Monday, March 7, 2011

Both Sides Of The Fence

I am a self-proclaimed natural childbirth enthusiast and probably more accurately, advocate.  With 3 natural childbirths under my belt, I am the go-to person for advice, suggestions and encouragement among my pregnant friends.  I am halfway through the certification process as a childbirth educator and look forward to the day that I begin to teach classes full of women about the process of birth and the miraculous way the body is created to sustain and birth a child.

I absolutely believe that all women are capable of delivering a baby without drugs.

I also know that not all women want that.

I won't pretend by saying I understand.  But that's ok, because it's not my body, not my experience.

Do I think I can be a well-rounded, natural childbirth advocate and educator and yet be OK with women choosing to use drugs and interventions in labor?  I hope so.  That is my goal.

Because the bottom line is, regardless of the choices you make in the management of your labor, every woman deserves to be educated so you make those choices based on knowledge, not on second-hand information, ancedotal stories and blind faith in those in charge of your care.

I'm not gonna lie, any time I have the opportunity to help a woman see that she is able to do labor on her own, I feel a little thrill.  Only because I know what she is about to experience and the view from the post-NCB mountaintop is indescribable.  But the thrill I get when a woman logically weighs the risks and benefits of an intervention and makes an educated decision to proceed based on her assessment of those risks/benefits and her own desires for her child's birth is equally important (wow, sorry that was a loooong sentence!).  Because even though that woman may not choose to birth the way I did, she educated herself and made decisions to help her reach her desired outcome.  And that means I've done my job well.

Honestly, it's hard to be on both sides of the fence, both professionally and personally.  Childbirth is one of those hot topics that really pushes buttons and gets people fired up.  There is a lot of evidence on both (all?  Because of course there's more than just two ways to birth) sides and everyone comes to the table with their own biases, experiences, prejudices and dreams.  I'm not sure anyone can be completely non-partial when it comes to birth, especially women who have experienced it.

My hope is to not perpetuate the argument but rather halt it with education.  Because once a person is educated, there's really no room for argument on whether or not they made the best choice.

So, if you were to walk into one of my childbirth classes what would you learn?  You would learn first and fore-mostly about the physiology of birth, and about the beautifully intricate way your body is created to support labor.  Because the class is geared towards natural birth, you would learn about the mental game that goes along with the management of labor and techniques to use to help you cope.  You would learn about all interventions that might be offered to you at some point, and the risks and benefits that go along with each one.  But hopefully in addition to all of this, you would learn that you are an amazingly, powerful, inspired human being who was created to sustain life and birth it.  All the tools are there.  You just need to know how to use them.

My friends, tell me about your experience with childbirth education.  Was it well rounded?  One sided?  Did you walk away feeling confident or more nervous than ever?  In retrospect, is there any one thing you wish the class would have covered?


  1. I went into labor with a positive natural birth outlook. I had went to the hospital hosted birthing class and rolled my eyes. It was a waste of an hour. I shelled out $40 for a 3 hour long "birth positions" class at my local natural mothering store. BEST. MONEY. EVER.

    I couldn't afford a 6 week class, nor could my husband fit it in his schedule. I read the Lamaze book, the Bradley book, and read up on hypnobirthing. I stated in my birth plan that the E word was not supposed to be mentioned. I have really bad back problems, and I do NOT react well to anesthesia. I didn't want to chance a bad reaction with my baby's life on the line.

    I had my natural childbirth (okay, okay... I had a pain shot of Stadol... like 5 hours before I pushed. I was exhausted. I'd been in labor for a month (prodomal) and they were talking pitocin). My husband was my rock, but we would NOT have made it without that birth class.

    I totally understand what you mean. I think every woman should educate themselves on both epidurals AND natural birth methods... because epidurals don't always work, and then you're stuck, in pain, with no idea what to do. Not all nurses are trained with natural birth methods. You NEED to be your own advocate in EVERY situation!

    Great post!

  2. A Little R & RMarch 7, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    You know this would catch my eye. :) :)

    I am hoping to have a VBAC, but since I live in Europe I am not sure that they will let me. It has been my dream to have a natural birth - and that was what I planned for with Robi. However, when at 40 weeks 3 days he still hadn't dropped and just kept getting bigger, my doctor concluded that his head was too big and inducing me would only bring trauma to the both of us. I did cry, and then the night before the c-section I was so excited I could barely stand it. :) So, while c-section is not an option I'd recommend as a "choice", it's what happened in my case. Recovery wasn't bad - I didn't have to take pain pills or anything and I was up and walking around the next day. That said, I will be discussing VBAC options with my doctor. He is open-minded and listens to my concerns - so we're off to a good start. Keep your fingers crossed for me! If he's open to the option, you can bet I'll be hitting you up for some advise. :)

  3. Good communication with your doctor right from the beginning is key when pursuing a VBAC. There is alot of misinformation out there about VBAC's and unfortunately some doctors are terribly under-informed. From the information you just shared it doesn't sound like there's anything that would necessarily contraindicate a VBAC. Just stay open with your doctor about your desires. It's becoming increasingly more difficult even here in the states to find a doctor willing to let a patient attempt a VBAC, but it is possible. Do your research! And I'm more than happy to help where I can!

