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Making birth choices

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I have always envisioned experiencing a natural childbirth, from a very young age. I've also always eschewed traditional Western Medicine, preferring natural remedies and/or letting my pain (in the case of headaches or menstrual cramps) take its course. I have no idea why, but it appears ingrained in me!

 

My husband, on the other hand, grew up loving and respecting science and Western Medicine. He knew from a young age that he would become a doctor, and he grew up in a household happy to badmouth "hippies". His mother is vocal about having epidurals for all six of her births.

 

So, while we agree on most every issue/lifestyle choice, we came at the idea of childbirth from very different places. I desired a homebirth, or at the very least a midwife-attended birth at the nearby birthing center. My husband, now a medical student, desired a hospital birth for me (his concern being my safety) and expressed wariness at not having an OB-GYN attend the birth. He is extremely skeptical of midwives, to say the least.

 

I'm now nineteen weeks tomorrow and we've determined the best compromise for each of our comfort levels: I will switch providers to a more natural-birth friendly and female OB-GYN (the one I have now is male, and for some reason I'm uncomfortable with that; additionally, he's totally unsympathetic to any concerns I have as a woman. He once laughed at me for expressing concern over my weight gain- a totally normal issue for a first time mama who's struggled with body image issues and disordered eating!); I will hire a doula (to be an extra level of support in case my medicine-happy husband is too quick to push an epidural); I will labor mostly at home, but ultimately at a hospital that is generally supportive of natural birth, eating/drinking during labor, intermittent monitoring, movement during labor, and rooming in; and my husband will be more than happy to advocate for me and express my desire for a natural birth.

 

It feels so good to finally come to a compromise on this! And to get my husband to agree to hiring a doula! Our goal is to have both of us feel as comfortable and peaceful as possible on baby's birthday, and I think these plans reflect that. (Though I've told my husband that I might fight to have any future births at home! I really think that his immersion in the medical/pathological side of things, coupled with this being his first child and first birth experience, has made him fearful of any complications, but that once he sees the process and result of a normal healthy labor/delivery, he could change his tune.)

 

Any other ladies birthing at a hospital and hiring a doula? I just contacted the local doula co-op so I'm a little in-the-dark about the whole thing.

post #2 of 17

Can I just be honest for a minute? As much as I believe in marital harmony and respecting your DH's opinion, you are the one who is pregnant and will be giving birth and therefore this is your choice. And it should only be your choice. But if you are happy with the compromise, then it seems like it worked out. And I wish for you that after this birth (hopefully) goes well, he will be more open to the idea of a homebirth as you've always desired.

 

I was able to have a natural hospital birth (wanted a homebirth the second time around, but couldn't find an HBAC midwife in my area) and it is very doable if you have your ducks in a row as to a birth plan and a supportive OB. Also a doula will be a huge help and I'm glad you're finding one!

 

Maybe if you're still unsure at all about your decision, ask DH how he would feel if he was the one carrying the child, wanted a birth a certain way, and then had to change his plan he had dreamed about since he was a child?

post #3 of 17

As a doula, I think that's a good compromise. Most of the births I have attended have been hospital births, seeing as CPMs are illegal here. And I've seen some great hospital births (and had one with my son). I'm planning another hospital birth with a CNM group, just like last time. Some mamas feel more comfortable at home; I have seen a number of births--some of which truly required interventions only available in the hospital--so I feel more comfortable in a birthing center or hospital.

 

I agree with loveandgarbage that ultimately this is your choice. But I think that you should take your husband's opinion into account, and it sounds like you've reached a good compromise. As a med student, your husband hears and sees worst-case scenarios a lot. I totally understand his reluctance towards a homebirth. And I think you're right, about him possibly being more open to birth at home next time, especially since moms with a prior vaginal delivery appear to be much safer at home than first-time moms (per the recent UK Birthplace Study).

 

I'll probably have one of my doula friends at the birth too. I am biased, but I think a doula can be one of the biggest factors in a mom having a more peaceful birth. You said you're looking at seeing a new OB; does any hospital in your area have a nurse midwife group? Would your husband be comfortable with that? In general, I find that low-risk women are subject to far less interventions when seeing a midwife.

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Ah, thanks so much for your kind and forthright words, loveandgarbage! I can see where you're coming from and I hope I can convey my perspective clearly!

 

Yes, we went round and round talking over choices. I do think that ultimately it is the woman's decision- As I've described to my husband, this process of creating and birthing life is immensely spiritual. To him, the "end goal" (a healthy babe) might seem the same regardless of whether I have an unmedicated or medicated birth. But to me, the process of labor in and of itself is important- not to mention the added benefits of full oxytocin release and lessened risk of C-section.

