and learn how to breast feed and my husband stayed with me. It was a lovely experience actually.
The only thing for me was the breast feeding didnt work out. I tried for a couple days and my baby tried but it wasnt happening for various reasons so I had to start him on formula which I have to say, I didnt mind. It was much easier and other family was able to feed him. He's been a healthy child ever since. My mom breast fed with my brother when he was born and he end up a very sick child and a child diabetic. So I say all that to say that when it comes to formula or breast feeding, whichever one prefers should be accepted of course because ultimately God is in control of how our baby grows and all that. So if you chose to breast feed thats good but if it doesnt work out, dont beat yourself up over it or anything.
I got so badly judged by people and picked on (which a new mom does NOT need!) because I had to formula feed that it was terrible. That was the only bad experience I had giving birth...everything was great except for the tongue lashing I got from others who didnt understand why some moms like myself and some babies could not breast feed.
But anyways, thats my experience. It was so fun to remember it all and share it.
You will be fine no matter what you chose.
Love & God bless,
Candy
xoxox

Anonymous said...

I too debated all these issues in my first pregnancy, read all the books, wanted a natural birth, etc....
The truth is, once labour set in, I was in too much agony to think of jacuzzis and balls and whatever. Just get the baby out!!

HOWEVER, I gave birth to 5 different children in 3 different hospitals in 3 different cities in Israel, and I think you are misinformed. I was NEVER pressured to take an epidural, and never did (with my first birth, I took some gas or something which just made me dizzy). I asked not to have an episiotomy done, and never had one, and never needed more than a stitch or two (although my babies were huge). Some of the midwifes were amazing. I have to say, my worst birth experience was at Hadassah in Jerusalem, were I was truly treated like a medical show (students were even shown in to see a birth in progress! I was too out of it to protest). That was my first birth. For the others, I went to smaller hospitals were I was treated like a queen. One midwife even used reflexology to soothe my pains, and it worked wonders.

In all 3 hospitals, even in Hadassah, the baby was placed on my breast right after birth for as long as I wished (usually 5 minutes or so till I just collapsed). Baby was then cleaned up (with my husband watching) and sent to the baby ward for a couple of hours, till the placenta was out and I stopped bleeding.

Afterwards, in ALL the hospitals, rooming-in was very encouraged (you keep the baby beside you at all times). You could put the baby back in the baby section at any time (if you wanted to shower or sleep), but on the whole, baby and mom were encouraged to stay together. I think only one hospital (maybe hadassah?) encouraged returning the baby to the nursery at night, and even then, you could sign a release form and keep him/her by your side.

I breastfed all 5. I admit the hospitals did encourage me to give a bottle here and there the first couple of days, because the babies were huge (4-4.6 kg). I breastfed first, and if baby was still crying, gave a bit of a bottle. By the time I got home, my milk had come in, and there was no more need for the bottle.

You need to go to the hospitals personally and ask them about their policies. Take a look at the maternity ward. Maternity wards have come a long, long way since the 70s and 80s when there were horror stories of being strapped down and being separated from the baby.
Tammy

PS please give birth in a hospital!! My friend just had a baby boy a few weeks ago. She did all the tests, everything was 100%. However, right after birth it was discovered he had a very urgent medical problem which needed correcting surgery within an hour or two. It was done, baby is now healthy....but imagine if they had been stuck at home. Sometimes there's not even an hour, it's a matter of minutes. What if there's a traffic jam? Roads are blocked? Accident? Are you willing to take the chance?

Sure, most births are healthy and require no intervention. But I would never, ever risk my baby's health by assuming s/he would need no medical care at birth. Such a huge risk just because it's more comfortable to give birth at home!

Anonymous said...

To answer your questions:

1. delivered (3x) in a hospital - no cesareans, no complications

2. had an epidural with all 3 - no side effects - can I tell you how utterly heavenly they felt? :)

3. while waiting for epidural, employed breathing and relaxation techniques

4. soothing devices - holding husband's hand, foot massage from husband, quiet (no talking, no visitors), ocean wave CD playing, dimly lit room, fan

5. 1st and 3rd births - baby stayed in my room at all times - they call this 'rooming-in' and encouraged breastfeeding on demand. Both hospitals were striving to achieve the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative certification. They both had extremely helpful lactation consultants. These babies had a much easier time breastfeeding. I could attend to their needs much more quickly and I felt more closely bonded with them. They were calm, peaceful and content. We were able to keep our rooms dark at night and the babies slept very well.

2nd birth - hospital would not let baby stay in my room when I was asleep and was not very breastfeeding friendly. No lactation consultants were available. Nurses had very out of date information regarding breastfeeding. This baby had a harder time breastfeeding and was more fussy. Staff would not bring the baby to me until late hunger cues had passed and was upset, crying and distressed. When the nurses took this baby away to the nursery, the lights were on all night and this baby's sleep rhythms were completely messed up for the first month of it's life.

You can guess which policy I prefer! :)

To learn more, I suggest you check out http://www.babyfriendlyusa.org/
eng/10steps.html

Perhaps Israel has some program that is similar?

Delivering in a hospital can be a wonderful experience - it all depends on their policies and staff. If you can find a hospital with a philosophy and practice that matches your desires for your birthing experience, then you'll be set. If you are in a rather remote area, then your options will be more limited (as mine were with my 2nd birth). Some hospitals keep up with the latest research and implement it. Others keep doing things the old way and are reluctant to change. I would avoid these ones if possible.

Don't worry too much - research your local choices, pray and you will know what is right. Whatever you decide, we are all praying for you and your precious little one! :)

Margaret

Anonymous said...

It's me again. Just to give Hadassah hospital the benefit of the doubt...I was there 13 yrs ago. Things have probably improved.
Tammy

Thursday's Child said...

I've had 3 children 3 different ways. The first one was with an epidural (can't say enough good things about that). The twins were a mix...the boy was born less than half an hour after arriving at the hospital. There wasn't time to even pop an aspirin (like THAT would have worked). Then the girl, who was breech, was turned halfway around when her heartrate dropped, so she was delivered by c-section. Personally, I recommend the epidural. ;)

Gothelittle Rose said...

Most hospitals, at least in MY area, are not like you describe! They were when my mother was having children, but they've been steadily changing since.

The labor, birthing, and recovery all happened in the same room, where they just switched modular components in my bed to make it appropriate for each job. It was a large, pleasant room, with pictures of gardens on the walls and a (laminated but very 'lifelike') wooden floor. There was a rocking chair and a cushioned chair that could be turned into a single bed, and my husband was allowed to stay with me the entire time.

No window in the wall, and a curtain around the doorway, so I was never 'visible to the world'. My husband, mother, and best friend (also a nurse) stayed with me, and I had the same nurse from the hospital for the whole procedure.

I did not have an epidural, but they did give me stadol when I asked for it. They let it wear off a couple of hours before I was going to be ready to push.

I hear they do the IV instead of drinking things in case you have to have some sort of emergency surgery. I was allowed to drink water and eat clear foods like jello. I thought this was silly, so when I knew I'd be going in, I ate first! (My early contractions were close, but not strong.)

I have a good relationship with my doctor, who only did C-sections if he was SURE it was necessary. His percentage was below the hospital percentage even.. I think it was 5% or something. I labored for 15 hours and, despite a couple of complicated quirks, he let me do it myself.

My baby's first Apgar score was 9, and his second was 10.

He was put in a little mobile crib and allowed to stay with me at all times, unless I fell asleep and he was awake, in which case the nurses brought him over to their station and cooed over him. He never went to a nursery, and breast-feeding was encouraged at every juncture, even though he was lazy and refused to feed. I was allowed any food or drink I wanted whenever I wanted it, and it's good that I was there, because I lost a lot of blood giving birth (to a 9lb baby two weeks early!) and my blood pressure in the hours afterwards was 60/40.

The only thing about the experience that I really hated was the monitors, which they were allowed to remove if you wanted to get up and walk, which was encouraged. Otherwise, I'd do it there again, God willing, pray for me, I'm trying for another one!

So I'd say before you make any decisions, go to your hospital and ask for a tour of the maternity ward. Find out for yourself how it's set up. If it's like mine, you might find that it isn't much different than a home birth... except, of course, that Somebody Else cleans up the mess! (Childbirth has been compared, in messiness, to a large animal slaughter.)

tales_from_the_crib said...

I've just had the one so far. At our local hospital's family birthing center. Everyone has an individual room and it is more like a nice hotel than the e.r. or other hospital rooms. You have one nurse who checks on you, with substitutions at shift change every 12 hours. I was in a non-medicated labor for 14 hours and did not progress at all, despite being encouraged to move around/sit up/walk as much as I felt the urge...oh and the lack of drinking anything? That would be because of people like me. They let us eat drink anything we wanted...but I pretty much threw up everything I tried to eat, including ice chips/mints while in labor, so it wasn't so useful. I found that I didn't so much need distraction during labor as good company which my husband and mother provided. Breathing/relaxation were well covered in our birth class, and were easy to use during contractions. After not progressing for 14 hours, my OB suggested pitocin to "speed things along" so I decided to get an epidural, which worked great for me with no complications, they even started to turn it down when I was nearly fully dilated, so that I could know when to push better and also walk within about an hour of birth. 11 hours later our lovely 6 lb. 8 oz. son was born. (Average sized baby)
They encourage your husband to stay in the room on the pull out couch to help you during your hospital stay (or another "support person.") Our baby did not leave our room once for all of his postnatal checks and slept in a little bassinet next to my bed for both days we stayed in the hospital, so there were no interuptions to nursing. As I and my son were both slow to pick up on how exactly to nurse, the hospitals lactation consultant dropped in on every other feeding or so to offer tips and pointers which got us well started for what became 18 months of nursing. It even gave me the confidence to not give up on nursing despite my son's stay in the NICU later the following month for surgery and stand up to those nurses for my rights to feed my child. I think it would depend a lot on your hospital's approach to birth though. The one down the road from mine triple rooms women who've just given birth and does not allow rooming in by either the baby or your husband. Many women view this as preferable because "then they can really rest up from the birth" by being separated from their family and baby and being institutionalized. I'm also uncertain I'd have been comfortable being in labor and wandering as much as came naturally if I'd felt I had an audience.

Kaeus said...

i think the way the hospital treats the new mother and baby depends on the hospital itself, or perhaps even the country, not just "all hospitals do such and such".

my son was born nearly 4 years ago here in australia. i was attended by 2 midwives. a doctor (maybe? maybe a nurse?) came in at some point to put me on antibiotics, and after the birth another doctor came in to stop the bleeding and stitch me up. that was all i saw of doctors.

i was given 2 panadien (paracetemol and codein) tablets for the pain, along with heat packs. i was never offered an epidural, but the fact that i was only in labour 4 hours might have had something to do with that. as soon as the baby was born, he was plonked on my tummy, while hubby cut the cord. bub was then cleaned and weighed and placed in a bassinet next to my bed while everyone tried to fix me. i was encouraged to start feeding him as soon as i stopped shaking and had enough strength to hold him.

i was in hospital for 4 days, and the only time the baby was not in the same room as me was when i had a shower. we were encouraged NOT to give baby a bottle, and had specially trained nurses/midwives coming round to make sure we were feeding baby proplery. there were even special nursing classes for mothers/babies who just couldnt get the hang of it.

presuming this one sticks, i will be going back to hospital for the birth. if im in labour long enough to get there. i dont think there will be anything wrong with baby that needs for us to be in a hospital, but if i had been at home for the last one, i might have bled to death. i dont know if i would ahve kept bleeding if they hadnt given me drugs to stop it, or if i would ahve stopped at that point on my own anyway.

if there is no reason to suspect anything would be wrong with your baby, and you are close enough to a hospital should an emergency arise, home birth may be for you. if not, find a baby-friendly hospital. the risks just arent worth it.

