VBAC Hospital Birth

The following birth story is written by a friend I supported last September.  Her story includes the birth of her first child since it sets the tone for the VBAC of her second child.  This woman is both powerful and amazing.  I hope you enjoy her journey as much as I enjoyed witnessing it.  🙂

I had my first son in 2006. I planned an all natural birth with no meds in the hospital. I wasn’t thrilled with my doctor because he wouldn’t listen to my concerns when I told him my baby was not in position and was breeched. He took me as young and dumb or

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Nursing beyond a year

With my son, I had a heck of a time with nursing.  Part of it had to do with me not being mindful of how he was being bottlefed when he was not in my care.  His feedings were rigidly scheduled, and he received more in one sitting from the bottle than he would normally get while nursing.

To keep myself motivated, I kept setting targets for how long I would nurse.  What started as 3 months, turned to 6 months, and then 12.  By the time we hit 9 months the bottles won, and I was left to sort through my conflicting emotions regarding the experience and failure to meet my final target.
 

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I decided to take a more natural approach.  To keep a healthy perspective, I didn’t set any expectations or goals.  I decided to simply nurse when appropriate, and for as long as needed.

Now that my daughter is approaching her first birthday, I’m starting to get a bit uneasy as we chart into unknown territory.  I have been noticing that my usually confident manner is a bit shaky when people ask about when we are going to stop.  Even though I fully intended to nurse beyond a year all along, I have not been able to articulate clearly why I feel convicted to do so.  Whenever this happens, I know it is time to arm myself with knowledge. Fortunately, I purchased The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding for my lending library a while back.  I am finding it to be a wonderfully written book that encourages nursing, all while respecting the autonomy of women.  The other night when I was contemplating the issue at length, I picked up the book and turned to the chapters dealing with extended nursing and weaning to learn more. Benefits of extended nursing

A newborn’s demands are in

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Natural Childbirth is Not as Crazy as it Seems

Why any woman would choose to have a baby unmedicated is an oddity to some.  I think this lack of understanding stems from a general misunderstanding of the birth process; the idea that birth is unbearably painful, and the only way through it comfortably is to medicate the body.  Some even have a hard time accepting that the baby will fit through the exit safely.  Where there is misunderstanding, there is bound to be division among people.  The particular misunderstanding I am pondering at the moment is the idea that women who decide on a natural birth are trying to prove something.  That natural birth is pointless given modern technology’s greatest gift, the epidural. Now don’t get me wrong.  I received an epidural during my son’s birth, and that was the one drug that I felt was necessary given the circumstances.  The reason this notion bugs me is because I find it quite unsettling that anyone would ever misread me, or anyone for that matter, as trying to prove something for no good reason.   I can’t speak for every woman, but I know that for me it went beyond trying to prove something.  Heck, I signed up for the pain management program, Hypnobabies, because I am not someone who deals with pain well.  For me, the decision to go natural was so that I could bring my baby into the world safely.  So that I could become more familiar with my body and what it is capable of.  I also sought to find out if Grantly Dick-Read was right about childbirth being a normal process that can be comfortable for the majority of women given the right preparation.  It wasn’t until I experienced how empowering natural birth can be, that I understood at a deeper level why my intuition steered me towards it.  There is something that happens to a woman when she feels the rushes, and allows the power to surge through her body without fighting it.  When this happens a woman is at one with her body.  She is allowing her body to work per it’s design as to facilitate the arrival of the unborn baby.  Being connected during this intense process can be transformational, as a woman is forced to confront her deepest fears and scale walls she never thought possible.  A woman empowered through birth knows her inner strength and trusts her motherly intuition.  A natural birth also means one less barrier to connecting with the newborn baby. I love these quotes, and think they accurately reflect what I am trying to say… “There is power that comes to women when they give birth. They don’t ask for it, it simply invades them. Accumulates like clouds on the horizon and passes through, carrying the child with it.” ~ Sheryl Feldman “Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers – strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” -Barbara Katz Rothman Now that is not to say that birth is the only way a mother can connect.  It’s a good place to start though, in my opinion, given all the challenging aspects that present them self along the parenting journey. 

