Today’s post is the second in the series: HDYDI, Choose the Right Birth Plan; click here to read about non-medicated, natural births and home births. Help me welcome Lisa Schmidt, blogger at The Practicing Catholic. Lisa and I first *met* via Twitter over our shared love of the Cyclones, Men’s Basketball Coach Hoiberg and Catholicism. I had the honor of *really* meeting Lisa last August at the Catholic New Media Conference. She is such a beautiful, joyful, faithful, funny woman. I consider her a great friend and fellow sister in Christ. Lisa has two beautiful children and is due in October with a new life. I hope you enjoy her post today as much as I did!
It’s been said that if you don’t know your options, you don’t have any. Upon discovering I was pregnant with my first child, there was no question I would give birth at the hospital. The thought of having my child outside a hospital environment never even crossed my mind. It was the only option I was aware of at the time. Nine months later, after laboring at home for several hours before making the trek to Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, my husband and I welcomed a beautiful 8.8-pound baby girl into this world. I labored on Labor Day (go me!), and given it was a slow day at the office, I had nearly the entire maternity unit and staff at my beck and call. All in all, the labor, delivery, and recovery process at the hospital was comfortable, accommodating, respectful, professional, and well, just downright phenomenal. The experience earned 5-stars from me, and my husband and I both dubbed the hospital “The Mercy Hilton” from then on.
While my second pregnancy and delivery wasn’t as easy — a Cesarean section resulting in a bouncing 10.8-pound boy who slipped right into a 6-month onesie — the hospital delivery provided the same positive experience. Now I’m expecting my third on October 22, and when the time comes, the plan is to once again check in to The Mercy Hilton, and God-willing, attempt a VBAC.
Since laboring my first, I’ve come to discover that I have other birthing options beyond the hospital experience. I am now surrounded by a slew of friends, in real life and virtually, who strongly advocate for birthing centers with a midwife and/or home birth. I’m not judging those other options here; I truly admire them and I’m not of the opinion that hospital birth is THE ONLY option to pursue anymore. Maybe one day I’ll find myself delivering a fourth child outside of a hospital. Maybe.
One thing I’ve discovered is that for several friends, the “alternative” birthing decision came in response to a negative experience at a hospital. Case in point, I serve as a moderator for the CatholicMom.com Facebook page, and I recently posed the following question: What was the main driver for your birthing decisions? A flurry of responses came in; here are just a few.
- We knew from speaking with friends that our local hospital was in general not very supportive of natural birth.
- Frustrating experience with the hospital staff and treatment we received.
- I learned everything I could about homebirths, midwives and waterbirths… because every time I delivered in a hospital it was worse and worse…
- I didn’t like how I felt like I was just a #, and not a patient.
- We had our first in a hospital. The doctor induced, the labor still took over 20 hours, the doctor showed for about five minutes and was horribly impersonal … We’ve done home births ever since with a midwife.
Indeed, hospital birthing can have its drawbacks, but it can also have advantages, as has been my experience. In my own small way, I feel called to take this opportunity to simply share my top five.
- Hospitals are the place sick people go to die so why would you want to birth a baby there? It’s a question I’ve been asked. No denying, hospitals are for the sick, but they’re also places where very healthy women in labor go, too. In my scenario, the maternity unit is completely set apart from the “infirmed” with a separate entrance and check-in. It feels more birthing center than emergency room.
- I had a private birthing suite that created a warm, relaxing, and homey environment. Included in my suite were amenities that I don’t have at home such as a modern birthing bed, jacuzzi tub for water therapy, and oh yeah, a 27” flatscreen TV with oh, about 100 channels.
- My maternal instincts needed a jumpstart after delivering my first. Breastfeeding, bathing, soothing, swaddling — I needed help with all of it and having nurses and lactation consultants at my call 24-7 was a blessing. The Mercy nurses truly are a gifted team of professionals who specialize in intimate, personal treatment. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite because there wasn’t a bad apple in the bunch.
- While birthing a baby ought to be a natural perhaps even organic process, I know that all pregnancies and births are not created equal. Sometimes things go wrong. When umbilical cords get wrapped in places they shouldn’t, when shoulders get lodged, sometimes the ability to take lifesaving measures is a matter of minutes if not seconds. Knowing that I’m in the place that is best equipped to deal with those contingencies eases me greatly.
- I love my devoutly Catholic doctor. In the last couple years, he walked away from a comfortable group practice to start his own family practice. From the magazines in the waiting room, to the art on the walls, to the prayers during each appointment, it’s a pro-life, natural family planning-only clinic. I feel compelled to support him for putting his entire career, financial security, professional reputation, and ability to practice medicine on the line. He did all this simply to give women and families a faith-filled, pro-life option, one we didn’t previously have in Des Moines. I go where he goes. He delivers at Mercy. Done deal.
Having a baby is a miraculous experience. The story I share here is in no way intended to be a comprehensive guide to birthing in a hospital. Instead, I hope it serves as a springboard for expectant moms, to motivate them to research their birthing options and select the one that best meets their needs. Again, if you don’t know your options, you don’t have any. Kudos to Kathryn for facilitating the discussion and allowing three options to be highlighted here.