The Inept Aspirant said...

Hi Anna, the situation you described with the epidural stopping labor happened to me with my first. Then the pitocin they gave me caused my labor to be so strong it overrode the epidural and I felt every contraction very painfully. Also, when you get an epidural they start an IV drip which means you are bedbound. Not the ideal postion for birthing.
I should have passed on it and I did with my second baby which was almost completely natural (one shot of demoral at the end) and so much better. I think the birthing center sounds ideal. God bless!

Sarah said...

I had my son in the hospital and I had an epidural. While the birth didn't go as planned (C-section), I can't say enough good things about my hospital experience. The nurses were very loving and caring and were never rushed when with me. The doctors were very attentive and listened to my concerns. When Caleb was born, the nurses were the ones who insisted that I nurse every hour until he latched on really well and then every two hours. They only kept him when I asked them to so I could catch a quick nap when my husband was gone or when the doctor was on his rounds. The lactation consultant was phenomenal and I give her all the credit for my nursing success. I never felt like this birth was a medical event. I was a woman/wife/to-be mother who was having her first son.

Now, my sister-in-law gave birth at our area birthing center with a midwife in attendence. She had no pain medication. She traveled between the bed, squatting, and the pool. Her main complaint about that was that she had no time to recover after the birth. They sent her home that very same day. She said she really could've benefitted from the time the hospital requires you stay after giving birth.

I am very sorry to hear about how women have bad experiences in hospitals. But, I just had to speak up and talk about how wonderful my time was. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Suzanne said...

I have one child, who is almost two. I was in labor for about 5 hours, total. So it was short for a first birth and I was having to do the Laamze breathing the whole time (that does help!).

I did not get an epidural until I started pushing (I dilated really, really fast and they didn't realize it--or I wouldn't have gotten the epidural at all.) It also did not work completely; I had feeling on one side of my body and none on the other.


But---that brief pain relief was SO worth it!!! I would have paid 100X the price for it! The epidural was only in for about 30 minutes (the time it took to push!) and I've had no side effects since. I did pass out when I got out of bed the first time (about an hour after the birth), but I'm not sure that was blood loss or the epi.

I think it may depend on the hospital/doctor you use with the epi. My hospital is very conservative and many women do not get their epidurals "in time." They also encourage walking, etc, during labor. (I had wanted to walk, but I was in so much pain, I couldn't.) My sis in law, though, at a different hospital, got an epidural almost as soon as she walked in the door. She thought birth was a breeze. I was praying for death while she was chatting on the phone and reading magazines.

I don't want to scare you! My point is, childbirth is painful. The epidural DID help. But you CAN do it without it. I was not thinking about or begging for the epi in labor; I was just trying to breathe through it.

I could do it again without the epi, but my first choice would be to have some pain relief!

Oh, a tip! My husband kept telling me things like "you're running up a hill", "you're getting your second wind" while I was laboring (he is a runner). This helped A LOT!

Beth said...

Your baby is blessed to have a mother who thinks things over rather than unhesitatingly going with the purported experts.

I had 1 hospital birth, when I was 18. I hadn't even heard of homebirth. It was a miserable experience and I will refrain from sharing the details. Suffice it to say I was on the look out for something better.

The Lord led me to homebirthing with a midwife. I have since been blessed to birth six children at home. We are looking forward to another homebirth in October :)

I would never purposely subject myself to the hospital for a healthy birth. I believe hospitals are for sick and/or injured people. However, if my midwife, at any time during a labor were to tell me we need to transfer, I trust her expertise and that she knows the birth has become a medical situation. At that point, I would go and she would come with me for support. And I would be grateful to receive medical help that was needed.

On resources recommended:
I have enjoyed Spiritual Midwifery several times whilst awaiting a birth. Please be aware that it has quite a hippie mindset though.
Regarding Mothering Magazine, handle this one extremely carefully. I used to love this years ago, but when they published an article back around '00 that in my opinion was advocating a form of child s*xual abuse, I never touched it again.

I pray, Anna, that you will be lead to the perfect birthing situation for you and your family and that you will have peace and joy!

Love,
Beth

Jaime said...

I had 2 children in a hospital. The first time, my water broke, but nothing was happening; received Pitocin & an epidural at 3cm. Loved it.

The second time, my water broke again, but ds blocked the leakage, so they didn't believe I was in labor until I was 8cm. Was 9cm by the time I got to the room & still got the epidural. (It was hard, but I had a very good anestesiologist who would pause between contractions). Also good.

Many hospitals nowadays will allow you to keep your baby in your room with you - I did with both of mine. My hospital also was staffed with a host of people to help make sure I had the basics down. Breastfeeding is hard, and there was a lactation consultant to help me when I couldn't quite get the technique down.

I know there are lots of women who do give birth at home... but I also know I couldn't live with myself if something went wrong. I think if I desired something a bit more natural, I'd go with a birthing center very close to the hospital.

Several friends have used hypnobirthing; I cannot think of the book at the moment, but it helped them focus through a drug-free labor.

Good luck in making your decision.

Jera said...

I only have a moment to post, but let me share my experiences very quickly.

I gave birth to my son in the birth center of the local hospital. I loved that there was a large birthing tub to keep comfortable with, and my labor was terrific up until the pushing part. My midwives just sat there in silence and let me labor in peace, and complete silence. It was beautiful. But the pushing part was terrible. I hated the feeling of being watched, and coached, and didn't like them telling me to be in positions that didn't feel right to me. Pushing took a very long time, and when I finally decided to push in the way that *I* wanted to, did the baby come out! I ended up being so exhausted that I barely even noticed my baby boy for at least an hour, even though we were never separated. Worst of all, after an initial breastfeeding session, he was manhandled by the lactation consultant, who tried to teach him how to breastfeed. As a result, he developed an oral aversion, would NEVER go near my breast again, and nearly starved before I gave in and bottlefed him. He was on IV's for several days and we nearly could have lost him. I blame this entirely on the staff there, who kept telling me that if I wanted to breastfeed him (I did!) I must never give him a bottle. So much for that.

My daughter was born at home, with just my husband and myself present. We lived two blocks away from the hospital so I knew we could go down there in a hurry, but I ended up just giving birth right in the bedroom. This one did hurt more than the first birth, mainly because I didn't have the birthing tub set up yet (my daughter came too quickly for that!) and I had a little bit of bleeding afterwards, for which I took some homeopathic remedies. It was amazing to not be watched by anyone, and to be able to labor as I wished, and push when I wanted, with no checks, etc. I felt secure enough because my husband had medical training, we were very close to a hospital, and we were well prepared and had both the research and a birth kit. In case of emergency we could get to the hospital, but that never mattered. Incidentally, my daughter has had a perfect breastfeeding experience so far and has not yet had a bottle.

For my first I am very glad that I did have a midwife present, though. I too would go with that option. Once you see what birth is like you can make up your mind to see what your subsequent births can be like. You will have that experience. And epidurals are absolutely not necessary; I was terrified of the side effects and for me the negatives outweighed the positives; I really wanted to avoid it. And the hospitals really do push epidurals on their patients because the majority of the hospital funding actually comes from them! Hospitals make the most money through their L&D departments, and epidurals are expensive and lead to other expensive interventions. Anyway, before I get started on that... Labor is painful, but not in any way unbearable. The best advice I can give is to relax, turn inwards, and not have ANYONE bothering you or distracting you. If you do those things, you can definitely manage the pain. I've had worse migraines than labor pains!

There are many natural remedies that I'm sure you will research, but of all the "remedies" I had on hand - aromatherapy, massage, music, etc. - the one thing I wanted was to be left alone, in the dark, with a reassuring and non-obtrusive presence with me. (My husband, actually, but I'm not sure if you plan on having him on hand.) I didn't want to be touched, I didn't want to talk, I didn't want music, I just wanted to do my job. And I actually had fun. And not only is the labor's fruit a beautiful baby, but it also is a success of its own. Giving birth was by far the best part of my pregnancies, and I wish I could do it over and over again. Maybe that makes me odd, but it really is a wonderful, spiritual experience. The pain is trivial in comparison. And I'm very sorry that so many mothers don't get to experience that joyful experience, because their routine, healthy births are treated as medical emergencies where doctors must step in and save the day.

Kim said...

I have not had children, but hope to become a midwife someday. That said - keep in mind that a GREAT midwife will never, ever put you or your baby in danger. Do not (and I know you are an intelligent young woman, but it's happened to very, very many intelligent young women - they have blogs) put so much hope into the birth experience and making it perfect that you sacrifice the outcome - the healthy baby at the end. It's like a wedding - you can't spend so much time on the wedding that you forget to prepare for the marriage (which you seem to have done a beautiful job of).

I just say this not to scare you, but just to listen to your own instincts, and be sure to use the hospital if necessary. Obviously I think natural birth and midwifery is a beautiful thing, and can be wonderful for mommy and baby. Just know that it's okay to need extra intervention as well! :)

Congrats to you and yours!

RAchel said...

My labor was induced since my daughter was ten days late. I tried everything to go into labor myself, I even went camping and hiking the day before she was scheduled to be born, but nothing. I got to the hospital the night before the birth was scheduled, and they hooked me up to an IV and I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO MOVE! At all. They wanted to monitor the baby's heartbeat constantly for the whole night, which was strange because she had no signs of distress had a strong heartbeat. They gave me pitocin to encourage contractions that night but my water broke on my own. I was happy about that. During labor I was still not allowed to move and had to stay flat on my back. I had an epidural with no ill effects. That hospital wasn't all bad, as it did encourage rooming in and breastfeeding. Nursing didn't work for us, she got jaundiced pretty badly and still hadn't gained weight by the time she was six weeks old. I was really sad since at the hospital the nurse said I had perfect anatomy for nursing and plenty of milk..but you never can tell, I guess. I feed her goat milk and she is nice and fat now.

Mrs W said...

We believe home birthing to be the only way to go unless there is an emergency. I loved my home birth and am about to have another one any day. I would not want drugs stuck into my spinal fluid (which is what an epidural is). It hurt to give birth but not as bad as people told me it did.

Mrs. Maybrook said...

I have only one child. My birth experience was fantastic. I had my baby at the local hospital and was treated like a queen throughout the entire process. Initially, I opted against an epidural, but later I received one at my own request. The pain was simply too much for me. The birth experience after that was wonderful. I was awake, happy, still able to push and push well. I was in labor only about 8 hours with twenty minutes of pushing. The nurses and doctors were so very nice.

I had the baby in the room with me most of the time and we could nurse whenever we wanted. I stopped breastfeeding after only a week, but that was my own choice. The hospital had a fantastic lactation consultant who did all she could to keep me from using formula (nicely, of course), but finally my husband and I decided that formula would be used. I remember what a relief it was to see the baby chugging that formula down. Looking back, I think if I had a a good breast pump, I could have managed to continue breastfeeding, but my nerves got the best of me. I was so scared caring for this little one and anything that would make it easier, I did. I had such low confidence then.

