Right now, March seems really, really, really far away. Just keeping food down is like a full time job (in addition to the real full time job I do have). It seems silly to be thinking about the actual birth, when I have so much to get through before then. . . .
But I am wondering -- what are we supposed to do? Sign up for classes? I know that there are plenty of resources. My husband is very supportive (although he thinks I have a low-pain tolerance and doesn't think I'll make it without major meds), and would be willing to go along with me for whatever I select . . . but, is it worth it? I've been reading and researching a bit (reading/visual is my learning style in general), but wondering what else we should do. Lamaze? Bradley? Other stuff?
This is our first, so any advice from "pros" who have done this before? Thanks!
If your intention is to have a natural childbirth, then I urge you to take a natural childbirth class, seminar, workshop, whatever you can find, in addition to reading your tush off and watching videos. I think the more you prepare, the likelier you are to have the birth you want. Obviously you can't prepare for everything, however, it's nice to go into labor with some strategies (learning various birthing positions, methods for relaxation, what to expect when you go through transition).
I recommend: (if you haven't already)
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin (in fact this was given to us at our birthing class)
and The Business of Being Born (DVD by Ricki Lake) (this was the reason I wanted a natural birth)
Labor is hard, pushing is incredibly intense and it hurts. It's the toughest physical thing you will do. You need to be prepared, just like you would prepare for battle.
It’s never too early to start preparing, especially if you do intend to have a natural, intervention-free or low intervention birth! You wouldn’t wake up tomorrow morning and all of a sudden decide to run a marathon without having done any training. Good for you for wanting to learn about your options as soon as possible! The more informed you and your partner become, the better your birth experience will be :)
I agree with the recommendation of reading Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth and watching The Business of Being Born. They are both excellent places to start as you begin to figure out exactly what you want for your own birth experience. Ina May is very empowering!
You also want to make sure that you have the right kind of care provider for the type of birth you are hoping to have. Make sure you are 100% comfortable with the midwife or doctor you choose and that you are all on the same page. Know that you have the right to ask them any of the following questions so that you are able to make the most informed decisions:
üWhat are their intervention rates? Find out how many epidurals, episiotomies or C-sections they perform each year. How many natural births have they attended?
üWhat is their policy if you go beyond 40 weeks? Do they automatically induce? Let you progress to 42 weeks and then see? What methods of induction do they use?
üWill they be the one attending your birth? Do they have a backup provider? If so, can you meet with them? If you choose a midwife, do they have a backup MD they work with?
üWill your provider be present throughout your entire birth?
üCan you move around during labor? Eat or drink? Do you have to be hooked up to a fetal monitor or have an IV? Can you use the bathroom on your own?
üCan you have a doula, family members or other support people present? How many people are allowed to be with you?
üIn terms of where you are birthing, will you have access to a birth tub or shower? Do they have birthing balls, stools or other equipment? Are water births allowed? Are you allowed to room in with your baby after the birth? What do they offer as far as breastfeeding support?
Find out about your options for places to give birth in your area: hospital, in-hospital birthing center, free-standing birthing center. Know what their policies are as far as labor and delivery. You could even explore homebirth options if you were so inclined.
You might want to see if your area has a local doula organization or birth network. That could be a great source of information for you as you try to decide which route to go and what types of classes would be the best fit for you. You might even want to consider hiring a doula to help give you the support you need and be an advocate for you no matter what type of birth experience you ultimately have.
Every woman experiences labor and birth in their own way. What may be considered extremely painful for some might not be for someone else, though I think most women would agree that it is an intense and profoundly life changing experience. The more informed you and your partner are about the process as a whole, the better you will be able to make the best decisions for you, no matter how your birth plays out. I hope that I haven’t overwhelmed with you with all of this information. Being as informed as possible about your birth options is a passion of mine! You have plenty of time to begin exploring your options, figure out what feels right for you, and making plans to help you achieve the birth experience you want. Best of luck to you!
“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
- Gabriel García Márquez
My suggestion to you is to take a natural childbirth class. There is so much to learn and know about the meds you might opt for, and the procedures the OB might try to present to you. It is important to keep an open mind. Its important to be flexible. We have no idea what labor feels like and thats okay. Woman before you have paved the road. You can have your baby, YOU can do it without meds IF you want to. Don't let someone well meaning like your DH tell you aren't strong enough. You are or your body wouldn't be equiped for the job. Remember through all the classes and all the well meaning friends birth stories that your body was MADE for this! Your body knows what to do and it will figure it out! Reading info from those who have been there is only going to help you.
