I realize that this can be somewhat of a controversial subject, but I would like to share, and hopefully get some feedback from my readers. I have decided to pursue a natural childbirth, and I am really interested in learning more. I have been reading and studying, but I still have so many questions.
To begin, I'm a little surprised myself that I'm so set on doing this. For most of my life, I've been the type that will take a pill for anything, just to get rid of the pain. I have no absolutely no problem with medication in most cases! However, when it comes to childbirth, I have developed really strong feelings over the years, and now that childbirth has become a reality, I am finding out what is really important to me.
I think it all began about 7 years ago, when I took a human sexuality class in college. One class session focused on reproduction and birth, and the teacher had us watch a video showing an actual birth. I'm not sure what all the movie included, but the one thing I really vividly remember was a home water birth. I remember leaving that class thinking "Wow, childbirth is something I think I actually CAN do!" I didn't think much more of it at the time since having kids was the last thing on my mind, but I guess it kind of stuck in my mind that giving birth is something a woman's body is MADE to do - it is a natural process.
Over the past couple of years, as my close friends have started having babies, I only vaguely considered what I'd want to do when it came to my turn to give birth. I just assumed that I'd want the epidural and the whole deal that came with it. Why feel pain if I don't have to, right?
Once I became pregnant, I put the whole idea of giving birth out of my head at first - it was just too scary. After the first couple of months, I started thinking about it again. I had heard of a doula, but I really had no idea what they did. I started doing research and ended up signing up for a free class where I got to meet a doula and ask her questions, and find out if it was for me. I really had no idea what to expect, so I took Mike along with me. At first he told me it was just some hippy stuff that I didn't need to worry about. We both ended up realizing there was SO much more to birth than we had ever realized. At this point, we were both of the mind that we weren't opposed to an epidural, but would like to try to go as natural as possible. (Actually, Mike just wanted me to do what I was comfortable with, as long as I was safe.) Mike did feel that I don't need a doula - he feels that he can help me on his own and doesn't need that extra assistance. If I want a woman there, he felt that I should have one of our mothers help me through labor. So yeah, we need to discuss that one further!
The doula we met with was wonderful and gave me SO much information. I discovered that the doctor I was seeing at the time, as well as the hospital where I would be giving birth, had VERY high c-section and episiotomy rates - something I knew I did NOT want. I ended up switching to a new doctor who is very supportive of natural birth. Mike asked me if this new doctor was a compromise to me hiring a doula. I just said "I don't know about that yet!" This wonderful doula has been very helpful by emailing me about birth classes, etc. and she also let me borrow several of her childbirth books.
I recently read "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Childbirth" by Henci Goer, and I am currently reading "Birthing From Within" by Pam England. I am learning so much, and realizing that there are SO many unnecessary interventions in most hospital births. Neither Mike nor I are quite comfortable with the idea of a home birth, but we do definitely want to limit the necessity of interventions. I am hoping that my new doctor will be a big help in that area. I also found out that he is opening a birthing center in May, so I am REALLY hoping that it will be ready in time for me!!! That would be the perfect medium between a home birth and a hospital birth. Mike and I also watched "The Business of Being Born," which I found very interesting. The information was basically the same as what I have been reading, but it was very helpful to see actual births. I really think that I would like to have a water birth, but I need to find out if that is a possibility with my birthing location.
On my list still to be read are "Your Best Birth" by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, and "Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way" by Susan McCutcheon. I am anxious to sign up for a childbirth class, but I am still busy researching the method that I think suits me best. My current options are Hypnobirthing, The Bradley Method, and a class that combines Hypnobirthing with other relaxation methods (the instructor used to work with Pam England ("Birthing From Within"). I am leaning towards the latter class, but I want to find out a bit more about the Bradley Method before I commit. From what I've heard, the Bradley class is good, but doesn't do a very good job of detailing HOW to relax, whereas the Hypno class gives very detailed instructions. I can be a very tense person and I don't really know how to relax so I feel like I need a class that will help me figure out exactly how to do so. Hypnobirthing seems a little hippie-ish to me, but I think that it may be exactly what I need. I need to visualize and meditate and all that…I just don't know how to do so!
I feel like my stack of books is ever-growing. There is so much to learn! If any of you have any experiences with any childbirth methods, I would LOVE to hear your input. In the meantime I'll be doing research of my own, but hearing personal experiences from friends is a great help.
At this time, I think I'll be able to get Mike to come around and agree to hiring a doula. I'm going to see my doctor tomorrow, so I'll ask him his thoughts then. I have so many more questions for him this month! I am so excited to cross over into the new territory of motherhood. I already am feeling a bond with other women who have had children - I feel like I am a part of a larger group now. It's a wonderful feeling, going where so many women have gone before!
Sometimes it just amazes me at how "crunchy" I've become when it comes to having a child. I've always been a hands-on kind of person, but I never really felt like I was "earthy." My mom cloth-diapered all my younger siblings, and I was SO grossed out by it. I swore I would never do such a thing! Cloth diapers have come a long way since then though, and now that we are on a tight budget of our own and I have become much more conscious of the environment, I plan to go the cloth diaper route with my baby. I plan to breastfeed, and I am very interested in baby-wearing. I also plan to make my own baby food. At first I think it was just to save money, but once I started researching these things, I've realized that there are multiple benefits to going natural. I am very excited to starting this new journey. Life will be busy, but it will be full and exciting!