My experience overall was very good, Anna. I had no complications with my epidural and was given every opportunity to nurse when we wanted. Honestly, I was really worried going in to the whole thing. I was swayed so much with all the literature telling me how bad a hopsital birth is, how bad formula is, etc., but the hospital was a wonderful place to be, and I was so thankful for the epidural I received. My son has thrived and only been sick once in his whole life, even with formula feeding. He is three now.

Plan for the best, Anna, but don't be too disappointed in yourself if things don't go the way you planned. Have confidence that they will, but don't beat yourself up after if there are deviations from the plan.

Best wishes!

Mrs. Maybrook said...

Sorry, but I forgot to add that before the epidural, Lamaze breathing did help with the early contractions, but right before I decided to go for the epidural the pain was so intense nothing helped me.

Green Eyes said...

As someone else mentioned, Henci Goer's "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" is an excellent resource full of studies and statistics on many aspects of birth and routine interventions. I highly recommend it.

And to another previous poster: while some women give birth at home for the better experience, many make an educated choice to do so for the safety of themselves and their babies. Please do not discount their choice as one of pure convenience. ;)

Elizabeth Joy said...

I have given birth to two babies and am so glad they were at home, in warm water, surrounded by only people I chose, and then when I was done, I could crawl into my bed with my baby and go to sleep, in peaceful quiet. My labors were long, but I was supported by an experienced midwife, who was not prone to panic. I had a friend with me to also comfort me. My midwife told me it takes at least 20 minutes to prep a surgery suite, if the doctor is in house. There is very little that needs you to be there that quickly, if the midwife is on the ball. 30 minutes from the hospital can be fine. Just make sure you midwife brings oxygen for the baby after it is born. That's what would be needed quickly and would be tragic if you didn't have it. Things can go wrong at home, but most of the time it doesn't. Medical intervention is what causes things to "go wrong" most of the time. You are definitely on the right track! I affirm you thoughts and choices.

Amanda said...

I have two children, both born via unplanned c-section. I would love to do a homebirth with a midwife, but in my state, that is illegal. (I could do an unassisted homebirth, but I'm not confident enough to do that.)

With my first, I strongly suspect that if I had waited longer to go in, I may have been able to have him vaginally. As it were, I went in after my water broke. I hadn't planned to have an epidural, but I was experiencing horrible back labor (turns out he was "sunny side up"). I did push for nearly five hours (off and on), but ultimately, he head was "stuck" and I had a c/s.

With my daughter, I hoped for a VBAC, and my doctor was willing. This time, I did a lot more research. I knew I didn't want an epidural and I knew that I wanted to wait as long as possible before going in to the hospital. I labored at home for over 24 hours, w/ contractions ever 5-10 minutes. Whne they were coming ever 3-5, I finally went in. I was 9 cm, but my water had not yet broke. They broke my water, and everyone was sure I'd be delivering the baby w/i an hour or two.

No such luck... After two hours, I could not handle the pain. I wasn't screaming like they do on TV, but there were a lot of profanitites coming out of my mouth, and I had a pretty fragile grasp on reality. As much as I didn't want an epi., I knew that if I continued without, I wasn't going to be coherent enough to think much less push, the contractions were coming so hard and so fast. I begged for an epi. After the epi, they gave me some pitocin to increase the intensity of the contractions--apparently they were only at 40% of what they needed to be!

I finally ended up pushing for over three hours. She just would not drop. Her head would come down while I pushed, but as soon as I stopped, back up it would go. She ended up being a repeat c/s.

I am sad that I will never have a child vaginally (there are docs who will do a VBA2C, but none around here), but I don't regret getting the epidural, esp. this last time. I could not handle the pain. If that makes me a wimp, then so be it :)

Amanda said...

As much as one can develop a "plan" for birth, I'd suggest doing what is comfortable for you, regardless of where or how.

I gave birth in a hospital with an epidural. I've had no side effects from the epi. My doctor (who is a woman) is extremely competent and hilarious. All of my nurses were women as well. In no way was my experience "sterile." Even with my epi, the nurses were very pleased with how well I pushed and we all were laughing and joking through my delivery.

I was able to nurse my baby almost immediately (after he's been weighed, cleaned, etc.) and our nursing relationship was wonderful. I nursed him for 16 months when we had a mutual weaning.

So, the hospital and epi worked well for me. You should do what you believe will work best for you.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!
I had all of my babies at a hospital. Four boys! I never had an epidural I had no pain medication either. I was inducted three times due to the boys being late or too big. It was not fun for me but they came fast that way. I personally don't think an epidural in your spine while contractions are occuring is wise. My husband was against it too!
I nursed all my babies and I was able to nurse three out of the four within 1/2 hour of delivering. Two were given formula due to size and not nursing well. Please note that they nursed fine at home and I nursed three of them 12 months. The first one only 4 months due to he didn't thrive very well and well, I was too new to the nursing thing.
People will give you advice and tell you things that you don't want to hear. Just know that you need to make the decision that you feel comfortable with. Pray with your husband and be together on how you want things done.
I just had a friend who had four babies in the hosiptal and her last one at home. She loved having the baby at home it was a wonderful experinece for her and her whole family.
I pray the best for you and some big decisions to come up here.
Marissa

Millie said...

Congrats, Anna! Sometime you'll have to tell us how your husband knew you were pregnant. :)

I had five C-section births and although they were harder to heal from (so I hear - I don't have anything to compare them with), I appreciate the medical technology that is available now, as I'm sure you do.

That said, I think you ought to try the birth center if you can afford it. Hospitals seem to do things according to their convenience and schedule - epidurals so they don't have to help a woman deal with pain, mom flat on her back so she'll be in her bed (and not in the hallway) if something goes wrong, IV instead of liquids so that she won't vomit - which they'd have to clean up.

I've read and heard about wonderful natural childbirth experiences that almost make me wish I could go back to my first experience and try it again. :) My first baby was more than two weeks overdue, his heartrate kept dropping during my contractions, and he was in danger of aspirating meconium, plus my cervix wouldn't open - prompting C-section #1. The rest were more or less elective by my doctor or by me, and again, I'm grateful the option is there, but I would definitely try to avoid it.

No problems with nursing or bonding, though. The hospitals I used all had "rooming in" and nursing immediately was encouraged, with lactation specialists available for help.

I'm excited to keep reading and see what you decide on. Congrats again! :)

Sheri said...

Anna, I will be praying for you and your husband as you decide on birthing options… in my heart I wish every woman would see birthing as a natural, beautiful (not medical) experience. But, this is a heated topic and I would NEVER want to judge anyone. I praise the Lord for doctors, but believe labor and delivery can be absolutely natural (I’ve had midwives and no meds whatsoever). So much of it is in your attitude, heart, and mind.

In fact, I wrote about Alisa’s birth story in March of 2008, on my blog if you have time to read it… Savannah’s birth was very similar and I’m so excited (honestly!) about our labor and delivery for our sweet baby boy in just a few weeks!

Anonymous said...

The birth center sounds wonderful, I say go for it. I've had two hospital births and one homebirth. My homebirth was the most wonderful experience of my life. One of my hospital births was full of interventions and very difficult. The other was totally natural because I arrived just minutes before crowning and advocated for myself like crazy afterwards. I had to go on record as refusing certain things like an IV. It ticked off the doctor but I haven't seen him since so who cares! I got what I wanted. I believe that many women can have a natural experience at the hospital if they are willing to fight for what they want, the problem is that who wants to focus on fighting nurses and doctors at this beautiful time? It can kind of ruin the atmosphere, but at least the best chance for health is had. Whatever it is that you want, you can try to get it. If you don't want the baby out of your sight, insist that he be examined in your room. They may say "no", but with certain things they may be required to respect your wishes. It is always worth a try.

I also just wanted to encourage you about the pain of labor. I feel that the media has made the pain of labor seem very different than it is in reality. I was so scared when I was expecting my first. "Will it hurt more than a root canal? More than a burn, a broken leg?" I wondered. I was so OFF! I know that everyone is different, but here is my experience. When the contractions started, I thought "Oh my, I KNOW this pain!" This was the pain of menstral cramps. Bad ones. Near the end, very very bad ones. However, in between contractions, no pain at all. My first labor was long and tiring. The closest thing I could compare it to is how it feels if you are exercising, be it running or climbing a mountain or some such thing. If you have ever pushed yourself so hard that you were sweating from head to toe and just wished it would end, you will recognize this feeling during birth. You will want to be done climbing that mountain before it's over. But PAIN is not really the word for that, is it? Going into it, I thought that the pushing and crowning would be the most painful part. I was wrong again! The last few contractions before pushing have always been the most painful part for me. Pushing felt GREAT! I could push the pain away. Crowning was intense with about 5 seconds of OUCH! But then you've got a MIRACLE in your arms and nothing else matters.

Beth

Kari said...

With the birth of my now 16-month old daughter, my husband and I had come up with a birth plan that we felt balanced a hospital birth with the natural components we wanted. As we had been warned, the birth plan pretty much disappeared once labour started, as nothing happened as it was "supposed to". I woke up in the morning with contractions 2-3 minutes apart, over a minute and half long, but when we got to the hospital, I was only 2 cm. Once I hit 4 cm I had overlapping contractions (i.e. no break in between them), which we dealt with naturally for about nine hours. I was so exhausted by this point that I couldn't even sit up on my own, and I started to worry that I wouldn't have enough stamina left to push. So, I had an epidural, and had absolutely no side effects. It allowed me to sleep for almost two hours, and when I awoke I was ready to push. As much as I wanted to avoid interventions, I truly believe that this was the right choice for us given the circumstances. We chose to go with a midwife this time around (as we had an awful experience with our doctor), and hope to keep things natural but in the hospital. Personally, if I had the options you do, I think the birthing center would be a happy balance. I think giving birth at home would be great, but I've heard some scary stories from my MIL and friends who work in labour and delivery. Yes, things usually do go fine, but they can go downhill very quickly and sometimes end up with catastrophic results. I think you'll find that even just working with a midwife will make a huge difference over seeing a doctor - they tend to see childbirth as a natural process rather than something requiring medical treatment. And once you have that gorgeous baby in your arms, you really do forget about everything else!! :) Congrats!!

Betsy said...

Here's my story. I was induced about a week early because they had just done an ultrasound and determined that my baby was getting rather large and they thought that it would be better to do an induced vaginal delivery than a c-section a week or two later. It being my first child, I was more than willing to get the show on the road and we went ahead with the induction. Now, I realize that that might not have been the *best* choice in the world, but it's what we did and that's that. I was blessed to have a very very easy initial 12 hours of labor (on pitocin), but when my water broke the pain shot up from a 1/10 to a 9/10 in about 10 minutes and I was on the verge of fainting. We'd wanted a natural birth, but there was no way I was going to get through it consciously so we went with the epidural, for which we are very thankful. So there's an example of a time when medication might be necessary. Next time, we hope do do a non-induced labor and we'll try to do it without meds. Oh, and there's only a .00067% chance of spinal injury in an epidural, and that's a risk that I'm more than willing to take. I had no side effects from my epidural. My baby was placed immediately on my chest (skin to skin) where she stayed for the next hour until they gave her a quick bath and measured her and then put her right back in my arms. I nursed whenever she needed it.


