Today’s post is the third in the series: HDYDI, Choose the Right Birth Plan; click here to read about non-medicated, natural births and hospital births. When I say she’s done it all, she has. Bonnie Engstrom, blogger at A Knotted Life, is one of my virtual buddies, but that doesn’t make the friendship any less authentic. Bonnie and I first bonded over our sons’ NICU stays and the shared stink factor of that bond. Bonnie has an amazing story of sainthood and miracles, told on her blog, that I think is worth reading. Aside from her profound faith, Bonnie’s humor and honesty about life are what make me wish I lived in Illinois. Bonnie just delivered a sweet little baby, Joseph, a few weeks ago. It’s lovely to have you here, girl!
I will never forget the words that led me to homebirth. I sat on the OB/GYN’s exam table, listening to him confirm and explain my miscarriage and he told me to “chin up; think positive.” The office was highly recommended to me but as I heard his words I thought to myself, “Who says that to a grieving mother? If he thinks so little of a baby’s life I don’t want this guy anywhere near me and my womb again.”
As a way to work through my grief and anger I began devouring birthing books like Birthing From Within, Ina Mae’s Guide to Childbirth, and Baby Cather: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife. I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born and I met the wife of a coworker, a woman who had delivered her own baby at home in a planned, unassisted birth. While I didn’t agree 100% with all the new information I was learning (some of it was a little too new age-y and crunchy for me) I was very compelled by the research from respectable sources from all over the world that that showed homebirth, especially when attended by a certified midwife, to be a safe and wonderful choice. In fact, for the first time ever I saw that there are a variety of choices related to how a woman can give birth. Before my investigating I had always assumed I would have an epidural, lie on my back, and push out a baby under hospital lights. Now I saw that there were many options available to me and I began to think and pray about what was best for me and my family.
Home birth was drawing me in, though. After my experience with the ob-gyn and my miscarriage, I was especially impressed with how pro-woman, pro-baby, and pro-life homebirth supporters were. For the first time ever I saw my body as something good, capable, and magnificently created by God. As a woman who had struggled with bulimia in college and then felt like my body had failed its most important task ever – caring for my unborn baby -this new perspective brought a lot of healing to my life.
For other moms considering home birth I would strongly recommend both prayer and research. Don’t just look at the stats that favor home birth, either. Do some digging and talk to home birth advocates along with people who prefer traditional medicine. And pray. I truly believe that God has a plan even for things like where and how we give birth and so seek His will and peace about it. Because if something bad happens at home (which is unlikely) you’ll want to have that peace. Lastly, I don’t know if I would have done it had my husband not supported the decision. I’m pretty sure that my husband watching me suffer through labor has been one of the hardest things he’s ever done in his life and I need to respect and appreciate that.
NATURAL, INTERVENTION-FREE HOSPITAL BIRTH
My fifth child was born at a hospital. My labor was still unmedicated and except for breaking a forebag of water that hadn’t emptied with the rest, it was intervention-free. Moving from home to hospital was a big but necessary move for me and my husband. I knew I needed to be in the midst of modern medicine but I still didn’t want to give up all the things I so loved about home birth. My new midwife was very supportive and arranged for my nurses to be pro-natural birth. The labor was a wonderful experience but the delivery was horrible, through no fault of the hospital or my midwife’s. As it turns out, pushing an 11lb 9.5oz baby out of your body is excruciating work. The physical pain was too much for me and while I delivered my daughter and she was healthy, the experience of feeling all that pain was scaring.
For moms considering a natural birth at a hospital I would suggest finding a provider who is on the same page with you all the way. Once again, prayer and research are important – know your options and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the best choice for you and your unborn baby. I would also suggest hiring a doula – mine was a huge help. And lastly, I would say that if you think the baby is going to be bigger than 10lbs then you should labor naturally with the contractions but get pain medications for the delivery.
MEDICATED, INDUCED HOSPITAL BIRTH
My sixth child is just a few weeks old. Because sonograms predicted that he’d be about the same size as his big sister he was induced a week early, through my suggestion. Because I knew that I could not suffer through the pain of delivering a big baby again I had an epidural. Since he ended up being 11lbs 7.4oz I know I made the right decision on both of those matters. In the end I needed modern medicine to help me through and do what I could not do on my own, and while this birth was very different from my homebirths it was exactly what we needed this time around.
For moms wanting to go full out with medication I say go for it. But just because it’s done in a hospital doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe. There are still risks and make sure you know and understand them. And once again, along with your research, pray.
Don’t be afraid to switch things up from birth to birth. Each baby and pregnancy are different and will need different things. I don’t think an epidural would have been a great experience for me with my first babies but I’m glad I had it for my last one! And while home birth is no longer an option for me, I’m very grateful for the three I had.