Wednesday, August 11, 2010

birthing babies

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I used have photos from Elizabeth's birth and first months as my screen saver on my computer. I could see the photos as I walked on the treadmill, and recently I've been thinking about my experiences with Elizabeth's birth, and how I'm glad that the next birth was different.

Elizabeth's birth was a planned homebirth that ended up transferring to a hospital for lack of progress. It was not an emergency transfer, as no one was in distress or in any kind of a medical emergency. My midwives were experienced, and made the best recommendation they knew to make, based on the circumstance. Elizabeth was born with the assistance of pitocin augmentation, and some of those "just in case" antibiotics, but no pain medications, and just a few other interventions (IV, external fetal monitor, Intrauterine pressure device, catheter) . Even though I labored at home for close to 48 hours, and an additional 8 or so in the hospital, I still managed to crack jokes, and say after she was born "It wasn't that bad." I was glad I made a birth plan in case of transfer, but sad we ended up using it. I was glad that we were blessed to get the on-call doctor who specialized in high-risk pregnancies, and who has a relatively hands-off approach, and is cautious about using interventions. I was sad that we felt that we needed to go to the hospital at all.

Even though our outcome at the hospital was good, and we weren't pushed into interventions we knew were likely when transferring (like a c-section), seeing the photos reminds me of some of the reasons I wanted a homebirth in the first place.

Here are some of the things that I DID experience that I would rather have avoided by staying home:

Being asked lots of questions in the midst of laboring.
No eating or drinking during labor. I was crazy thirsty, and a little hungry.
Being tied to the bed with monitors and IV's.
Feeling like I had to ask permission to do things (like using the toilet!)
Being limited in who I could have around as labor support.
Having the "threat" of a c-section hanging over my head - if I wasn't on schedule with hospital expectations, off to the OR I would go. This was specifically expressed by the doctor.
Having Elizabeth taken away from my room for some of the newborn checks.
Signing page after page (after page!) of forms just to go home.

I'm grateful that we had a healthy baby, and a healthy mama. That doesn't mean that I had to like everything that went on in the process of achieving that end.

I do want to be clear that I'm not intending to criticize the parents that choose a hospital birth, or that choose interventions.  I guess I'm sticking up a little defense of those people who are told that they should be happy that everyone is healthy and just ignore the emotional side of things.

Birth is emotional, and if we want to get a handle on helping parents through it and afterwards, then we need to recognize all aspects of birth as contributing to a "healthy mama" or a "healthy baby" - emotions included.


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