Birth is NOT normal - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 120 Old 08-09-2012, 11:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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WHAT??  Ok, a little background.  I've always felt that birth is a normal and natural thing.  God and Mother Nature designed us perfectly for the task at hand.  I attempted a natural Birth Center birth with my first son which ended up in a c-section, my second son was born at home 4 months ago (one of these days I might have time to actually post my birth stories) and it was the most amazing experiance EVER.  I whole heartedly advocate natural birth for soooo many reasons.  That being said I also believe every woman has the right to choose the birth that will make them most comfortable, therefore I try to educate those I love without preaching and support them in whatever decision they make.  I truly believe the best and safest birth will happen where the mom feels the most secure and safe.  For some that is a hospital and for some that is at home.  

 

So on to the story...I was talking with one of my very best friends about her 1st pregnancy and upcoming birth.  She is currently 32 weeks pregnant and planning an blissful, "pain-free" epidural hospital birth.  This always surprised me about her as her mother had all three of her kids naturally and her older sister had 4 natural births, two of them at home where my friend was present.  Anyways, she was telling me about watching The Baby Story (which I think should probably be banned for all pregnant women), I jokingly told her to stop watching that and to stop reading horrible blogs about all the things that can go wrong in birth (yikes).  I suggested that, even though she is planning a hospital birth that perhaps she watch some natural births on Youtube to get the idea in her head that birth is natural and normal, that things proceed normally without problems (I'm by no means saying things don't go wrong, just that they don't deviate as ofter as shows and blogs like that make women believe).  She actually said to me...birth is not natural.  WHAT????  I asked her to explain and she said that it is SOOO painful it isn't normal.  She said when her OB asked what kind of birth she wanted, her OB was thrilled when she stated an epidural because she see's too many things go wrong with natural births.  

 

When did this happen??  When did women stop believing in their god-given super power of giving birth naturally and NORMALLY!!  It's happening even to women who have attended natural home births.  Geez 'normal' women don't have a chance of believing in themselves!!!  

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#2 of 120 Old 08-10-2012, 03:42 AM
 
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Looks like she is getting herself ready to happily fall into the " let´s do every intervention possible and say yes to everything doctor says " trap . 

You should ask her " if birth is not natural , how come mankind has survived for as long as they have ?"

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#3 of 120 Old 08-10-2012, 05:19 AM
 
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Yes, birth is not natural. We've only been doing it without the help of hospitals for 150,000 years.

 

/sarcasm off.

 

Seriously, my best idea is that she's scared. It's her first, after all, and she knows about everything that can go wrong. I'm *terrified* at the thought of giving birth, and I'm not even pregnant yet.


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#4 of 120 Old 08-10-2012, 07:22 AM
 
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And then to end up in hospital , with every possible thing gong wrong and doctor throwing one intervention at her after another is really a recipe for disaster .

Many times , those are the type of women , that completely loose faith in their body´s ability  


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#5 of 120 Old 08-10-2012, 07:42 AM
 
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To play devils advocate for a minute, why does it matter to you? It's her birth. You can say your piece about your philosophy of birth, then let it go. I know women who've birthed with epidurals and chose epidurals for their subsequent babies and feel fine about their decision. Even if they come away from it thinking "man, I'm glad the docs were there to help me with an epidural and XYZ", at the end of the day if they feel good about the decision and they and their baby are all right, they're entitled to their own feelings about their birth just like you are entitled to your own feelings about yours.

 

While birth is natural, many things that are natural aren't safe and can be painful/go wrong. Enough women and babies survived childbirth to perpetuate the species, but that doesn't mean there weren't a number of losses that we probably wouldn't consider acceptable.

 

I think MOST women do get epidurals (maybe not on MDC, but most women in the general population) and seem to like them.

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#6 of 120 Old 08-10-2012, 08:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You're right, of course. It is her birth and it shouldn't matter to me.  I guess I'm just sad to see my friend, who is so strong and smart is so many areas of her life fail to see that same strength in her own body.  I need to stay on the right side of the educational support vs preach line.  

 

Thanks for the mental check, I can be a better friend to her by just supporting her. 

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#7 of 120 Old 08-10-2012, 08:17 AM
 
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I'd like to chime in on this, if I may.

 

When I was pregnant with DS (my first pregnancy), I was TERRIFIED of birth.  I had no idea what I was in for, but I imagined horrible, horrific pain that no person should want to go through.  When I made my birth plan, the first thing I asked for was an epidural "as soon as possible". 

 

Looking back, I don't regret my decision.  I was very scared of the pain, and having an epidural and being in the hospital was the most comfortable thing to me.  In hindsight, I wish I had read the books that I have read now, and believed in myself and my body to give birth naturally (I had a short 6 hour labor and only 20 minutes of pushing!)  This time around I am planning a homebirth with a midwife (that is WHEN we get pregnant), but it would not have been the right thing for me the first time around.

