Archive for September, 2010

Natural Childbirth

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

I’ve discovered a new fascination in my life: natural childbirth.
Having 3 vaginal births under my belt (wow, that was unexpectedly punny, you must admit), I would not characterize any of them as ‘natural’. All of them have been artificially induced for different reasons, the first had me laid up with an epidural for 7 hours, and the second two with an epidural administered only minutes before I felt the “I’ve got to push NOW!” urge – those epidurals didn’t do anything except make me angry at the anesthetist (and if you think I was ticked, you should hear Clay’s side of the story). Add to that pitocin, electronic fetal monitoring (constant with Bailey’s labour)….it all adds up to your typical hospital delivery, really. I thought it was all par for the course. This is, after all, modern medicine. This is modern day birth. With all the medical intervention involved in the birth of my 3 children, I look back and marvel at the gracious miracle that I never had to have a c-section.

I have to give credit to my cousin Lindsay, and friend Angie for making me take a step back and reconsider what I know about having a baby.
Lindsay, after the birth of her daughter, was convinced there had to be a better way than what is considered ‘normal’ in a hospital, so she set out to find what that was. When she read about The Bradley Method of natural childbirth, it made sense. So much sense that she learned all she could about it, and is now a certified instructor! She is passionate about pregnancy and birth, and if you want to know more about natural childbirth, taking a Bradley natural childbirth class would be worth your baby’s weight in gold.
Angie gave birth to her son at home, in a pool, with a midwife. She plans to do the same in a few months with her second baby. Honestly, I thought she was crazy. (I love you, Ang!) Never in a million years would I have considered doing something like that. But I then had to ask myself why? Why would I never do that? Because I didn’t know anything about it. The unknown is a scary thing. I was at Ang’s house to make supper for her when her midwife stopped in for a checkup. The contrast between this checkup and the type I was accustomed to with Healthy & Home visits was startling. Her midwife, immediately brought a sense of calm into the room. This was a woman who obviously had great respect for the process of birth, and for the instincts of a new mom. She made me want to know more. And it was very clear to me that Angie was anything but crazy for having chosen the kind of birth she did.

I got the documentary The Business of Being Born from the library. I know this is about American health care, and I know the Canadian system is different. To a degree. But whether our health care system does what it does for monetary reasons like the US, or just for the sake of being efficient with time, the outcome is the same. Most women give birth in a hospital with medical intervention, for the simple fact that they have not been taught that they are capable without it. There are other ways of doing things. You can view the trailer here:

You would think, wouldn’t you, that when a medicated and natural birth are presented side by side, the medicated birth would look more appealing? Anything but. As I sat watching the film, I was in awe. My jaw dropped and tears rolled down my face as I saw the unexplainable joy that was so evident in the natural births. I knew without a doubt, that if I were blessed to have another child, I would do everything I could to give birth naturally. Maybe even at home in a pool, as crazy as it may sound!

I don’t look back on the births of my 3 miracles, and regret the choices I made. It would do me no good to look back on each experience and think about all the things I could have done differently. I did the best I could do with the information I had, and by God’s grace I have 3 healthy children. Given what I know now though, if there is a next time, I will do a lot of things differently. This is not to say I don’t think modern medical intervention doesn’t have a place – it certainly does. I just think that for the majority of births, intervention isn’t necessary. Obstetrics today seem to try to take normal, uncomplicated birth and turn it into something complicated, all for the sake of being ‘efficient’, rather than being there just for the small percentage of births that really need a doctor’s help. And I am definitely thankful there are qualified and capable doctors for those situations – let me be very clear on that!

I’m currently reading Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, and Husband Coached Childbirth, and can hardly put them down. With every page I just keep thinking, “Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?!” I highly recommend them if your curiosity starts to get the best of you.