Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I chose a natural birth and why I'll do it again

Welcome to the October 2013 Carnival of Natural Mothering! 

This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don't Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month's topic is Natural Birth Choices. Be sure to check out all of the participants' posts through the links at the bottom of this page.

Please note that my experiences are my own and my opinions may differ from yours. I always welcome discussion and am not offended if you think I'm crazy or my choices aren't what you'd consider for yourself. I do ask that if you choose to read this blog and make comments that you do so in a respectful manner of myself and other commentors here. Thanks for reading my story!

It's entirely possible that my two children will be pretty damn close to being exactly 2 years apart. Penny was born on March 3 and Pierogie #2 "due date" is March 4. When I first became a parent almost 2 years ago, I didn't consider the possibility of jumping back into pregnancy, birth and a newborn so soon. But as time passed and my husband and I took a long, hard look at the relationships we have with our siblings and the relationships we see between other siblings - we knew that we wanted our kids to be close in age. A big part of our decision in being open to a closer age spacing was how my pregnancy and the birth went as well. Our choice for a natural minded pregnancy and an unmedicated water birth in a birth center shaped so much of our experience in becoming parents.

In the few years leading up to our first pregnancy I spent a lot of time researching all the different options we have available to us in terms of approaching pregnancy, birth and parenthood. I soon began to form my opinions of what I believed to be 'safe' and 'unsafe.' Our family was going through quite the baby boom as well, with over 10 babies born in a little under a year and a half, giving me tons of exposure to how different women handled pregnancy and what their birth choices were. A dear friend raved about her experience with a local birth center and I knew this was the choice for us. Don't get me wrong - I am a firm believer in hospitals, doctors and nurses. Medical staff, interventions and technology are there for people who need help or are sick. My husband and I constantly discussed throughout my first trimester if a natural birth in a birth center is the best choice. In the end, after all the standard 'mainstream' medical care for my first trimester we decided that the baby and myself were both healthy, strong and completely capable of a natural birth. Both of our bodies were made to under go this process together and neither one of us was working to sabotage the other. We'd of course always keep the option open for a hospital birth if necessary (and of course our midwives supported this), and thankfully the need never arose.

What was it about natural birth and midwifery care that made it a no-brainer for me to do it all over again?
  • I did my research. I looked at both sides of the coin, have spoken to women who have done it both ways. I read birth stories, good and bad, and filed away a lesson from each and every single one. No birth is the same, but I felt that a big part of my personal preparation was to hear about how other women had experienced birth.
  • My first trimester with Penny was spent with a midwife at a Kaiser Permanente facility. I saw the same midwife for my visits, but there was very little chance that she would be the midwife at my birth. This struck a very deep chord within me. I was on this journey to become a mother and looked to my midwife was the guide - I felt like I'd spin out of control if I went into labor and a stranger would be there to help me. This was the biggest reason why we chose a freestanding birth center - my first birth center alternated between two midwives, and my current one cycles through three. All of which I will meet several times before the birth, so they get to know us, our desires and I can learn what to expect from them and trust in their wisdom.
  • In Washington State more and more hospitals are allowing women to labor in tubs but water birth is still not permitted. When it's time to push, back to the bed you go. I wanted complete freedom in what is the most comfortable way to have my baby. When Penny's time came, I came to the birth center at about 5cm dilated. I slid into the tub, the warm water supporting my body and helping relax my muscles between contractions. Less than 3 hours later, I was holding my baby girl in my arms.
  • Our birth center inherently has a calming and tranquil feeling within its walls. I'll have a choice between two rooms (hopefully) and both rooms feature a spacious floor plan, personal shower, large birthing tubs and queen sized beds. Walking into these rooms feels like I'm checking into a boutique spa. I feel supported and important when I am there. 
  • My choices are supported. There is no 'bureaucratic protocol' to follow. If I don't want a certain vaccine given to my child, if I don't want to be talked to about formula, if I want to keep the cord connected for more than twenty minutes, I'll be supported. 
  • Immediate skin on skin contact. I pull my baby up onto me, I can hold him/her for as long as I want. I nurse immediately. No whisking away for tests or measurements (within reason, of course). My baby will never leave my room, nor my arms if I don't want it to. 
  • I get to go home at the end of the day! Ok, many of you will think "what?? why would you want that??" but honestly - I just want to get home and get into my bed and snuggle with my family. Another Washington State rule is that there aren't any overnight stays allowed in birth centers (unless they have a 24 hour nursing staff) so you are typically sent home 3-6 hours after the birth. This was a big chunk for me to swallow at first, especially because my friend who talked to me the most about natural birth happened to her her baby in Oregon, where that isn't a requirement.  But I learned and accepted that if there is a reason why you shouldn't go home after those few hours you are referred to a hospital. That means you need more support than your midwives can provide and you should get help. Natural births heal very quickly and a healthy mama and baby will be fine at home at the end of the day.
  • After the birth, your midwife comes to you. I won't have to schlep my postpartum butt out to the birth center after 48 hours to go for baby's check up. She will come to me, see us in the comfort of our own home. That's a big help!
Those are just a few of my favorite things about birth centers, my midwives and how my experience went with my first birth :)

Have you given birth in a freestanding birth center? 
What were your favorite parts about the experience?

Bloggers, visit GrowingSlower to sign up to be a part of next month's carnival. 

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