 

Maybe your friend is experiencing some of the pain that I and a lot of first-time mothers face.. the fear of the unknown is a powerful thing, and fear of pain is even more powerful.  Try to give her a break, and let her learn from her own experience. Who are you to say what is right or wrong for her birth experience? (sorry, that wasn't meant to sound snarky).  I now consider myself truly for homebirth, but I would never advocate that it is right for everyone, and first time mommas do sometimes experience fear as to what birth will be like. 


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#8 of 120 Old 08-10-2012, 09:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by trimommy2009 View Post

You're right, of course. It is her birth and it shouldn't matter to me.  I guess I'm just sad to see my friend, who is so strong and smart is so many areas of her life fail to see that same strength in her own body.  I need to stay on the right side of the educational support vs preach line.  

 

Thanks for the mental check, I can be a better friend to her by just supporting her. 


Makes sense. I think also you could be helpful by discussing ways to deal with the pain in a way that meets her where she is--even if she does want an epidural, there will probably be time laboring at home, in the car, while waiting for anesthesia, etc. that having some coping techniques up her sleeve could help her even if she does plan on the epidural.

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#9 of 120 Old 08-10-2012, 11:18 PM
 
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Yes, birth is not natural. We've only been doing it without the help of hospitals for 150,000 years.

 

/sarcasm off.

 

Seriously, my best idea is that she's scared. It's her first, after all, and she knows about everything that can go wrong. I'm *terrified* at the thought of giving birth, and I'm not even pregnant yet.

crashing.

i too was terrified at the thought of giving birth. 

i wasn't sure i wanted a natural birth.

i wound up getting one, and the experience did change me.

my very first thought after birthing my daughter (in a hospital with no pain relief) was: "i could do that again."

three years later, i did do it again, gave birth to my son (also in a hospital with no pain relief -- this time, planned that way.)

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#10 of 120 Old 08-16-2012, 09:08 AM
 
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You're right, of course. It is her birth and it shouldn't matter to me.  I guess I'm just sad to see my friend, who is so strong and smart is so many areas of her life fail to see that same strength in her own body.  I need to stay on the right side of the educational support vs preach line.  

 

A husband and father here dropping in to opine.  I totally don't get this attitude - your friend is strong and smart and getting pain relief doesn't in any way diminish that.  To put this in perspective, if one of my male co-workers said to me "I'm getting a root canal tomorrow, and I've decided to get novocaine and whatever other pain relief is available" I certainly wouldn't think to myself "Pfffft, what a wimp and a loser that guy is.  If he was a real man he'd just tough it out.  I'm sad for him because he's not living up to his Dental Warrior potential."

 

If you don't want or need pain relief - hey, that's great!  But there are no merit badges handed out for being more or less 'natural' than the next guy (or gal!).  I think instead of feeling sad for your friend, you should address the real issue and work on not feeling sad for her - and, instead, support her birthing choices 100%.

 

Birth is a profound experience - even as a bystander I can see that.  But I have no problem saying with confidence that in the long run, how we come into the world is of miniscule importance compared to how our lives are lived afterwards.  Your friend wants to maximize her chances of having a healthy baby, while minimizing the amount of pain and suffering she has to go through to get there, and she's decided medical pain relief is the way to go.  There is nothing shameful about avoiding suffering, or about using medicine to relieve that suffering, and I think you should seriously ask yourself why her wanting to ease her pain (sort of?) bothers you so much.  

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#11 of 120 Old 08-16-2012, 10:06 AM
 
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SympatheticDad,

 

I used to think this way too, and in fact I used almost the exact same example you just did for why women are silly to not accept pain management during labor.  My opinion has since changed (I now have a 5 year old).  I think maybe the OP's concerns (of course, I can't speak for her), are not that her friend is WRONG for choosing to have an epidural, but overall sadness that women don't have faith in their bodies to give birth naturally, and are so paralyzed by the fear that they opt for an epidural and hospital birth because that's the societal norm.

 

I am not judging here - that is exactly what I did with my son because I was TERRIFIED of the pain, and you are right, there is nothing shameful about that.  5 plus years later and lots of reading and research on natural labor, and I am going forward with different expectations of what labor/delivery will be like next time around, and I believe that will make all the differene in my next experience. 

 

I do agree with you that there are no merit badges for having natural childbirth (but maybe there should be!). I think what most women feel/are concerned about with epi's and hospital birth in general, is that there are so many unnecessary interventions that can take place, and that it can take away from the experience and the bonding that mom and babe share in those first initial moments.  I truly believe that had I not had a hospital, intervention filled birth, my son and I would have had a better start, and could have had a successful breastfeeding relationship. 

That is not to say that hospitals and pain management and other resources provided by hospitals aren't worthwhile - for some families, they are an absolute lifesaver, and I am so grateful to live in a country where women have the option of either a hospital or a home birth.   Just my two cents here.. I agree with the other PP's that OP should be less concerned with what her friend is choosing for her birth, as women need to be able to choose what feels safe and comfortable for themselves.


