In about 2 months I’ll be giving birth for the 3rd time…I still can’t believe she is almost here!
The decision to have a natural birth (or at least try for one!) came easily. We had such wonderful experiences with the births of our boys, Henry and Miles, that we knew we wanted to do the same with this little girl.
When we found out that we were pregnant with Henry 5 years ago, we thought we wanted to have a natural birth, but weren’t positive. My mom had four babies naturally and I actually got to witness the births of my two younger sisters, so the idea was familiar and comfortable.
However, like everything else, we wanted to make an informed decision. So, we started researching. We talked to friends and family, read books and articles, and watched THIS fantastic documentary. We visited a birth center in Dallas where we were living, where a close friend had recently delivered her little boy.
My husband really dreads going into Drs. offices and I have never been admitted to the hospital for anything, so when we saw the old victorian home that had been converted into a cozy, yet fully equipped birth center; and met with the kind, confident, and professional midwives, we knew that this was the route we wanted to take…the plus is that the birth center was located just a block from the hospital, in the event that a transfer was needed.
A hospital transfer occurs in around 10% of natural births. Very few of these are due to emergencies, but often because the mother requests to do so, or some type of intervention is needed to assist in the delivery.
My current midwife has been in practice for 14 years and has had only 3 true emergencies!
Once we decided that a midwife-assisted natural birth was for us, we signed up for Bradley Birth Classes. We loved our classes, and they helped to make us both feel confident and prepared for the birth of our little boy.
I believe that fear and lack of knowledge about the birth process contributes greatly to both more pain in childbirth, and medical interventions that a mother may not truly need.
We also discovered that the countries with the best statistics regarding birth for both mothers and babies are in places where midwives attend most of the births.
I loved our visits with the midwives. They were so personal, and thorough. We always had as much time as we needed to ask all of the questions that we had. Nothing was ever done that didn’t need to be done. I am in my 3rd trimester and have yet to have an internal exam! There is just no need for it at this point.
I think my favorite part of a natural, midwife-assisted pregnancy and birth is the freedom that we are given as individuals.
My midwife here in Tennessee always says “YOU deliver your baby, I’m just here to help if needed”.
A good midwife believes that a woman’s body is designed to birth, that this is what it was created to do, and needs very little “help” along the way. This philosophy results in fantastic statistics. I really didn’t want to have a c-section, and knowing that only 2% of midwife-assisted births result in one, I was very encouraged. (Contrast this with the 30-35% c-section rate at the average American hospital.)
I love that midwives have a million different tricks up their sleeves: from naturally helping labor progress (as opposed to using Pitocin), to different positions and methods to assist in a smooth delivery (rather than forceps, vacuum, etc.), to postnatal care in the event of hemorrhage, tearing, etc.
Their focus is on what is best for the mother and baby, not what is most convenient for them. That means that sometimes they stay up for days with a laboring mother, get into uncomfortable positions to assist a mother who is squatting or in water during delivery, etc.
My midwife never left the room during either of my births. She checked me continually after the births to catch any hemorrhaging or other complications before they become an emergency.
I labored in a big, warm, tub. Everyone was calm and encouraging. They monitored our baby’s heartbeats between contractions, and fed me sips of juice to keep my energy levels up.
My husband and I had fairly normal conversation in between each contraction. I even remember laughing a bit at jokes he would crack.
Because there were no drugs in my body, I was coherent and alert through the entire process.
I also love that I felt everything…yes, everything.
I felt the pain, but it was manageable. The contractions were natural, which means that they were spaced out properly and not more intense than needed. (Pitocin causes contractions to be more intense and closer together, causing a lot more pain and less rest in between each one for the mother, and will put the baby into distress, often necessitating an emergency c-section.)
Because I felt the pain, I also got to feel the amazing things. Like exactly where and how to push. Because of this, my pushing was efficient, and only lasted about 10 -20 minutes each time.
I could feel my little baby kick inside, literally pushing himself out.
I was given 2 advil after birth. That was it. This time around I’ll be going with an herbal blend called “After Ease”.
My babies were born alert. Each raised his little head up off of my chest to look at me just seconds after being born.
Both boys nursed well immediately. Without a stressful, drug induced labor, babies are able to go with their natural instincts to search for their milk, and suck right away.
The whole process was so, so, natural and wonderful. I remember that I never felt panicked. Rather than staring into fluroescent lights, with my feet up in stirrups, listening to the beeps of monitors and urges from folks dressed in hazmat-like outfits to “PUSH!!” I was in the comfort of warm water, surrounded by lamp-light and candles. My husband made a CD of our favorite music that we played during the birth. I did what my body told me to do. I told my midwife when I wanted to push. She would guide me with “ok, don’t push yet”…or “Ok, go ahead!”
I was constantly told by the midwife, birth assistant, my mom, and Hank, how wonderful I was doing. I was free to move according to what felt good during each contraction. I wasn’t hooked up to any IV’s and my husband got to catch our sweet babies.
The only time my midwife ever got bossy was when Henry’s head came out. The cord was wrapped around his neck twice and she said to Hank (who was right there, ready to grab the little guy) “just a minute, let me in there”…quickly unwrapped the cord, and then stepped back with a smile, allowing Hank to pull Henry safely out.
As soon as they were born my babies were placed on my chest for that immediate, important, intimate bonding time. I was able to hold them there while they did all of the “post-labor” stuff. It was really amazing. They were never taken from me, except while I was getting cleaned up. And even then, they were given to daddy to hold.
Once me and baby were bathed (daddy gives the first bath to encourage bonding), all three of us got up in the big, cozy king size bed together. My husband and I snuggled while our new baby and I learned to nurse together. We rested, ate waffles and omelets, and just relished in the wonder and miracle that lay there with us.
I had to have some stitches, which were excellently done by the head midwife each time.
6 hours after our babies were born, we were on our way home!
I believe that birth is a healthy, natural process. It should be treated as such. Women have been doing this since the beginning of time, and our bodies were created to do it!
Somehow in the past 80 years or so women have been convinced that they can’t birth. We are told that we can be president, CEO, athlete, anything…but that we can’t birth. This is so sad to me because my natural births, and the days at home after, are some of my most cherished memories.
When you are assisted by a midwife who has had years of training and experience in ways to avoid intervention, hospital transfer, and c-section; your risk for complication, surgery, and death is actually lower than when giving birth traditionally in the hospital the way it is done now in America.
Now, as I said in my c-section post, I am not in any way anti-doctor. I just believe that for a normal, healthy birth, a midwife is better equipped to give a woman the wonderful, natural, safe experience that they deserve. Most doctors would actually agree with me here.
One thing I always tell people when choosing a Doctor or Midwife:
“Don’t choose a doctor who thinks midwives are useless, and don’t choose a midwife who thinks that doctors are useless”
If a complication arises that places me in the 2% of pregnancies that truly require c-section, I will be very thankful for the option! A good midwife will be able to assess in advance when/if hospital transfer is needed, and be able to get a mother there before it becomes a panicked, emergency type situation.
I hope this is encouraging to those of you who are currently researching natural birth. If I can do it, anyone can. I truly believe this.
Plus, I don’t know a single girl who has given birth naturally who regretted it…
Be encouraged. Be Informed. Be empowered!
live well. be well.