You know what makes me frustrated? Watching shows like “A Baby Story” and seeing the laboring mother not making her own decisions about her baby’s birth. Grrrr! Now, before you judge, please know that I was that mother with my first birth, and I am speaking from experience. I had taken a typical Lamaze class, but I will be the first to admit that I was sorely uneducated in the realm of childbirth. After being pushed to get Pitocin (even though my labor started on its own and was progressing at a steady rate), I was not prepared for the incredibly strong contractions that the synthetic hormone would bring. I chose to get an epidural and then suffered from a rare, but not unheard of, spinal headache.
With Madelyn, Sean and I knew we wanted a different birth experience. Before Mads was even conceived, I began my research on natural childbirth. We chose the Midwife route as opposed to an obstetrician, hired a birthing doula, and took an intensive natural childbirth class. We surrounded ourselves with the tools needed in order to have the birth experience desired.**
Madelyn’s pregnancy and birth were not problem free, but because we had knowledge on our side, we were able to make informed decisions. I had MRSA and developed gestational diabetes while pregnant- both prevented me from being able to labor in the midwifery center. My labor with Madelyn started out the same as William’s- with my “water” breaking. Unlike the huge gush of water I had with William, this one was more of a trickle because I had a high leak. After trying to stimulate contractions for 12 hours at home, we headed to the hospital to lessen the risk of infection. I wanted as little intervention as possible, but sometimes there are circumstances that arise that mean you will require more. This is where good recall and knowledge of the situation come into play. I knew I needed Pitocin, but did not want to head down the slippery slope towards an epidural. Because we were equipped to handle such a situation, Sean and I took each incredibly strong contraction one at a time and knew how to work through them. With the contractions I had with William, I clinched and held my breath a lot. I knew from my Lamaze class that I was supposed to breathe through them, but I just didn’t know “how”. With Madelyn’s contractions, I definitely had the tools needed to stay calm and breathe through each and every one- leading to an epidural-free birth.
It kills me to see women getting epidurals at 2 cm, laboring flat on their backs, and then pushing for hours on end. I know that a natural birth is not for everyone, but even having an epidural doesn’t mean you have to set yourself up for failure to progress, hours of pushing, or a c/s. Now, I realize that there are always extenuating circumstances, but I am talking about the instances that can be avoided- the examples where the patent is pressed to into making a decision. It is the desire to help inform and educate expecting mothers that pulls me towards being a doula/childbirth educator, and I can’t wait to be a part of something so much bigger than myself.