Sunday, June 20, 2010

Natural birth: not just a romantic ideal

While I was anticipating the birth of my first baby, I was repeatedly told by several people that not only it's nearly impossible to give birth without the aid of pain-relieving drugs, but that there was absolutely no reason to withstand such torture, apart from some vague irrational hippie back-to-earth ideals.

After doing a bit of research, together with my husband, I became firmly convinced that such beliefs, however common, are a dangerous illusion. Even simple common sense will tell that labor pains, however difficult to endure, are a natural part of the birth process and most likely won't lead to complications - while unnecessary medical interventions can and do.

I remember when we were studying human anatomy and physiology, one of the girls stated that when she has a baby, she will opt for a c-section because it looks much "safer" to her to have a fully controlled medical procedure than a normal birth where things can go unexpected. Obviously, she has not researched the statistics of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity associated with c-sections vs. regular births. Our teacher, who was an older, very experienced doctor and biochemist, gave her a stern look and said, "never opt for medical intervention when there's any way at all you can have a natural process." This is what I believe every decent doctor should tell his patients.

Every woman makes individual choices about how to give birth - and I'm a firm believer that said choices ought to be informed, made with no pressure, and truly weighing all the pros and cons.

Last week, I received a comment praising modern medical intervention and saying that, "giving birth with or without drugs honestly is a matter of romantic choice for a lot of women; it simply doesn't make any difference to a child's long-term, or even short-term, health."


To which I replied,


No one denies modern medicine has saved many, many lives of mothers and babies, and for that, we should be ever thankful. My first birth wasn't attended by a doctor, only midwives, but I was glad to know that should anything happen, I'm in a hospital and within quick reach of good doctors and any necessary help.

I think the key here is to distinguish between necessary and unnecessary interventions.

Giving birth without drugs isn't simply a romantic back-to-nature choice. It's a matter or keeping the mother alert and actively participating in the birth, which is statistically (and logically) associated with shorter labors, fewer cases of needing inductions and c-sections, more successful nursing and quicker postpartum recovery.

Inductions are seen as very routine practice around here. I was offered an induction simply because I was a few days "overdue" (a miscalculation that repeats itself this time, as my cycle isn't average) and my contractions slowed down. When I said I prefer to go home, wait (since I wasn't given any obvious medical reason against waiting), and let nature take its course, I encountered raised eyebrows. "Don't you want it to be over already?" I was asked. For me that was entirely missing the point - but not for the doctor, who had many more women to attend and wanted the delivery room free. He tried to act in his best interests, not mine.

Epidurals, inductions and c-sections are very staff-friendly. Doctors feel much more in control when they have the laboring woman hooked to pitocin and strapped to the bed with constant fetal monitoring, than to have her monitored while she's hopping on the birthing ball and the monitor keeps sliding off her belly. Of course if the woman can't freely move around and do things that make it easier for her, most likely the pain will become unbearable.

The doctors are emotionally detached from their patient, whom (at least here in Israel) they most likely don't know, have never seen before and will never see again. They don't care if their induction will lead to a rougher labor, tougher time nursing, more painful recovery, and possibly a c-section which might put the mother in higher risk during subsequent pregnancies. Doctors, generally, don't care about your future, they care about not getting a lawsuit.

Epidural and other forms of pain-relieving medication do carry risks. There are a few women who remain forever crippled because of badly performed epidurals, and there is a vast number of women who complain about back pains for months after an epidural. Inductions carry risks, and most certainly so do c-sections. All of the interventions above should be used sparingly, carefully, thoughtfully, and for purely medical reasons but that is not the case.

Doctors allow elective c-sections for no medical reasons. I'm not sure what the case is where you live, but here in Israel, hospitals are all government-funded and all get a hefty sum for each woman who delivers her baby there. Of course they are interested in a large number of deliveries in their hospital, which means abuse of inductions and c-sections. Personally I don't think c-sections for no medical reason should be allowed, just like no decent doctor would allow me to have my appendix take out just because I feel like it.