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I'm just going to quietly delete my comments. :D

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This always surprised me about her as her mother had all three of her kids naturally and her older sister had 4 natural births, two of them at home where my friend was present.

 

It sounds like your friend is (for this culture, at least) unusually experienced with birth, given that she's a first-time mom herself.  She knows a lot, she's seen a lot, and, on that basis, she's made a decision for herself.

 

Watching other women give birth isn't going to assure all women of their god-given power to get through this experience unmedicated.  Different people are going to react differently - some will feel that the pain and loss of control are appalling, and they'd prefer to avoid them.  That's their choice to make.

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#14 of 120 Old 08-16-2012, 11:14 AM
 
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Sympathetic Dad: Giving birth cannot be compared to having a root canal. Giving birth is a natural process that women's bodies were designed to do! Having a root canal, while necessary, is not something your body is designed to do.

The pain of injury and the pain of labor-in my experience, NOT the same thing at ALL. Labor will be MUCH more painful if you are fearful (speaking from experience here) as well as MUCH more painful if the natural process is tampered with by having strangers around, bright lights, no privacy, beeping machines, people talking to you, being jabbed with needles, not allowed to eat or drink, and forced to lie still on your back.

Birthing practices in hospitals are NOT evidence-based. Unnecessary interventions hurt babies and mothers immeasurably. I realize these are strong claims but what I'm saying is backed by research.

My problem with epidurals and all the rest is not that a woman is weak for choosing one. It's that they come with very real risks and decrease your chances of a good outcome. They should be taken seriously and should only be used as a last resort.

If women were educated about birth and their bodies, and supported by practitioners who also understand birth and give *evidence-based* care, epidurals would still be needed in some cases, but would certainly NOT be the default for birthing women.

I have friends whose labors were stalled from fear/exhaustion/whatever, and then progressed rapidly after they got an epidural. I have no doubt there are cases when epidurals are wonderful. I totally would get an epidural if I *needed* one for any reason.

But it bothers me a lot when I see women assuming everyone needs one. Natural birth really should be the default and pain relief should be used as a tool only when needed. From the time we are little girls in this culture, we are told, both with subtlety and implicitly, that giving birth will be the most horrifically painful thing a human can experience, that it's so bad you think you're going to die, etc. Let's just say this can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don't underestimate the mind-body connection.

It's difficult to say this in a way that still respects women who have had that horrible scary-pain nightmare, but it doesn't have to be like that. I had 2 babies at home with zero interventions. I can't even describe what a wonderful empowering experience natural birth can be. It was not awful, scary, and the "pain" was not unbearable. Don't get me wrong, it was intense and memorable and at times not much fun. But it was also thrilling and filled me with pride while I was doing it. The thought of missing out on the true experience and all of the real feelings, through external interventions, is way more awful to me than anything I experienced during labor and birth. I'm not saying this to discount or deny other women's bad experiences. Just keep in mind, birth is always intense--but it isn't necessarily bad, painful, or any of that.

I wish more women could understand this! Statistically speaking, it would lead to better outcomes for everyone, a more gentle welcome to the world for babies, easier breastfeeding, quicker recoveries for women, less stress, and more feelings of self-worth if women's natural abilities were not constantly doubted and undermined by well-meaning but ignorant people!

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#15 of 120 Old 08-16-2012, 11:42 AM
 
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I think that's really what the OP is experiencing, the frustration that her friend cannot see "the light at the end of the tunnel." She cannot see the merit of natural birth, cannot see herself being strong enough, capable enough, etc. And that really does suck. We shouldn't be conditioned that way at all.

 

Is natural birth for everyone? No. But women should at least know that they CAN have an unmedicated birth. That they aren't broken and don't need to rely on doctors and hospitals to "fix" their "ailment." It seems that many people think childbirth and pain meds go hand in hand, when really it's not an integral part of the process.

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#16 of 120 Old 08-16-2012, 03:13 PM
 
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I really find it sad that you feel your friend isn't making a strong choice because it isn't the same as the choice you would make.  I am not trying to pass judgement here, but friendship is supposed to be mutual including respect of decisions.  I don't know you or your friend, but your post seems to indicate that she doesn't pass judgement on the decisions of others she loves (ie. attending a home birth, being a close friend to you through your births, etc.).  Sometimes it really is being the best friend you can be to not feel a need to educate or to judge, but to simply be loving and supportive showing that person you respect them and trust them knowing they will do what they feel is best according to them.  The fact that she stood up to you shows that she is plenty strong and has made a decision that she views as best to her without telling anyone else what they should do or how they should do it, nor condemning the choices of others.

 

When we judge our friends choices we often cause a barrier to be there which also disables us from supporting them when they need it most.  If you want to feed the friendship then agree to disagree in personal choice on this matter, but respect each other enough to listen, share, support and love.  If something should happen during her birth the last thing you want is her to not turn to you for support for fear of judgement.

