Yep, I’m Trying For A Natural Birth

Early in my pregnancy, I decided I would like to try for a natural birth in the hospital.

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

I know what most of you are thinking… WHY in the world would I want a drug-free labor? lol. So, in this post, I’ll try break down the “why” and share with you how I’m preparing mentally and physically.

When I first got the notion that a natural birth might be for me, I was doing a lot of research on labor and delivery. The more I read, the more I felt drawn to attempting a birth with minimal medical interventions and without drugs.

I also realize though, that there are very important reasons for having trained medical experts on-hand during birth. Any number of complications could be life-threatening, come up suddenly and require skilled attention to resolve! That’s why I, personally, still feel most comfortable giving birth in the hospital.

On the other hand, I’ve seen research to suggest many of the medical interventions so common in hospitals – inductions, augmented labors (through the use of Pitocin or other drugs) and C-Sections – are sometimes overused and perhaps not always best for mom and/or baby.

I’m also generally terrified of surgery and hate the feeling of not being able to control my body. So, when I read in several different books (which I will be outlining in an upcoming blog post) and various news reports that induction and/or augmented labor increases your risk for C-Section… I became determined to at least try to avoid all of the above.

Of course, I realize this may not be possible. It’s my first baby. My mom had some unexpected complications during birth after very normal pregnancies. I also don’t really have any idea how my body will respond to labor.

I still want to try though… and from what I’ve heard and read, trying to achieve a natural birth experience in the clinical setting of a hospital is not usually easy. There are lots of forces at play – what a doctor thinks is best, hospital policies including constraints on time allowed for labor or pushing, plus a general skepticism about really attempting a drug-free birth.

So here are the steps I’m taking to achieve my goal (ideally.) I hope they’ll be beneficial to other mommies-to-be who are considering going natural:

  • Talking w/ my OBGYN – My doctor has been supportive of my goal so-far but still stresses that I will most likely “end up wanting the epidural.” lol. I can’t blame her for saying that… and who knows, maybe I will!
  • Hiring a doula – A doula is essentially a personal labor coach. Ours is wonderful! She has been teaching my husband and I about all the stages of labor, as well as providing us with a wide range of reading materials and DVDs about pregnancy and birth. She will be there with us in the hospital as well, guiding us through different breathing and labor positions to help the birth progress – hopefully with minimal interventions. She can also serve as a lactation consultant in the postpartum period!
  • Reading like crazy – I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on about pregnancy, birth, labor, breastfeeding, etc. Books with specific focus on the benefits of natural birth and/or midwifery as well as books written from a strictly medical approach. Knowing as much as possible (even about the obscure complications that could arise) makes me feel better… since if something goes wrong I won’t be totally in the dark as to what’s happening with my body.
  • Talking with pals – I have a couple of wonderful friends who have achieved a natural birth in a hospital setting already. Hearing about their expectations and how those contrasted with experiences during labor has been invaluable. Those stories have shown me a natural birth in the hospital IS possible… and yet reinforced  that you should always “expect the unexpected!”

Moms, I’d love to hear about your birth experiences – natural or not! Please feel free to comment below!

I also want to stress before wrapping this up that I think every woman should be able to make her own birth choices (in consultation with her medical provider) without being judged. Hopefully this will be an enlightening discussion for everyone! Can’t wait to hear from all of our wonderful friends and viewers…



How To Get Free Breastfeeding Pumps & Supplies

A very close girlfriend of mine happens to be pregnant right now as well and she told me something recently that sounded too good to be true. She mentioned that, due to some provisions in the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – her insurance was going to cover the cost of her breastfeeding supplies, including a pump!


Regardless of your feelings about Obamacare, this is exciting news. At least it was for me. As a mommy-to-be who will be trying to breastfeed and work I have been researching higher-end breast pumps and they are EXPENSIVE. The double-electric models (allowing you to pump both breasts at the same time with greater efficiency) can run up to $300 at least.

So all you ladies out there who are expecting, or if you know someone who is expecting, take note. Here’s what I’ve been able to dig up on the expanded maternity coverage provisions of Obamacare.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, under the Affordable Care Act, “women’s preventive health care – such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, and other services – is covered with no cost sharing for new health plans.”

This includes “breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.” More specifically, comprehensive lactation support and counseling by a trained provider during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period, plus costs for renting breastfeeding equipment.

Some insurance companies are going beyond just covering equipment rentals and offering to cover the cost of some or all of a personal breast pump! United Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest insurance providers, is adopting this approach.

Per the company’s website, “UnitedHealthcare will cover the purchase of a personal, double-electric breast pump at no cost to the member.”

“To rent or purchase breast pumps, members will be required to contact UnitedHealthcare or a network physician, hospital or durable medical equipment (DME) supplier. The physician, hospital or DME supplier will bill UnitedHealthcare directly for reimbursement. Members will not be able to purchase supplies, such as breast pumps, at retail and send the receipt for reimbursement.”

A quick scan of the comment sections of several popular mommy blogs reveals stories of folks getting brand-name equipment like Medela and Ameda using this approach!

Ameda "Purely Yours Ultra" Double Electric Breast Pump with Black Tote

Ameda “Purely Yours Ultra” Double Electric Breast Pump with Black Tote

There are of course, some “catches” with this exciting development. Depending on when your insurance plan “rolled” over – or when the start of your new policy year begins – you may not be eligible for expanded maternity care coverage or a breast pump.

As I learned when I checked into my own eligibility, there are also “grandfathered” insurance plans, which are not required to comply with all of the new ACA guidelines immediately – even though those guidelines were upheld as legal. Here’s an explanation of how those “grandfathered” plans can operate as such.

If, like me, you sadly don’t get to take advantage of this new benefit from the ACA due to “grandfathering” or other conditions that partially exempt your insurance provider, take heart. You may still be able to save some money on your breast feeding equipment!

Many employers offer what are called “flexible spending accounts.” Pre-tax money deposited in such an account can be used to cover the cost of many medical supplies including breast pumps and related equipment! As the New York Times reported, “the Internal Revenue Service announced [in 2011] that it would grant nursing mothers a tax break on pumps and other breastfeeding supplies.”

If you don’t have a flexible spending account, you might still be able to get a tax break. The New York Times also stated that those “without flexible spending accounts may deduct breast-feeding costs if their total unreimbursed medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income and they itemize.”

So… all that said, make sure to check with your insurance provider or company HR department to see if you are entitled to a free breast pump or lactation support classes! If not, keep an eye out for extra savings come tax season. Then you can spend the money saved on cute baby clothes!

Ladies, if you’ve tried any of these money-saving techniques for breast feeding, feel free to share your experiences below!