As a kid and into my teens, I swore I was never going to have my own kids and that I would adopt, purely because I was terrified of child birth. I do not handle pain well and the media does a great job at portraying childbirth as a painful and dreaded experience. This does a great disservice to women because it wires our brains into thinking that we can’t handle childbirth without drugs and medical interventions.
I went the first twenty-something weeks of pregnancy planning on having a hospital birth with an epidural, just as I did with Roen. You can read my birth story with him here. I happily told everyone how the hospital I was going to give birth at brought chocolate covered strawberries, sparkling apple cider, and a celebratory meal for both Matt and me after delivery. I also delighted in their website emphasizing how they believe in the golden hour and delayed cord clamping. I thought to myself, “this hospital is totally for me!” It wasn’t until I asked my OBGYN about GBS drink alternatives (since the drink they give has ingredients I don’t want in my body, especially while pregnant, and I had a terrible reaction the last time I drank it) that I realized I was going to have a hard time birthing my way. I was even more discouraged when I asked how long the delayed cord clamping typically is and I was told up to 60 seconds. Only one minute?! It takes at least 3 minutes or more for the cord to stop pulsating, during which the baby is receiving blood from the placenta that has a vast amount of benefits. I began to get a lot of anxiety about my birth. Flashbacks of Roen’s birth scared me into thinking that I would be bullied into unnecessary medical interventions and that my wishes wouldn’t be respected as far as no antibiotic eye ointment or vaccines to my sweet newborn and delaying the first bath. The OBGYNs at the practice were short and not as friendly as a person who deliveries babies for a living should be. They showed no passion for what they did and had no warmth in our conversations. I immediately asked in my mama groups for the names of crunchy OBGYNs who trusted the natural birthing process and would be completely supportive of my desires during labor and delivery. I got the names of three doctors. Three in all of Riverside and San Diego County. A group of hundreds of like minded moms only knew of three doctors who didn’t over medicalize birth. That is a serious problem. However, I gladly took down the names and got to calling. But each one of them were already booked for September births! These good doctors are in such high demand because there is such a lack of them, that I couldn’t get in with them. Then I called my insurance to get the names of midwives, since they are typically less pushy in hospital births, but they told me there were none in network within 50 miles of me… After a lot of panicking, I was encouraged to look into a birth center. My first question was if they did epidurals. Nope. Then I started researching natural child birth a bit more, as I realized that it might be my only option for birthing without pressure of things I didn’t want. I asked around in the crunchy mom groups for their experiences with a drug free birth and the responses were astounding. Every one had such positive experiences. They were all so encouraging, telling me to go for it, and so I took the leap and realized that I could do it! A water birth is something I always thought was so cool and I wished I was strong enough to do it, and after reading that it can be a great pain reliever and reduce tearing during birth, I thought, if I’m going to have a natural birth, it’s going to be in a tub! I started reading water birth stories and they were all so inspiring that I actually became really excited for the experience! I watched probably 100 water birth videos and couldn’t believe how calm most of the women were. I learned about hypnobirthing and started watching YouTube videos on how it worked and how to breathe the baby down, to tell myself positive affirmations, and to imagine the contractions as surges and waves bringing me closer and closer to meeting my baby. I read about all the benefits of a natural labor to encourage me more and the dangers of epidurals to scare me away from that option. It took a lot of searching to find a birth center, and I wasn’t seen until 32 weeks which made me nervous, but after my second visit, I knew I had made the right choice. The office felt more like a home and the front desk girls greeted me by name. Everything was very relaxed and each midwife took their time during our appointments to make sure all of my questions and concerns were addressed, something I never got at my OBGYN. I was so excited to bring my baby into the world naturally in a calm environment. I was excited about the experience and I felt confident in having a quick and easy delivery!