Wow, this is becoming a heated topic
. Having one birth in the hospital with the epidural and routine junk, and one at home, I feel very strongly about how wonderful homebirths are and how natural childbirth is, and shouldn't be messed with! In MY experience, birthing at the hospital was not "empowering" at all. It felt like I was not regarded as an individual that they should support in labor, but just another patient that they wanted to just get through to the end. KWIM? My nurses were nice ladies, my CNM was a nice lady, the doctors were nice people. I had a healthy baby, so all in all, it was a good day and a good experience... but I didn't know what I was missing until I had my homebirth
When I arrived at the hospital in labor, the first thing they did after I got into my gown was have me lay down. I didn't think anything of it because that was "normal." That's what you do in a hospital. Then once contractions started getting more intense, the only thing I could do was clench the bars on the bed and tense up in pain. Next thing I know, I'm offered complete pain relief, just sign these papers and you'll be feeling great in no time! No horror story here...my epidural went in (painful, but eh, it's a big needle going into your spine!) and within 5 minutes, I felt better. I constantly switched sides in the bed so I would be evenly numb, and even got up to use the bathroom! Lucky for me, the nurses forgot to put a catheter in
. I felt pressure and the urge to push when it was time and baby came out in 20 minutes with a fairly minor 2nd degree tear. Like I said, all in all, a good experience.
I did have a few things that I didn't like about my birth experience, such as them INSISTING on giving my baby antibiotics and keeping her for an extra day, just in case...because when she came out she didn't scream vigorously. ( I now know that this is common with epidural births.) They also made a big deal about her being bluish for the first few seconds of being born. They did not allow me to videotape my birth, which I will ALWAYS regret...my mother was not in the room when she was born because we were only allowed 3 people, and to not cause issues, we just decided it would only be DH. I also spiked a fever shortly after delivery and even passed out in the shower. Some of their other protocol was obnoxious: the armcuff that automatically squeezed my arm every few minutes while laboring (sooo annoying I kept taking it off as soon as they left the room) and being woken up every 2 hours at night to draw blood and take my temperature. Not to mention the dirty looks of "you're a horrible parent" for questions some of the shots they gave her and delaying our discharge by hours and ignoring me when I asked when they would let us go.
For my homebirth, I WAS COMPLETELY IN CONTROL the whole time. I was able to move how I needed to, not rushed at all, push when I needed to ,change positions, etc. That day was the most empowering and wonderfully beautiful day of my life.
I was a woman and my body was completely capable of birthing on its own. I didn't have any cervical checks until right at the end when I wanted to push, she checked me. I just did what my instincts told me to do. I also had a much better recovery. The first time around, I felt like I was hit by a bus. This time, I felt better much much sooner. I went to church less than 24 hours after I gave birth lol. I bled less, I was way less swollen, and just felt "normal" a lot sooner.
On the subject of all the love hormones and whatnot, honestly I'd have to say I felt it more with my natural childbirth. OF COURSE I loved my first daughter, but there was something different this time. It's like a more intense feeling of love. From the moment she was born, I've had this ecstatic feeling of overjoy.
I also co-sleep with this one, which I think helps immensely with the bonding and helps with breastfeeding. I didn't co-sleep with my first daughter because before you leave the hospital, they make sure to beat it into your brain that you are irresponsible and will kill your baby if you sleep with them. With my first, I also didn't like breastfeeding, so I stopped soon after she was born. This time, I am loving it. Looking down at my nursing baby makes my heart melt. It is such a special and sweet experience.
Sheesh, sorry for the LOOONG post. Basically, I think the epidural is offered to vulnerable women as the only way to deal with childbirth. Natural methods of handling it have been forgotten by most hospital staff members, and I think the staff THEMSELVES can't deal with a laboring woman and that's why the epidural is basically routine. I think childbirth is wonderful and works best in so many ways when left alone and that a lot of women truly don't know what they're missing!