When it comes to childbirth, one thing that we can all agree on, is that it is an intensely personal experience (in more ways than one). Additionally, we all know that there is absolutely no way to anticipate the reality of childbirth until you are there in the moment….or many, many moments. In this installment of our Ending the Mommy Wars series, we talk with our contributors about a very hot topic amongst mommies-to-be….a 100% natural child birth versus a medically assisted delivery. During those precious nine months of anticipate, we all picture what our ideal experience will look like. The people that will be present. The environment that will surround us. The instant where all the weeks of pregnancy, pay off in greater dividends than we could ever understand before now. While we all have our own picture of “ideal” the reality is that there is no singular “right” or “best” way to bring a new life into this world. From hospitals, to birthing centers, to living rooms and from doctors, to midwives, to doulas, the options available to a new mama are plentiful and not to be judged by others. Join us as we explore this topic in our attempt to Love More and Judge Less.
Elisa: Natural Childbirth
“My decision to have a natural homebirth came in a roundabout way. When I got pregnant with my first child, I was living in Seattle, a city where midwives are as common and definitely as respected as OB’s. I ended up choosing a midwife practice where I had the option of delivering in a hospital, birth center, or at home. I went in leaning towards a hospital or birth center birth, and did not desire to deliver at home. I thought it was too risky.
Throughout my pregnancy and prenatal care, which was so personalized and very holistic, I began to ponder what it would be like to deliver at home. I did lots of research (and I mean lots). I could tell you what drugs were commonly used and why during a “normal” birth at a hospital. Although I lived in a state where c-section rates and inductions are much lower than most, I still knew how common it was in a hospital setting. I really believed that my body (and the baby) would know what to do when it came time to deliver, and I also wanted to wait until that time came naturally and trust my body. It really boiled down to the trust I felt under the care of the midwives and doula that would be at my birth, and realizing they had skills and tools to safely deliver my baby at home, and if by chance I needed to be transferred to a hospital, the plan was clear and simple and we could make it into an operating room swiftly. The final turning point was visiting the hospital that I was planning on delivering at and feeling my body tense up. The hospital and staff were wonderful, but because of past experiences my body did not relax in that setting and I couldn’t imagine laboring well there. And so I chose to have a home birth and it was a beautiful way for our family to bring our daughter into this world.
I am thankful for the opportunity to have a birth that was, in part, how I hoped and planned; thankful for a community that supported and advocated home birth; and thankful for my team that helped me labor and deliver safely. All that being said, my choice to have a home birth was what was best for my family and me. I greatly respect OB’s, the interventions they are able to use to deliver many babies safely, and the mamas that choose to do things differently than I did.”
Jessie: Epidural Childbirth
“When I was pregnant with my first baby (now 5 years old), I was absolutely terrified of the labor and delivery process. I was among the first of my friends to have a baby and was the youngest member of my extended family for many years….heck, I didn’t even know how to change a diaper (seriously). Needless to say, other than my own mother, I really didn’t have any real-life experiences to draw from. I attended the childbirth classes my OB/GYN’s office provided and my husband and I pretty much left with that deer-in-the-headlights look each time. We were scared… excited, but scared.
From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I knew a hospital delivery was for me. Though I lived in an area of the country where home birth and birthing centers were common, I was simply too nervous to go that route. I am a planner by nature, so the thought of the unknown made me believe that having the ammenities of a hospital available were the best route for me and my family. Now, the question of an epidural was one that I struggled with for the entire 9 months of pregnancy and truthfully, the vast majority of my 12 hour labor. Contrary to my “planner” nature, I went into the hospital with only one plan….try and enjoy as much of this precious experience as possible. I labored as long as I could medication-free and when I reached that critical point where I was no longer “present” in the moment (or maybe all too present), I asked for the sweet, sweet epidural. The anesthesiologist respected my wishes to “keep it light” and while my pain was greatly reduced, I was still quite present and able to feel all the feels….for better or for worse. Likewise, the hospital staff respected my wishes to keep the “audience” to a minimum during delivery. Just me, my husband, and a minimal essential medical team.
When my baby girl arrived just an hour or so after the epidural was administered, all medication was stopped immediately (short of a few advil) and I was able to cuddle my sweet bundle of joy as I paced the floor of the hospital room. And while I can truly say I experienced all the moments of labor and delivery, I also know that for me, the medication is what allowed me to stay “present” during the experience and even today, able to remember it with fondness and joy. I was so fortunate to deliver baby #2, two years later in the same hospital, just across the hall, with essentially the same staff and experience.
For me, there is no question that my choice was correct….for ME and for MY family. But I also say power to the mamas! Your birth experience is to be treasured and should be something that you look back on with joy and fondness. Do it your way (as much as possible). Believe it or not, it does go by all too fast. Live it the way you want.”
As we learn in parenthood, there is no one way to do things and it starts with childbirth. What works for one mama may not be ideal for another. And what we have always believed to be the “right” way to do things may not be right for US when the moment comes. We are all in this together mamas. Let’s Love More and Judge Less!