Take a class, read a book or two and believe in yourself and have DH do the same. DH knew from day 1 that I wanted a natural birth. Find someone in real life that has had a natural birth. I knew NO ONE!!! A co-worker did it after me and it is comforting to hear each other's stories. Be prepared to be your own advocate. When the contractions got tough I kept picturing an African woman crouching behind a bush in the desert.....If she could give birth there alone, I could do it here!!
I did not find pushing painful at all. Contractions were painful, once you could push (or rather your body makes you push) it feels much, much better.
Here's a natural labor funny: With #1 I labored through the night after having worked all day. I was tired. After one hour of pushing, I decided that I was going to 'fool' the doctor and take one or two contraction off and rest/sleep. Little did I know that you can't NOT PUSH when you are that far into it....you body curls up on its own and you have no choice. I told my husband and Dr. that after she was born (after 2 hours of pushing) and they both laughed. It was the point though that I realized my body was MADE to do this....YOU CAN DO IT!!
DD #1 was 9lbs 0oz and came all on her own on her due date :)
DS #2 was 10lbs. 0oz and was a week early....Don't let anyone tell you you can't naturally birth a big baby!!!
#3...I'm totally preparing for an 11lber.
When you sign up for your class (and definitely take one!), don't take it through the hospital as they are not geared toward natural birth or of much help for someone planning on natural birth. I would also avoid lamaze classes. There are much more effective methods, bradley, hypnobirthing, hypnobabies, etc, that will enable you to cope with the pain of your full labor, not just until you can get an epi (which in my opinion, is all lamaze is really good for).
Janel, DIY/crafting addicted wife to DH for 8 yrs, loving mama to DD1 - 6 yrs, DD2- 3 yrs, and baby 3 due Feb/Mar 2012, planning our first
I'm a Jersey girl and gave birth in northern NJ and unfortunately it's a state with high c-section rates but also a state with an abundant amount of resources. You should have plenty of access to independent natural childbirth classes near Cherry Hill. I googled quickly and found this: http://www.blossomandbirth.com/index.html
it might be helpful to call them and get some info.
I also agree with the poster who mentioned prepping your hubby. A friend of mine said she would have gone natural but her husband pushed her to get the epidural because he couldn't stand to watch her discomfort. Labor is labor. It's not a picnic, so prepping the spouse that this is what it is, how it feels and is totally safe and natural and what your body is meant to do will help you in the long run. Also, a woman going through natural labor will need specific coaching help. My husband pressed a tennis ball into the small of my back for every single contraction that I couldn't handle. I wouldn't even let him go down to the cafeteria because I didn't think I could handle the contractions without him. He helped me as I squatted through tons of contractions. With an epidural, he'd be sitting in the chair next to the bed. But in this case, he had to be up and active and not on his Blackerry.
My son's birth was the most empowering experience of my life. Also the hardest, but definitely rewarding.
Keep us posted on how it all goes with your research.
Thanks so much for all the ideas! I really appreciate it. I have already ordered the Ina May book and the DVD.
Also, last night I had a more-involved conversation with my husband, and we discussed some of these things . . . he assured me that if this is what I want to do, I'll be able to do it, and he'll support me. Apparently, I took a "joke" about my low-pain-threshold, and turned it into his "philosophical stance on medicated birth." (I'm not the first crazy-pregnant-lady to take something too seriously and spin it all out of proportion, am I??) I reminded him I used to get cavities filled without novacaine because I was more afraid of the needle than the drill . . . (The idea of an epidural absolutely, completely terrifies me). So, I think we'll be able to work through this! I'm excited about the DVD, because he loves documentaries, so this might be just the right starting place for the two of us!
My DH and I took Bradley classes with our first pregnancy and I loved how much my DH learned about the whole process. I am a reader, but he is not, and I felt it did a good job preparing him to be supportive, knowledgeable advocate for me. The time involved was a big part of it's success I thought. DH thinks we should take the class again this pregnancy!