 

However, after attending a few information sessions at nearby midwife-staffed birthing centers and seeing my husband grow progressively more nervous, something had to give. One of his main problems, being a student doctor, is that none of the centers staffed physicians and he was fearful that should something go wrong, the midwives wouldn't have the expertise to handle it. Nothing could persuade him that midwives possess (in some cases) superior knowledge of normal birth. We sat down with data and research and he simply would not bend on his view that the safest place for me is in a hospital.

 

To me, my husband is just as much a part of this pregnancy and birth process as I am. We created this life together and will raise him or her up together, too. I just can't see blindly disregarding his concerns, so while I do think it's my decision to make, my decisions WILL be ones that includes him. I know, too, that for him to be the best support to me during labor, he will need to feel safe, comfortable, and at peace. 

 

I've heard several positive hospital birth experiences recently, and feel that while I'd still rather give birth at home, that there's enough wiggle room for my wishes to be respected at a hospital. I might have to fight a bit more for it, but with the proper support I think it can be done. And there's always next birth, God willing ;)

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rachieface View Post

But I think that you should take your husband's opinion into account, and it sounds like you've reached a good compromise. As a med student, your husband hears and sees worst-case scenarios a lot. I totally understand his reluctance towards a homebirth. And I think you're right, about him possibly being more open to birth at home next time, especially since moms with a prior vaginal delivery appear to be much safer at home than first-time moms (per the recent UK Birthplace Study).

 

....

 

You said you're looking at seeing a new OB; does any hospital in your area have a nurse midwife group? Would your husband be comfortable with that? In general, I find that low-risk women are subject to far less interventions when seeing a midwife.

 

rachieface, thanks for your response. Yes, you pretty much described my husband to a tee. He does hear and see a lot of horror stories and tends to view things from a clinical perspective. Doctors are trained to spot pathology! I am fairly optimistic that, should this labor and delivery go well, he will be much more open to birthing alternatives (having witnessed the process unfold naturally).

 

I am looking at switching to another OB in the same practice as my current OB, for practicality's sake. The main issue isn't necessarily finding someone open to a natural birth, as most in the practice seem fairly supportive of it. It's quite literally a modesty/comfort issue! Like- the idea of the Sphincter Theory? That a woman needs to feel comfortable and safe to progress in labor? I wouldn't be able to deliver in front of a male OB (or at least, not this particular male OB.) My blood pressure goes crazy in medical offices, so it's super important to just find someone I'm comfortable with.

 

Thankfully, there is definitely one hospital midwife group in the area if the switch to my new OB doesn't work out. The reason I haven't considered them (yet) is because it's a little far away and I've heard the CNMs in the practice operate similarly to physicians, less like traditional midwives. I'd rather have a physician who supports natural childbirth (along with a supportive doula and husband) than a CNM who secretly or not-so-secretly promotes intervention.

post #6 of 17

My DH was completely against home birth for our first and while I thought about home birth, I was a little scared and was not devastated to have a hospital birth.  While my hospital birth was not terrible, I did not have the birth I had wanted or in visioned.  After that birth DH and I watched 'The business of being born'.... DH and I had been all set for all hospital births, but after that, he agreed that healthy pregnancy and birth is the norm and home is the best place for that.  He LOVED our home birth even more than I did... haha....We are planning our second home birth and very excited about it.

 

I do believe there can be wonderful hospital births and have read about them here.  Just make sure you, your DH and your doula are ready to fight for what it is you want, even with a great birth team.  I would really make sure your DH knows how important it is for you to birth a certain way.

post #7 of 17
I'm planning my second home birth now (3rd baby) but my first was at a hospital and was done without drugs. My experience was not entirely pleasant (intermittent means something different to me than it did to the nurses, plus I wasn't allowed to squat while pushing. And several other issues...) but ultimately it was probably good to not be at home 45 minutes away from the hospital just because it was something we'd never experienced before and my husband (who was and is a major advocate for me during birth) would have been pretty nervous. He went into the birth with me very educated and ready to fight after reading the Bradley birth method books with me.

I think it's also great that you'll be getting a doula, especially since your dh, as a med professional, might be persuaded by nurses and doctors during the labor if he views them as having the absolute best knowledge.?? Maybe?

If he's open to it, you might want to watch the business of being born with him. Not as something to try to persuade him to do a midwife attended birth, but to show him how so many hospitals don't even know what a birth without interventions looks like. It's just good to be aware of what goes on in many of our US hospitals and to understand why their recommendations aren't always a good idea.
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chloe'sMama View Post

Just make sure you, your DH and your doula are ready to fight for what it is you want, even with a great birth team.  I would really make sure your DH knows how important it is for you to birth a certain way.