 

Love more, judge less and realize that by virtue of it being "choice" opinions will vary.

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#17 of 120 Old 08-16-2012, 03:59 PM
 
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Her birth, her body, her decision.

 

Not everyone needs to have a natural childbirth to feel empowered and happy with themselves. Those of us who do often times dont present ourselves well and come off as holier than thou to our friends who arent choosing a NCB path. Some women don't like being disappointed, and would be very dis-empowered if they planned a natural childbirth and it didn't go the way they wanted it to. I think it's awesome to have a natural childbirth, but I wouldnt do much to try and convince a friend who is 32 weeks pregnant with her mind made up.

 

And, it's not natural for women to be in that much pain. Women shouldnt be strapped to a bed where they have no ability to control their pain by movement- that is not natural.

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#18 of 120 Old 08-16-2012, 05:30 PM
 
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I guess I'm just sad to see my friend, who is so strong and smart is so many areas of her life fail to see that same strength in her own body.

Why is choosing not to feel pain the same as failing to see strength in one's body, though? My agonizing menstrual cramps are all natural, but I choose not to writhe in pain - I use painkillers. Does this mean I do not see the strength in my body? What's the difference?

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[...] not that her friend is WRONG for choosing to have an epidural, but overall sadness that women don't have faith in their bodies to give birth naturally, and are so paralyzed by the fear that they opt for an epidural and hospital birth because that's the societal norm.

[...] I think what most women feel/are concerned about with epi's and hospital birth in general, is that there are so many unnecessary interventions that can take place, and that it can take away from the experience and the bonding that mom and babe share in those first initial moments. 

Why assume that women who choose an epidural "don't have faith in their bodies" or "are so paralyzed" by fear, though? Maybe they just choose not to feel pain during this process - what's wrong with that?

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My problem with epidurals and all the rest is not that a woman is weak for choosing one. It's that they come with very real risks and decrease your chances of a good outcome. They should be taken seriously and should only be used as a last resort.
If women were educated about birth and their bodies, and supported by practitioners who also understand birth and give *evidence-based* care, epidurals would still be needed in some cases, but would certainly NOT be the default for birthing women.

[...] Natural birth really should be the default and pain relief should be used as a tool only when needed.
[...] The thought of missing out on the true experience and all of the real feelings, through external interventions, is way more awful to me than anything I experienced during labor and birth.

How do you define "good outcome"? I define it as "healthy baby, healthy mom" - in that order. How does an epidural decrease safety?

Also, when an epidural should be used should be up to the individual woman - it is not up to you or anyone else to decide if the woman in now in the land of "last resort" and "needs" an epi. It is pain relief. Pain relief should be available to patients experiencing pain as they feel it is needed. Period.

Do you realize how insulting you sound when you imply that anyone who has used an epi (or other interventions) has missed "out on the true experience and all of the real feelings" of their child's birth?!

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I think that's really what the OP is experiencing, the frustration that her friend cannot see "the light at the end of the tunnel." She cannot see the merit of natural birth, cannot see herself being strong enough, capable enough, etc. And that really does suck. We shouldn't be conditioned that way at all.

 

Is natural birth for everyone? No. But women should at least know that they CAN have an unmedicated birth. That they aren't broken and don't need to rely on doctors and hospitals to "fix" their "ailment." It seems that many people think childbirth and pain meds go hand in hand, when really it's not an integral part of the process.

What "light at the end of the tunnel"? What if she doesn't believe there is any merit to natural birth, for her? She's obviously been exposed to it, knows it's a viable option, and then rejected it. Why must her choice be subjected to all these assumptions that she just must not be strong enough, informed enough, courageous enough, or is too conditioned by societal norms??

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#19 of 120 Old 08-16-2012, 05:46 PM
 
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First of all, if God and nature designed us perfectly, you would not have a c-section. Bodies are not perfectly designed. Nature designed our species with huge percentage of reproductive wastage in mind. I do not understand how you fail to see the irony of your own statement in the light of your own expirience.

 

If you did what nature intended, your baby would have died, maybe you as well, Or perhpas you would have survived with fistula like hundred thousand of women in Africa. humanity evolved because we used our brains to develop modern medicine. That is real gift from aboce.

 

Modern obstetrics decrease maternal and neonatal mortality by 90%. That is simple statistical fact. 

 

There is is not god or  nature given power. Birth is natural event but so is cancer. Natural does not mean good or sucessfull.

 

 

 

Secondly, your Friend body and birth are her own. Why you so invested in her experience emotionally is not clear to me . She does not want pain. She wants and epidural. It is her choice. We still live in the country where women have choice.

 

Perhaps you friend know something about her body that make her cautions. Perhpas she would rather start in the hospital than deal with transfer because that is what her womanly intuition is telling her.