To read a great, informative post on the subject of natural birth, go here


What about home births? Theoretically, I think home births, when handled by an experienced midwife, are as safe as hospital births for the majority of women, with the caveat that I do believe a hospital should be readily accessible in case of unexpected complications. Home birth provides the advantage of safe, familiar environment, without the pressure of having to go somewhere, wondering whether you might be too early or too late. The safe environment of home might even lead to shorter duration of labor - the emotional factor plays a huge role in the process, and progress may simply be stalled in an unfamiliar, detached place with lots of strangers and many invasive checks. That was what happened to me, and I can't thank God enough for the good sense that prompted us to grab our things, insist on being checked out, go to a safe place (my in-laws' home) and wait for things to pick up on their own, rather than opt for chemical induction. 


Practically, a home birth isn't an option for us - hospital births are government-funded here and thus free, while hiring a private midwife and having a home birth would cost thousands of dollars. I truly can't think of a case when we would feel justified to go out of our way and pay so much money without being fully convinced it's necessary for my health. A natural birth is possible in a hospital too, though undoubtedly when you go there you have to firmly stand your ground, be informed, and question every "harmless" and "routine" intervention that is being offered to you. 

33 comments:

åslaug abigail said...

Neat post =) You're so right, interventions shouldn't be routine, they should be "only if necessary", it's not a good thing, though, when women get to choose without beign given the information (with pros and cons, both sides).

The safest way, I guess, is to research yourself, as few of the professional people you'll meet on your way to birthing your baby will give you ALL the information, and a lot of the time they might even be objective (which, I know, isn't easy if you have strong opinions)

It's just another situation where knowledge is power.

Anonymous said...

When I had my babies back in the 80's, natural childbirth was the "flavor of the day," the "in" thing to do, probably because of the popularity of LaMaze childbirth (I don't remember how to spell that name). It was considered the modern, back to nature thing to do, coming out of the hippie age. I'm very surprised, now, to see that young ladies rarely do this any more! How things change in 20 years! I had both of my children without painkillers except for a little oxygen that I breathed in. I'm definitely NOT against pain medication or c-sections when needed. I'm also surprised that the hospitals there encourage c-sections when they are possibly not needed. I had my first child in an American Air force hospital, and the second one in a British hospital. All hospitals at that time, no matter where, seemed to encourage natural childbirth whenever possible. But, you're right...things don't necessarily go according to hospital schedule then, do they? So, I guess it is now out of fashion. I say, whatever works for the mother, medication or not, and whatever is best for the baby, medication, natural, c-section or whatever. Mary R.

Mrs. Reverend Doctor said...

I had two natural births one in hospital and one at home, I defiantly prefer the home namely because YOU are in charge of your own birth. At the hospital the NURSES are who are in charge, despite weather you have a midwife or OBGYN.

Kate said...

I gave birth last Tuesday and it was my most natural birth of the 3 I've had and my recovery was almost immediate! Of course, before I went into labor, my doctor wanted to induce for no reason other than "you might not make it to the hospital in time." While in labor, an IV was inserted in my arm because they were sure I'd need pitocin.

I wonder, I truly do wonder, do I have such easy labors and am able to deliver naturally because I go into it with a very natural, positive attitude or because I'm just genetically prone to small babies and fast, comparitively easy labors?

I tell ladies that the BEST thing they can do is work with the pain and not be afraid of it. Things progress MUCH faster if you let the pain do the work it's supposed to. I needed a shot of pitocin during my first born's delivery because I got scared of an unexpected pain and literally ceased contracting.

Great article.

justme27 said...

Great post Mrs. Anna. We're opting for the thousands of dollars for a home birth route. My husband will be deployed on a military operation during the our first birth and I don't want to be fighting for my "rights" in a hospital while giving birth alone! But we are blessed in having friends and family contribute to our birth fund in lieu of a baby gift and my husband will be getting a little extra pay due to being separated from his family (so that will help cover the cost).

Many blessings toward this next birth. :)

Mrs David W said...

Good post... I think the most important thing when going in is to remember it is your body and to a point you are in control.
Be informed and stay mobile.
I have had a natural birth, then an 8 day labor where my baby was stuck (Used an epidural on day 8) and finally a c-section with my last one because the cord was wrapped around his body and he was breech.
So, they do not always go as planned... knowledge is power and the ability to give up and let go of any ideas you have of a perfect birth. Ha ha :) Such is life

MacKenzie said...

