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