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#20 of 120 Old 08-16-2012, 07:21 PM
 
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Modern obstetrics decrease maternal and neonatal mortality by 90%. That is simple statistical fact. 

Source?  I'd like to read the facts for myself.

 

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#21 of 120 Old 08-16-2012, 07:23 PM
 
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I think the OP just came here to vent feelings.  Her friend said to her that birth is not natural.  Yeah, OP.  I feel ya.  That seems like a weird statement to me.  

 

As to the pain aspect, her friend says that birth is "SOOO painful" but this friend has not given birth.  It's not like we can all say- don't dismiss this friend's personal experience.  I never want to dismiss the experience a woman has with her own body and birth.  But it does make me sad that this friend, and it seems a lot of people, discount the possibility that birth might NOT be painful.  A PP talks about relieving the "suffering" of birth.  I had an awesome time with my unmedicated birth.  No suffering involved.  Not getting an epidural doesn't automatically mean pain and suffering.  The sad thing to me is that people don't recognize that. 

 

I'm totally cool with women planning whatever kind of birth they want, but it might make me also feel that they don't know the full range of possibilities if they just assume that birth is automatically the most horrific thing a woman can go through. 

 

So OP, the "mental check" you got is probably a good thing for your friendship but I think I understand what you're feeling.
 

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#22 of 120 Old 08-16-2012, 07:40 PM
 
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Why is choosing not to feel pain the same as failing to see strength in one's body, though? My agonizing menstrual cramps are all natural, but I choose not to writhe in pain - I use painkillers. Does this mean I do not see the strength in my body? What's the difference?

Why assume that women who choose an epidural "don't have faith in their bodies" or "are so paralyzed" by fear, though? Maybe they just choose not to feel pain during this process - what's wrong with that?

How do you define "good outcome"? I define it as "healthy baby, healthy mom" - in that order. How does an epidural decrease safety?

Also, when an epidural should be used should be up to the individual woman - it is not up to you or anyone else to decide if the woman in now in the land of "last resort" and "needs" an epi. It is pain relief. Pain relief should be available to patients experiencing pain as they feel it is needed. Period.

Do you realize how insulting you sound when you imply that anyone who has used an epi (or other interventions) has missed "out on the true experience and all of the real feelings" of their child's birth?!

What "light at the end of the tunnel"? What if she doesn't believe there is any merit to natural birth, for her? She's obviously been exposed to it, knows it's a viable option, and then rejected it. Why must her choice be subjected to all these assumptions that she just must not be strong enough, informed enough, courageous enough, or is too conditioned by societal norms??

 

Whoa boy. Okay. You ask what is the difference between using pain meds for menstrual cramps vs. for giving birth. The difference is you *need* to be able to feel your body to effectively give birth. That's why *even* when a woman has an epidural during labor, they need to either let it wear off or turn it down somewhat before she can feel enough to push the baby out. Being able to move freely, choose the movements and positions that feel "right," and use gravity to help, usually helps a woman have a quicker and more straightforward labor and birth. Being flat on your back, regardless of how much or little pain you feel, is pretty much the worst position to be in when your body is trying to get that baby to move down and out.

 

You define "good outcome" as "healthy baby, healthy mom." Of course I agree with that. And epidurals (statistically speaking) decrease the chances of both. Not speaking for anyone else here. But for myself, a good outcome means not just healthy but also happy. An excellent bonding experience after birth, nobody getting between me and my baby, a great start to breastfeeding, my baby being treated gently at all times, sharing those transformative moments with people of my choosing, in an environment of my choosing. Not dealing with the effects or after-effects of drugs (for myself or my baby.) Being able to look back on the experience and feel elated at what I accomplished all on my own. Come to think of it, all those happy things I described also count as "healthy." It seems a lot of people define "healthy" just to mean "alive, and even if suffering in the moment, going to recover eventually." Clearly a good birth experience is not as important, or important at all, to many women. I honestly cannot fathom why, but that doesn't mean I don't respect them. I do, really. Again, I am speaking for myself, not others. Just trying to explain my reasoning.

 

I know I'm probably not communicating as well as I could. I certainly did not mean to come across insulting--as I said, it's a difficult thing to put into words because people (clearly) get very easily offended. But yes, I absolutely believe that *not being able to feel large parts of my body* would mean a *gigantic* loss of experience while giving birth--to me that is just "duh." Obviously *you* don't feel the same way, and that's okay with me. But isn't it okay if I don't *get* that? Being in a medical setting at all, for me, with other people doing things to me, yeah, I would be focused on dealing with all of that rather than focused on working with my body to make things happen. Not being able to *feel* my body? I can't imagine! Yes, it is important to me to *feel* my baby coming into the world, through my body, both physically and spiritually. I would choose an epidural if I felt I had to in order to get the baby born, but yes, it would be a loss of experience.