Glad to hear you and DH had a good talk! Previous posters have already given you great ideas. I'd just echo the suggestion to really learn more about your care providers. When I got pregnant for the 1st time (this is only my 2nd pregnancy so i'm not a "pro"!) I went in to my 1st OB appointment and began to sense that the OB group I was with were not very supportive of natural childbirth. They didn't say this outright, but I asked them about C-section rates, the % of moms who have epidurals, under what circumstances they favor inducing, how "late" would be "too late" for them, restrictions during labor etc...and their answers didn't give me much confidence in their true support of natural childbirth. I was daunted about switching providers (espcially since I was already 16 weeks by the time I decided I wanted to do this), but I asked around in rel-life and online, and identified a few midwife groups that would be a better fit.
I ultimately chose a small midwife group that delivers at the most natural-childbirth friendly hospital in my area. (they have tubs and allow mom to labor AND give birth in the tub, they let me eat/drink as much as I wanted, they let me move around as much as I wanted etc...). My birth was challenging but ultimately a very positive experience and I did end up with a peaceful drug-free waterbirth. I think that other factors helped too- prenatal yoga was great, reading 5 natural childbirth books, attending a workshop with DH, hiring a great doula...but I'm really glad I switched providers at 20 weeks and ended up with both a midwife and a hospital that really supported me.
Mom to DD born March 2010, and someone new March 2012
I found in my first pregnancy that learning about and planning for the birth took most of my pregnancy. I was more anxious than I wish I would have been, but I'm quite pleased with the choices I made. The more you know about how you want things to go, the easier it is to choose a care provider (or choose not to have one). I have a friend who just knew that she needed to have her baby with just her husband there, and they spent her whole pregnancy taking midwifery classes, etc to prepare. If you wanted to birth at home, you would need a homebirth midwife, and there are different types of midwives that can legally operate in different areas. Perhaps there is a birth center you would like to give birth at. You may find that you want to use a midwife in the hospital or may find a particularly supportive OB. You may know now or find out through the course of your pregnancy that you have risk factors that would necessitate a care provider with certain credentials or experience. It's hard to find the right care provider until you have at least some idea of how you want things to go. Many women just use whatever OBGYN does their annual exams and follows their philosophy, never knowing that they have other choices. You can always switch care providers, but some providers have limits on the number of clients/patients they take, and many of the best fill up quickly.
Next comes choosing methods of pain management. Some methods (most notably the Bradley Method) require weeks and weeks of training, so if you want to use it, you're going to have to start earlier rather than later. If you procrastinate, there are still many options available to you, and a supportive and knowledgeable care provider or doula could give you some great pointers even while you're in labor, but if you wait too long, some of your options may not be options anymore. Other methods (especially water labor/water birth or epidural) are not available everywhere. If your choice of pain management is really important to you, that might influence who you choose as a care provider.
Okay, so from your post I'm guessing that you are a first time mom who hasn't been through this before. I'm a second-time mom and don't worry, I'm freaked out too. Some things I can say that I learned from my last birth are:
*Other people's experiences aren't yours, so don't assume it will turn out the exact same for you. (Example: one mama above says that pushing really hurts, but during my birth- pushing was what made the pain go away....Lesson: no two people are exactly alike- though count yourself lucky if you find someone who really resonates with you as a mother and parent!)
*People are going to give you experience based on their own experience, which is lovely but may not be what YOU NEED. Just keep this in mind, so you don't take anything personal or freak out about anything someone says.
*People online have no idea who you are, what your story is, and therefore...again be careful what advice you follow.
And now for my advice....
I'm personally the type of girl who learns from experience. I went with Hypnobirthing last time and thought my birth was going to be a joy and piece of cake. After all, hadn't all those other moms had amazing births who used that method? Well, my birth was FAST AND FURIOUS and I thought if I got through it then I deserved at least 10 gold medals. Now, as I've come to think more about my experience, I realize that I'm more of a practical person and so trying to be hypnotized or "going to my happy place" just isn't the right method for me. So I'm thinkin' I'll go with the Bradley method this time- its all about practical preparation tips and telling you what your body is going to go through.
I have nothing against Hypnobirthing or anything that tells you to get outside of your body, I think different approaches resonate more with different people. You'll find success as you know yourself better and what is RIGHT FOR YOU. That's just how I feel now after everything that I've been through. Good luck and let your heart guide you!
To be honest, this is my second baby and I am way more anxious about labor because I know what's coming. Just goes to show, you can be very prepared and still feel un-prepared.