Thursday, December 11, 2008

Childbirth Chat

Many due dates are approaching these days--or have already come and gone, in the case of MaryAlice and our dear friend B from Princeton--and it's been a while since we've had a good childbirth chat here!

A good friend of mine Erika is nearing her due date with her first baby, planning a hospital birth with a nurse-midwife, and intending to give natural childbirth a try if all goes well. She writes, "If any of you have suggestions about how to weather natural childbirth, the unpredictabilities of childbirth generally, and pain specifically, I'm all ears and would greatly appreciate anything you have to share."

I LOVE natural childbirth and think it's beautiful, of course when attempted in a totally safe environment under uncomplicated conditions. To keep this short and leave you enough time to comment here for Erika and to read MaryAlice's wonderful post about homeschooling, I'll share that I think the key for me is:
Do not be afraid. (Yes, this happens to be a theme of Christianity too, but I'm not about to say it's more Christian to birth naturally or anything...)

A downside of hospital births, which often are so controlled and filled with interventions from the get-go, is that they make the laboring mother afraid and uncomfortable. If you're laboring in a safe environment where nurses are monitoring the baby's health, your main goal should be to relax and try to be as peaceful as you can in the moment. I can't think negative thoughts about how much worse it may get or how I'm going to push the baby out once I'm dilated. Your body will take care of that. Try as hard as you can to concentrate, relax and be unafraid. What I have found is that my body never gives me more than I can handle until right at the end, then it's over and the heavens open as you meet your baby!! In unmedicated births (I think this is different with Pitocin), my body takes me through the stages of labor at just the level of pain I can tolerate, no more and no less.

Each moment of labor is an accomplishment. Be not afraid!

Good luck and a most heartfelt God bless to all you who are about to meet your precious newborns!! So happy for you already...

10 comments:

Kerry said...

one contraction at a time...just one contraction at a time...

My hubby made a little list of intentions, and as a contraction would start he'd tell me what to offer that contraction for....

you'll never forget those memories of your labor!

Right Said Red said...

The best advice I can give for a hospital birth--stay home for as long as possible and safe. They can't stick you with anything or intervene if you are not there!

The intentions are great, as is a good labor coach/doula. Make sure you are surrounded with people who share your goals for the birth of your baby. If your doctor regularly medicates women, then you might want to switch if you want a natural birth.

Kate E. said...

We planned a homebirth but got switched to the hospital because we have lovely very cautious midwives. Fortunately I had a short, clear birth plan in order and I would HIGHLY recommend one. I am happy to send mine along to those who are interested but you can find them online as well:
1: Keep it one page, I used bullets, easy to read
2: Go over it when you go in, with the head nurse. Ask that she shares it with whomever she trades off shifts with. Be respectful and non judgemental. The hosptial nurses I had were great, went over my birth plan and then pretty much left me alone (which is what I wanted). They had gone over all the things I did or did not want post-birth and all went smoothly...it was awesome.


I echo what JM wrote, also find what is comfortable. I ended up not liking the birth tub at all, but did like the shower (MA I know loves the shower too) and I LOVED the birth ball, laboring in bed is not that much fun if it can be avoided.

Also when I started to waiver (during transition) my husband, mom, and midwives switched me to something else and then again, kept me distracted until it was pushing time.

Good luck all you laboring momma-to-be, just remember you body was made to do this!

Elena said...

I don't know if this is the same in the States (probably not), but if you labour at a rural hospital in Canada, then you probably don't have access to an anaesthesiologist. This makes natural childbirth very easy as there is simply no other option. The non-availability of drugs was the best option for me when I wanted to scream out for someone to give me something. I also found I laboured faster when I had to really work at it and get it over with. I actually chose the hometown hospital so that I would have no other choice but a natural childbirth. Strangely, I actually have nostalgic feelings for all of my labours and deliveries.

Anne said...

I just gave birth naturally to my second child after having a csection with the first. And it was an amazing experience. Our daughter is just three weeks old, and I still find myself pondering her birth. My biggest piece of advice: if you can afford it, get a doula! Her support was invaluable to me and took away any fears that I might have had and allowed me to labor at home much longer than I might have on my own.

Also I was pleased to learn, just as was posted above, that really my body never gave me more than I could bear. I don't remember ever thinking: this is too painful. I did think: I am too tired. But that's a little different!

I hope you have an amazingly wonderful birth experience!!! Good luck!

Debbie said...

Today is my fourth child's 17th birthday and tonight we were reminiscing about her arrival into the world 17 short years ago.

She was my fourth child and first (of five) homebirths. She came into this world in a gentle, uncomplicated way. Looking back, it was a wonderful experience. At the time, I was just grateful to live through it!

Each of the eight times I labored in childbirth was quite different, though each was unmedicated and one was induced with Pitocin. I felt in control for the most part.

The one birth that was the most difficult was also the most spiritual. My fifth child refused to present himself in the standard was and was born "sunny-side up" as my midwife said. The labor and delivery was much longer and more difficult than my others, but it enabled me to pray many rosaries. The best part of my suffering was being able to offer it up.

So...as an old mommy who misses those baby days (but not baby nights!), I guess my only advice is to unite your sufferings to Christ and let Him be your guide. I really wouldn't trade it for anything.

Love and God bless! Debbie

Erin said...

Anne-- It is wonderful to hear of your natural birth after a c-section. As I await the birth of Erika's baby and am anxious to hear about her journey through labor, I look forward to trying a natural birth our next time around after a csection this summer. I know i am at a higher risk for another c-section, but my doc is very supportive of a vbac, and i'd really like to try natural. (this is all hypothetical-- no new baby to speak of yet!). I am just glad to hear that someone else has succesfully done it.

Prayers to you Erika and all others wading through that last trimester! You will do great!

Juris Mater said...

I love what you all say about the nostalgic feelings you have for labors that go well! I find that those sweet memories and the sense of accomplishment after a good labor go such a long way in keeping my postpartum morale high. And I keep thinking back to them for... well... years : ) It's a really transforming human experience!

Uncomplicated, normal labors are a true blessing, aren't they? I feel really blessed to have the option of natural childbirth.

Mary Alice said...

Prayers for B, who is in labor this morning! I, however, am still pregnant, and starting to suspect that my dates may have been wrong...

Right Said Red said...

Baby will come soon. Prayers for you and B this morning.