 

I know that people who have experienced both (all natural vs. medicated) are the only ones who can truly compare, and I know I have only seen one side of this personally. So I don't mean to be insulting. What I experienced (twice!) was just so sublimely awesome that I hate the thought of anyone missing out on that if there's any possibility they could've had it. It's the same reason that religious evangelists come across as obnoxious and insulting a lot of the time. They have seen God and they want you to experience what they "know." LOL By my intention is not to insult or diminish anyone.

 

Yes, how we give birth comes with choices, and those choices should belong to to woman herself and be treated with respect. Nobody should tell her what the best choice for her is, it's true. I totally agree with you there. But here's the thing. Women in this culture *are* undermined and *are* trained to fear birth, to maximize the fear of childbirth pains and to minimize their healthy distrust of anyone messing with their bodies in invasive ways, at least when it comes to giving birth. The HUGE majority of women in our culture don't study pregnancy and birth. Most women in our culture have never seen a natural birth, many may not even know anyone who's had one. Most are ignorant about the natural process and how interventions can impede it. The huge majority *do* just assume their doctors know best, even when the majority of doctors do not practice evidence-based care. So when you are making an uninformed choice, how much of a choice is it really? Would you make a different choice if you really knew all the facts?

 

If someone decides the benefits of an epidural outweigh the risks for her, that's great. She knows what she wants, more power to her. When someone isn't aware that there even *are* risks, and the "benefits" are blown out of proportion in her mind, that is not an educated choice. Seeing friends you love make uneducated choices that may mess things up for them, well, it's hard. That doesn't mean you can't support them and respect them. It doesn't even mean they aren't making the best choice for *themselves.* It's just hard.

 

This info can be found in Chapter 8 of Henci Goer's Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth:

 

Epidurals slow labor, which results in increased use of Pitocin, and usually results in higher rates of episiotomy, forceps and vacuum extraction, and c-sections, especially in first-time mothers. Epidurals require electronic fetal monitoring and a precautionary IV. You are more likely to need bladder catheterization and more likely to develop a fever.

 

Electronic fetal monitoring increases the odds of a c-section. IVs, especially when given in large amounts over a short time, as they are when administering an epidural, can cause fluid overload, which leads to fluid in mother's and baby's lungs, maternal anemia, and blood chemistry disturbances in mother and baby. Bladder catheterizations can cause UTIs.

 

Oxytocin can lead to overly forceful contractions and fetal distress. Forceps and episiotomy increase the probability of anal tears, which can have long-term effects on sexual satisfaction and fecal incontinence.

 

C-section has both short and long-term risks. Maternal fever may stress the baby during labor. And because fever may signal uterine infection, the baby is more likely to be separated from you after birth for observation and subjected to blood tests, a spinal tap, etc. Some data suggest that epidurals increase the probability of actual infection in the baby.

 

The procedure itself, apart from the drugs involved, can cause problems. An epinephrine test dose can cause fetal distress. Using air to locate the epidural space can cause neurological and other complications. The catheter can injure blood vessels and irritate nerves.

 

Potential postpartum complications include temporary urinary incontinence, nerve injury, a blood-filled swelling, and an excruciating, incapacitating headache which can last for days (spinal headache.) In the newborn, epidurals may cause adverse physical and behavioral effects.

 

I don't want to type out the whole book, but it goes on to describe potentially life-threatening complications as well (life-threatening to both mother and baby) including a dangerous drop in blood pressure, drop in baby's heart rate, convulsions, respiratory paralysis, cardiac arrest. Respiratory paralysis and cardiac arrest occur as commonly as 1 in 3,000. To give you some perspective, drugs causing serious adverse reactions in this range have been withdrawn from the market or forced into restricted use.

 

It goes on to describe adverse physchological effects of having a medicalized birth.

 

Recent innovations in technique have not reduced the incidence of problems.

 

I personally can't understand why someone would take that amount of risk to themselves and their child if they didn't *have* to. I admit that I usually conclude that the person is unaware of the risks--because it just seems so illogical to me. Maybe I am missing something. I do understand why so many women have such an irrationally high fear of birth, as pregnant/birthing women in our culture are not seen as the badasses they are. They are pathologized, infantilized, disrespected and acted *upon* when really they are the ones who should be in charge. It seems most people don't question the flaws of their culture and are more willing to see flaws in themselves.

 

Again, I don't have to *understand* what someone is thinking/feeling to be able to still *respect* them. And I will continue to agree with all of you that it's the woman's choice and as her friend, you should be supportive of her.

 

But that does not mean I have to be supportive of practices that harm and disempower people, and it does not obligate me to just shut up, when I think I have information that may help others.

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#23 of 120 Old 08-17-2012, 06:03 AM
 
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As a mother who has homebirthed and most recently had (by choice) a hospital birth with an epidural, I noticed that many of my friends who were more invested in natural childbirth really struggled with my choices as the OP seems to be doing.