A friend of mine gave birth 2 weeks ago. She planned a homebirth with a certified midwife and was going to do a waterbirth and all. When she reached the transition state (at home), her midwife realized that the baby was transverse and breech and in distress, so they went for an emergency c-section at our local hospital (after going through 18 hours of labor already). The doctor who delivered her son said that he'd likely been breech for a number of months (his head wasn't molded, and he'd never dropped). Unfortunately, the midwife (a well respected local woman) hadn't caught it and so no efforts to flip the baby were made.


If you do decide to go with a homebirth/midwife I'd highly encourage you to go ahead with the testing that they offer for group beta strep, gestational diabetes, etc. These aren't genetic tests (which I also think are a ridiculous waste), but just things that you can do to detect common problems that can be easily remedied to make sure that you and your baby are healthier and you have a safer delivery.


And above all, pray for God's blessing on your pregnancy and delivery. No amount of planning is going to come to anything if the Lord is not Lord over it. "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." Ps. 127:1-3

Andrea said...

Anna,

obviously I've never given birth either, but some of my mother's favourite stories are of my birth and my sister's. Mum always says that what prepared her the most for labour were the LaMaze classes she took, coupled with regular reminders that her body was truly built with childbirth in mind. She did not have an epidural either time, although she did have an episiotomy because she knew that could make the difference between an easy and planned recovery, and sudden tearing and blood loss.

When I was first born she did let them take me to the nursery to abide by their feeding schedule, but that same night she woke up in a panic and walked down to the nursery to tell the night nurses that policy or not, I was staying in the room with her. Believe it or not, they didn't even try to talk her out of it! Then when my sister was born she told them right away "I'm keeping her here with me" and they didn't argue. She demand fed, even when my sister was a few months old and she (Mum) had her gall bladder out. My father was on a business trip at the time but my grandmother faithfully brought my sister to my mum's hospital room for days in order to make sure she got to eat whenever she was hungry (by then my sister had set her own schedule so that made it a bit easier to manage). The doctors did not discourage this at all, but rather came in to talk to Mum about my sister's schedule and to marvel that Mum was able to do this while in such unbelievable pain (for the record Mum says that nursing after gall bladder removal is much more painful than actual labour!)

I am starting to wonder if this is at least part another cultural difference-- the attitudes in hospitals towards demand feeding, advocacy for mothers, etc. Here, if you say you want something done a certain way then 99 times out a of a 100, they will say "all right then" and simply make sure you are advised of the risks. Any mother who takes the time to read up on her options before her arrival in the hospital, who notifies the hospital in advance of her birth plan, of her possible use of a doula or similar (doulas and midwives can be used as an addition to the hospital birth, to act as advocates for the labouring mother if she chooses) is in a pretty secure position to orchestrate her own birth plan.

Just going by what you've said here, it seems that this is not so much the case where you are, in which case I can definitely understand your reluctance to eagerly embrace a hospital birth! I can also understand why the birth centre sounds so appealing-- it definitely seems the more attractive of the two options as well.

Anonymous said...

I have 2 little girls. My first came too quick to have any pain meds. She came out okay, and I felt great afterwards. My second I did have an epideral. I am so glad I did. She twisted in the birth canal and her face was sideways. She got a little stuck and her heart rate quickly dropped. She was stubborn coming out and I know if I felt anything, I wouldn't have been able to do what my doc kept asking me to do. As it was, I was able to concentrate because I didn't feel anything and we got her out safely. I was great after that birth too. The only thing I ended up with was a UTI. As to nursing, I don't produce any breast milk. I tried everything with the help of my La Leche League leader, I tried hospital grade electric pumps, and I don't produce more than 1/2 oz both combined!!! I was really sad over this, but, when I went to formula and saw my baby thrive, I was happy. God makes each of our bodies different, and He has provided people that create things such as formula and pain medications to help us through times like this. My first dd has developmental delays and some learning disablities. My 2nd is incredibley smart and will catch up to first dd and they are 2 years apart. And, I thank God for them everyday! He gives us what we can handle with His strength and grace. You have time, pray about it and research and you will make the right decision for you and your husband and your baby.
Cheryl

Michelle said...

I'm real glad you're considering this now! After having 2 traumatic births in a hospital, I want to stay as far away from medical intervention as possible this time!
I'm seeing wonderful midwives who will encourage me to drink as well as eat during labor, move around as I want, I can even have a waterbirth if I want - even if I decide last minute.
I don't know if you could get a hold of a copy (we rented it through netflix) but a documentary called The Business of Being Born is an excellent expose into the current maternity system (in America). You can see a trailer at thebusinessofbeingborn.com

Anonymous said...

Anna,
I believe the best advice is to know your options and not allow yourself to be placed solely in one camp or the other. We are very blessed to live in an age that even has pain medication! There are horror stories on both sides of this issue, that's just life.
I had an epidural with all three deliveries. They were a mercy from heaven! I fully believe that they allowed me to bond with my babies because I was not recovering from extraordinary pain. I obviously did not have complications with the medications. My labors lasted nine hours with the first, six hours with the second, and 4.5 with the last.
I am firmly in the camp of doing what is best for the mother and the baby...and sometimes that means pain management. That you might need pain management, you cannot tell until you have experienced labor. So, allow yourself the ability to change your mind, and don't let anyone pressure you into something you don't want.
I am so excited for you and your dh!! I loved being pregnant, and yes even the delivery! It is such a miracle and a blessing! We are praying for you and your family!
Jen in OK

Anonymous said...

One thing I'd like to warn about epiderals is that they can stop contractions completely, resulting in a c-section. And c-sections can interfere with early bonding especially since you are not supposed to lift more than 10 lbs afterwards.

Joy of Frugal Living said...

While I haven't been so fortunate as to deliver a live baby yet, I've had more than my share of medical experiences through three pregnancies - including labor for miscarried babies twice. Due to a somewhat misapplied policy, I was forced to go through unmedicated labor, laying down, with IV, while waiting for surgery, for my last one. Especially not having had the training on breathing,etc., it was very bad. I would go through it again any time for a healthy baby - I think the promise of something wonderful in the end would have made it much more bearable. As it was, I now know I can get through it. It is like nothing else, but worth it.

I, like you, had settled on a birth center affiliated with a hospital for pregnancies 2 and 3. Along with the many lovely things they offer for births, I found the midwives much more supportive and helpful through all of the hard things we've been through.

However, at this point I'm a bit too high risk for them, so I pray I will soon have a baby to deliver in the usual hospital way. I think what I have learned at the birth center will still be very useful. Hospitals here have become aware of the competition from birth centers and strive to accomadate reasonable requests. I know the baby rooms with you by default, though they will help you out if you need it.

While I'm an obvious risk in their eyes, many other unexpected things can happen. Though I know people who have loved home births, I decided it was a bit too risky for my liking even before all of our troubles. No matter how healthy you think you are, things can go wrong. I don't like it to be over-medicalized, but I like to be prepared.

Anyway, that's my two cents. For me, a birth center birth wouldn't have cost any more than a hospital birth - our insurance considers it the same. You might talk to the birth center about the specifics of the financials for you before you worry too much about the cost.

Jennifer

Bethany Hudson said...

I feel very strongly about natural childbirth with healthy pregnancies. However, for the first bith, I feel it can be nice to at least be in a hospital--because you never know how YOU are going to be giving birth. I gave birth in a hospital with a midwife for my first daughter. The labor and birth were very smooth, and I know feel comfortable to consider home birth or a birthing center for my next child. My mother labored naturally and ended up needing an emergency c-section when I was born--after 36 hours of labor! Turns out her pelvis is oddly shaped and I was unable to pass through the birth canal. When I was born, my heart had completely stopped beating. If we had not had qualified doctors nearby, I, my mother's only child, probably would have died. So, that, among other reasons, is why I decided to give birth in a hospital--because things can go wrong even with a beautiful, natural process. However, I did want to avoid as much intervention as was possible. Turns out I had to be induced for medical reasons, so I was on pitocin, and I needed doses of penicillin to prevent my baby from contracting meningitis from a bacteria that I have. But, other than that, I was drug free, and I would not have it any other way!
~Bethany

Kim said...

How blessed you are to be thinking about these things with your first child! I wish I had known half of what I know now then.

With my first 2 children, I gave birth in the hospital, induced, flat on my back, episiotomies, epidural, the whole 9 yards. Those labors were incredibly long (and even with the epidural) very painful. I hated birth. Then with my 3rd I decided to try naturally, in the hospital still. They did induce me even though I told them NOT to, but I did not recieve any drugs for pain or anything else. It was the fastest, *least* painful, non interventive birth I've ever had. It was great! But I still hated the fact that I was not allowed to walk around, or to birth in the position I felt I needed to, and being woken up a thousand times after giving birth so they can poke you and baby over and over again is distressing.
So this time (#4) we are doing a homebirth with a midwife. I am SO excited! Having had no natural and natural (except pitocin) births I couldn't ever imagine going back to the hospital scene. In a healthy woman with a normal pregnancy, homebirth is the safest and most rewarding option. Birth Centers would be next in line, and I encourage and applaud you for looking into these things.
I don't know about there, but here, our midwife carries pitocin (to stop hemmoraghing), an IV, oxygen, antibiotics etc. just in case anything happens...and she can try treating it here first.
Good luck with your decision!

Mary said...

While she is more liberal than I can agree with, Naomi Wolfe's book "Misconceptions" is a really well researched expose on the current practices in Labor and Delivery. It is a great and informative read.I would highly suggest it Mrs T.!

Melinda B said...

Hi Anna,
I think this is my first time leaving a comment! Congratulations to you and your husband!
My first daughter was born in a birth center in Houston, TX. It was a wonderful (but long) birth, and we were very well taken care of. I didn't receive any pain meds, and the midwife and nurses were great. My second daughter was born in a hospital, in New Orleans, LA, but also with a midwife. Thank goodness for her! I didn't enjoy the hospital experience at all, it felt like the nurses wanted to be nice, but the certainly had a job to do and they weren't about to let my personal birth needs get in the way. But again, I had no pain meds, it was stated on my birth plan that no one was to offer them. If I needed them, I would ask.
I am now pregnant with twins. This time I won't be able to have a midwife. It's considered a high-risk pregnancy, and I am a little bit anxious about how labor and delivery will go.
As for how to naturally relieve the pain, I found that walking helped a lot, sitting on the toilet for a while felt good, and the birthing ball was wonderful to bounce on. I tried to relax during contractions instead of tensing up, and I asked everyone in the room to please be silent during contractions because I really felt the need to concentrate. And your husband may rub your back if it helps you, but I'm strange I didn't want him touching me! ;)
Good luck!

Patty said...

