I had my first at a hospital. We took Bradley classes, read lots of books, and thought we had a great birth plan. Mostly we just said we wanted to avoid routine procedures and to ask my consent before doing anything. Well, we ended up having a terrible L&D nurse. She made me feel bad for wanting to remove my clothes during heavy labor... Even mentioned an obese African American woman who was just "lettin all hang out.". Awkward to have to labor around her after that. To top it off, the midwives on call were equally unsympathetic to my requests. They tried to break my bag of waters after I explicitly told them not to. While checking my dilation on all fours they got out the hook and were holding it on the side of the bed where my husband couldn't see it. I happened to look down and yell at them to stop. The exams were excruciating. The midwife ended up breaking my water with her hand during that exam with the hidden hook. When I was 8 cm and in transition they threatened to get a court order to give me Pitocin, since my contractions were not getting any closer than 5 minutes apart and only lasting about 30 to 45 seconds. I ended up getting an epidural because I could not handle transition and having to fight for a natural birth at the same time. My husband told them my wishes, but they told him his opinion doesn't matter. Thank goodness there was a shift change when it came for me to push....the new midwife said they were going to send me in for a c-section. For no good reason other than time. I had been in active labor for about 15 hours total. It was a horrible experience.
Next baby we switched our insurance during open enrollment so I could birth at a hospital with a birth center. They had tubs to labor, but not birth, in. I still felt very pressured by the clock... My waters sprang a leak and I didn't realize they changed their policy to where they want you to come in right away and be in active labor within 12 hours, rather than wait at home for 24 hours for labor to start. I had some truly wonderful nurses who let me know that they can't control whatever decisions I make. Essentially, they don't have a Lo-Jack on me
Nothing is going to rush this natural process. So my plan at that point was if I got to 12 hours and wasn't in active labor (at which point they would send me to L&D), I would go home until I got into active labor. The midwife woke me up at 4am to let me know I had about 2 hours, So I got up and started doing lunges up and down the hall in front of the nurses station so they knew I was "trying". I started having real contractions at 6 am and moaned extra for the benefit of the midwives
. I labored in the tub a bit and when I felt like I was getting close the midwife checked me again and told me I was still at 4cm. WTF. So I said screw this noise, get me an epidural...narcotics, whatever. That was the Transition talking. My husband wheeled me down from the birth center to L&D...when I got in the room, I stood up and felt my baby coming out. She was born in 3 pushes and 5 minutes, and I delivered her standing up supporting myself on the edge of the bed. Great timing!
I felt so empowered by my natural birth that I felt healed from the trauma from my first birth.
The cost of insurance is so high now we do not have the option of changing it again, so I must give birth to my 3rd (due in June) at the same hospital I had my first. I can not have a home birth I planned on because I suffered a pulmonary embolism at 8 weeks and I'm on blood thinners. But I feel like I learned a lot from the nurses and the experience of my second birth that I can successfully navigate the hospital staff and have a natural birth:
- It's your body. It's your baby. Try not to think in terms of them "letting" you do things, like wear your own clothes or walking around or going to the bathroom. Or eating and drinking. I do not plan on asking if it's okay, because I know it is...and I will have a big Trader Joes bag filled with snacks, squishy bread, honey sticks, water and juice. They are not in charge of you, you make your own decisions and just do them. It takes two to oppress.
- Do your research and know what you want. They don't always know to ask you before doing something routine, because for them it's, well, routine. Be flexible for the health of you and your baby, but don't let them bully you. Of course we want to Make Nice, but not at the expense of your birth for the sake of hospital staff doing whatever is easiest for them.
- I know my body. I know my contractions did not come closer than 5 minutes apart with both of my babies. And I still had a natural birth with my second. My body works.