Writing posts like this make my hands sweat. I have an opinion. I am going to voice it. I might not word it soft enough to not offend someone. I might not have all of the information. I might come from an entirely different perspective than you.
I am going to voice it anyway.
Sometimes I feel like there are these birth cliques. It’s strange, I know, but hear me out.
There are the “I had an epidural and I loved it!” mamas who see absolutely nothing wrong with using the God-given pain medications to do exactly that: medicate the pain. They had a hospital birth with all the bells and whistles and wouldn’t change a thing about it. Mantra: modern medicine is awesome.
And then there are the natural birth ladies who support letting birth take it’s natural course. They will tell you that hospitals and their interventions are not what they wanted for their baby’s birth, and that birthing at home is perfectly safe for an uncomplicated pregnancy. Mantra: Hospital births and the medical interventions that come with them are often unnecessary.
But OBaby’s birth doesn’t fit in either camp.
I had a natural hospital birth attended by a midwife in a birth tub and I would do it again in a second!
I see hospitals painted in a criminal light so often by the natural birth advocates. It makes me sad to see people imply that “natural” birth is diametrically opposed to hospital birth and must be at home. I think a lot of people, my husband included, are not comfortable with the idea of being at home (especially for their first) but they still want a beautiful, natural birth. To hear that hospitals are evil and the only way to have a natural birth is at home stops these people from pursuing their options.
Don’t get me wrong, if my husband were comfortable with a home birth (and maybe he will be someday), I would pray about it and probably have one. I think it sounds amazing. But I also think assuming that a mother can’t be responsible for her own care and have a natural birth unless they are at home is damaging to some women who, like me, find themselves unable to have a home birth but still desperately want a natural birth experience.
I think to have a natural birth in a hospital requires you to view yourself as the one who is ultimately responsibility for your care, not the doctors or hospital staff.
Here are the things we did to prepare for the (hospital) birth we wanted that I highly recommend:
1. Educate Yourself – Take a class. Read books. Watch videos. Dive head-first into information that supports the kind of birth you envision (even if it includes an epidural!). Having a good idea of what to expect prevented a lot of stress during our first birth.
2. Have a Plan – I’ve heard women say that if they’d handed their doctor a birth plan s/he would have looked at them and laughed. If that’s the case, you should get a different doctor. It is your birth, the doctor is only “attending” it. This website is a wonderful resource for creating a birth plan.
3. Bring Strong Advocates – Have a birth team. Mine was DanO and my doula. The three of us met to go over our birth plan. We made contingency plans (For example our 3x rule. If I asked for drugs once we would try a different pain management technique, if I asked a second time we would try something else, but if I still wanted it after two attempts then I would have it.)
4. Surround Yourself - with those who have similar perspectives of birth. If someone envisions an epidural during their birth, they don’t deserve to be told constantly throughout their pregnancy that “natural is better”. Similarly, if you are preparing for a drug-free birth, it is completely within your right to (kindly) tell naysayers to shut it.
5. Research Area Hospitals – for c-section rates and natural-birth-friendly perspectives. This is huge. The hospital where we delivered has the second lowest c-section rate in our state. They have a rooming-in policy where babies stay with the parents rather than being carted off to a nursery. They have water birth suites which we utilized. Midwives typically round on laboring mothers and OBs are only called in the case of complications. All hospitals are not created equal. Find one that fits you.
By the grace of God, all of those parts fit together to give me my ideal birth – in a hospital!