Choosing Natural Childbirth

Well, here is the part where I explain why I chose to try and have a natural childbirth. First of all, let me say that this is a very personal decision and I don’t for a moment think that everyone should do what I did. As was explained in my childbirth options class, you need to decide what you are comfortable with and whether that means you want to have your baby in your own bathtub with only candle light or whether you want the epidural in the parking lot of the hospital you should be able to have the birth experience you want.

I have been fascinated by childbirth for years, and even continue to be now. I love (LOVE) reading birth stories, reading birth books, watching birth videos, etc. It is a truly miraculous happening and I am enthralled with the whole process. I found that over the years, I was drawn to the stories of natural childbirth. I loved learning about women’s experiences when they let nature take over. I also enjoyed “The Business of Being Born” and it made a lot of sense to me, even though it is slanted toward a certain perspective.

So once we found out we were expecting, I made an appointment with an OB to check things out. Through the first half of my pregnancy, I started researching my options while still seeing the OB. I knew from the start that I would not stay with this practice since they had stated before I even made my first appointment, “There are several partners in this group and regardless of who you see for your prenatal care, whoever is on duty is who will deliver your baby.” This made no sense to me. Why see one doctor throughout your pregnancy only to roll the dice when it came time to deliver? I may as well walk into an emergency room and tell them I am in labor. No. I wanted someone who had gone through this experience with me to know my preferences even before my first contraction hit. I wanted to know the person advising me through the biggest challenge I would face as a woman.

So I began asking around and researching online to find a new practitioner. I was open to the idea of a doctor or a midwife, as long as I felt this person could respect my preferences and advise me. That didn’t seem like too tall an order, but I suppose I was wrong. At this point, I still wasn’t dead set on a natural childbirth, but I was considering it heavily.

I researched and took the recommendations and basically came down to 2 possibilities an OB and a midwife. Then I gathered some questions from some of my favorite pregnancy/childbirth books and set up “Meet and Greet” interviews. Both were extremely friendly and knowledgeable. When I told the OB I wanted to have a natural childbirth, she sort of chuckled and said, “Well, I think that’s a little crazy. Everyone thinks they want a natural childbirth, even I did, but it hurts more than you think.” While I appreciated her honesty, I was a little disappointed that if this was the path I chose she wouldn’t encourage me. The meeting with the midwife was at her birth center and I just fell in love with her and the facility. Afterward, I did a lot of thinking and came to my decision based on the following:

  • I’ve always wondered if I could have a natural childbirth.
  • We are only planning on having one child, so this could be my only chance.
  • If I wanted to try to have a natural childbirth, it only made sense to go where I would be supported in that decison.
  • I don’t like hopsitals, so if I could have my baby without going to one, that would be great.
  • Natural childbirth was going to be enough of a challenge without having to try to go against the hospital system.
  • I loved the midwife and her experience was considerable.
  • I loved the birth center.
  • There was a hospital right across the street from the birth center in case of emergency.
  • My husband and parents understood where I was coming from and supported whatever decision I made.
  • Childbirth was a natural process that my body was capable of going through without IV’s and medical intervention.

Again, this was my process, everyone has to decide what is best for them.

 

Pregnancy Classes

Times have changed and parents-to-be these days have a lot more options than just the basic Lamaze class. I hadn’t thought about it, but my midwife gave me a brochure and suggested I take some classes. The brochure was from PacifiCord, a local cord blood bank. (Side note: Cord blood banking is an interesting concept and seems to have a lot of utility. It may be something you want to check out. You can follow the link above to find out more about PacifiCord.) The classes were free so I thought I had nothing to lose really.

My preconceived notions were these:

  • It’s a free class how good could it be?
  • It’s sponsored by a business, so it will probably be a huge sales pitch with a little additonal info.
  • We will probably be pressured into buying their services.

I have to say that all of these notions were 100% wrong. The classes (after the first I signed up for another) were fantastic! Lead by labor and delivery nurse, doula, lactation consultant and mother of 3 Wendy Spry, the classes were extremely informative and entertaining. She also emailed everyone her materials after the class, because as you may know pregnancy does a number on your memory. At the end of her 2 hour presentation, she showed a quick video about cord blood banking and explained it briefly (total it was less than 10 minutes). Then she introduced Kevin, who could answer any questions we had and that was it. Class over, no sales pitch at all!

