Wednesday, April 20, 2011

going 'au naturel'

**If you are not interested in reading anything about childbirth, then close your browser NOW.**

Being 5 1/2 months pregnant, I have been thinking a lot lately about how I plan to have this baby. To review:

Charlotte was induced (a week late,) and I had an epidural (that 'clogged' before the real pain began,) and I had RIDICULOUS problems for 3 months afterwards. Seriously... it was finally taken care of with a follow-up surgery, which was also no fun, so in total my recovery lasted about 4 1/2 months (during which I cried every single day.)

Toby was born here in Germany where 'natural childbirth' is the preferred way to go. So that's the way I went, but I wasn't really committed to the process, I didn't prepare for it appropriately (which is at all,) and I didn't really know I could scream that loud for that long. (I was hoarse for days afterwards.) That said, Toby was an enormous 9 lbs. 1 oz. and yet 8 hours later I felt incredible.... well, good enough to get out of bed and shower on my own.

So, people have been asking me how I plan to have this next baby. And it is a good question that I have been considering for some time. I've decided to try to have a natural childbirth again. It hurts! There is no way around that truth, but I am hopeful that with preparation I will be more ready to cope with it this time around, and that my recovery will be faster. I have to admit, learning the baby is a girl (and will likely be a bit smaller) has influenced my choice. (And of course, if there are unforeseen complications or other things beyond my control, then we'll have to re-evaluate as needed.)

But I am committing myself this time around and I want to do what I can to be prepared... So if you mommies out there who have done this before have tips or reading materials you would recommend, PLEASE comment and let me know about them. I need all the help I can get! :)


Mim said...

I absolutely loved going natural with Jacob. Best birthing experience ever. The only time I was screaming was when my water broke, and I went from a 7 to a 10 in one contraction. I let myself panic then though, which is why it hurt. Pushing didn't even hurt for me, I didn't tear or anything.

I did Hypnobabies. And I swear by it. Absolutely awesome. Worth every penny. I also read Ina may GAskin's Guide to Childbirth (and lots of other books). This book helped me recognize the pain cycle, and also that birthing a baby doesn't really need to be a horribly painful experience. If you just let your body relax, and you don't panic when the cramping and pain comes, it doesn't cycle into the scary pain. Those are my two favorite things that helped.

If I were to have another baby, I'd do it natural again, no questions asked. I felt much better, my recovery was quicker. It was awesome--but I was very prepared for it. Email me if you want more ideas.

Amanda said...

You know I'm all over this! I emailed you :-)
-mandy benton

Erin Dodge said...

(oh MAN! I wrote this all out before and it got deleted...)

Amen to Mim, first of all.
I had three of my first four kids in the hospital with the "full treatment": pitocin, epidural, monitors, episiotomy, forceps, etc. I thought that's just how it was supposed to be. #3 was an accidental natural birth. I was terrified because I didn't know what to expect. I was in transition before I even figured out that I was in labor, and I thought it was just getting started (really, that was as bad as it ever got).
Principle #1: FEAR = PAIN
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth was the best birthing-read EVER! She really lays it out: the physiology of birth (including sphincter law - cooler than it sounds), you can do it, you are NOT a lemon just because you're "civilized", what birth CAN and SHOULD be like, and real-life useful tips for managing the intense energy of labor.
Principle #2: Learn what YOUR BODY is capable of, not what medical science can do to interfere with the normal natural process. (ie- avoid any book that starts with "What to Expect...")
Erik's birth (my 5th) was incredible. He was a planned home birth. It was an amazing, joyful, peaceful, empowering experience (and yes, it was very intense for about 25 minutes RIGHT before he was born). My body knew what it was doing. My job was to not try to fight it, but to listen and submit. Submission is hard, but labor isn't a danger that we need to fight and resist - it's a good physiological process that is way bigger than us, and the best thing to do it to pay attention and submit to it. If I let myself become afraid or try to fight it, I felt pain. As soon as I gave in to it, the pain left and all I had was an intense sensation, but not painful.
Principle #3: Submit to the process of labor.
And lastly,
Much love,

Amanda said...

Also, don't be afraid to do what YOU NEED TO. I labored most of this last delivery on the toilet. Totally unglamorous but it just felt right. I made funny noises. I stuffed a washcloth in my mouth so I had something to bite down on during contractions. I looked crazy! But I was more comfortable, and that's what matters. Your comfort! Don't worry about what people will think, just do what you need to.

Pam Haydt said...

The first two were natural and I will say that I survived; obviously. The easiest, best birth, was #3; pitocin, stadol, epidural, the works. To quote Mark "why didn't anyone tell us?" You know I am an advocate for natural, healthy things; hence two terribly painful, yelling, pelvis splitting births. Don't kid yourself into thinking that a few classes on how to breath and focus makes it any doesn't. I am here to say that I was far less exhausted, worn out, and tore up with a whole lot less pain thanks to the epidural. Literally I asked the nurse to check because it seemed like his head was there; calmly, pain free, talking in my inside voice, like I could have been repeating a recipe for cake... and then there he was ~ all 9lbs 9 1/2 ounces! Don't be afraid to use the wonderful medical advances that we have at our disposal. Have I EVER steered you wrong?

Rob & Julie said...

Thanks for the comments ya'll. :)
Pam, we've had like opposite experiences. I did have the pitocin, epidural, whole works with Charlotte... and it did not go well.

Even discounting the horrible recovery, my level of stress during labor and delivery was sky-high because the contractions were every five minutes right from the start. I was allowed nothing by mouth for 24 hrs. My epidural clogged and the anesthesiologist was nowhere to be found. The monitors, BP cuff, catheter, and IV kept me tied to the bed. I did not yell, it is true, but I cried quite a bit. (And then as a bonus, the Dr. forgot to clamp the cord and blood sprayed all over me, the nurses, and the floor as in a horror film.)

In contrast, with Toby, despite being in a foreign country with midwives who barely spoke English, I was given choices. I felt in control. I used a fitness ball, when that became uncomfortable I took a bath (privately, wearing an external monitor)in a dim room with Rob and a bottle of water. When that became uncomfortable, I got in bed and learned I was nearly fully dilated. They broke my water and 3 pushes later we were done. It was only during the last 30 minutes (and crowning in particular) that I was yelling.

I think women should do whatever they are most comfortable with when in labor, and I would not dissuade someone from utilizing medical interventions if they help them to feel in control- but it had the opposite effect on me, and I don't want to go through that again. :)

Aubrey said...

Good luck, Jules!

I have no opinion whatsoever. I USED to have an opinion...but that all changed after I actually gave birth. :) Ella (born in the UK) = forceps and mega recovery problems. Kate (born in Deutschland) = c-section and an easier recovery than with Ella. Baby #3 (birth location TBA) = planned c-section with clean hair and nice makeup. :)

NOTE: Baby #3 is not yet in the works, but I'm already thinking about it.

I just hope that things go easily for you. Just so you know, I tell your story about being hoarse for days every time the subject of natural childbirth comes up. :)

Mandy said...

Julie, I've been thinking, maybe you should think about getting a doula. It might be REALLY helpful, esp. since American docs usually aren't so supportive of natural birthing. A doula could really help mediate for you between the doc/nurses and help give you tips. I would have gotten a doula had I not been able to use the midwives here. Just a thought. Hope you are doing well!!

Harmony said...

I'll bet this next birth will be a piece of cake compared to Toby's just because of the baby size. If you had Toby naturally, you can do it again.
(But don't feel like since you've told people that, you can't get an epidural at the last minute if you want to.) :)
Good luck, Julie. I'm sure it will be a great experience.