I have my little one three weeks ago at home with a midwife. Because our insurance would have covered most of the hospital birth but didn't cover much of the home birth, it did cost us quite a bit but I think it was the best decision my husband and I could have made since around here it seems hard to have a natural birth at the hospital.

So many people "warned" me that at home I wouldn't be able to change my mind and have drugs when (not if but when) I decided I couldn't take the pain anymore. I'm not going to say labor was easy but it wasn't more than I could handle and I do think the pain was worth it. It is sad that so many people haven't done the research and don't realize that those who choose a natural birth aren't doing so because we want to feel superior but because we believe it is best for the health of both mom and baby.

Luci said...

I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom on natural births. I recently had abdominal surgery and was telling my mom that the pain was so bad, it was making me not want to have children! But, she told me that natural births aren't nearly as bad as births that require medical intervention when it comes to recovery time. She said that, for both of the times she was in labor, she chose to give birth naturally and never regretted that decision. Even recovering from the anesthesia is so tough and takes days!

Doctors and nurses are a tremendous help if something goes wrong or if a woman can't give birth without medical intervention. With my health insurance, at least, we can see the same doctor for pre-natal exams and deliveries. That's a huge blessing that I've always taken for granted ... but I never will again.

Blessings,
Luci

Lena said...

Its sad that some people believe what ever they are told by their doctors and not question anything at all. Its sad that now the more natural approach is more expensive and more harder to find, than the medical, full of interventions one. I think the more natural approach to life, begins in our minds. If we choose to eat more naturally, live more naturally, less chemicals-less interventions, give birth naturally, breastfeed on demand, a natural approach to parenting, makes for a more Godly life.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Anna. It was my note from which you excerpted the passage in this post. Your answer, as always, was articulate. But you're covering many things I wasn't touching on at all. I don't see the wisdom in the overuse of C-sections (which are necessary at times, of course) or inductions (ditt). I simply said, and maintain, that the notion of a _natural_ birth is, in the end, a matter of personal preference which is, in my experience, largely down to romantic or sentimental notions women have of the "authenticity" of their birth experience. There's nothing wrong with that, of course; if it's your child's birth, go ahead and make those decisions (although when people start going out of their way to avoid medical help, I get uneasy--some of us actually know what maternal mortality looks like, and how medical intervention prevents it). My point was simply that, aside from the small risk of complications (you're right, the risks with things like epidurals do exist, but are not great--the vast manjority of women of my mother's and sister's generation you'll meet have had them automatically), there is simply no net difference when you, say, look at a five-year-old born to a woman given no pain relief, and a five-year-old born to a woman given an epidural. I've no doubt one can find odd exceptions to this rule, just as one can find exceptions to everything. My point is that most of the women you'll see around you over, say, 30 years of age will, if they were born in the western world, have been born to drugged mothers. And we seem to have turned out just fine. :-) This is largely a lifestyle choice rather than a medical one.

Best of luck!

Allison K-O said...

Hi Anna - first-time commenter, long-time reader. Thank you so much for your post. I'm a newly pregnant mum and I've organised to have a home birth when our precious bundle is due in January next year. HB in Australia is also not cheap but a far better option than the other alternatives we have available.

It is so refreshing to have the 'intervention only when required' viewpoint; so many women either don't research and go into a hospital birth not knowing what to expect, or are so scared by horror stories told by other women/doctors/obstetricians that they elect to have all available interventions.

Good on you for standing up for the intervention-free birth that you want, and for doing enough reading, thinking and praying to stick with your convictions.

All the best for your upcoming intervention-free (unless required) birth!

Michelle B said...

