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Birth Experiences

Posted by Lerin on February 28, 2009 at 8:29 PM Comments comments (5)

 After reading the previous post, and discussing the fact that I didn't utter any profanity gave me the idea of writing about my 2, eerily similar, yet very different birth experiences.

 My first pregnancy was uneventful-  I did everything the generic route. I was young, and I didn't know any better. I did plan on a drug-free birth, however.

 My labor started and I went to a regularly scheduled appointment. I asked about the baby's positioning. The doctor said 'it feels like a head'.

  So I went on with my day, and arrived at the hospital the next day. I had not prepared myself mentally for labor, and ended up having a single dose of a drug to 'take the edge off'.  When I was ready to deliver, the Dr. arrived and gave us the news that our baby was butt-first and I would need a c-section.  I was shocked and disappointed. Not at all how I thought things would go. When my daughter was pulled out, she took half a breath.  I was aware of what was going on as they worked to get her breathing, but I felt so detatched from it.

  My daughter was healthy.  I healed quickly and without complication. Life went on.

  When I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd baby, I went back to the same doctor. I asked him about VBAC. He said it was certainly an option we could discuss as my pregnancy progressed. That wasn't good enough for me.

   My mother is an RN, and had done Labor & Delivery at the same hospital where my first daughter was born, where my doctor delivered. They'd just put in place a policy that any VBAC patient had to have her Dr. in the hospital at all times during labor. That all but said we don't VBAC anymore.

 I set out to find a mid-wife. I found a practice that was closer to my home that had 3. I had visits with them all, and they were all very nice. VBAC? No problem. I was, of course worried about the possibility of having another breech baby.

 At my last few visits, they assured me that my baby was heads down, and she didn't have alot of room anymore. The preassure was different- much lower this time, so that kept me in good spirits. I was worried too, about which midwife I would get. Would I get the by the book midwife? Would I get the very nice, but very quiet midwife? Or would I get the one that I really wanted- the youngest, yet the one who had the most experience?

  I went into labor on a Monday, as I had with my first daughter. My labor died down in the eveing, just like the first time.  I stayed up late trying to get some last minute things done. I went to bed. My true labor started around 4:30. I stayed home as long as I dared. I was worried that the 30 minute drive to the hospital would disrupt or prolong my labor. I was also worried about the hospital itself, as it wasn't the one that my mom had worked at, where my first daughter was born, that I was familiar with. I was worried that if I got there too soon, I'd be tempted to get an epidural. I also kept thinking of my sister and how she made the births of  2 of her children that I got to see, look really easy, and how she bounced out of bed after each one and said she could have a baby everyday.  I kept thinking too, that if I waited long enough to push, I wouldn't really have to, my baby would slide on out on her own.

  At the hospital, I was moving in slow motion, not in a rush but I asked for the epidural. It gave me something to think about; to distract myself from thinking about how much pain I was in. I knew it was too late. They told me that the midwife that I wanted was on her way. When she got there, she told me that I could have my baby in 2 minutes. When 2 minutes had passed, I started to get worried that my labor was going to slow down, or stop.  At the end of every contraction, I could feel my baby 'sucking back up'. ("Two steps forward, one step back" a friend later told me. How had I missed that in 9 months of reading?)

  I don't think it's ever been acurately described because it CAN'T be- but the shock that runs thru you right at the end, instead of contractions. My sister described it as feeling like she was being split apart. I've read about it being the power of the universe, amoung other things. I wasn't prepared for that.

  I was apprehensive too, about crowning. I'd heard nightmares about the burning. I felt the pressure, but no real pain. Not like my body was ripping at all, which it inevitably did, which the same friend told me that I had an "irrational fear of tearing".

  So those are my stories. Like any mother, I can recall every detail, like it was yesterday and am always more than willing to share my story with whoever wants to hear it.


The Business of Being Born

Posted by ncnaturalfamilyliving on February 28, 2009 at 5:08 PM Comments comments (4)


This is a really beautiful and thought provoking film from Ricky Lake (yes, the talk show host) and director Abby Epstein. The documentary explores how and why giving birth has "progressed" in our country in the past 100 yrs. It follows one midwife in NYC in particular and talks with various people in the business of birth, OB/GYNs, nurses, midwives etc.  In one scene three OB/GYN residents are asked how often they get to see a natural birth occur. They seem at loss and then one answers 'rarely', another 'almost never'.

During the course of making the film the director becomes pregnant and plans to homebirth (Ricki Lake's second child was born at home and you do get to see clips of that birth). It follows two other couples, one of which gives birth at home, the other in a birthing center.

What is startling about the film are the frequent statistics that are given throughout. Many I was familiar with, some not.

The US has the second highest newborn death rate in the developed world.

The US has one of the highest maternal death rates among all industrialized countries.

In 1900 95% of births in the US took place at home. In 1938 half of all births took place at home and in 1955 less than 1% of births took place at home and it remains that number today. (This is actually a shock to me as, for myself, it just seems seems so common place and natural, I really thought that number would be at least a little higher.)

Since 1996 the cesarean section rate in the US has risen 46%. In 2005 it was one in three births.

These are just some of the statistics. The film also talks a great deal about the 'cycle' of intervention that happens in hospital births and how the end result is often a ceserean section.

I only ever seriously considered homebirth for either of my births. But watching this film made me think how can it not be obvious that a hospital is not an appropriate or desirable place to give birth. Perhaps I am biased. Either way, I think it was beautifully done. I watched it with Kaiya, my oldest (she will be four in May) and she was completely entranced by the birth scenes. She has seen births before on Discovery Health Channel's 'House of Babies' about a free standing birth center in Miami Florida. She becomes so still and her little eyes get so wide. She loves to just watch them again and again. They are censored, of course, so this film was the first time she had ever seen it so graphically before. I think it is so important for my girls to see birth happening naturally and without fear. For me, watching women give birth naturally really stirs something within me, causing me to think back to my own two homebirths. These are such wonderful memories.

A note, though, in case you do let your children watch it; there is, of course, quite a bit of female nudity and one close-up shot of a head crowning. This kind of nudity I consider completely tastefull and do not mind my children watching (they are girls but I feel the same about boys). Also there is a smattering of profanity (honestly, who gives birth without letting some swears fly?), not much but this does include F****. I did not realize this and decided to simply point out that "that lady said an ugly word". Regardless, it's really a wonderful and inspiring film and I highly recommend it.