Hey ladies, I've posted a bit on this topic before. My lifelong dream has always been to birth my babies in the peace of my own home, but I settled on perhaps giving birth to this first baby of mine at a local birthing center (attended by a CNM). My husband, who is a student physician, was initially on board with the birth center but after a visit or two felt truly uncomfortable with the idea of me not birthing in a hospital staffed by physicians.
After much discussion, prayer, and meditation, we agreed that I would continue care with my assigned OB-GYN and birth at the hospital affiliated with that medical practice- the stipulation being that my husband would do all in his power to be my advocate and support me in a natural birth. Another stipulation was perhaps hiring a doula. My husband truly isn't against natural childbirth, but is experiencing the natural nervousness of preparing to see his wife give birth for the first time. He intimately knows how much can go wrong in a childbirth, and would like sincerely for me and his baby to be as safe as possible. I, in turn, would like my partner to be comfortable and at peace so that the birth experience not just for me but for our new family will be peaceful. I know my partner will best support me if he isn't actively feeling afraid or uncomfortable around midwives.
I know many women view this as the woman's choice, and I do agree. But in any given marriage there are particular gives and takes, as well as moments we must take into account specific needs and personalities. In my particular case, I do not believe that overriding my husband's wishes would do either of us much good, nor provide the best start for our family. (He, by the way, would obviously stand by me no matter my choice. He is a very mild and mellow kind of guy. I think seeing a healthy, natural birth in action will prove INVALUABLE to his personal and professional development, and am praying double time for a situation that will allow me to birth with as little interference as possible, given the scenario.)
Anyway, at this point in my pregnancy (33 weeks) I have just now started interviewing doulas. My husband being in medical school, we simply cannot afford a full doula fee so we've opted to look into hiring student doulas who would be able to charge a reduced rate in exchange for the experience of attending a birth. I had no idea what to expect, really, going in, but had several lovely conversations with each of the doulas I spoke with and have narrowed it down to two candidates. One of them, D, has three children of her own and just recently delivered naturally at the hospital I'm registered to deliver at, but she has never attended a birth. The second one, K, has two children of her own and has attended four births so far, all hospital births. Each doula is quite reasonable, charging less than $400 for a full range of care, but it will still stretch our tight budget. The truth is that right now I'm having to decide between a prenatal yoga workshop I wanted to take ($150) and hiring a doula ($200-350); I've already payed out $185 for a Birthing With Confidence course, of which I'll receive $50 back from my insurance company.
I am used to distance running, am immensely stubborn, and have read quite a bit about natural childbirth; I don't feel nervous at all about the birth, but excited about it and truly ready for the experience despite the fact that I know it will be a challenge; my husband, too, is excited about me giving birth naturally, and is ready to support me- he will continue taking a few Bradley style classes to equip him as best as he can to support me in labor.
I want to hear from mamas who have had a *positive* hospital experience and I want to know: what made your birth/experience positive? Did you have a doula? Would you consider that indispensable, or would having a stable husband & mother be adequate? Did you do prenatal yoga, take birthing classes? Which ones? Would you consider those more or less valuable than hiring a doula alone? Did you read any specific bit of literature or use a particular mantra/affirmation that was helpful? Were you especially active during the pregnancy, or before it?
Please, I need advice and encouragement!