During my first pregnancy, due to my age, I had no idea that there were more choices then just “drugs or no drugs”. I was scared, intimidated, and trusting that the staff knew more then I did as a teenage mom-to-be. My overwhelming fear, going into the traditional hospital, came from all the intense deliveries I witnessed via birthing class and on TV. Suffice to say I was very anxious, I felt like everyone was judging me for being so young. On top of that, I don't remember giving much consent or having procedures described to me BEFORE they began. By the time I was in the throws of active labor I requested an Epiural. However, since I had already progressed so quickly it was too late. Instead, I was hooked up to and IV and given Demerol for pain, which in hindsight made the next few hours quite fuzzy. I was not able to walk around and forced to try and alleviate my bladder. I had no control over what was happening. Luckily the actual delivery was pretty easy. I arrived at the hospital, my water was broken, and within 3 hours I was looking at my beautiful little boy. Even though I was so happy be holding my healthy baby, most of the night was a blur.
A few years ago my husband and I moved to an area of Upstate NY known truly as "granola-ville". We are minutes away from Woodstock, the largest holistic learning center in the U.S., and numerous organic farms. After meeting with a local OBGYN (who is a man) I decided to try using one of the mid-wives affiliated with his practice for the birth of Bryson. The overall care was truly remarkable. Suzanne, the Certified Mid-Wife (CNM) was so attentive, calm, and above all she listened. When it came time for delivery, we made the 10 minute ride to Neugarten Family Birth Center , where we were greeted by a friendly nurse in a spa-like setting. A birthing center has a totally different feel then a regular hospital. Instead of clinical sterility and impersonal accommodations, we were ushered into a peaceful room with dim lighting and soothing decor. I was able to move from a birthing ball to a stool at my leisure, and until it was time to push the nurse mostly left me alone. I was given options, and told every step of the way what was happening (which my queasy husband was grateful for). I popped Bryson out in the same 3 hours, but instead of being whisked away to the nursery my hubby was able to give him his first bath in the room. I was elated by the whole experience, the staff, and the care.
This time around I consider myself substantially more informed then before. We've decided our stance on vaccinations and determined we want as little medical intervention as possible for the baby (unless there are dire circumstances). Because of our philosophical change towards birthing, my husband suggested maybe trying home birth. My initial reaction was "Are you straight tripping?” My concept of a home birth was an old woman from the "old country" coming to deliver my baby with only a bucket of water and some towels. I found out my thoughts were very limited and antiquated. CNM's today are actually well equipped with medical tools, oxygen tanks, and induction drugs like Pitocin. Back in the 1900's nearly 95% of births were done at home, where as today that number has dropped to only 8%. It really got me thinking about how to approach this last birth.
While searching Netflix for a cheesy romantic comedy, I came across a documentary produced by Ricki Lake called "The Business of Being Born". It delves into the history of home-birth and how many women are choosing to go back to this natural method. I was floored. These women in the video were not screaming bloody murder or shouting F-U's to their partners. At one point a woman in a home tub pushed out her baby so effortlessly I didn't even realize what had happened. These women were supported, nurtured, and above all in a safe environment, free from the poking and prodding of a hospital staff. I sobbed each time a baby was born and so did the women. It was one of the most moving things I have ever seen. So why weren't more women seeking this beautiful experience?
In March The New York Times reported that the rate of Cesarean births in 2007 accounted for 32% of all birth in the U.S. This is an increase of almost 50% since 1996, with many women choosing the invasive surgical procedure over a vaginal birth. As a society we have been led to believe that doctors know more about women's bodies then women do. We've been sacred into thinking the pain is too much to endure. While I know everyone tolerates pain differently, we have to remember our bodies and minds were MADE for this amazing journey. Today, instead of letting nature take its course we are shot up with drugs to make labor go faster, as if we should be on the hospital’s timetable. Then we are placed in the most illogical positions for birthing, instead of using gravity. We have lost our voice in something that is so personal. Not only that, but we would now rather schedule our routine c-section (and maybe a tummy tuck), rather then feeling the hormone induced attachment to our little miracle. I am all for women having choices, in EVERY area of life, but what if those choices are not truly beneficial to us? We have not yet decided if we will do the home birth or not, but my goal is to have it be MY informed decision, not someone else's.
Check out the trailer for "The Business of Being Born"
Getting Informed from Boyland,