 

 

Chloe'sMama, totally agree. We've agreed to be 100% on the same page, to take Bradley Method classes together, and to build a strong bond with our doula. My husband does know how important it is for me to try to birth naturally, even if he can't quite understand the impulse. I asked him if he were a pregnant woman, would he choose a medicated birth and he replied "absolutely!" *forehead smack*

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by odinsmama View Post
I think it's also great that you'll be getting a doula, especially since your dh, as a med professional, might be persuaded by nurses and doctors during the labor if he views them as having the absolute best knowledge.?? Maybe?
If he's open to it, you might want to watch the business of being born with him. Not as something to try to persuade him to do a midwife attended birth, but to show him how so many hospitals don't even know what a birth without interventions looks like. It's just good to be aware of what goes on in many of our US hospitals and to understand why their recommendations aren't always a good idea.

 

 

Exactly! He respects and values his fellow medical professionals and could be persuaded that a certain option might be best. I'd like a doula to keep us both in line ;) One thing my husband pointed out to me, though, is that he thinks that hospital staff might be more apt to listen to him (in regards to my wanting a natural birth) as a medical professional than they would just any other parent. Not sure if that's true or not, but it's good to know that he's prepared to advocate for me. 

 

I like the idea of watching Business of Being Born with DH. Of course, he'll probably think it's just a conspiracy theory against doctors or modern medicines (seriously- he's super sensitive to criticism about the profession!) But it's worth a try ;) He's started reading one of the Bradley method books, so we're both putting in an effort. 

post #10 of 17

I'm happy for you that you've come to this decision together and that you're at peace with it. And it is SO TRUE that your partner needs to be in a good state of mind during labor in order to be a positive support force. And really, because you will be raising this child together, this is just the first in many decisions you might need to compromise on. DH and I see eye to eye on most things but some things, like vaccines, he and I are of a different opinion. And we deal with it. And it's actually pretty great to discuss things like that because neither he nor I are of the "I'm always right!" camp and we appreciate different opinions in order to learn.

 

My second hospital birth was the best experience of my life. I managed to not have any interventions and the only complication I had was a 3rd degree tear. My OB wanted me to switch to my back for the last couple of pushes and I think that's what caused it. But overall, I am happy with it. I have never felt more powerful as I did after having a natural birth and I wish all women the same inspiring and empowering experience.

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by waywornwanderer View Post

 

To me, my husband is just as much a part of this pregnancy and birth process as I am. We created this life together and will raise him or her up together, too. I just can't see blindly disregarding his concerns, so while I do think it's my decision to make, my decisions WILL be ones that includes him. I know, too, that for him to be the best support to me during labor, he will need to feel safe, comfortable, and at peace. 

 

 

I couldn't agree more! My husband and I have been together for over 18 years and I couldn't imagine NOT including my DH in every aspect of the decision-making process. I feel for your husband - as a medical student, it must be difficult for him to separate what he is learning (Western medicine ideals) from what he is feeling in regards to respecting your wishes. The most difficult thing for any medical professional to go through is having a loved one who is ill (well in this case - not ill, but being a "medical patient" so to speak).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by waywornwanderer View Post

 One thing my husband pointed out to me, though, is that he thinks that hospital staff might be more apt to listen to him (in regards to my wanting a natural birth) as a medical professional than they would just any other parent. Not sure if that's true or not, but it's good to know that he's prepared to advocate for me. 

 

 

This is a bit tricky - from what I've experienced (in my 22+ years of being a medical professional - and from what I've seen MD, NP and other colleagues experience), this is not always the case. Sometimes, being a medical professional works against you. The medical staff will give you a lot of lip service, but ultimately they'll feel that you (the medical professional) are coming from an emotional point of view and somehow not able to separate your "feelings" from "what's medically the right thing to do." Don't know if that makes any sense - having a bad prego-brain day here.shake.gif  But I guess what I'm trying to say is having a well-thought-out birth plan and a doula are your best bets. 

post #12 of 17

I'm glad you've come to a compromise you're comfortable with - but honestly, reading your post made me so uncomfortable and nervous for you (based on my experiences with my hospital births, and people who don't understand what a birth experience means to a mother ) - I understand the desire and need to compromise and make a decision together, but there are just some things you can't control and i really hope your body is as comfortable as your mind is, and that you are able to feel safe and comfortable in the hospital ..  I didn't have a doula for my hospital births  and i really believe that would have made a difference. 

