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Going Natural and Homebirth

>> Thursday, April 28, 2011

On ‘Going Natural’ and Homebirth-

{The homebirth experience of my amazing friend Leslie!}

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I took the ‘Prepared Childbirth Class’ at the hospital and for the first time considered a natural birth. Prior to that point, I had subconsciously reserved a place in the crazy section for women who chose to opt out of painkillers for childbirth. I mean seriously—pain in all the wrong places, right? I came (literally) from a mother who had all five of her children via c-section and so didn’t even realize what a vaginal delivery was until my mid-teens. Talk about a reality check!

So at 7 months along, I read a lot in Lamaze Magazine and the all-knowing internet and from various Bradley/Thinking Woman/Gentle Birth literature. The points made for natural birth resonated with me and I decided I would ‘go natural’ if possible. I’ll admit that when my due date came and went and during an especially difficult part of labor (I found out later that was what transition feels like!) I had to call on the reserves of dedication to natural childbirth, but overall it was rewarding and very right for me.

With that experience behind me, I became a ‘going natural’ kind of gal. When I found out I was expecting my second baby, I looked for a midwife instead of an OB and was unsuccessful until I was 30 weeks along. A friend who was expecting her fourth baby raved about her midwife and her experience with homebirths. At that point, I had not ever considered a homebirth (again…I had a spot reserved for those people) but I was intrigued. I called the midwife she recommended, introduced myself and asked a lot of questions and was amazed. She made me feel so ‘able’ and at ease and she didn’t pressure me into using her or that homebirth was the only way to go or what I had to do. She simply asked why I wanted to have my baby that way and let me work it out in my mind for myself. I am a believer in prayer, so….I prayed about it. I had good vibes and decided that I wanted this wonderful woman to take care of me and my baby and that I wanted to give birth at home. This decision was met with incredulity from many sides; my OB, of course, my pediatrician, my mother-in-law. In our country it is unusual and unexpected. Many people are not well-read on birth options and only know about ‘the one story they read in the news’ and so have preconceived ideas about homebirths. I was already aware of this and so I was able to shrug off the inevitable negative criticism and embrace the people who supported me and my educated choice.

Fast forward to my 40 week appointment: nothing was happening and I was of course feeling sorry for myself AND having nightmares about having an 11 or 12 lb baby two weeks late. My midwife was good-natured about my pessimism and reassured me that everything would be fine. On my 'calendar' due date I left my 2 year old home with my husband so that I could go do all the things you can’t do 9 months pregnant with a 2 year old. You know—a little retail therapy, a peaceful lunch and pedicure with a friend. Later that day I started to have regular, non-intense contractions 5 minutes apart and so I went about my usual routine. Before bed I felt like the contractions might be more serious but I still expected them to subside. Well...I woke up at 2am after dreaming for 3 hours about labor and decided it was definitely real and definitely more intense. I made calls to family and my midwife just after 5am, and by 7am when everyone started arriving at my house, I was dilated to 7cms and working through some big contractions. I got in my bathtub (insert here that not only did I settle on a natural homebirth, but also a waterbirth) and felt sort of giddy, because when I was that far along with my first, he was born less than two hours later. Not so with #2. Two full hours later, I was still laboring in the tub and felt worn out, but still positive thanks to my husband and midwife. Another 2 hours after that my midwife broke my water during a pushing contraction and my baby boy was born three contractions later.

He swam out and my midwife steered him right to my arms. He was all sorts of color—blue and green and white. He had oxygen for a few minutes which pinked him right up. He didn't cry. After a few minutes, he opened his eyes and looked at all of us. I held him until the blood stopped pulsing through the umbilical cord and then me and my baby were separated and my husband held our new little son. He put him on the scale shortly thereafter and that cute ‘little’ baby weighed in at a whopping 10 lbs 8 oz, SERIOUSLY. I totally called it. And no wonder getting him out was hard!

I delivered the placenta in the water and then my husband helped me to my own warm bed. There was a lot of blood, so my midwife gave me a shot of pitocin almost as soon as a laid down to stop the bleeding. I had to have stitches, and you know what? For just having pushed out a huge baby, I sure felt wimpy crying over a few stitches. In the meantime, my mom and my mother-in-law gave my son his first 'bath' and dressed him in his own clothes. When I was strong enough to hold him again, they brought him back to me and....we started recovering!

I love natural birth because of the way it makes me feel and the way my baby and I are able recover. While this choice is not for everyone, I encourage every Mom I know to read about it so that you can glimpse how incredible your body is all by itself. Also, when choosing someone to assist your birth—whether it is a midwife, an OB, a family doctor or whoever—choose someone who believes in you and builds your confidence in yourself and your abilities.

And here, a plug for midwives: Midwives are incredible. My midwife had been practicing for decades and had been through everything I was doing before. She came with a whole car load of medical equipment and supplies to take care of us and she was so capable and gentle and kind. And she was just a regular person, not an extreme hippy-type like I think many people envision midwives to be. She stayed with me for several hours and then came back to my house two days later to check on us, and again two weeks later to be sure that we were recovering well. She was the best thing that happened to me during my pregnancy and I’ll be forever indebted the friend who gave me this woman’s phone number.

Being at home to recover was the best present I could have given myself. I got to rest and sleep in my own bed and I felt so comfortable. I loved welcoming family and friends and then being able to go to the other room for privacy when I needed it. I felt better so much faster! My labor/birth/recovery process was everything I hoped it would be.

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Homemade Mommy April 28, 2011 at 1:32 PM  

I had a home birth in October. I couldn't agree more. My first birth was in a hospital and I was uncomfortable and pressured. At home I labored on my time and Olivia flew out! Being at home allowed my daughter to be there to see her sister born and time for us to rest in our own home before visitors. The best part? Not having to ride in the car to or from the hospital!!!

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