|Thoughts on labor
||[Sep. 8th, 2008|04:59 pm]
Now that I'm entering the third trimester of this first pregnancy, I'm beginning to think about labor and birth. The Beast & I made the decision early on to have a home birth with a direct-entry midwife. I'm still very happy with that choice. Once of the main reasons we went this route is because of the risk of unnecessary, even dangerous, medical intervention in birth. The U.S. has not had any statistical improvements in birth safety for years, unlike other nations like the Scandinavian countries, where home births with midwives are common. Of course technology has its place, and I would be tremendously grateful (if not exactly pleased) for the ability to use it should a birth emergency arise. However, Cesarean rates are on the rise, and it's very difficult to avoid connecting the current "active management" model of hospital birth with all these C-sections.
I don't believe pregnancy is a medical condition. I do not want to be cut open unless it's necessary to save my or my child's life. I do not want continuous fetal monitoring where a tiny dip in the baby's heart rate (common and normal during contractions) could cause a scalpel-happy OB-GYN to rush me to the OR. I do not want to be pressured into giving birth lying down, and I do not want to be given Pitocin because the first stage of labor has taken longer than average. I do not want an episiotomy, when both studies and women's experience show that they hurt more, take longer to heal and affect muscular integrity more than tears. I do not want to be offered pain medication, because I don't want to be tempted into taking it. I don't want my baby whisked away into another room, or kept under observation for days for no particular reason. Finally, I don't want to bring my child into the world in a hospital, even a maternity ward.
So, for all these negative reasons, I am giving birth at home. How about some positive ones? I do want to be coached through labor by an experienced, patient midwife who will stick by my side, look in my eyes and not be drawn away to a nurses' station or another mother's bedside. I want to be given herbal medicine if my labor is slow or difficult, and I want to be shown how to change position to make things go easier. I want my husband by my side every minute to encourage me, massage me and give me pep talks. I want to relax and talk with friends during the first stage of labor, and I want my cheerleading squad by my side when things get tough. I want a cozy, familiar, homey, pleasant-smelling place to labor and birth my baby. I want to spend as much time in the bathtub, shower or birthing pool as I like. I want to belly dance my way through contractions. I want to eat and drink to keep my strength up, and I want to have a birth party with family and friends as soon as the baby's here. There are so many reasons to give birth at home - I am healthy, my baby is healthy, and unless the unlikely happens and I hemorrhage, have a prolapsed cord or the baby turns sideways (and this baby is not going to do that to me), there's no reason to think I'll need medical intervention. I am a strong woman, and I am brave enough to do this without people in white coats with machines hovering around me.
And when I get through this and my baby is here by my side, both of us healthy and strong, I'm getting a tattoo to celebrate. :]