We ended up taking a breastfeeding class and a childbirth options class (going over the process of childbirth, what happens in a hospital, and what you can do to make the experience the best possible outcome). The classes were great and I recommend them to everyone.

Then I faced the challenge of choosing a childbirth methodology and find a class. Since I had chosen to try to have a natural childbirth experience, I explored Bradley, Hypnobirthing (recommended by my midwife) and Hypnobabies. As I mentioned in a previous post, Bradley is very involved and requires 12 classes. If there was a Bradley “Lite” that probably would have been perfect for me. Self-hypnosis did not seem like it was for me at all and I struggled with the recommendation. My midwife assured me that hypnosis was the method that she saw the most success with in her experience (which is considerable). So I tried to be open-minded.

Finding a class proved an even larger challenge. All of the classes I could find were in LA and I didn’t feel like fighting traffic and getting home at midnight. I found a few teachers that were willing to do a private class with my husband and I, but scheduling conflicts ruled out that option. The weeks ticked by and I was finding myself at a deadend. I emailed Wendy Spry and another childbirth educator (Sheridan from Enjoy Birth) and explained my dilemma. What was I going to do?

They both emailed me back and recommended the Hypnobabies Home Study Course. I ordered it immediately and Sheridan offered to do a review with me when I finished it. Finally, I had found an answer! The course materials could be a bit better organized (hint hint Hypnobabies), but all in all I really enjoyed the program. There were some cheesy parts I had to get past, but I found the deep relaxation that comes with self-hypnosis much more powerful than I had imagined. I was very happy that I was able to be open-minded about the process.

Pregnancy Websites

In addition to the many books, I also frequented websites to supplement my pregnancy learning. These are nice because you have the benefit of search and there are usually forums loaded with personal experiences. Some of my faves:

These all have general information and some have those cool emails you can sign up for that tells you what is going on with your baby that week (for both during the pregnancy and after the kid is born).

A couple other sites I like are:

  • momversation.com – Full of videos of moms talking about mom issues, both entertaining and informative.
  • lets-panic.com – This is just for fun, 2 bloggers started this site to poke fun at all of the stuff that moms get told to do and not to do.

Then there are the countless mommy blogs, some of my favorite:

Finally, since I have an iPhone, apps were put to good use during my pregnancy as well:

  • BabyBump – Similar to the websites above, just general information. Weekly updates, daily updates and forums.
  • BMotion – A kick-counter app for when you need to count such things.
  • A Contraction Counter – Read the fine print on this one. I opted for a free version and it only allowed me to time 10 contractions then required that I buy the paid version, which worked TOTALLY differently. This is not something you want to deal with while having contractions.
  • Similac Baby Journal – This is an awesome free app for all of the many things you need to chart once the baby is born.

I’d love to hear about your favorites.

Pregnancy Books

The learning curve for pregnancy is pretty steep for something that is only going to be a very small part of your life. I, personally, tried to learn just about everything I could. Gathering a varitable library on the subject, I read the better part of around a dozen books. Here are some of the books I would recommend:

  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting- Tried and true. More than a page-turner, this is a good reference book. You can look up just about anything.
  • The Pregnancy Book – There is a whole series of books by Dr. Sears and his wife (who went through this a few times) and I found them all to be a very good overview.
  • The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy – Casual and easy to read, it will answer some of the less “technical” questions about this wild process.
  • Belly Laughs – This is just a funny personal account by Jenny McCarthy.

Then there were the childbirth books, which I was very interested in because I had decided to try to have a natural childbirth (more on this later).

  • Birthing from Within – A little to artsy fartsy for me, but an interesting approach to the childbirth process.
  • The Bradley Way – About the Bradley method of childbirth. It was a good overview and I think it would have been interesting to take a class about it. Bradley classes are 12 sessions, and that was a bit overwhelming so I didn’t end up going this route.
  • Hypnobirthing – Recommended by my midwife and a family member, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a class.
  • Hypnobabies Home Study – If you decide to go the hypnosis route, I preferred Hypnobabies to Hypnobirthing. I felt that they gave you a clearer understanding of how to achieve the goals of hypnosis and how to practice.
  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – This is an amazing book by a very famous midwife and her immense wisdom gives so much information that is NOT in any of the other books I read. Her book gave me a whole new perspective on childbirth.
  • The Birth Book – Dr. Sears again, this book had very good suggestions for pain management techniques and very good overall information.

The last 2 books are definately my favorites. Happy reading!