This is a fantastic post. I also went and read the link you provided about natural child birth. I was able to have a natural birth in a wonderful hospital. I have to say I'd do it again without batting an eye. Yes the contractions were unpleasant in a way I'd never experienced before, but it wasn't a bad pain. It's hard to describe. It hurt, but it wasn't the hurt you have when something's wrong. My body was doing what it was supposed to do. I knew I wanted to have my son naturally because I didn't want to be doped up on drugs, nor did I was my newborn baby to have them in his system. And when he was born...wow. The rush of endorphins was incredible. I didn't even feel the afterbirth. I guess I had the maternal version of a runner's high.
I think one thing that really helped me is preparing for birth. I signed up for an online course and read books and articles about natural birth. The Business of Being Born is an eye-opening movie. It's rather sad to me how many people, even those in the medical field see birth has something to be "treated". Birth is not a disease. Women have been doing it for centuries.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon,

It's true that if you look at two average five-year-olds, one of whom was born with interventions and one without, you won't be likely to tell which one of them was born to a "drugged" mother. However, it doesn't mean that drugs administered during birth have no effect on the child and mother. Your argument is akin to the argument of people saying "our generation was raised on formula, and we all turned out fine." Have we indeed?? Sure, you don't generally see gross deformities, but it doesn't mean we don't suffer, in general, from poorer health.

Use of pain medication during birth has been associated with many side-effects, some of them short-term and some long-term, which shouldn't be brushed aside. Women who opt for epidurals shouldn't be made to believe there is NO associated risk.

Even in the short-term, recovery from a birth without epidural is quicker, which should be taken into consideration - especially for women who know they will have little help after they go home. When I was examined at the hospital on the day I was going home, the doctor said she rarely sees such speedy recovery (in terms of uterus contraction). Why was that? My daughter was born without an epidural, which meant she was alert and ready to nurse pretty much around the clock from the start. I experienced quite bad afterpains during those first few days, but the result was speedy contraction of the uterus back to its original shape. Granted, it was my first birth, but still.

Kari said...

I'm all for intervention-free births, and as we prepare for baby #3's arrival in just a couple of months, we're refreshing our knowledge of what we'd like and wouldn't like during labour and delivery. Thankfully we have a midwife, as we did with the last pregnancy, and she will be great with helping us to avoid those medical procedures that are unnecessary. That being said, we are also opting to deliver in a hospital! I know it's difficult for each couple to determine their best course of action, but through prayer they will be guided to the right decision. We wouldn't opt for a home birth (although we almost had an accidental parking lot birth last time!!), because we have family that works in labour and delivery and have been made to understand the things that can go very, very wrong during deliveries where no intervention is available. Of course this doesn't happen to everyone, but I don't feel comfortable taking the chance. And even though there could be a hospital nearby on standby, often when things head south during delivery, there isn't even enough time for transport.

As for pain management, it is very true that few women even attempt to get through labour without it. It has become so commonplace, that most women I know are of the mindset that they couldn't possibly make it through without an epidural. This post has been a great reminder that this is what our bodies are meant to do, and even if, for whatever reason, we do choose pain relief of some kind, it's worth it try and manage without it first!

Jenn said...

Thanks Anna for the great info! I totally agree with you. I had a C-section because my son was breech. I wanted a natural birth so badly, it was a terrible disappointment and very scary to face a C-section. Not to mention, after losing 2 babies, when my son didn't immediately cry, I felt totally overwhelmed and helpless that I could no see or do anything. Luckily, he was just fine and as God knew best, it turned out I had several fibroids which had I not had a c-section, I would have had to have removed later. God is good, knowing I would have been horribly reluctant to have surgery. But my recovery was rough, and I didn't get to hold my baby or try to nurse for nearly 2 hours after his birth. And though I don't know it contributed, he never took well to nursing, need supplementing w/formula (so I was told) and weaned himself at 5 months. Next time, I pray and hope things will be VERY different.

Congrats on the new baby! I'm so happy for you and your family! Blessings!

Grha Laksmi said...

Wow, this is so exciting. I've been reading your inspiring blog now and then and now you are pregnant. Best wishes to you and husband!

My Thoughts and Musings said...

Dear Anna,

I've been reading your blog for awhile now, and this my first time commenting. :)

This is a great post! The links you provide are very informative.

I agree with you, I think the best avenue is that of natural childbirth: no drugs. When I have children, God willing, I plan on natural childbirth.

Blessings to you and your family,
Clara

Stefanie said...

I gave birth naturally. No pain relief during/after. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, or rather I'd let fear build it up to be. I was lucky, I made it to the hosiptal in time to give birth, otherwise my baby would not have lived. Remember there are risks for the infant when you are not at a hopsital, you are far away from helicopters and skilled personel.
Yes, a home birth sounds very nice, but I wouldn't have wanted to accept the outcome it would have produced for me.