 

Basically, what I observed was that it was very threatening for some of them that I had effective pain relief and a healthy, wonderfully bonded baby that breastfed beautifully -- simply because it made them question the value of the pain they themselves had experienced having natural childbirth.  Somehow, my birth choice became a judgment on their birth choice, if you know what I mean.  So given the minefield that this sort of thing became for me, I would suggest that the OP tread with caution with her friend and make sure she is not coming coming from a place of self defense but rather true support.

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#24 of 120 Old 08-17-2012, 07:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poogles0213 View Post

Why is choosing not to feel pain the same as failing to see strength in one's body, though? My agonizing menstrual cramps are all natural, but I choose not to writhe in pain - I use painkillers. Does this mean I do not see the strength in my body? What's the difference?

Why assume that women who choose an epidural "don't have faith in their bodies" or "are so paralyzed" by fear, though? Maybe they just choose not to feel pain during this process - what's wrong with that?

How do you define "good outcome"? I define it as "healthy baby, healthy mom" - in that order. How does an epidural decrease safety?

Also, when an epidural should be used should be up to the individual woman - it is not up to you or anyone else to decide if the woman in now in the land of "last resort" and "needs" an epi. It is pain relief. Pain relief should be available to patients experiencing pain as they feel it is needed. Period.

Do you realize how insulting you sound when you imply that anyone who has used an epi (or other interventions) has missed "out on the true experience and all of the real feelings" of their child's birth?!

What "light at the end of the tunnel"? What if she doesn't believe there is any merit to natural birth, for her? She's obviously been exposed to it, knows it's a viable option, and then rejected it. Why must her choice be subjected to all these assumptions that she just must not be strong enough, informed enough, courageous enough, or is too conditioned by societal norms??

 

Poogles, I was speaking from personal experience only. I had an epidural because I was terrified of the pain, and I didn't know whether or not I could push a baby out. My mom had two labors and two c-sections due to failure to progress.. she just didn't dilate for either my brother or myself, despite 24+ hours of labor.   I was never trying to be insulting, just putting it out there that I'm sure there are other women in the world that share the fears that I had.


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#25 of 120 Old 08-17-2012, 10:08 AM
 
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Full disclosure, for those of you who don't know me, I'm one of the women who gave my all to a natural birth and ended up with a 33-hour labor and a c-section, for reasons that are unfathomably complex. So threads like this tend to be a bit of a trigger for me. However, I will risk putting in an answer.

 

I really hate the phrase "birth is normal." Normal is just such a bland, everyday, middle of the road, average sort of word. Pregnancy and birth for me were NOT normal. They shook me to my foundations. They transported me so far out of "normal" reality that it has taken me years to find my way back. I guess for some women, birth is "normal"...that is, it just happens without a major reorganization of one's self, like a million other normal things that we do in life. That's great for those women, but I'm not one of them, and I can't relate to that sentiment.

 

I didn't have perfect confidence in my body, and it wasn't clear to me that a "natural" birth was something I should automatically expect. It wasn't just about my fear of pain, it was about a thousand other things...my own birth and adoption, my relationship with my mother who died of ovarian cancer, my history as a dancer, my long journey with infertility, my deeply complex feelings about becoming a  mother, my lesbian identity...to name just a few. In spite of this complexity, I decided to give my all to a natural birth. I was pretty well informed. I wasn't able to make a perfect set of choices, but I did the best that I could. I am one of those for whom the best wasn't good enough. I made the wrong gamble. I probably would have benefitted from more interventions earlier in my labor. I might have avoided my c-section that way. I might have at least avoided some of the suffering that came with having a grueling long labor before my surgery.

 

There is no question that part of my "going for" a natural birth was my conviction that to do otherwise would be uninformed and cowardly. I very much wish that I had gone into labor with a less rigid standard for myself. It has been a tough and valuable spiritual lesson to be compassionate with myself for what I did not and could not know about birth before I went into it.

 

For some women, trust in your body means turning away from medical interventions and letting your body find it's way alone. For other women, trusting your body is knowing yourself and your history well enough to know that you need to ask for help and having the courage to ask for it. To assume, based on a brief remark that a woman says, that we can know what her relationship to birth and its complexities is, seems very presumptuous to me. Can we really know where another woman's strength lies, where her wisdom resides, what will shake her to the core, and what is "normal" for her? Can we even know it for ourselves?

 

I prefer the phrase, "birth is a mystery." Each of us has to decide for ourselves how we want to approach that mystery.

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#26 of 120 Old 08-17-2012, 11:02 AM
 
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Full disclosure, for those of you who don't know me, I'm one of the women who gave my all to a natural birth and ended up with a 33-hour labor and a c-section, for reasons that are unfathomably complex. So threads like this tend to be a bit of a trigger for me. However, I will risk putting in an answer.

 

I really hate the phrase "birth is normal." Normal is just such a bland, everyday, middle of the road, average sort of word. Pregnancy and birth for me were NOT normal. They shook me to my foundations. They transported me so far out of "normal" reality that it has taken me years to find my way back. I guess for some women, birth is "normal"...that is, it just happens without a major reorganization of one's self, like a million other normal things that we do in life. That's great for those women, but I'm not one of them, and I can't relate to that sentiment.