  4. It sounds like you will be a wonderful teacher and guide. I had two medicated births, but my last was natural and incredible. I was "high"for weeks afterward. I bounced back so fast and felt wonderful.

    Good luck!

  5. Totally agree about pitocin contractions! I wouldn't wish those unmedicated on my worst enemy! LOL. I figure if you're already going as far as getting pitocin, you might as go all the way and get the epi.

  6. Our classes were at the hospital and our lay was an advocate of natural child birth. She was really sweet andcute and taught us how to do it all naturally but, was open to us doing it differently. I liked her balance and was really pleased at how well rounded she was.

  7. My childbirth class was OK... just sort of your standard "these are the stages of labor, and these are different ways to get through it"... not particularly stressing natural labor or medicated labor. I have a total mix of friends. Some were very adamant about natural childbirth, went to Bradley classes, or went to the nearby birthing center rather than a hospital. Others were the epidural lovers. I felt like I knew my options, and I truly had zero interest in natural childbirth. None. My husband joked that my "birthing plan" should just be a T-shirt that read, "epidural - yes". I know my friends who have done natural childbirth have loved it, but I really had no interest. I've been through a lot of medical issues in my life and been through a LOT of pain. I was scared of the pain of childbirth and could not fathom any reason to go through it if I didn't have to.

    Your comments about pitocin made me chuckle... all three of my girls were induced because of medical reasons. I was on blood thinners through my pregnancies, so my docs wanted very tight control over when I went off the blood thinners and when labor started. I was induced a week early with each of them. I guess it was a good thing I didn't want to do natural childbirth because it sounds like it would have been murder with the pitocin!!

  8. um yeah, pitocin is a fast pass to the nearest anesthesiologist! LOL Thanks for sharing your experiences. I think the big thing for me is to remember that even though the process of birth is important to me (VERY important), for others it's just not. But everyone deserves to know what's going to happen. :-)

  9. I had the most fabulous experience with NCB!  I researched a ton and chose a CB class with a Certified Doula.  After I went back to school and became a nurse, I was appalled at the number of nurses pushing epidurals (expecially on women who came in with a natural birth plan), and doctors who pushed c-sections because they would have to hang around into their "plans".  I appreciated how she went over all aspects of childbirth and options for pain control.  I made a plan and talked to my OB, we discussed that I wanted a completely natural birth, but if the safety of my baby was compromised, we would reassess the situation and take whatever precautions was necessary to ensure a healthy baby.  I also toured the hospitals in the area, and chose the one that had the most NCB friendly staff and room setup. (After delivering, they take out the labor bed, drop down a queen sized  Murphy bed and encourage family time while you recover.)  I made sure that they had a copy of my birthing plan and specifically asked the Charge Nurse to put on my chart that I wanted a NCB nurse.  Someone who would respect my desires and wishes, but would also use their nursing expertise to guide me through the process honestly, and keep me informed as to my progress.  We had a special "code word" that only my husband knew, so that if I ended up needing pain meds, they wouldn't just be pushed onto me.   I also hired a doula, after interviewing many of them to make sure that they would fit my personality and beliefs.  Because I took the time to research and discuss all of the options with my husband, we had a wonderful experience.  Both of my babies were born wide awake and alert and I got to give them their first bath.  I asked the medical team to wait on the eye creams until one hour after birth so we could have family bonding time.  Then on to breastfeeding... but that's for another time.

    The funny thing about everything is I had the same Doula for both of my babies, born in the same room at the same hospital with the same delivery & baby nurse and OB, 18 days from being exactly two years apart (not planned I assure you).  I couldn't have asked for a better experience. 

    I think you are going to be a great educator and help people make the best choices for their situations!

  10. Good for you! The best things I got out of my NCB class (nearly twenty years ago!) were the friendships I created with the other women. Although we came from different backgrounds and a pretty wide age gap (I was the baby at 24 and most of them were in their late 30s, a few early 40s) we all supported each other and have remained friends. So educate them, but also give them time to socialize. :)


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