Laura said...

Thank you for a wonderful post on natural birth, Anna.

I had my first son in the hospital, and my second son at a birth center with a midwife. I nearly DIED from my hospital birth. From HOSPITAL negligence. They yanked the placenta out (a routine intervention, called traction) within minutes of my son's birth. I became septic a week later from retained parts and nearly died. Not to mention the epidural (which worked great, couldn't feel a thing), gave me a maternal temperature (happens frequently) and required IV antibiotics, and also tanked my blood pressure (along with the hemorrhaging from the cord traction) after my birth. I couldn't get up out of bed for 5 hours (blood pressure tanked). I got a UTI from the catheter. I was puffed up like a blowfish from the IV fluids for 3 days after I went home. Oh yeah, and the DYING thing... I had to have emergency surgery a week after I gave birth. Then two weeks after that got to spend 3 days in the hospital again on heavy duty antibiotics because of a uterine infection. I couldn't nurse for 2 weeks because of the medications (Praise the Lord he went back to nursing after that!). I didn't go to some back-woods no-name hospital. I went to one of the most prominent hospitals in my state that treat the highest risk women (I was not high risk). They delivered sextuplets for goodness sake!

You know what happened after my birth center birth? Nothing. Seriously. I went home 4 hours after I gave birth in a birth pool. I had no issues whatsoever. My midwives examined me at home 3 days after the birth. Again, 7 days after the birth, called once a week until my 6 week appointment. When I had a small freak-out that my lochia wasn't normal, they saw me RIGHT AWAY (it was normal, btw).

I can guarantee that it is NOT a romantic ideal to have a natural birth. There is REAL, MEDICAL reason to have a intervention-free birth. It is not some "lifestyle" choice. For fun (or to be horrified), go look up "birth rape". A drug-free delivery is a very real possibility for every woman, and an opportunity that they should be encouraged to experience. Look, I had a drug-free birth. It is no picnic at the beach. I am not some wonder-woman-super-high-pain-tolerance mom. I don't have anything to prove to anyone. What am I going to prove, that I'm crazy (as most people think when you don't have your baby at the hospital, or without drugs)? It's quite obvious from the data that interventions snowball into even more interventions that sometimes have lasting repercussions. If not physical ones, sometimes the unseen emotional ones. It's silly to say... look at the 5 year olds, they are all fine! What you need to do is talk to the women who gave birth to those 5 year olds. They might have a different story.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Laura, thanks for sharing your experience. Your hospital birth does sound awful. Granted, for most women things won't go QUITE as bad as that, or hospitals would go broke, but it's an excellent example of how "routine", "safe" interventions can snowball into something really nasty and dangerous.

In the second hospital I went to (after I escaped the first one), the wisest thing the midwives did, after showing me some breathing techniques, was simply to leave me and my husband alone. I was free to be in the shower, hop on the birthing ball, and even nap between contractions. We could dim the light and pray as we wished. I was examined when I asked to be examined, not every such-and-such period of time. I think they were simply too busy to pester me when all I wanted was peace and quiet!

Now that I think of it, there *was* a doctor there. I saw him for about five minutes when I arrived. He offered an epidural (and was very surprised when I declined), and insisted on opening a preparation for an i.v. in my arm ("just in case I need something", which I eventually didn't). When I said it would bother me, he raised his eyebrows and incredulously asked, "but you're having CONTRACTIONS with NO pain relief, how can you possibly mind something so insignificant like a needle in your arm? Aren't you more bothered by the labor?"

That ranks high on the list of the most idiotic things people have ever said to me. Honestly, I think it's so sad that a trained OBGYN looks at labor as something that "bothers" a woman instead of a natural body process intended to deliver the baby.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Oh, and if I might add just one thing, I absolutely hated it how the doctors in the first hospital tried to use confusing medical terms to hide what they were planning to do. Example:

Doc: "you need augmentation."

Me (raised eyebrows): "do you mean pitocin?"

Doc (motioning for the nurse to prepare the i.v.): "er... yes, you aren't progressing fast enough."