Hi Anna,
Again congratulations--you are going to love being a mother too.
I have had 11 children, and the Lord has blessed me with very little intervention. I have gone to the hospital each time because being a 'redhead' (more gray than red now), I do tend to bleed more.
Each time I appreciated the wonderful nurses God gave me. They were very personable, love delivering babies, and understand. I did bleed excessively with my 5th, and highly recommend red raspberry (tea or capsules) in the last trimester. It tones your uterus, and eases the after-birth pains (which get worse with each pregnancy). With the last 6, I did not have the bleeding or the bad after-birth pains.
I have needed pitocin to help contract after the baby is born (after several) but did not find it uncomfortable. I know each woman's pain level is different, and I did not need an epidural any time, not because I was so tough but my body didn't experience too much pain.
It is so good that your husband is so involved with all of these details. I did take pre-natal classes on "The Bradley Method" with my first, and have used their relaxation methods since. Sounds like the same type of things you would find in a birthing center.
I allowed the delivery of my first to 'tear' and needed stitches, but after than ALL the next babies did not cause any further problems. So, I encourage you to look into avoiding an episiotomy. (My military nurse HID the scalpel from the doctor so he couldn't do one on me.)
My last baby was born with Down Syndrome, which with all the ultrasounds, they could not detect. (mocern science again.) We also did not do the invasive testing for the same reasons you mentioned.
The delivery went very well, and she had very mild complications with her Down Syndrome--very small hole in heart (closed in 6 months), and needed oxygen. She was put in NICU to get her oxygen up and make sure none of the typical problems came up. So, she would have been fine being transferred to the hospital, but it is nice to have near. Our hospital is moving more and more towards a 'birthing center' feel. But that probably is a US thing.
Blessings!

Anonymous said...

No birth experience here yet (but soon!!). Personally, I plan on a natural birth, but I know things might not work out that way and I'm open to medical interventions that may be needed to make sure my baby makes it safely into the world. Sometimes a c-section is needed, sometimes an epidural helps an exhausted mom have a vaginal delivery. There really is no absolute right and wrong in the birth experience because everyone is different.

Meghann said...

How wonderful you are really thinking through these options, rather than just doing what "everyone" else does! I had my first in a hospital with an epidural. The only thing that affected me I think was back pain for a few months at least afterwards.

The last 2, and upcoming third I've had at home in a birth tub. It is truly the most amazing, beautiful, inspiring experience ever. Both for mom & dad!

I would highly recommend watching "The Business of Being Born"...it is a wonderful documentary on birth.

Again, congratulations and keep thinking through all these choices. One of the things that I gained with going to a midwife was learning to think for myself in the area of child birth / vaccines etc. more rather than just "going with what the doc. says...he knows best".

Sydney said...

Very interesting that you should mention home birth, Anna. My parents had my three younger sisters at home, because they decided (besides the hospital negatives that you mentioned) they wanted my older brother and I to be involved and to see the process. In a hospital we wouldn't be allowed.

My parents always tell me how when they decided to do their births at home, it wasn't exactly a popular opinion at the time (1995-2001). Still isn't. But they now believe it was all worth it and wouldn't do it any other way. :-) However, by the way you described, it sounds even less popular...rare...in Israel. Are they many midwives close by, where you live? God bless you in your decision!

Shalom!

Anonymous said...

Anna,

Honestly, I think you should go with whatever you feel is best. Everyone always has anecdotal evidence which is, at its best, anecdotal. There are arguments for both sides and pros and cons for both and it is up to you to decide what is more important to you. Do not listen to scaremongers from either side because there are horror stories from every situation known to man. There are complications (and deaths) in hospitals just like at home and, to be honest, many babies who have serious complications in the first place often don't survive (infant mortality is usually a result of premature birth which would require a hospital setting anyways). There are, of course, many miracle stories of those who do survive as a result of intervention.

I would advise doing some research from credible sources (please don't go by the advise of boards/blogs, as although many people are well-meaning, they give information based on personal experience or from what has been heard which can really skew reality).

Please take care and may God bless you and your family.

S

Joslyn said...

Hi Anna. I have never had a baby before, but I do have many friends who have had them already. I didn't get married until I was 40, so pregnancy may not happen for me, but if it does, I will go to the hospital due to my age. Plus the hospital by me has received high ratings.

Now here is what I wanted to mention...I've heard from a couple people that their babies were born "tongue tied," which means the tongue is not quite detached from the bottom of the mouth the way normal tongues are. This made it very hard for the babies to breast feed, and for some reason, the issue was not caught until later on. So in the meantime, the moms thought they couldn't breast feed, when really the problem was the "tongue tied" issue.

Once that got fixed, breast feeding was better. Apparently it's easy to fix by the doctors once they catch it. So I just wanted to mention as something to be aware of if you are not already. (I personally never heard of such a thing...I'd heard of the expression "tongue tied" but never knew it was based on something real.)

Also, I am not sure where you are getting research, but perhaps you could talk to people who have gone to the hospitals by you themselves? As much as I love the Internet, sometimes when I research issues on it, I get very intense opinions one way or the other, which makes me even more confused!

I also know people who didn't want epidurals when they were thinking about pregnancy, but when they actually felt the pain, they were begging for it. And if that happens to you, don't feel bad. I think it's more important to show you can express love than to show you can endure pain. If you can go without the epi, great, but if you need it, that is not a failure. :)

I just know that some moms can be very hard on themselves and I wouldn't want you to do that...not that you are at this point. I am sure you will be a great mom whatever you choose.

Greg's Wife said...

When I began having contractions at 5 minutes apart 8 months in to my pregnancy I went to a local hospital. I had been planning a home birth. I honestly thought I was going to simply get a shot to stop my labor and then be sent home and put on bed rest.

My labor was stopped, but then an ultrasound revealed that our baby had a number of birth defects and was going to either be stillborn or die shortly after birth. The nurses restarted my labor with Pitocin and I agreed to an epidural thinking I was doing myself a favor by making the physical part of the birth easier since it was going to be so emotionally traumatic.

What a huge mistake! I lost all ability to push and so the doctors twisted his body forcefully from side to side (he was breech) to get him out. Our son was born with a ring of bruises around his neck from the twisting, and his face had cuts on it from the doctors' fingernails. More than a dozen students were herded in to watch the show. A careless nurse later zipped up our son in a body bag in front of my husband and I and several of our family members.

The doctors were angry and hostile with us the moment we entered the hospital because they learned we'd been planning a home birth. I believe this is why we received such horrible care. I was many times accused of being neglectful and they wrote in my chart that I'd had "no prenatal care" even though my midwife had been checking my blood, urine, the baby's heartbeat, etc... for 8 months.

My midwife was present for the birth and told me a couple months later that she had never seen a baby treated so violently during birth. (She's been in the business for 20 years. She's seen a lot!)

That was five years ago. We have not been able to conceive again. One side effect of epidurals is infertility. I will always wonder if my decision to have that needle stuck in my spine is what caused our barrenness. And in the end I would rather have had the physical pain. It would have been so much more intimate than having my child pulled from me so brutally. The epidural left me a non-participant in our son's birth. It was my one chance to be a mother to him, if only for a few minutes, and I missed it.

One more thing about our story- We later learned that the particular condition that took his life was one that would not have been discovered if we had gone the standard medical route. It could have only been caught if an ultrasound had been done during one particular week of the pregnancy when they don't normally perform them. So essentially I would have had had one appointment where they said "everything looks great" and then a few weeks later they would have said "there's nothing we can do..." I would have then been advised to terminate the pregnancy or possibly told I could wait til he decided to come on his own. In case of the latter I would have spent over 4 months waiting for his birth knowing that he would die and surely being very sad indeed. Instead, I spent those 4 months praising God for and loving that little baby with all my heart. For that reason alone we were SO glad we had used our precious, loving, praying, caring midwife. And once we did experience the hospital setting we were even more convinced that home birth is the way to go.

All that said, I know that there are good hospitals and doctors out there. If I ever get shot or break my arm I will surely visit one. But as far as having children goes I believe that is best left to mothers and midwives.

But you may prefer a different setting, and that is okay. Just please make sure that you are comfortable with all the staff- not just those on one particular shift, but anyone who might come in to contact with your precious child.

I have felt for some time now that you were probably expecting. I am very happy to see the Lord has blessed you in this manner. Not that I think you would- but never take it for granted. Love every moment of this precious time, for the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Katy said...

I'm used to be into home delivery until a lady I knew lost her baby because of it. There was a problem at the last minute and by the time an ambulance could get there nothing could be done. A c-section can be done in 90 seconds in a hospital. As for me, I had a high risk pregnancy due to some pre existing problems. I delivered naturally at a hospital, but it was very comforting to me to see the baby's heartbeat on the monitor.

LaDonna said...

Anna,

Natural birth is overrated, in my opinion. Thousands upon thousands of women and newborns used to die for lack of medical intervention. Still do in some parts of the world.

I don't have "natural" teeth drilling when I go to the dentist. Don't see the need to suffer unnecessary pain in "natural" childbirth, either. Epidurals are the best. I could still feel the contractions, too. A very, very small number of women have trouble with them. A friend of mine was temporarily paralized, but swore that she'd do it again. Had an epidural with the second child, no problems (I'm not sure that I would have been so brave to have a second under those circumstances.)

Some women in my church got into the homebirth movement, and some of the "spiritual" elements taught were bizzare. All used water birth. Problem is, the birthing process is meant to press the fluid out of the baby's lungs while going through the birth canal. That prepares the child to be able to take a deap breath...of air! Not filthy, bloody water!

One of my children came 7 weeks early. My water broke unexpectantly. Another was born with 5 major heart defects, again, unexpectantly. He was also stuck in my pelvis during birth.

Was their medical care perfect? No. We have our own horror stories. Overall, though, I'm so thankful to be in a country where we all had access to medical help. They are now 12 and 8 years old. They'd probably be dead if I had been at home when they were born.

The birth center is a good compromise between natural birth and modern medical care. I would have used one if I had had another child.

Also, bonding at birth and through nursing is nice, but if you can't nurse it's okay. I wasn't able to with either of the ones mentioned above. In fact, I couldn't even hold the one until he was 10 weeks old. Yet, we are very, very close and loving.

There is way too much pressure in the religious/homeschool world about all of this. There is absolutely no one perfect, right way to go about pregnancy, birth, nursing, etc. Go with what works for you and your husband.

You've got the prenatal testing figured out. The pressure to detect and abort "defective" babies is appalling.

By the way, congratulations! :)

Samara said...

Quick answers to your Qs: I gave birth in hospital, but only because my insurance wouldn't cover homebirth or the birth center (booo). I was induced because my water had broken (but I made them hold off on it for 6 hours so that I could get some sleep first!). Despite the pitocin, I used no drugs for pain, no epidural. I did hire a doula to be there with my husband & I her presence was excellent- she & my husband rubbed my back, helped me to move around and brought me water and ice when I needed it. I also breated through the pain as long as I could, but eventually I made noise, which really helped, much like kiai-ing helps in martial arts. By the end I was really roaring loud; one nice effect was that they shut the door to my room and I got privacy :)

What helped most: my husband holding my hand! My baby stayed with me until I left the hospital, except for his hearing test. The nursing consultants and doula helped me to nurse and the hospital nurses were wonderful. We're still nursing and he's 19mo now- so yes, a great nursing relationship!

The only negative: my OB was a hateful, nasty person. I'm very non-confrontational and tried to give her the benefit of the doubt during some appointments when she said terrible things to me, but by the time I had courage to seek another OB it was too late in the game. Now I know better; if I don't feel right about someone, no way would I trust them with my own or my child's life. Fortunately, she didn't impact my birth experience much, as she was only there for the last 30 minutes or so.

Best wishes for a safe & healthy pregnancy, labor & child!

Anonymous said...

