For Amy, because we like to argue, with love of course.
For as long as can remember, I knew that I would not ever birth in a hospital setting. I am not even sure where the idea came from. It was not like my mother had stories to tell me, or that I had seen some horrific birth somewhere. The notion seemed to be innate in me. I do recall witnessing many animals being born however, and looking back, I remember the peace and calm that was present in those instances. Birthing for those animals was in fact innate, just as it is for us women. Imagine that.
There is so much that has evolved in me to make me feel the way I do about birthing. In the beginning, it had nothing to do with me. I simply did not want anything injected into me that would also affect my baby. I wanted a 100% organic baby, no matter what. I had not thought about how I would deal with the birth. This desire was a springboard that begged the question, “How will I do this?” This led me to many discussions with other mothers who birthed naturally and to many, many books covering the same issue. One of the books I came across in the SLC library was one that changed my entire outlook. It is called “Childbirth Without Fear” by Grantly Dick Read. I was thrown for a loop when I read page after page about the “fear, tension, pain” triangle. Perhaps you have heard of it. Basically, if you eliminate the fear, you relax, and there is little or no pain. I highly recommend anyone read this book first and foremost. In fact, if you read no other book but this one, you will be miles ahead in your birthing experience.
So, that book was a starting point for me. I read many other books and got involved in a hypnobirthing class with my husband. There we learned how to relax and go within during surges (the word “contractions” conjures up negative feelings…) among other things. We listened nightly for about two months to positive affirmations regarding my body’s ability to birth safely and normal. And also that my baby would be strong and healthy and able to perform her task of getting out. I believed every word, and so did Chris.
Looking back, I don’t think it would have mattered who I spoke with or what book I read, or class I took. I just could not put it in my head to have a baby any other way than how I witnessed the animals doing. And what was what was right for me.
I firmly believe, given the time, space and encouragement, women do what I learned in Hypnobirthing naturally. I’ve read of women in Africa and the like who know when it is time, they labor by themselves, they find a quiet secluded spot in the brush, they squat down (not lay down on their backs!), receive their own child and then return to their village, babe in arms. Just like it ain’t no thang! Amazing. And is it not the same with animals? I know, I know. You are thinking- Hey, girl, guess what- WE ARE NOT ANIMALS!!!
I digress. You asked me, “Why should I consider birthing naturally?” We have all heard of the horror stories related to hospital births gone wrong. The epidural wears off, the doctor was a moron, they took the baby cesarean, the mother dies; all horrible and sad circumstances no doubt. So, putting these obvious things aside, let me see if I can share with you why I chose to birth naturally.
Please know that it is not my intention for anyone to feel judged or criticized for their choice. What follows are simply my personal feelings and confirmations. And because they are so dear to me, I want everyone to experience and own it too. This is what was right for me.
There are many reasons why I feel like women should birth naturally. I actually spent better than an hour typing them all out with thorough explanations. But after reading through it again, I decided that each thing I listed was totally subjective and probably could have been accomplished in a hospital birth setting. I figured it wasn’t fair to make all these claims when I have never experienced anything but natural birth. So, I cut them out.
Very briefly though, the list included such things as:being able to get up and move around during labor; being in the birthing position you felt most comfortable in (not laying on your back, which is the most ineffective position, but incidentally very convenient for the doctors…); having a baby who is wide awake and alert because of no drugs getting to it before it is born; having your birthing companion more a part of the experience (husbands or moms); becoming a part of a new community of other like-minded people(- hello, instant friends!); feeding my ego with YES I CAN statements and “I’ll show them!” when people say I’m crazy for ‘trying’ to go natural; There was more, but really, its totally subjective and since I have not experienced both sides, well, its not fair to say my way is the ‘correct’ way. Like I said, nobody right, nobody wrong.
I feel like I need to clarify a little bit. It is not so much my passion about an unmedicated birth, as it is about a woman knowing her options and educating herself in preparation for her choice. An unmedicated birth does not always mean a natural birth, in my eyes. It could have been induced, there are other drugs/ointments or shots available to a birthing mother and her baby that dont necessarily relieve pain (like pitocin or the eye goop *I”m sorry, I dont have gonorhea* or a Vitamin K shot, etc…) that make it not natural. Natural=100% organic baby and mom working together with no external, synthetic help. It is the whole mindset that I am talking about. Some people call it being a hippie or a tree-hugger. Whatever. It is believing that your baby is strong and healthy on its own, and that you too, are.