Me (thinking: oh great, you're trying to make me consent to something without even explaining what it is. No, sir, you're NOT hooking me up to that i.v.): "sorry, I'm not interested. I'd rather wait."

(Thinking: of course I'm not progressing, I yanked myself out of my house in the middle of the night and went to have cervical examinations by at least three people I don't know in the past two hours, in a strange place where I have no privacy, nowhere to rest, pray, change positions, or shower. What I need is not pitocin, it's a place where I feel safe and comfortable!)

Doc: "well, if you don't want pitocin, we can break your waters."

(Right-o. Then, if labor doesn't progress fast enough, you WILL need pitocin because you'll be in increased risk of infection. While your bag of waters is intact, you don't have to fear an infection and it's perfectly safe to wait, but I'm not going to tell you this).

Me: "No, sorry, I just want to be left alone and wait."

Doc: "Well, you can't just occupy a delivery room forever!"

(Hurry up, lady, I have patients lining up here. Besides it's four in the morning and I'm TIRED. I don't have time for silly things like natural processes, your idiotic preferences and your emotional well-being. We need to dilate this cervix and get that baby out SOON).

Me: "That's alright, I'd rather go home and come back later."

Doc: "You do realize that you're past 40 weeks and waiting statistically increases your chance of complications?"

(Of course, realistically we're talking about waiting a few hours, which is entirely risk-free for you, but I won't tell you this because you might not go back to OUR hospital and thus we'll lose the government money we might get for your delivery.)

Coercion. Misinformation. Intimidation. The three tools medical professionals proceed to use forgetting the age-old principle of "first, do no harm", or simply, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Mrs. Anna T said...

Oh, and if I might add just one thing, I absolutely hated it how the doctors in the first hospital tried to use confusing medical terms to hide what they were planning to do. Example:

Doc: "you need augmentation."

Me (raised eyebrows): "do you mean pitocin?"

Doc (motioning for the nurse to prepare the i.v.): "er... yes, you aren't progressing fast enough."

Me (thinking: oh great, you're trying to make me consent to something without even explaining what it is. No, sir, you're NOT hooking me up to that i.v.): "sorry, I'm not interested. I'd rather wait."

(Thinking: of course I'm not progressing, I yanked myself out of my house in the middle of the night and went to have cervical examinations by at least three people I don't know in the past two hours, in a strange place where I have no privacy, nowhere to rest, pray, change positions, or shower. What I need is not pitocin, it's a place where I feel safe and comfortable!)

Doc: "well, if you don't want pitocin, we can break your waters."

(Right-o. Then, if labor doesn't progress fast enough, you WILL need pitocin because you'll be in increased risk of infection. While your bag of waters is intact, you don't have to fear an infection and it's perfectly safe to wait, but I'm not going to tell you this).

Me: "No, sorry, I just want to be left alone and wait."

Doc: "Well, you can't just occupy a delivery room forever!"

(Hurry up, lady, I have patients lining up here. Besides it's four in the morning and I'm TIRED. I don't have time for silly things like natural processes, your idiotic preferences and your emotional well-being. We need to dilate this cervix and get that baby out SOON).

Me: "That's alright, I'd rather go home and come back later."

Doc: "You do realize that you're past 40 weeks and waiting statistically increases your chance of complications?"

(Of course, realistically we're talking about waiting a few hours, which is entirely risk-free for you, but I won't tell you this because you might not go back to OUR hospital and thus we'll lose the government money we might get for your delivery.)

Coercion. Misinformation. Intimidation. The three tools medical professionals proceed to use forgetting the age-old principle of "first, do no harm", or simply, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Mrs. Anna T said...

PS: after the aforementioned dialog, the doctor went out to prepare my discharge note and I got a pat on the back from an experienced midwife, who quietly told me: "you have a healthy good sense, and I'm sure you'll have that baby in 24 hours with no intervention."

Which was just how it turned out to be.

Karen I. said...

