A few weeks ago, I was at my 14 week check-up with my midwife, and she asked me why we had decided to go with a natural birth this time after 3 previous hospital/medicated births. I felt myself bubbling up with the enthusiasm that any person feels when they have made a discovery and are excited to share. I think I sort of stumbled over my answer to her, but here are the 10 reasons why my husband and I chose a midwife-assisted, natural birth for our baby’s delivery in December.
I’d love to make a note here that I make a point to never judge other’s choices for their own births. I’ve been blessed with THIS baby and THIS pregnancy, and I’m making the choices I feel are best for US. Giving birth in any shape or form is absolutely miraculous, no matter how it happens. I just want to shape my own experience in the best way I can.
- Because I want to know what I am capable of if I try. Over the years I’ve become more and more athletic and marveled at the things I can do now that I would have said “Never” to before. Natural birth is one of those things that I told myself “I could never do that” because I’m such a wimp with pain. But the truth is, I think I could handle it now, if I prepare myself properly this time. I’m open-minded to any birth situation evolving, from having a quick and pain-free delivery to having an intense and difficult delivery to having complications and being transferred to a hospital. No matter what actually happens, I will be ready.
- Because hospitals and medical equipment are intimidating. Even if I didn’t have PTSD from my Dad’s brain tumor surgery and recovery, hospitals can be an intimidating place to be. They are bright and sterile and full of sick people and doctors in a hurry and nurses who may or may not be accommodating to your wishes and goals. Just the sight of medical equipment laid out on a table before a delivery is enough to scare a cervix closed (if you don’t get this, you must read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth). I love that my birthing center is in an old home, and the more I am there for visits, the more comfortable I feel.
- Because I don’t want unnecessary interventions. After seeing The Business of Being Born, I realized that the interventions I received during all three of my previous births had not only been unnecessary, but had put me and my baby at risk. I was induced unnecessarily twice. All three of my babies’ heart rates dropped as soon as I received my epidural, and during my second baby’s delivery I actually lost consciousness when my blood pressure dropped. I may have been able to handle my son’s labor and delivery, which I had intended to do unmedicated, had I not been given pitocin and started having monstrous contractions. He was born with forceps. I’m so lucky that his birth didn’t end in c-section.
- Because I want to let my body do what it was made to do. I want to trust my body this time and listen to it, and experience birth in the same way that women have experienced it since the beginning of time. I want to push when my body says I’m ready, breathe with my contractions, reach down and be the first hands to ever touch my baby. I want to experience the miracle that is my body just knowing what to do, without help.
- Because I want to be mobile. I love that I will be able to walk, lean, squat, sit, take a hot shower, sit in the birthing tub, and get into whatever position feels right at the time.
- Because I live a holistic approach to life, so why wouldn’t I have the most holistic approach to birth? You’ll rarely find me even taking a Tylenol for a headache. When I’m sick, I treat myself with nutrition and trust in my body until it’s necessary to see a doctor (almost never). When I’m anxious, I meditate. So for me, unmedicated, natural birth with midwives who encourage the mother to take control of her pregnancy by being proactive with her health and nutrition falls right in line with the rest of my approach to life.
- Because my midwives rock. Finding the right midwives has been one of the best things to happen to us. Our appointments have been long and personable, with so much time to discuss any questions and taking extra time to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Our children are welcome to the appointments and able to experience the pregnancy right along with us. I feel so confident in their abilities, their statistics, their medical training (CNM’s), and their bedside manner.
- Because a birthing center is so much more affordable. Let’s be honest, birth is expensive, even with insurance. A hospital birth with epidural would cost between $13,000 and $18,000 in our area, and this doesn’t even include the OB’s delivery fees. Our entire birth, including all prenatal care and visits, tests, birth, pediatric care post-birth, a home visit to check mother and baby, and a follow up visit, are costing just over $4K.
- Because I want an easier recovery. Women who deliver naturally tend to experience an easier time recovering, less instances of tearing and episiotomy (our birthing center’s current episiotomy rate is .06%), and less fatigue post-partum. Oh how awesome it would be not to have to scream and cry for the week after giving birth every time I have to pee.
- Because I want to be in control. I love that no one is going to be rushing me, forcing me to sit down or lay down, or yelling at me to push when I’m “supposed” to. I love that I can eat and drink during my labor if I want (doesn’t it make sense that you would need to stay hydrated and keep blood sugar up for such a physical demand??). I love that I can reach down and pull my baby right up onto my chest for his/her first breaths. I love that I won’t have to hand them over to anyone for tests and shots and baths until I am good and ready.
Did you have a natural birth? I’d love to hear if you have any reasons to add.