 

I know you've probably been focused on the birth stuff, but have you talked at all about how this all might spill over into parenting? i have 2 close FTM friends going through that part now and they both talk about how they wish they'd been more prepared for this part..

post #13 of 17

That's wonderful that you are both happy with the the plan you've come up with. I agree it's so important for both the husband and wife to agree on what to do. I actually had the opposite problem with my first birth. :) My husband wanted in the worst way to be the one to deliver the baby without even a midwife. I wanted a home birth, but felt uncomfortable doing it alone. 

We had a midwife that planned to be there, but she ended up being out of state the day I went in labor, and my husband got his desire to catch his first child. :) The MW was on the phone coaching him along, and my mom was there, but my husband was the one that caught his son. I was amazingly at peace with how it all turned out, and ended up in the same situation with my 4th son. 

It is a great thing to work things out together and be at peace with knowing that you both agree. It is important for the children to see that harmony, too, and to have it all worked out from the start. 

I hope everything goes wonderfully for all three of you, whether it turns out to be exactly as you have planned, or if things go completely differently than you thought they would. <3

I've had four births so far, all very different from each other, but each one special in its own way. Usually I have my own ideas about how I want to try something new during birth, and when it's actually happening... well you just go with what feels right at the time. 

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by etsdtm99 View Post

I know you've probably been focused on the birth stuff, but have you talked at all about how this all might spill over into parenting? i have 2 close FTM friends going through that part now and they both talk about how they wish they'd been more prepared for this part..

 

 

Actually, our views on parenting- along with most everything else- line up almost 100%. We both come from similar family backgrounds. I've known my husband since we were six years old, so over the years we've covered everything from discipline to family size to attachment parenting to vaccinations, etc. The whole gamut. I think birth is an issue for us because my husband is extremely concerned about "losing me". It's one of his biggest fears, and it's really coming through right now because of his immersion in medical schooling (which trains him to spot/treat pathology).

 

It has nothing to do with the fact that he doesn't respect my views, or that we haven't discussed the issue, or what have you. It has everything to do with fear. I happen to be less afraid of birth than he is, but I won't browbeat him into a situation he views as unsafe.

 

As for birthing in a hospital, I believe it can be done well given the proper circumstances: a support system cognizant of my needs, a hospital with policies that don't directly contradict my beliefs, and a healthy babe. I think the worst of it, as you pointed out, might be getting my body to relax in a clinical environment. But this particular hospital, as hospitals go, is extremely comfortable with woodland views and tubs in room. Not bad. I'm working on a number of techniques (including Bradley method, Birthing from Within, prayer, meditation, and regular yoga practice) to help me give into labor.

 

What do I know, though? I'm a FTM. It's entirely possible I'll "regret" the hospital decision, but I'm working with what I've got right now and it's the best I can do. I'd regret pushing myself and my husband into a situation that makes him uncomfortable and nervous more- because if he's nervous and upset, I'm nervous and upset. I want us both to feel confident and empowered and come out of this new life's birthday with a strengthened respect for life and the birth process. I think this is the best bet.

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by waywornwanderer View Post

...

To him, the "end goal" (a healthy babe) might seem the same regardless of whether I have an unmedicated or medicated birth. But to me, the process of labor in and of itself is important- not to mention the added benefits of full oxytocin release and lessened risk of C-section.

...

I wish I had the studies to quote, but maybe you can google something.  The end goal of a healthy babe is probably more likely to happen with an unmedicated birth.  I read one study when I was pregnant with DD that tested 5 or 6 year olds who had been born with or without epidurals, and it showed a higher incidence of learning difficulties with the epidural group.  It's hard to show a causal relationship there, but there was correlation.  Something that's probably better documented and easier to find good studies about is the fact that unmedicated babies get off to an easier start breastfeeding.  And we all know the benefits of breastfeeding for a child's health and well-being (including higher IQ, less obesity, diabetes, etc.).  I think there are definitely situations where there's enough of a reason to do an epidural that the benefits outweigh the risks, but there are definitely risks to epidurals, so don't let him argue that the end goal is the same.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by waywornwanderer View Post

...

To me, my husband is just as much a part of this pregnancy and birth process as I am. We created this life together and will raise him or her up together, too. I just can't see blindly disregarding his concerns, so while I do think it's my decision to make, my decisions WILL be ones that includes him. I know, too, that for him to be the best support to me during labor, he will need to feel safe, comfortable, and at peace. 