My son was born 11 years ago by emergency c-section. You have never experienced horrific complications as I did and I pray you never do. I can tell you from experience that when it comes down to life and death, as it did for me and my child, you don't care what it takes to get the baby here alive and intact. I got to 10 cm. and pushing without any medications, but it was not enough. The baby's cord prolapsed and he was losing oxygen as his head pressed against the cord. It is a rare, unpredictable complication known for causing stillbirth or severe brain damage in the baby. I was rushed into surgery screaming for doctors to save the baby as the hospital resusicitation team rushed to my OR, ready to save me and the baby if necessary. If such a complication were to occur in a homebirth setting, the child and perhaps the mother would die. There simply would not be enough time to get to a hospital as in that situation, the baby is losing oxygen and seconds make a difference between life and death.

Countless mothers and their babies died in past centuries due to the complications of home births. It continues to happen today in undeveloped countries. A hospital birth, c-section and other interventions may be less than ideal (I suffered a staph infection from the c-section that took an IV and so many injections to treat that they ran out of veins to stick needles in), but it gives mother and baby the best odds. It is good to have a plan in mind and to convey your wishes clearly, but so much can and does go wrong that a hospital setting is best.

Katy said...

"For fun (or to be horrified), go look up "birth rape"."

Sadly, the woman who coined that lost her child to a free birth not long ago. I think this is what the original anon may have been referring to. The woman in question is very much a feminist who is all about about "empowering women through natural childbirth". Sometimes, the more radical women make those of us who are sane look bad to outsiders.

Homemakers Cottage said...

I have to disagree with your anonymous commentor who claims that drugged babies and naturally birthed babies turn out exactly the same health-wise. We can all debate our opinions, but it's hard to argue with what a mama has personally experienced!

I have 3 children; 1 was born in the hospital with all the "regular" stuff, including mommy (me) getting an epidural. Both our other children were born drug-free, completely natural.

Of our 3 children, our first child had difficulty nursing (partly due to being over-drugged at birth), had severe jaundice, colic, and a lot of other "normal" infant problems that we had to work through the first few months after her birth.

None of her conditions were life-threatening and we were led to believe (by doctors) that they were the normal course of babies.

When our next 2 children were born, the results were completely different. Our son's home birth was an especially different scenario. The comparison was simply amazing- my husband commented after the births of both our younger children at the difference.

Now, I'm NOT blaming colic and jaundice or other maladies on epidurals! But I AM convinced that what many mothers consider "normal" in giving birth and raising babies are nothing more than complications due to the over use of drugs and medical procedures. I'm not saying that these procedures are not necessary at times- but they do always come with some kind of side effect that will effect the baby in some way.

Natural birth is NOT a romantic notion. In fact, there really isn't anything "romantic" about it (ask any mother who has given birth without the use of pain meds!). It is simply God's natural way of bringing life into the world... and when done with good health and under the supervision of a qualified midwife or doctor, it yields a world of benefits that simply aren't there with drugged births. Believe me, I know. I've been on both sides of the fence.

Our children are now ages 6, 4, and 2. It's true that our 6 yr old is just as healthy now as her naturally birthed siblings.... but I sure wouldn't opt to go through the trials of her babyhood again!

We are expecting our 4th baby in a few weeks... and anticipating a home birth with a midwife.

It would be ridiculous and presumptious to say that complications never happen with natural births, or that babies born naturally NEVER have health issues. Just drawing from my own experiences in child birth, however, I feel that I can safely surmize that there IS a beautiful difference- health wise- in a baby born naturally and one whose mother has succomed to medical procedures and drugs.

Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage

justme27 said...

Just a word on the use of pain relieving drugs in labor:

In a study by Dr. Bertil Jacobson (Sweden's Karonlinska Institute, the long term effects of morphine, Demerols, and phenobarbital were very possibly long term. The subjects of the study were teenage drug users- there was a high correlation between their drug abuse and the amount and timing of the drugs given to their mothers during labor.
-Gentle Birth Choices pg 73

As to trusting what drugs doctors offer, just look up thalidomide for some scary info. It was a "safe" way to treat nausea in pregnant women until 1961!

Laura said...

