19 December 2013

39 Weeks and Why I Want A Natural Birth

Even before I found out that we were pregnant, I knew I wanted a natural, unmedicated childbirth. I've never been a fan of routinely taking medication, even Tylenol (which is apparently much more dangerous than most people think - see this and this). I did not think that my decision was very controversial. However, after 9 months of pregnancy, I can tell you that I was certainly wrong about that assumption.

I routinely get asked if I'm going to get "the drugs." When I respond, "nope, trying for a natural birth," the responses I get the most are "you're crazy" or "good luck with that." While I respect other people's thoughts and experiences on the subject, I'm starting to wonder why it seems like such a radical choice to most people, so I did a little digging.

A little more than three out of five of women chose an epidural (see this CDC study). Medical advances mean that getting an epidural is a fast and effective way to block the pain of labor for the mother. As the CDC report puts it, "this can lead to a more comfortable labor and delivery experience when compared with other forms of pain relief (e.g., systemic or local analgesia, Lamaze)."

What getting an epidural looks like.
However, there are side  effects associated with an epidural, including a longer labor, an increased chance of c-section (some reports show the chance of c-section increases up to 2.5 times after receiving an epidural), up to triple the likelihood of induction with Pitocin, and an increase the chance of instrumental delivery (no, that's not as awesome as it sounds). Not to mention the fact that you are paralyzed from the waist-down for whoever knows how long after receiving the epidural. I also won't even talk about a botched epidural (which happens more than you would think). 

Aside from all of the rather frightening information about epidurals, I have never been the type of girl to take the easy way out. I totally understand that there are some situations where having an epidural/other type medical intervention can be life saving to both the mother and child, for instance with a medically-necessary induction. In that case I absolutely understand the decision to have an epidural. However, as my pregnancy has so far been low-risk, I'm not anticipating that I will need such medical intervention (knock on wood) and therefore it seems to me that asking for an epidural would be taking the easy way out.

I just wish I could explain my reasoning for wanting a natural, unmedicated childbirth to people without feeling like Sasquatch or some other ridiculous freak of nature. 

Ludo Smash.
Maybe in the future I can just bust out the following list:
  1. I am not afraid of pain. 
  2. I actually want to experience childbirth (yes, pain included).
  3. I survived and recovered from a brutal emergency abdominal surgery when I was 20 (and the subsequent life-changing diagnosis). I did not die or even experience an extreme amount of pain when I was 17, despite the fact that my appendix had been ruptured for a week. 
  4. Because of my experiences, I believe in my body's natural ability to be awesome, despite extremely difficult situations.
  5.  Based on the above, I also know that I have an extremely high tolerance for pain.
  6. I enjoy things that are difficult, because the payoff is so much better than things that are easy. 
  7. I believe that I will be able to perform better during the labor and therefore have an easier experience, if I am not numb from the waist down.
  8. I believe it will allow me to have an intense and amazing bonding experience with my husband and my son.
  9. Believe it or not, I am actually excited to experience the birth process, and I want to be as fully present as possible. 
  10. Seriously. Experienced a fair amount of physical pain in my life. Really doesn't scare me.
Now some of you been there, done that moms might be thinking "wow she is really naive - just wait until she experiences it and she'll be singing a different tune." And you might be right. I know that labor/birth does not always go as planned. I absolutely do not judge women who chose to get an epidural for whatever reason. It's a well-practiced and safe medical procedure. I just know that given the choice, it is not for me. I wish that people could afford me the same respect in return instead of labeling me as "crazy."

In the mean time, I truly hope that I get the opportunity to experience birth the way that I want. But whatever happens in the end, as long as my son and I are both healthy, I will be happy.

Okay enough seriousness, here are this week's pictures. Figured we might want to include Patrick in these since they might be the last baby bump pictures we get to take (fingers crossed!).
Our best Christmas gift ever is on his way!

1 comment:

  1. I had natural childbirth with both my kids. I also wanted a drug free, natural experience, that would be the safest for my babies.

    I found a hospital that had a birthing room that looked like a bedroom back in the 80's and I refused all the standard medical procedures while giving birth (fetal heart monitor, prep things done to women:) etc.

    From the time I arrived at the hospital with my first born it was 2.5 hours until I had her and I went home in 6 hours feeling great.

    My son was 10 pounds four ounces and I had him without drugs in one hour by the time I went to the hospital.

    I also don't even take aspirin. I also have a high tolerance for pain.

    I hired a Doula for my daughter and hired one for my daughter-in-law. They both said they were a godsend.

    They both had intrathecals instead of an epidural because you can still get up and walk around. Just took the edge off.

    I will be including you and your husband and baby Grayson in my meditation.