Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Birth story background, part 2

Continuing from the last post, here is why we did not want a hospital birth.  This post was also written on my old blog when I was about 37 weeks pregnant.  

John and I started this journey in a traditional OB practice with a midwife.  I really wanted a midwife to deliver us, as I felt that was the best option for finding someone who would work with us towards having a natural, unmedicated childbirth.  John really wanted to deliver at a hospital as he felt that was the safest place to be.  So, a midwife practicing in a group of OBs seemed like a great compromise.  As time went by, we were educating ourselves through the internet as well as our birth class about typical procedures that are performed at the hospital for mom as well as baby.  I began to form my birth plan and we would occasionally bring it to our prenatal visit to discuss with our midwife.  My birth plan began to look like a novel.  I had it in bullet points and made the font smaller to fit everything on one page.  I was asking a lot of questions of our midwife and trying to get a feel for what was standard procedure at the hospital, and then including those details in my birth plan if they differed from my desires.  Unfortunately, our midwife raised several red flags with the way she answered a number of our questions.  We really felt like she was yielding to protocol, which is understandable as she works in a network of OBs and delivers at a large hospital.  We can't blame her for following procedure, but we were still uneasy about some of her answers to our questions.   

 There were quite a few topics that we would need to advocate for while in labor and delivery.  However, in a hospital setting, many of the things we were requesting were not the standard procedure.  John and I started worrying about how we would manage to enforce our birth plan.  I, clearly, couldn't be an advocate for myself during labor.  John was going to be very busy staying connected to me and supporting me.  He is totally capable of being my advocate and reminding the nursing staff of decisions we had made.  However, we were unsure that John wanted to take on that role at the expense of being less connected to me emotionally during the labor and birth.  John's primary role is to be my support partner and coach.  

We decided that we needed to go on a tour of the hospital to fully make up our minds.  We went to the hospital with the hope that we would be reassured by the staff and environment that all of this was possible.  We were looking forward to the tour and had very open, hopeful expectations.  

Unfortunately, we were disappointed.  The tour had about 20 couples signed up.  The nursing staff had a very rude and condescending attitude about natural birth.  She rolled her eyes and laughed when she described that they do have a jacuzzi tub for "anyone who wants to attempt this without any pain medication".  There were several other comments made about natural, unmedicated childbirth that made John and I exchange knowing looks.  The nurse showed us the 'newborn procedure station' and I asked if it was possible for them to do the procedures while baby was being held by mom.  She fumbled around for a moment, then answered that "that would be a decision you could make, but we can't make any promises".  She acted like me wanting to make a decision was out of the ordinary and not welcome. This was the clincher for me.  The most important aspect of this process to me is that John and I are in charge of our birth.  We don't need someone to tell us how they will be doing things.  We are capable of birthing our baby.  In the case of an emergency, of course, we would need someone directing decisions.  But that is a pretty unlikely event.  The last straw for John was this little gem; the hospital puts a tracking anklet on each baby.  The anklet locks any door that you get close to and the whole hospital locks down should the anklet be removed without a key.  The problem John and I have with this is that the hospital requires a 2 night stay, which is ridiculous.  With a natural, unmedicated birth there is no reason I shouldn't be able to go home within a few hours.  Also, we are choosing to opt out of several unnecessary newborn procedures and we are afraid that we will get push-back on that, which is pretty scary if the hospital is in control of your baby.  

So, in the end, John and I couldn't get out of the hospital fast enough.  We spent the whole drive home discussing what we did want.  It was pretty interesting that he and I were totally on the same page after the tour.  We didn't have to say a word to each other to know that this wasn't right for us.  Honestly, it was a relief to be so certain about something.  We knew a hospital birth just wasn't for us.  I know that many people have successful natural childbirth experiences in hospitals.  I also know that it just isn't for us.  Every parent makes the right choices for their own situation.  We are thrilled with our decision and finally feel confident with our care provider.

Overall, we both agree that a hospital is a great place to be in the case of an emergency.  However, birth is not an emergency.  Our baby ALREADY has all of the immunity she needs to the things in our home.  Why would we take her to a hospital, filled with sick people, and risk exposing her to illness?  Why would I want to hang out in the hospital, 'just in case' when that is the place to go if you are in a 'worst case scenario' situation?  Doesn't it just feel like we would be setting ourselves up for unnecessary interventions?  

Birth is normal.  I am confident in my body's ability to birth a baby.  I firmly believe that our bodies have a natural system of pain relief that allows you to gradually handle the pain of birthing.  I also firmly believe that our bodies will not destroy or damage themselves during the birth process.  If either of these statements were false, how would we have survived as a species?  Hospital birthing is only 2-3 generations old.  Were the generations before that doing something wrong?

Hospitals are great for emergencies.  In the event that our birth turns into an emergency, we will not hesitate to transfer and receive the best emergency care available. 

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