Question Everything

One thing that I have come to learn as I journey through motherhood is that as parents, it is critical that we question everything.   Lately, I have been thinking about some of the common held beliefs that often go unquestioned.  One being that the advent of hospitals saved women and babies from childbirth.  ACOG perpetuates this notion with all their campaigning against home births.  The other claim is that vaccines eradicated deadly diseases.  The CDC has this one on their website most likely to reassure worried parents.  I have found that neither one of these claims tells the entire story.   My recent reading into the history of childbirth has concreted my beliefs that birth is not the risky venture that ACOG makes it out to be.  Many of complications that occurred during childbirth were and remain to be caused by man.

When women started using doctors as opposed to midwives, birth experienced some hiccups as most doctors had never even attended a live birth.  In addition, doctors tended to interfere more with the process which was dangerous considering the poor living conditions and hygiene practices.  Women who opted to have their babies at institutions often were forced to share beds with other women while rats crawled on the floor below them.  Male doctors would do frequent internal exams, often right after working on cadavers of women that had died from childbed fever.  Nurses were

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More than meets the eye

I came across a post in a pregnancy forum where a woman was blaming a tragic GBS newborn death on the mother’s decision to have her baby at home.  Some in the forum pointed out that pertinent information surrounding the GBS test and treatment was omitted.  Even so, this woman continued to use the unfortunate event to convince people that home births are dangerous.  At one point she begged for advocates of home birth to admit the risks and move on.  That by having a home birth the mother is putting her experience over the health of the baby.  The truth is there are risks to childbirth regardless of the place.  It just so happens that a lot of people have an easier time accepting tragedy when it happens in the hospital.  My aim is not to convince you of the safety of home birth as there are plenty of studies out there that confirm that.  My goal is to show there is more to this issue than meets the eye.     When deciding where to give birth, we usually start out by measuring the risks in tangible ways such as complications and death.  It is hard for us to evaluate the intangible consequences with a clear mind when such strong emotions are at play.  Many mothers have to go through a crappy experience to realize the importance of playing an active role in the decisions that take place during childbirth.  It is no coincidence that mothers who are dissatisfied with their experience often go on to struggle with postpartum depression.  How a mother feels during the birth of her baby will follow her for the rest of her life.  It plays a huge role in how she interacts with the newborn, how she feels about herself and how she interacts with others.  There are many studies that have been done that document this.  When we dismiss how a mother feels about her experience, it only serves to delay the healing process and ignores the problem at hand.  Surely this is an area we should be paying more attention to since all of us come from mothers. One only has to learn about the history of birth, to realize how much we don’t know.  From the prevalence of x-rays, gassing unwilling moms, doing away with midwives to routine episiotomies -it is clear to see the dangers in not exercising caution.  I am sure the people 50 years ago had a hard time accepting that their “new and improved” way could actually be causing more harm than good.  Something we should all consider when we are deciding what tests and procedures to have done.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that all forms of intervention are bad.  I am very thankful that modern technology allows us to save babies and moms who would have otherwise not made it.  The problem is this life saving technology is being used in excess.  We have hit a point where it is creating problems for low risk women, who likely would have been fine had they been left alone.   Every woman has a different set of beliefs surrounding the process, her body and what she is comfortable with.  There are physical limitations as well.  Given these differences, every birth should be approached and treated as a unique event.  We need to concern ourselves more with what level of intervention is acceptable for low risk pregnancies and births, and ensuring informed consent takes place for those who want or need to go a different route.   That is far from where we currently stand.  Births are scheduled for convenience and managed for efficiency.  A number of machines are used to monitor mom and baby for the sake of malpractice risks.  Procedures are often carried out without informed consent.  This disturbing trend is exactly why more and more women are choosing to bring their babies into the world outside of the hospital.  It isn’t so much “the experience”, as it is about avoiding unnecessary risks that the management of birth brings.  There are hospitals that are trying their best to be sensitive to the unique needs of women, yet so many continue to do what is best for business.  This should be cause for concern for all who value the autonomy of women.