Please keep in mind, Anna, that a good deal of "romance" has developed around the processes of pregnancy and childbirth since the 1960s. In fact, as "natural" a process as labour may be, it is, sadly, not at all rare for things to go wrong--very, very wrong. The 20th century was the first time in the history of our species that high maternal and infant mortality rates were controllable (in some privileged, developed countries, at least) and reasonable. The rate at which women have died in childbirth--and their children with them--was traditionally considerable. It was simply considered a sad fact of life. After all, it was seldom hard for a man to get another wife, so if women had to be viewed as somewhat expendable, well, that was the way it was.

An infant will not remember, physically or in any other way, whether you had an epidural. He will not love you more or be more "yours" because you endured pain or danger. He will not be healthier. You will not be a more authentic woman because you went drug-free. You will not be a better mother because formula never passes his lips. I'm sorry, but this is so. You will not be made a mother by expelling something from your uterus (pardon the bluntness)--this is something a woman in a coma can do, literally. You will be made a mother by the love, care, patience and guidance you show to your child when he or she is ex-utero. The rest is largely our own, often surprisingly self-centred process of making ourselves feel more "real". What it has to do with the hard and wonderful business of motherhood is neglible.

Anonymous said...

Hello Anna and many blessings to the three of you. No matter how many women you speak to you will get that many different answers/experiences because each pregnancy even in the same mother is different. The thing you need to do first is breathe, pray, calm yourself and then learn about your options, and why they are what they are. Tour your birth centers, hospitals, speak to your midwives and ob's you will quickly find which are on the same plane as you are.

Regarding labor, I have had 6 all told, 4 natural and 2 induced for medical reasons (kids were fine I needed the help) One induction was miserable but necessary the other was fine. The four naturals were intense experiences but that is the nature of labor. The best thing I found for me was to learn to relax through contractions and let my body do the job it was designed to do. For how this is done look for the Bradley method of childbirth, its primary basis is respecting your body as it was made, working with it and not interfearing a God ordained process. A side benefit of all of this learning and child birth classes and relaxation learning etc., not to mention the birth process itself, has been that it has created an incredible bond between my beloved and myself. He was needed and had a job to do. (By number 4 we had a real rhythm going ;))He could engage, and I needed his strength especially as labor became more intense. He was just as much involved in bringing these little ones into our family as I was, really. He was the first to hold them and bless them and welcome them with a "Happy birthday little one."

Sorry this is so long. P. S. the relaxation techniques I learned in labor have come in handy as a mother and wife too!

God Bless You as you carry two souls: yours and the baby's.

Rose said...

The last 3 of my Births were induced in Hospital, which i was in favour of due to health reasons for myself. The first time i was really scared because i'd heard all of the stories like you go from no pain to full advanced Labour. But for me i was greatful for it. My labours were nothing like that. I coped with the pain using Gas and Air?!. and the Labours were incrediebly short.
My last Child i was glad i was in Hospital as he had a True knot in his chord which had deprived him of oxygen and he needed to be resuscitated when he was born.
My first was born at home. I was in Labour for 3 days and when my son was born it was a very calm, emotional birth.
All of my Births were fantastic either at Home or in the Hospital. When you get your Baby in your arms all memories of what you just went through just seem to disappear.
No two Births are exactly the same, and if your expectations aren't to high you won't be as disaponted with the results.
Congratulations by the way. I cried when i heard your news. I was so excited. I no i don't know you in life, but through Blog Land i have been with you for a very long time. I'm so happy for you and your Husband and your Little one to be.
Many Blessings.

Meredith said...

First of all, congratulations! How exciting!

I applaud you both for thinking outside the norm. You seem wiser than your years.

At the same time, as a mom of 2 (with #3 due in Oct), I would caution you NOT to idealize "a perfect birth."

Despite my detailed birth plan, I ended up in a cozy hospital suite, with low lighting, wonderful nurses, a comfortable delivery with epidural and healthy babies who were allowed to nurse immediately after birth and sleep by my bedside during the entire stay.

The most important thing is that they come out unharmed. In the end, you will love them and nurse them no matter how they were delivered.

Hope said...

I have been told that some women choose to have hypnosis during labor rather than an epidural, and that the labor is usually comparatively fast and the pain minimal. If you don't have an objection to hypnosis in general (I know some people do), it might be worth considering.

ChelB said...

Congratulations on your upcoming baby! I also assumed you were pregnant too! ;) It's wonderful that your baby will be arriving shortly after the new year!! I wanted to post about this really wonderful documentary that I found while looking over another friend's blog (who has a gorgeous 2 year old little boy). Here's a link to it...http://www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com/

It's wonderful and very informative too in my opinion. Take a peek and let me know what you think. Finally, my sister-in-law had her third child at home with the use a midwife and everything went well. My sweet little niece is now 4 years old and is the smartest and cutest little girl. She's so smart in fact that she predicted that her uncle (my now husband) and I would be married before we actually knew.

smh said...

Anna,
I've been enjoying your blog for a while and it's very exciting to hear your news. I'm sure you'll provide many thoughtful posts on this new change in your life.
I'm a pediatrician in the US and have been on both sides of the childbearing process: as a mom and as the doctor. One of the confirming moments that I wanted to choose pediatrics was being able to experience the miracle of birth with a family - what a wonderful privelege to help welcome a new baby into the world! I think it's wonderful that there is a movement (at least in the US) to embrace a more holistic view of labor & delivery and doing away from some of the sterility of the process that was so prevalent when my mom delivered me. This is good for everyone, because it makes the traditional medical community change as well (babies always room in with their moms at the hospitals where I've worked, and the lactation consultants are WONDERFUL; our hospital even has a program where a nurse comes to your home a few days after you leave to check in, see how the feeding is going and weigh the baby). I think babies can be safely delivered in hospitals, at home or at a birthing center. My one concern is how much people consider their plans and decisions beforehand. In the state where I live, the midwife industry is not well-regulated and there is a very broad range of experience and capability in the individuals that can be employed for a home birth. I have seen a few devastating outcomes that could have been prevented if the midwife/provider had been more skilled at recognizing that something was not right and had acted sooner to bring the baby to more specialized care. I encourage you and anyone considering delivering their baby at home to do their research about the provider they chose and what their specific qualifications are. Many people want to reject all that modern medicine has to offer, stating that women have been having babies for centuries and therefore it's a natural process. This is true! However, what some forget is that the infant mortality rates used to be astonomical compared to now. As with most things, I believe the right approach is a balance: moving toward more family-centered care but still using all the advances we have available when they are needed. I think this is the right combination to make this process a good experience for everyone, including the baby. You are such a thoughtful young woman, so I have no doubt that you and Mr. T will carefully consider your decisions beforehand :)
As for the epidural...well, I had one. Yes, the downside was that I couldn't get up and walk around, but I had such a peaceful, quiet labor and delivery (just me, my husband, the doctor and one nurse in the room with quiet music in the background - until my son cried!) that I do not think this detracted from the process at all. Just so you know, the epidural is the placement of a catheter into a space in your spine that allows anesthetic to be infused. Many people might not know that you can actually turn it up and down. For example, I thought mine was perfect because I didn't have much pain, but I could still feel the contractions enough to know when to push and make the pushes effective. So what I am trying to say is that if you get one and don't like how it's making you feel, speak up! There may be something to adjust to make it a better experience.
Have fun enjoying this special time! My second child is due in a couple of weeks so we are excited to welcome her into our family. I will look forward to reading about your thoughts and experiences as well!

BettySue said...

Dear Anna,
Congratulation on your baby! They are so wonderful!
I though I would tell you about my births. Not the long drawn out versions, because you might not get through them before you go into labor, LOL.
My first four babies were born in a hospital with the best OB in town. My care was ok, my births normal. There were a few small things that bothered me (#4 crying while the staff were still evaluating him instead of them letting me hold him, for example.) Nothing big, really.
After #4 we moved to a different state. I knew no one and had no way of picking a dr that wouldn’t automatically do an episiotomy (no stitches in all four births. Didn’t want to change that!) the solution we came up with was homebirth with a midwife. We are also thirty minutes from the hospital, but all in all it seemed the safest. Long story short: my 8th child/ 4th homebirth is now 9 months old and I am studying to be a midwife. I would encourage you to seriously consider staying home. If not home, do you have a friend or relative near a hospital that would let you use their house? Birth centers are good, but home is so much better. Here is an article I wrote on homebirth- http://homeschoolwwh.com/family/homebirth.html.
Two of my homebirths had last minute complications (surprise breech and cord prolapse). Both would have resulted in c-sections in a hospital. Because of God’s grace and the skill of my midwifes, both babies were born normally and are strong healthy children today.
As far as testing goes, we have opted out of almost all tests since our 2nd, and had none at all with the last (except for blood sugar for me since I was showing signs of diabetes and that would need to be taken into account during delivery.) I would encourage you to not worry about any tests. As you have observed, they don’t solve any problems. Many women find they just cause fear.
The money for the tests goes to the companies that do the tests and make the chemicals for them. They are making millions and are the main ones promoting these tests to Dr.’s. good business if you can get it! But not necessarily what is best for mommy and baby.
Anyway, I wish you good lick and will be praying for you.

Coffee Catholic said...

The one thing that causes excessive pain in birth is fear. It's amazing how powerful the womb is ~ if you are tense with fear, the womb will still force that baby through your womanly parts!!! This is called, "Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome" and even the simple act of making your face fold up because of pain can make your womanly parts grow tense. The best thing that you can do is labor *upright* on a birthing stool or on your hands and knees ~ and stay very, very, very relaxed during contractions and delivery of the baby. So relaxed that your face is floppy! You don't even have to push that baby out! Your body will bring it out for you.

Also, keep in mind that when you lie on your back, even in the semi-reclined position where you are sitting up halfway, or you sit in a bathtub, you loose 30% of your pelvic opening during birth!!!!

God designed us women so perfectly for birth!! ~ our womanly parts, they do not stretch so much as they *unfold* when the baby passes through. Think of a tightly pleated tube of cloth... when you pull it, it opens up because the pleats unfold ~ it does not stretch. (This is also why our womanly parts go "back to normal" after birthing a baby.) So when you birth you are not going to have to try and force an X-pound baby through your usual "every day sized" womanly parts. Your parts are told to unfold by a combonation of hormones and also the baby pushing through the cervix... it's amazing! Sadly, drugs, including pain killers, interfere with this process and they can actually prolong labor and make it more painful because the womanly parts do not unfold properly etc. The epidural slows the dilation of the cervix ~ this causes women to "not progress" and then more drugs have to be pumped inside of her in order to force her body to "progress"... each drug interferes with your natural hormones and progression of birth. They can be an escape from pain but they can also cause more problems along the way.

Also, more good news: God designed us so that the ligiments in our pelvises loosen up. This enables the baby's head to pass through the pelvic opening much more easily then if the pelvis was stll rigid like it usually is. Sure, even with loose ligaments and unfolding womanly parts birth is still uncomfortable and can be painful ~ but the thing to keep in mind is that we can cause excessive and agonizing pain when we are afraid and tense. This tension... it interferes dreadfully with the unfolding of our womanly parts and the looseness of the pelvis! Is it any surprise then that a tense and fearful woman ends up in agonizing pain??

The pain of labor is a much more *productive* pain then say... the pain of having a broken leg. When we walk up a steep hill our leg muscles begin to burn from the effort... but we don't fall onto the ground and scream in agony! W keep walking and we thing, "This will be over soon." So instead of thinking, "I AM IN TROUBLE!!" you should think, "I am doing something that is perfectly normal." God *designed* us to be able to give birth! It's so awesome when you think about it!!

