As shared in blog post “38 Weeks,” we had to have some monitoring throughout the first two trimesters of our pregnancy and take precautions due to my LEEP procedure in 2003.
The monitoring was far more intervention than what I desired. I would have preferred to not have had to have the ultrasounds, but when pregnant for the first time, you want to know you are doing what is necessary and take precautions. Even with the concern and increased monitoring, I was planning a natural birth, one I had always envisioned for myself.
I have hesitated many times to post this and prior to publishing it, I made numerous edits. Let me start by saying that the opinions and decisions outlined below are mine. I firmly believe we all must do what is best for us. This is what is best for me, my babe, my family. It is supported by my husband. We each have our own way and our own desires, in pregnancy, and in life. If anything, this post only serves to share why I am choosing a natural birth and provide a journal entry in my pregnancy journey. And perhaps, I’d also like to encourage those who are pregnant or who will become pregnant to do your research and know your options, know your rights.
As news spread about our pregnancy, the topic of labor/birth would come up on occasion. It was hard for some to understand how we could stand not knowing the gender of the baby, when clearly we could be told and plan accordingly. It was even more difficult for some to understand why we planned to approach labor as we did.
When I would reveal that I was planning a natural birth, without medications, I received varying looks and comments. “Why would you want to be in pain if you don’t have to be?” “I had an epidural and I would do it again.” “That’s nice, but you don’t always have a choice.” “You don’t get a medal for going drug-free, everybody gets a baby.” I even had women try to convince me that I won’t be able to get through labor, that I might have all good intentions now, but once that pain hits, I’ll change my mind and beg for the drugs. So here are my “top ten reasons” for choosing a natural, drug-free birth experience.
- My heart, gut and mind tell me it is the best choice for me and for my baby.
- I want to be present. I want to experience childbirth and be in the moment. I don’t want to be medicated, nauseous, disoriented, or in any way detract from the power of my body’s natural release of hormones when my baby enters this world and I lay eyes on him/her for the first time.
- My fear of drugs is greater than my fear of pain. In the rare occasions I have taken medications in the past, they have made me nauseous or loopy. And the idea of a needle in my spine? No thank you!
- I do not want a caesarean. Based on my opinion and the numerous resources I have read, intervention leads to intervention, medication to medication, and in so many cases (not all), result in c-section. Should an emergency situation arise and a c-section is required, I will be grateful for life-saving intervention, but not until after exhausting all natural options.
- The women that came before me. We are designed by God and women have birthed for centuries, long before doctors and medicines and hospitals. We are designed to give birth, our bodies are capable of it, and we shouldn’t fear it.
- I don’t want those drugs in my baby. If drugs enter me, they enter my child. Just as I want to be alert and in the moment, I want the same for my baby. I plan to breastfeed and want to give my baby the opportunity to nurse right after birth and not be hindered by lingering drugs in their system (which can take weeks for their tiny liver to process).
- I want to move around, try various positions, and work with gravity. I do not want to be hooked up to machines and straps or be limited to laying down. I want the option to try the tub or shower, birthing ball or stool, standing, kneeling…what ever feels the best and proves to work. If I am comfortable, I believe my labor will be allowed to progress efficiently.
- I want to eat and drink and nourish my body during this event. A marathon runner wouldn’t limit their hydration and energy inputs during a race, so why would I feel I could be deprived of energy during labor? Many women are limited to ice chips during labor. Ice chips!? To maintain my stamina during childbirth, I intend to drink water and juices and perhaps eat energy-rich snacks to provide my body with the fuel it needs. If my energy falls, I risk losing the steam needed to cross the finish line, resulting in intervention.
- I believe labor will be faster, more controlled, and easier without intervention and medication. Call me crazy.
- I believe I can. With preparedness and support from my birth team, most noted, my husband, I’ll make it through labor and relish in my accomplishment.
We have selected a hospital that supports these desires and our birth plan. We’ll find satisfaction and security in our opportunity to birth naturally, with the conveniences of modern technology–should it be needed. We have a midwife, and I have asked numerous questions of her and discussed my desires so we are on the same page. And I have written my birth plan out to share with hospital support staff members. This also ensures I do not have to answer unnecessary questions and lets our nursing team know my wishes so they can best support me.
My greatest fear is that my birth plan won’t play out as —-well —- as I planned. That said, I am going into this with an open mind and with positivity. I do not want intervention, but should it be necessary, our plan will adjust. I know I need to be flexible and realize that labor is unpredictable. But I also know that because I have been working to prepare and educate myself for labor, I have given us every advantage in living out our birth plan.
It’s amazing to me to consider that women will spend more time researching a cell phone plan, car, or piece of furniture before buying it than they will with their own pregnancy and labor. I’ve been hungry for information and knowledge on this subject since learning we were pregnant. My decision was founded on my personal beliefs and internal instincts. I then fueled it with a lot of reading! Books, blogs, Facebook groups, various articles, etc. Here’s a list of the books that I have read throughout my pregnancy. There is so much information out there, no matter your preference, and much of it is free or very affordable. Gain knowledge!
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
- Ina May’s Birth Matters
- Baby Designed by God (so much good info in this one!)
- Birthing from Within: Guide to Childbirth Preparation
- A Modern Woman’s Guide to a Natural Empowering Birth
- Natural Birth for the Mainstream Mama: Practical Guide to Achieving a Drug-free Birth in a Hospital Setting
- How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of your Doctor
- Journey Into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth
- Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife
- Pushed: The Painful Trust about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care
- Your Pregnancy and Childbirth
- Mayo Clinic Guide to Healthy Pregnancy
- The Expectant Father
- What to Expect When You are Expecting
- Regular chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy treatments
- I truly feel this is important and has been a contributing factor in my feeling good throughout pregnancy and being in good alignment, allowing my baby to be in a low, head-down position. And by “massage therapy” I mean, therapy, not just a spa treatment. My treatments manipulate muscles and promote alignment and reduction on stressed muscles.
- Increase my intake of pregnancy power foods; opting for organic options as much as possible
- Relaxation techniques (hypnobirthing)
- Taking key prenatal vitamins (iron, calcium, folic acid, magnesium, DHA, D, C, Zinc, B) daily
- Raspberry Leaf Tea
- Prayer, optimism, and excitement
I’m not looking to debate my position or argue the best approach, again this is my decision.
I would enjoy hearing your stories and tips. Some of the most powerful information I have read has been the real-life examples of other women who enjoyed natural births.