Plenty of unmedicated births have ended in disaster for poor mom who suffered unduely because they were not totally prepared for the birth. Well, nothing can TOTALLY prepare you for it, but at least getting as close as possible. Epidurals even sometimes wear off, and then what? A poor mom is left to try to deal with the pain- but becuase they relied upon the epidural, there was a false sense of security. Relying on something outside of yourself for the sensation of birth doesnt make sense to me because you cannot always trust they will come through for you! Or there is the story, which I know many who have told it to me, where they go for as long as they can without any intervention, they are brave and courageous- they sacrifice themselves for as long as possible, and then get an epidural. I am not saying that either of these are wrong or bad- infact both are honorable. Either way, a child is being brought into the world by your hard work.
AHHH! I cant get to the bottom line! What I want to say is that whatever it is that a woman chooses for her birthing style, my wish for her would be for her to know EVERYTHING that will be going on (of course with the exception of unknown special circumstances) To ask the questions, to challenge her care giver and take charge of her experience. Each mom has her own beautiful story that can indeed be molded and created if she is involved; not scared or avoidant of the unknown. If an epidural is the way she wants to go, fine. I just wonder how many horror stories could have been avoided had the mother been more prepared, and also if the docs now-a-days were not so quick to do invasive things and let the body work its magic, in its own time. Just get prepared! Own your story.
I probably could have only written about just what follows and that would have been enough. For me, it is enough. So without further adeau, I’ll share my final, very personal feelings.
I dont pride myself on having done much to grow my testimony of my Savior, Jesus Christ. It has not been easy for me to have the faith necessary to understand His sacrifice for me when he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemene and later died on the cross. I dont fully understand, nor do I think I ever will until I bow at His feet in the days to come. But i do know this: Never in my life have I been closer to understanding the Atonement than when I paced the halls all night long in labor. Never have I been closer to getting a glimpse of the suffering our Savior endured than when I lay deep within myself floating in that birthing tub praying that it would be over with. Yet knowing that the only way out was through. I dont think it is supposed to be easy for that very reason. Sacrificing myself for the sake of my child, is without a doubt, the most humbling, gut wrenching, and beautiful experience I could have asked for. And I am not talking about the “oh, Im a martyer” kind of sacrifice. I dont claim to have gone through quite like what Christ did when he suffered in the garden, but I think I have a better idea of what it must have been like for him. Think of the tears, the sweat, the blood and water- all of it. I feel like I have a better handle on the Atonement and what it means in my life now. And for that, I will ever be grateful. It was a wonderful gift to recieve the strength needed to get my daughter here. It is an even greater gift to have the confirmation that it was the right choice for me, and ever will be. Christ knew he would have to die, so it seems he spent his enitire life preparing for that one moment. So it was with me. I knew I would birth a certain way, and so I spent the entire pregnancy and more preparing for that moment.
All things denote that there is a god. I know He is real and would not have designed our bodies any other way. Our bodies were built to birth. And without the aid of external means, if we are given- or rather, if we TAKE the opportunity, along with our babies, Mothers are born.
I know that you along with others have indeed sacrificed yourself for the sake of your baby during labor. People in my own family have had to have cesarean births because of complications, and if that is not a sacrifice, I dont what what is! Anyway it occurs, it is still a birth! Many women have died during labor, and for that reason, I know that doctors and hospitals are a god given. What I want to say to you and anyone reading this is that it is a blessing to be able to choose how you want to do things. But choose a birth plan that is not just convenience or the easiest way, becuase I fear so much can be lost in the way of life lessons by avoiding something that might be hard or difficult. Do it for your baby, and becuase you know that you will be a changed person with new insights as a mother forever. Keep in mind that your ilfe experiences are the well of knowledege and wisdom you will be pulling from through the years that you teach your child. That, my friend, is worth it all.