I think many women get scared because they go into birth fearing PAIN and also, the sensations of having a baby pass through your pelvis and womanly parts can be really overwhelming!! The fear of pain ends up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy because it causes more pain.

Living on a farm has shown me that God knew what He was doing when He created this world. I've taken one finger and put it into a laboring sheep's very tight parts and then I gently opened her up, through gentle and patient movement of my hand within her parts, until I could reach inside and pull a lamb out without pain or damage!! Her body was already releasing the necessary hormones and her "parts" responded by unfolding to my hand until there was so much room I couldn't believe it ~ talk about amazing!!!! (Usually the reason I have to help a sheep deliver is because the lamb is still inside the pelvis and either turned sideways or in another strange position that does not allow it to enter the vagina for birth...)

Movement also helps a woman to deal with pain. Don't be afraid to move around, to walk, to rock back-and-forth while on hands and knees. If you make noise, make *deep* noises ~ these help your body to relax whereas high-pitched noises make you tense. I joke with my midwife that I'll "Moo like a cow!" when I give birth. You know, make a nice deep, calm "Uuuuuuuuh" rather then a high-pitched "aaaaaah!!"

I'm due to give birth in November and although I'm nervous because this is something new, I am not afraid. There is always the very real chance that I might end up in extreme pain ~ but I think that on the whole, as long as I do not become terrified and tense, I stand a good chance of being able to handle the pain of childbirth! I have a birthing stool, soft mats to kneel on, a ball to lean on, and I have every plan to walk around as much as I desire! I am not going to lie on my back or sit in a bath tub because that decreases your pelvic opening.

Well, either way, I'll take my birth as it comes ~ but I'm not going to allow myself to become filled with fear!!

Anonymous said...

A few miscellaneous comments:
A previous poster advocated home birth because 95% of births are perfectly normal and require no intervention. And what, pray tell, about the other 5%?

The mortality rate for mothers and infants in childbirth has dropped drastically since mothers started giving birth in hospital. It is precisely because that 5%, those births that could potentially become tragic, are adjacent to life-saving equipment and staff (and don't need to drive 30 min, with a writhing woman confined to the passenger seat, dependent on the car not breaking down, the traffic, the weather....so many unknown factors).

Hospitals are not perfect (I could write a book on that one). I agree that C-sections have become way, way too common. Perhaps using a birthing center or researching which hospitals have lesser rates could help.

In Israel, most 'normal' births are attended to by midwives. You might see a doctor only for a few minutes at the beginning, and then at the end if you need a few stitches. I think doctors are more involved with first births.

Finally, probably no one here will agree with me....but I always chalked up the revolution in birthing practices in the late 20th century to feminism. Till the late 80s, hospitals in many countries were mainly dominated by male doctors, and were very patriarchal structures. Hence the condescending 'we know better than you how you should give birth'.

With feminism, in my opinion, women became aware of their rights as patients and demanded to give birth in dignity.
Tammy

Coffee Catholic said...

P.S. Don't let anyone scare you about the baby being "over due." Babies come when they come ~ and you go into labour when the baby is *ready* to be born. You are not in danger if you are 44, 45 weeks along. Babies do not continue to grow much after a certain week so you're not going to burst open from an "overgrown" baby. Sure, they still grow but nowhere near as much as they do during their peak growth time. Women have had 10 month pregnancies without complications! The idea of a "due date" is really silly beacause all that this does is put undue and pointless pressure on women to worry about "being over due" and then have themselves pumped full of drugs to forcibly induce labor. As a matter of fact, the drugs that are used to force labour cause very unnatural contractions that are far too powerful for both mother and baby. This can cause the baby to go into distress and then lead to c-sections. These drug-induced contractions also cause extreme pain in many women and even an epidural cannot stop the pain sometimes!! And all of this for what?? Because the medical folk decided to slap a silly "time limit" on pregnancy!!

There are a lot of things that medical folk will say in an attempt at scaring you into obeying them. Being "over due" is one of those things. Also, they'll tell you that the level of fluid in your womb has decreased and this is harmful to the baby. This has not been proven ~ the studies are inconclusive.

Also, you will be told that once your water breaks you only have 24 hours to give birth before you must be given the drugs that force contractions. Your womanly parts are air-tight. Bacteria cannot get into your womanly parts as long as no one puts anything inside. No fingers, no instruments... nothing. It's very common for medical folk to want to give you an internal examination every hour ~ they have this silly idea that a woman's cervix must dialate one centimeter an hour. What nonsense! Every woman is different and every labour progresses at its own unique pace. The cervix will dialate when it dialates and it does not need to be examined every hour! Don't let anyone tell you what *your* body should be doing! When your water breaks, do not allow anyone to do an internal examinatin until you are absolutely ready to push and you can no longer resist the urge to push. (Then your cervix must be examined to make sure that it is fully dialated before you push.) You don't even have to push the baby out! You can relax and let your womb do all of the work. But anyway, like I said, there will be many things that are told to you in order to scare you into allowing your labor to either be induced with those contraction drugs ("Your baby is over due!") ~ or to have the contraction drugs pumped into you because they think that you are "not progressing" as per the latest silly ideas such as, "a woman's cervix must dialate one centimeter per hour..." Birth has become far too medical and much less natural! Your body knows what it is doing ~ let it do its work and don't let anyone get in the way!

Make sure you eat, drink, and rest ~ vomiting is normal in labour. Don't fear this and make sure you at least have enough water and maybe a good clear broth if you cannot eat solid food. If you are weak and dehydrated you will "not progress" ~ but is that any surprise?? Also, once the baby has dropped down into your cervix, your womb likes to stop contractions for some time (15 - 90 minutes is the usual) while it shrinks itself down. This only makes sense ~ otherwise, how can teh womb push the baby out if the womb is too large?? It must shrink down in order to work best! Many times the hospital folk panic when this happens and they start to pump the mother full of contraction drugs because they say, "You're not progressing!"...

What it all boils down to is, listen to your body. If you have laboured a long time and you become exhausted to the point that you cannot continue then yes, consider getting some help. But don't let anyone scare you into receiving interventions/drugs just because *they* have invented strange time-frames for pregnancy, labour, and delivery! You don't need to have your baby by a certain week. You don't need internal exams to check your cervix ~ if you become exhausted then get help. Otherwise, let your body do its work without all of the nonsense of being poked and proded and drugged! You don't need a much of the stuff that medical folk try and shove down your throat because of "time." When you *do* need interventions, you'll know that you need them and you'll want them! Until then, trust that God has designed you to give birth when the birth is supposed to happen naturally!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Dear ones,

Thank you for all your wonderful responses. I just wanted to point out that our concerns about hospital births do not come from "being natural" for the sake of *being natural*. We simply want the best for Mom and baby, and we have some suspicions that certain common hospital practices are unncesessary and even potentially harmful. For example, forcing the mother to be in a position which doesn't help to speed up birth - and then giving drugs for induction.

Also, it's certainly not about *perfect birth*. We know it's all in the Lord's hands, and we focus on what's most important to us as an outcome: a healthy baby, in the arms of healthy, un-traumatizing Mom. And yes we do believe the delivery and first few days after it have an impact on the first months of the baby's life (for example nursing relationship).

We are aware of the facts that risks of epidural are low. However, even if it's only 0,0001% of bad outcomes, in fact it means that thousands of women suffer long-lasting tragic consequences every year. Scary.

As far as medical intervention goes, we believe birth should be as non-messed-up-with as possible. First rule of medicine, don't cause harm! We believe medical intervention should be more like a safety net, not a default choice, for Mom and baby. We wouldn't want to give birth in a place where intervention is unavailable, but we don't want it to be pushed on us either.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to clarify my comment above about the revolution in birthing practices. Obviously, I was referring to birthing practices in HOSPITALS.

I think women patients and midwives gained a lot of confidence in the last decade or two and caused major changes in maternity wards. Women today are faced with so many more options at the hospital than their mothers were.

Mrs. Rabe said...

Anna, I would encourage you to go the birth center route - to be able to have freedom in your delivery is wonderful! I have 6 children and the last two I didn't use any pain meds, but I did use the hot shower and my favorite a hot deep bathtub. It is so soothing and helps you to relax and that speeds up delivery!

Melissa said...

I read this advice on someone's blog (maybe it was Better Birth or Barbara Harper's Blog?): labor is hard work, and you can do it. I think that's a good perspective. Be realistic with yourself--labor will hurt and probably be the hardest thing you ever go through, but you can do it! It only lasts a matter of hours or days, and then it's OVER, and you have a sweet little baby to show for it.

I recommend The Big Book of Birth by Erica Lyon. I think it's a must-read for every pregnant woman.

For the record, I have had two all-natural, drug-free births at a freestanding birth center. The first was an extremely long, very painful process (my son was posterior), and the use of a birth tub was such a relief. I don't know how I would have made it through that birth without a birth tub! My labor with my daughter was very short and relatively easy. She was born only half an hour after we got to the birth center! The midwives didn't even have time to fill up the birth tub, which was fine with me at that point...all I could think of by that time was just getting her out! I used a horseshoe-shaped wooden birth stool to squat and push her out.

Anonymous said...

Anna,
I gave birth to both of my children in a hospital. Home births are great if there is no emergency. If I would have had my second baby at home, I may very well have died- as I hemmoraged quite heavily and fast. They immediately gave me IV fluid which brought my blood pressure up (it had been dangerously low, as I had lost so much blood), and the female doctor performed the necessary procedure to stop the bleeding. When it was over, the nurses all breathed a collective sigh of relief that my pressure was up and one of them stared "your lips aren't blue anymore". I'm not trying to scare you- just telling my story.
Sheila

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

I am the mother of two children. My first is 8. We had a scheduled induction for her delivery. Other than not being able to eat, everything went well. It was a beautiful hospital which allowed the two of us to stay together the whole time. Although, I was more than happy to send her to the nursery during the middle of the night so I could get some much needed rest. I had no pain medicine at all during labor, which lasted about 20 hours. This birth was with a doctor.

The delivery of my second was an entirely different story. My son was two weeks late with no sign of being ready to come out. I was therefore induced. I had wanted to give birth in the water, which couldn't happen because I was induced. My midwife stayed with me the entire time I was in the hospital. To make a long story short...labor was horrendous. I wanted an epidural, but the doc was stuck in surgery and didn't get to me in time. I just wanted to sleep and lay down. But my son was very stressed. They made me constantly move around. I think they gave me some pain meds through my IV. Anyway, my son's shoulder got stuck and the cord was wrapped around his neck. The midwife had my husband press some panic button above my head. This led to eight women rushing in and all of them pressing on my belly as hard as they could. They were literally laying on top of me. It was terrifying. I truly believe that my son would have died had I not been in the hospital. I could see the fear on the midwives faces. Although it sounds great to deliver at home, I simply can not bring myself to consider it. I also can't imagine how different things would have been with a doctor. If I ever have children in the future, I will certainly deliver with a midwife.

Millie said...

I forgot to add that I did have an epidural with one of the five C-sections, and its effect was extreme itchiness. I sat there with my newborn in our hospital bed and practically scratched my skin off my face until I was given a medication to combat the itchiness. THAT medication caused nausea, so I was given something else to combat the nausea... and THAT medicine caused me to sleep my daughter's first day away.

