Natural Childbirth Advice From a Mom

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Mom holding sonI would venture to say that most of my family was shocked when I announced I was pregnant with my second baby at Jonathan’s 1st birthday party. My husband is the oldest of seven (six living), so his family was a little less shocked, but I think they were surprised as well. David was still in graduate school studying to be a minister and had a full year left. I wasn’t working (David did have a full time job with benefits, so we weren’t entirely crazy or anything). Jonathan was still a baby. I know they meant well, but it was what we really wanted. Admittedly, we DID think it would take longer than it did (never try for a baby unless you really want one because statistics don’t always mean much)! Six months was what I had read was the average time to conceive a second baby. I should have taken our first unplanned pregnancy as a clue that it may not be so hard for us), but we were as ready as we would have been five or six months later, so we were fine with it. Our family also came around. They are a great, supportive crew. So, I knew that despite their fears for us, they were also happy for us. And, as I was still recovering from my forty plus stitches from Jonathan’s birth (well, maybe not physically, but certainly emotionally), I was determined to do things completely differently this time.

Finding Support During Pregnancy and Birth

While I love my husband dearly, he is not the most outspoken person on the face of the earth. I felt I needed someone to be my voice while in labor. Someone to stand up to the doctors when they mention words like Pitocin, epidural,…. I knew I wanted a natural, unmedicated childbirth this time, so I also felt I needed someone who knew the tricks to keep me focused on the light at the end of the labor tunnel!

Pregnant mom holding sonI did some research and located a doula. If you don’t know what a doula is, simply put, it’s a support person during your prenatal care, labor, and delivery as well as after the baby is born. I will go into details in another blog because I’ve learned a lot more about doulas than what I knew then, but the word that comes to my mind is angel! Belinda was my angel sent to help me through the hours spent at home in labor, on the phone, on the drive to the hospital to keep my husband from completely losing it, and my advocate when my doctor wasn’t at the hospital when we arrived. She came to my HOME for prenatal visits (mostly gab sessions about natural childbirth – I may have her to blame for my current obsession!), guided me to a new doctor who was supportive of my natural birth plan, helped me figure out how to turn my stubborn breech baby at 38 weeks,… Basically, she became a well informed member of the family! She wasn’t free, but she was worth EVERY penny we paid (we held yard sales to raise the money to pay her!).

Research Your Childbirth Options

(Warning – major tangent and diversion!) Natural childbirth is one thing I can say should be researched to death! No two labor and deliveries are the same, so researching coping mechanisms, ways to maintain energy during labor and more are essential. I read everything I could get my hands on.

Ina May Gaskin is a GREAT resource on natural childbirth. She’s about as “crunchy” as you get, but she’s sweet and her delivery is gentle. I recently watched Ricki Lake’s “The Business of Being Born” and, while I’m a staunch natural childbirth advocator, I believe this movie is propaganda aimed at scaring the crap out of women. Modern medicine has its place and while epidurals, Pitocin, and c-sections do have risks, they also have their places. No two women labor the same and no two births are the same (even for the same woman). To scare women out of their options also robs women of their rights to choose.

I CHOSE a natural birth because I didn’t like my alternatives and I think there are fabulous benefits, however, what you choose for you can only be decided by you. My first birth was scary, but not because of the epidural (I didn’t like it, but it wasn’t scary and didn’t do any permanent harm to me or my sweet baby boy). It was scary because the doctor mismanaged it.

Natural is always BEST, in my honest opinion, but it’s not for everyone. Do your research. Know your stuff! Decides where your limits are. Write a birth plan. Prepare to follow it, but don’t be shocked when you can’t. The best advice I was given by my doula was to take a list of questions to ask.

  1. If there is no danger to the baby (or me), can we wait another hour? (For those times when labor stalls and doctors start talking c-section)
  2. Can we try breaking my water before starting Pitocin? (This will move the baby’s head lower and put more pressure on your cervix, making contractions much more productive.)
  3. Can I walk for an hour before starting Pitocin? (Again, this will move the baby’s head down and often make contractions stronger.)

I am sure there are more, but when you are on a doctor’s time clock, it’s sometimes best to let them know that you and your baby are not on a timer. Labor can take days (Yes, I did say days!). Doctors seem to think it should happen in a matter of hours. I don’t understand that notion given that they surely have been educated on how long it can take? They, even with their degree, are not the experts on YOUR labor. Do your research and know your options. It’s your body and your baby. If there is no imminent danger to either of you, there is no reason to rush anything!
With that said, I will continue with my story in the next edition!

To be continued… Read more of my Natural Baby Blog.

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