Karen I.- I am certainly not advocating that C-sections aren't sometimes necessary. I think that anyone on this forum understands that it is a lifesaving and valuable procedure. Cord prolapse is very scary and I'm sorry that you had to experience such a traumatic birth. That said... I'm sure you understand that any midwife worth her weight will transport at FIRST SIGN of distress. I gave birth at a birth center that was 5 minutes from a major hospital. They have procedures in place for emergency transport. In fact, you are prepped for surgery during transport, while the OR preps for surgery. In fact, it takes about the SAME amount of time for my birth center whether you are transporting or already in the hospital because of the need to prep. My entire point is that the hospital is not always the safest place to birth. In fact, most times it is NOT the safest place to birth if you have the choice. Let's face the facts, less that 4% of c-sections are necessary. Yours was most certainly necessary, but MOST are not. It's all over the news that our c-section rates are way too high. There are reasons for that, and it is understood that it's because of the overuse of interventions and "routine" birth procedures. By the way, I'm just curious, did your doctor break your waters? Cord prolapse is fairly rare normally.

Katy- For all my own "crazy" ideas about natural birth (I'm j/k!), I am NOT a proponent for free (or unassisted) childbirth. Good midwives are trained care providers that are important for the well-being of mother and baby. While I believe that homebirth is a safe and viable option for low-risk women, we chose to birth at a free standing birth center because we live 25 minutes from a hospital. While that is considered within the safe zone for homebirth, my husband was not comfortable with it. My point is, you have to evaluate what YOU WANT for your birth. My point is entirely that hospitals are not always "safe", at least not the way most women think they are. You need to be aware of the risks in ALL areas and not automatically assume that because it's a hospital, that it is "safe" because that is simply not the case.

Anonymous said...

Just a little comment to keep in mind: while hospitals offer the security and skill in emergency situations, MANY of their recommendations are in the interest of PROTECTING THEMSELVES (liability). Even down to their recommendations for nursing. I discovered a LOT of this looking back on my daughter's birth, when I realized how things they told me to do didn't seem to make sense until I looked at it from THEIR perspective.

Anonymous said...

I guess we'll all have to agree to disagree about some of these things--which, of course, is fine. :-) But just one thing--we _don't_ suffer from poorer health in this generation. We live longer, with less pain, our mothers and children survive childbirth in much greater numbers, etc.--this is what I mean by romance. I simply think we should be very careful when we thing about "the good old days". They were usually a little rougher than we imagined them to be. :-)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anonymous, it's true that we live longer, but we also have many more degenerative diseases, allergies, obesity, diabetes, cancer, etc, that were not so prevalent in previous generations, and which can be attributed largely to modern food, lack of exercise, excessive use of drugs and environmental pollution. To remove those debilitating factors and still retain the wonderful benefits of modern medicine would be a worthy goal, in my opinion, rather than just to point out to reduced mortality rates.

Karen said...

Laura:

I was not considering those with access to things like birthing centers, midwives and so on. Many of us in rural or semi-rural areas just don't have access to things like that, so it is either risk it at home or go to the hospital half an hour away. If I were five minutes from a major hospital, I may have seen things differently. So, easy access to care is a definite consideration for anyone thinking of homebirth.

As for the illness issue, we are suffering more chronic illness, but many of those illnesses are age (and weight!) related. People are simply living long enough to get sick. I read a quote by a researcher of chronic illnesses once and he said that many diseases are "diseases of luxury" in that they occur because we are no longer dying young in childbirth, of starvation, disease, etc. We are living old enough and have enough food to get sick and die of other things.

I think that the reason many babies born naturally may seem to be healthier is that they actually are, but not for the reasons some are saying. A baby that is healthy is better able to withstand natural labor. C-sections are often done because of a maternal and / or fetal problem, so it only follows that those born by c-section may indeed be less healthy. That said, way too many c-sections are done purely for convenience and I would never recommend that to anyone!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,
I agree with you that giving birth should be natural as possible except it's necessary to had medical intervention (for medical reason). It's natural process along human life (form Eve until now). And i always remember what the bible say in Genesis 3 :16, and the 'pain' is not pain but the birth pangs that bring joyful after giving birth.

I and husband, tried our best effort to have natural birth, (we had consulted with 7 doctors to ensure we got the right doctor who pro natural childbirth and only give c-section, induction for medical reason. (because in my country now, many doctor allow c seciton based on 'patient's order or for his benefit (more pay, scheduled time etc).
congratulaion on your 2nd pregnancy.

Mar