 

I've heard several positive hospital birth experiences recently, and feel that while I'd still rather give birth at home, that there's enough wiggle room for my wishes to be respected at a hospital. I might have to fight a bit more for it, but with the proper support I think it can be done. And there's always next birth, God willing ;)

I agree.  I do think it's important for him to be comfortable and on-board with the birth decision too, even though you should have the final word.  I would be sure to find a confident doula to be a strong advocate for your wishes during labor.  I had a pretty positive birth experience in a hospital with DD.  I'm hoping for a home birth this time, but would happily do it in the hospital again if my DH was really not supportive of it.  It sounds like you have a really good hospital option too - birth tubs in the rooms!  I was super happy that our tiny local hospital even had one jacuzzi and couldn't complain that it was all the way down the hallway from my room.  The fact that it was a small quiet hospital was a positive for me, though.  It's rare for there to be more than one woman in labor there at a time.

post #16 of 17

I am glad you have reached somewhat of a compromise, but just wanted to point out a few things! And I completely understand wanting your husband to be a big part of this respecting his wishes as well....

 

One thing though- most Midwives who practice in hospitals have a backup OB on call in case of emergencies arising.

 

Another thing- If you go with an OB, they likely will not be "attending" your labor, they usually leave it up to the nurses and come in during the last little bit

 

and one more-- even if you choose an OB within a practice, there is no guaruntee that the OB you have chosen will be on call when you go into labor.. if you stay in the same practice, that OB you are uncomfortable with may very well be the doctor who is on call when you go into labor

 

 

I think a doula is a very wise decision, as well as a very detailed birth plan. Make sure to share, in depth, your birth plan with your OB as well as ask many many questions.

 

I did have my first birth in the hospital, with a CNM group, and even being induced with pitocin had a wonderful, drug free birth. They even unhooked me from the Pit once labor got going, and let me labor for 17 hours and push for 2 1/2 hours without any intervening. I was very lucky though, and had a great midwife. My second birth was a homebirth, and it was WONDERFUL... we are planning a homebirth with the same HB midwife for this baby. :)

post #17 of 17

yes on the doula.  no doubt.  

 

your compromise sounds a lot like my first birth.  my husband and i researched a homebirth, and he was mildly supportive, but had bad experiences with the midwives we could locate and just weren't at peace.  we ended up at a birth center that is located a 4 minute wheelchair ride from the maternity ward at the hospital.  and we loved the midwives.  

 

my husband was very anti-epidural, and fought very hard for a natural birth for me, but neither of us realized that once checked into the hospital, many of our wishes were merely silly fluffy words to the hospital staff.  add to that the presence of my labor-and-delivery nurse training (now practicing) sister, NICU nurse sister, and NICU trained mom, and it was a very very hard event.  I needed a doula for sure.  i had to get an epidural when the pitocin kicked in.  i could handle the 16 hours of unmedicated back labor, but not the pitocin jacked spinal jackhammer.  and the choice wasn't, would you like pitocin or an epidural now?  it was "now you have to do something.  you can have pitocin, or an epidural, and then if we have to section you you're already halfway there."  not choices i ever thought i would have to make.  i wish i had had more intensive oversight over my labor- somehow they didn't know the baby was OP until i was pushing.  and my first was one of those stories which scares medical professionals.  but i had an OP baby with bruising on his head from hours banging against my spine.  my epidural was a lifesaver as it let me sleep for an hour in a 3 day labor.    my epidural also work pretty much completely off and i didn't ever boost it so was pretty undrugged for the pushing.

 

after that, my husband was scared of hospital births!!!!  everyone around us kept saying 'aren't you glad for -this intervention- that intervention-' and he was truly truly sad that we had to have been so intervened with.  which was my response as well.  my mother and sisters would have had me sectioned.

 

i've had 3 completely unmedicated births since, 2 beautiful home births, and my husband is the biggest ally in the home birth realm NOW.  because he truly feels that the mother is cared for better during labor, and the baby is actually more carefully monitored (not by charts, not by machines, but actually observed and cared for as individuals) in his homebirth experiences.  my 3rd had the umbilical cord around her head, neck and hand.  when pushing, they saw this, and were very calm and direct "we see the umbilical cord- we want you to push with all you have with each push."  done.  it would not have been that calm in the hospital.  and my midwives had earned my husband's trust by communicating directly, gently, and honestly with all of us during the birth.  

 

I have great hope that your husband will also see the light!  but also agree that you have to find a compromise for your birth experience that fits you both.  as a 'hippie' in a family of health care practitioners, it is hard.  did you find a good provider?  i found also that my hospital births were hard b/c i labored with a midwife who i found unsupportive and unsympathetic (and looked terrified the entire time i was in labor, and i'm not a screamer), but getting a provider who i was comfortable with and who truly supported me throughout was an amazing shift and i would never labor with anyone i didn't feel absolutely comfortable with in the most personal and intimate conversations and interactions.

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