 

I didn't have perfect confidence in my body, and it wasn't clear to me that a "natural" birth was something I should automatically expect. It wasn't just about my fear of pain, it was about a thousand other things...my own birth and adoption, my relationship with my mother who died of ovarian cancer, my history as a dancer, my long journey with infertility, my deeply complex feelings about becoming a  mother, my lesbian identity...to name just a few. In spite of this complexity, I decided to give my all to a natural birth. I was pretty well informed. I wasn't able to make a perfect set of choices, but I did the best that I could. I am one of those for whom the best wasn't good enough. I made the wrong gamble. I probably would have benefitted from more interventions earlier in my labor. I might have avoided my c-section that way. I might have at least avoided some of the suffering that came with having a grueling long labor before my surgery.

 

There is no question that part of my "going for" a natural birth was my conviction that to do otherwise would be uninformed and cowardly. I very much wish that I had gone into labor with a less rigid standard for myself. It has been a tough and valuable spiritual lesson to be compassionate with myself for what I did not and could not know about birth before I went into it.

 

For some women, trust in your body means turning away from medical interventions and letting your body find it's way alone. For other women, trusting your body is knowing yourself and your history well enough to know that you need to ask for help and having the courage to ask for it. To assume, based on a brief remark that a woman says, that we can know what her relationship to birth and its complexities is, seems very presumptuous to me. Can we really know where another woman's strength lies, where her wisdom resides, what will shake her to the core, and what is "normal" for her? Can we even know it for ourselves?

 

I prefer the phrase, "birth is a mystery." Each of us has to decide for ourselves how we want to approach that mystery.


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#27 of 120 Old 08-18-2012, 09:13 AM
 
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The dangers of epidurals are overstated all the time.

 

Anecdata....I know many women whose bodies and babies were hurt during homebirth. I do not know a single one who was hurt by an epidural.

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#28 of 120 Old 08-18-2012, 09:50 AM
 
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The dangers of epidurals are overstated all the time.

 

Anecdata....I know many women whose bodies and babies were hurt during homebirth. I do not know a single one who was hurt by an epidural.


Really? I have heard lots of women talking about spinal headaches and nerve damage and how something still physically bothers them years after.

And it's not the epidural itself that is the most scary thing (although even just the needle is admittedly slightly scary.) It's the cascade of interventions--which I KNOW does not always happen, but happens frequently enough to be serious--that terrifies me.

Also the fact that being forced to be lying down, immobile, strapped to machines, and monitored by other people--it is quite a stretch to say that is a psychologically empowering position to be in.

I suppose you surrender to the process when giving birth no matter what, and some people surrender to medicine and interventions while others surrender by trusting their own body. And in the end it's all the same.

But still I just can't wrap my mind around why someone would willingly choose the medicalized version unless she was forced, or very uninformed.

Alenushka, you seem as much invested in medicalized birth as I am in natural birth. If you have had great experiences with the medicalized version, then that is really wonderful and brings me hope that it can be that way for more women. I just have too many friends who've had *terrible* experiences--I mean like, horror stories, in the hospital with an epi, to believe that a positive empowering hospital experience is anything but an anomaly.

I witnessed one of my best friends birth in the hospital with an epidural, before I had my kids. It was such a shockingly horrible ordeal, took all her power away and hurt her so badly. I am still traumatized by the memory--I can only imagine how she feels. greensad.gif It was a major factor in choosing natural birth for myself later.

I know my friend is just one person. And yes, I know those positive stories exist, just like homebirth-gone-wrong stories exist.

I really do agree with the "birth is a mystery" sentiment.
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#29 of 120 Old 08-18-2012, 10:08 AM
 
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I am glad I had an epidural with both my children and have no regrets about my second child being born via c/s.

 

DS1:  I still have residual pain (almost 17 years later from my first epidural).  Just between the vertebra and not often, but it's there.

 

DS2:  Two and a half years after my c/s, my abdomen still feels weird and sometimes hurts.  I don't have the money to do acupuncture or massage for what I suspect are adhesions.

 

I kinda liked the dad's perspective with the analogy regarding the root canal.  No, a root canal is not "natural," but if a tooth was rotting, would anybody look down on Novocaine for an extraction? 

 

Bottom line for me is:  whatever works for you works.  I don't believe in gold medals for pain tolerance.  If you are okay with the path you chose, dandy.  That's really all that matters.

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#30 of 120 Old 08-18-2012, 10:14 AM
 
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Why people always talk about cascade of interventions?

 

What about cascade of non interventions?

 

The effect of c-cestion not being done when it should have been done are father graver than c-section done when is should have not been.

 

Loss of perfect birth experience vs loss of the baby and maybe mother.

 

Birth is natural...so is cancer and kidney stones

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