At church a couple of weeks ago the Pastor began his sermon with a story on birth. A friend of his giving birth in the 1970s decided they wanted to have a natural birth and took a Lamaze class. Their goal was a beautiful, natural, pain free (ha!) experience with no drugs. During the height of labor when the pain was at its peak, the woman was struggling and in a ton of pain, so her husband got in her face and said, “Honey you can do it! Breathe” (then he did the panting breath in her face) the woman grabbed his arm in a death grip and told him where he could go. One of the pastors points (besides humor) was that change can require labor and pain.
As I was leaving an older women came up and asked me when I was due. Then she joked with me and said, “Natural birth, yea right, who wants that? ” I just smiled, but in my head I was thinking well, ME! I’ve had several people ask me, “Why go through that pain unnecessarily?”
My personality and life philosophies contribute to my choice. I’ve always enjoyed a challenge and I have a holistic approach to most things. I avoid medication as much as possible, I like to eat healthy foods, and enjoy physically demanding activities. Also, I believe in the natural process of birth and think that women’s bodies are designed for giving birth.
One of the biggest reasons I’d like to have a natural birth is that after 9 months of eating carefully, limiting caffeine, no alcohol, and taking very little medication, why would I want to give the baby a bunch of drugs at the end?
I know some people say the drugs don’t affect the baby, but to me that just doesn’t make sense. And from what I’ve read and in talking to other women there are side effects to epidurals and pitocin. Epidurals can cause a Mom to be confined to bed during labor (which isn’t ideal for pushing the baby out) cause the mom’s blood pressure to drop, cause a fever to develop, and can affect the baby making it difficult for the baby to breastfeed at first (check out this post for more detailed information Epidurals don’t affect the baby and other drug myths). Pitocin (had this last time and WOW it is a powerful drug) can reduce oxygen to the baby, cause rapid labor results in cervical or perineal tears, and cause newborn jaundice. Finally, the more interventions one has can lead to a C-section. Sections were up to 34% in 2009 and this major surgery. Since I like to avoid medication, major surgery is not something I am interested in. It seems like one intervention can often lead to another and once the path of interventions is started the birth becomes a medical event and the mother and father are not left with much control. Now, I realize that modern medicine has a place and can save lives and if needed I will gladly have a c section for the health of myself or my baby, but if everything continues to be healthy I would like to have a natural birth.
Going through labor also has benefits for the baby such as squeezing amniotic fluid from the lungs, helping the baby mature and get ready to breathe, can result in more skin to skin bonding for the baby and mom and possibly easier breastfeeding.
Bottom line is giving birth is hard and all Moms have to decide what they want. For me, a natural birth makes the most sense. I would encourage all expectant moms and dads to be informed about the pros and cons of each to make the best decision for yourself. And remember Moms it isn’t a competition (see post, Letting Go of the Need to be Right) having a natural birth doesn’t make someone tougher and having pain medication doesn’t make someone weaker. We’re all just doing the best we can for us and our babies and either way many challenges lay ahead!