Yeah, do the birth center if you can. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
First I'd like to say best wishes in your search for the right option for you and your family. I think it's different for everyone, and there are no wrong answers here. The important thing is to have a healthy baby and mommy.

To answer your question, this is what happened to me.

My daughter came unexpectedly four weeks early. So, we rushed to the hospital. We would have had a hospital birth anyway, because I felt that I'd rather be in a hospital in case there were complications. It gave me peace of mind to know there would be trained professionals right next to me at a moment's notice. It is a fact that infant mortality has declined steadily over the past one hundred years, and I believe in part it is due to modern medicine. Maternal mortality has declined as well.

I was allowed to walk around the hospital etc. to try and naturally help the process. They even sent me home since I wasn't dilated enough, and the contractions were not close enough together. The pain was excruciating for me. By the time I got home, the pain increased dramatically, and the contractions were then a minute or two apart. So, I had to turn around and rush back to the hospital again.

By that time I was in so much pain and not handling it well at all, that I had to have an epidural to calm me down. I had no side effects that I remember. I just remember because of the epidural I was able to focus better and not freak out so much.

I was able to deliver my daughter vaginally. I do agree there seems to be a tendency to have more C-sections than necessary nowadays. Anyway, she was only four pounds and eleven ounces. I was also able to nurse her on demand at the hospital, so feeding was not a problem. The biggest help to me was having my mom at the birth. She calmed me down and helped me to focus.

Best wishes,

~ Z.

Lisa said...

Hi, Congratulations on the pregnancy - I suspected for a while that you might be!

I've had 2 children - a boy who's now 6 years old and a little girl who's coming up for 2. I had both children in hospital in England, like you I was concerned that if something went wrong, the time it took to get emergency medical care could be crucial. With my first birth I kept active for about 8 hours and then wimped out and had a pethidin injection. I thought it would deaden the pain but all it seems to do is make you sleepy. Unfortunately it was given to me just before I went into active labour which made that final phase last longer then it should as I was too sleepy to push properly. Baby was born healthily but I needed a few stitches.

Second baby was very different. I was much more aware of what was going on with my body so more relaxed. I worked with the contractions instead of fighting them and I used the big birthing ball to bounce up and down on in-between contractions! I can't recommend that enough - it's quite therapeutic and I'm sure the up and down action of the bouncing helps the baby move into position adn down the birthing canal so much easier and quicker. All in all it only took 4 hours from beginning to end and no stitches needed.

I would also recommend you have raspbery tea - but not until the last trimester. And try perineal massage as well to help things along before hand. Good luck

Julie said...

Anna,

I don't live in Israel, :0), so things may be quite different, but here are some thoughts. (I'm NOT a doctor, but I worked for an OB/GYN for a while, and was able to observe quite a bit...)

Most births go smoothly and naturally, but when things DO go wrong, they can go wrong very quickly. Especially since you have not given birth before, you would be wise to be in or near good medical facilities (like the natural birth center you mentioned, being on the hospital campus).

Also, does your nearest hospital give tours of the birthing center? You may be able to talk with some of the LDR nurses (Labor, Delivery, Recovery) to see what their normal 'modus operandi' is.

Again, this may be different in Israel, but the pendulum has certainly swung, here in the states. I heard some of the warnings that you obviously have... lots of interventions, laboring flat on your back, baby whisked off to the nursery, etc.

But my experience (three hospital births) was NOTHING like that. Laboring women are encouraged to walk, bathe, rock, shower, (dance if you want to!) etc during labor, and are encouraged to try different positions for pushing.

Newborn babies "room in" with their mothers, unless there is medical need for them to be in the nursery, or the mom requests it, to be able to rest. Nurses support breast-feeding.

Yes, pain relief is available, but isn't "pushed" on laboring women. Nor are epidurals or episiotomies given routinely.

The childbirth division of the hospital was kept fairly separate from the rest of the hospital, so as not to expose healthy moms and babies to the sick or infectious. I felt more like a guest than a patient, and by the last birth (when I was going home to three boys under the age of five), I was tempted to want to stay longer!

I'm just saying, don't jump to conclusions about the hospital's practices before you get accurate information. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Also, there is a sort of 'joke' with LDR nurses, that the more rigid the laboring woman's expectations are, the more likely she is to end up needing interventions! Okay, that may not be statistically true, but...

Wise advice is to find a doctor you can trust, talk openly about your expectations and wishes, and then... BE FLEXIBLE, AND THANK GOD FOR MODERN MEDICINE!

My first labor was pretty much textbook, and 'natural'. Healthy baby, healthy mom.

My second labor was very slow to progress and I grew exhausted from the contractions and coping with the pain. Getting an epidural allowed me to 'rest' through part of the labor, and have strength for pushing at the end. Healthy baby, healthy mom.

My third labor had to be induced, due to a difficult breech lie. (They turned the baby head down, and then induced me before he could turn himself back around... which he had already down TWICE!) Turns out that even head down, he was STUCK. His head was sideways... "asynclitic lie". I ended up having a non-emergency C-Section. Healthy baby, recovering-but-healthy mom. :0)

However, had I NOT been in a hospital, it would have BECOME an emergency.

I'm not trying to scare you! Most births go just fine. But I would encourage you not to take on unnecessary risk, when you probably have more options than you may realize.

I thank God for modern medicine. I wear contact lenses. My son wears hearing aids. Our friends' two boys require daily insulin. I don't suppose any of that is "natural", but I am very thankful for them, all the same!

Anna, I hope you have a wonderful, uncomplicated birth. But remember, even if it ends up differently than you hope, what matters most is a healthy baby and a healthy mom. :0)

Thank God for the precious gift of life!

Julie

Emily said...

I realize this post is a few days old but I wanted to share my experiences anyway.

I had a regular hospital birth with my first daughter who is now almost 22 months old. I had an epidural and didn't feel the any pain or pressure or anything.

With my second daughter I wanted to go all natural and then me and my husband decided to do a home birth. You can read the entire home birth story on my blog
http://emilyswhatsoeverthings.blogspot.com/search/label/Home%20Birth
.It's long.

Blessings,
Emily

Melian said...

My first, beautiful baby was born 20 months ago. I like the idea of homebirth, but we are also 30 minutes from a local hospital, and my husband is extremely uncomfortable with that. (His brother and sister-in-law lost a baby, and nearly lost the mother, even after delivering in a hospital. Two other friends of ours had similar experiences. That's not the usual, but it does make an impression!) I had a certified nurse midwife, an easy pregnancy, but didn't have the support I'd hoped for in labor. (My husband is a dear man, and I love him, but being a labor coach is unrealistic for him.) When I felt like I couldn't do it anymore, the nurse immediately suggested an epidural. No one mentioned a tub, ball, moving positions, etc. which I would have tried first. My laboring brain was too tired to think of these things. I hadn't slept in 3 days, and I did have an epidural. Honestly, it worked VERY well for me. It did relieve the pain, but I still could feel and move, so pushing was very effective. I'm not sorry that I did it, and neither of us suffered any ill effects.

I'm now pregnant with our second child, due in February. I plan to take Bradley birthing classes. I do have an OB/GYN this time, due to fertility issues, but he is very supportive of natural delivery. He said that, in his experience, it comes down to the mother basically saying "Epidural is not an option! They don't exist!" I plan on having a doula and I think that taking effective classes will have a major impact on my ability to get through labor and delivery drug-free!

Regarding nursing: I did everything that the lactation consultants, doctors and nurses suggested. When my milk supply was still incredibly low, we tried herbal supplements, even prescriptions, to no avail. After only two weeks of nursing, my daughter was trying to nurse every 20 minutes around the clock, and losing weight. It was heartbreaking for me to "admit defeat" but she was starving. This is an unusual situation, but it does happen. My mother, and her mother, had supply issues as well. We had to supplement with formula, since it was clear that the baby was failing to thrive and becoming dehydrated. We didn't have any major trouble bonding, in spite of cutting the nursing relationship so short. I'll once again do everything that I can to breastfeed this baby, but if it simply isn't an option, we'll praise God that we live in a world where good formula is available.

I wish you the best of luck. Read and think through things carefully, and I echo those who have said this: if things do not turn out the way you hope and dream, don't allow guilt to get the better of you. Just revel in that precious baby!

Katherine said...

Anna -

I'm actually a feminist in America who reads your blog periodically...it's interesting to see such a completely different perspective written out so clearly and in a heartfelt way.

Needless to say, I don't agree with a lot of what you talk about, but this post is a definite exception!

It's a huge problem that women are treated like pregnancy and birth are dangerous, and the process often slips completely out of our hands and into the hands of doctors (who may or may not be choosing the best path - only the easiest solution).

There are even some major organizations in America who hope to criminalize home birth - no matter the circumstances. It's ridiculous.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that even if you're not fond of feminism, you should recognize that often we want just what you want - to take care of our families and ourselves the best we can, and to have all the options we need to do so.

Thanks for reading,
Katherine

sue said...

My children are 19 and 14. I had regular hospital births, one without any medication, and one with demorol. I was hooked up to monitors. The medication helped a great deal. I wish I had it with both babies. I was able to be more in touch with the birth with medication, because I was not writhing in agony (even though I has gone to childbirth classes). The labors progressed normally (one at 4 hours, and one at 8 hours). I bottle fed both my babies. Actually, while in the hospital I liked it when they took the baby to the nursery for a little while so I could get some sleep. I don't think this effected our bonding at all. Think of when people adopt older babies or children and are able to bond with them. My point is, a regular hospital delivery and aftercare isn't going to do any harm. It may not be for you, but it has worked for millions of people. An epidural is simply a spinal tap, and people receive these for diagnostic purposes. You don't hear of people becoming paralyzed from spinal taps. Breast feeding is best, but if a person wants to or needs to use the bottle, it won't harm the baby - the baby will grow fine and healthy like mine did. Just relax and enjoy this time of God's Blessing.

Gombojav Tribe said...

I don't have time to read all the many replies you received to your post. So, I don't know if someone already said what I am going to say.

A book I really recommend is "A Thinking Woman's Guide To A Better Birth" by Henci Goer. I think you'll like it.

I had all my babies at home without any pain medication. You can do it!

I am a certified childbirth educator and doula and I believe that epidurals are not safe and would not have one even if I had access to one at home.

If you ever have any questions or would like to talk more about it, please leave me a comment on my blog.

btw, thanks for visiting my blog today.

Blessings,
Daja

www.gombojav.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

A movie just came out on DVD in the US, The Business of Being Born, very pro home-birth, but also documenting someone who had to go get a c-section. They go over the history of hospital births, very sad, you do good realizing labor and delivery is a natural process, not a sickness to be cured from. The US has a higher rate than third world countries in regards to infant mortality, and I know people who have experienced the "cons" to epidurals (prolonged labor and delivery, emergency c-sections).

I am preparing for my third home birth, and do have the hospital nearby "just in case". Recovery at home is quick, and my baby and I are exposed only to our own "germs", not strep or staph etc. at the hospital.

Immediately after delivery, endorphins (natural pain relivers) perk me up and I'm re-energized and completely coherent, enjoying the accomplishment and my new prized child! I surround myself w/family, and we laugh and smile and enjoy the sacredness of the hour. We chart the baby's temperature, color, and breathing for a couple of days (every hour), and my midwife returns the next day for another check up on the child and myself.

If you are able to try a home birth (or birth center), do, you will probably be thankful. :)