Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Preparation for childbirth

I have become a birth junkie. I like to talk and read about pregnancy and birth, and I have especially picked up the pace since Lily was born. I have been interested in natural birth for about a year and a half now, and I am still amazed that I was able to achieve a natural birth with Lily.

Recently I came across a blog entry where the writer posted several questions about birth. One question addressed how I may have prepared for giving birth. I would say the first step was to get married! I never thought of myself as a motherly type person, and I never even had the desire to be a mother until after I got married. Some girls grow up knowing that they want to be mommies, but that was not me! To my relief, almost immediately after getting married, I wanted to be a mommy! At that time I did not know there were many options for pregnancy and birth. I thought everyone had to give birth in a hospital and I thought everyone HAD to have an epidural. I didn't even know about Pitocin, forceps or vacuum deliveries, water birth, home birth, induction, natural birth, moving around during labor, etc. I knew about medicated vaginal and cesarean hospital deliveries. Period.

Anytime I talked with women that had given birth, I would ask about the epidural. I was TERRIFIED of the thought of having one! I didn't want that! Never mind all the long term effects for Mom and Baby, I was just scared of having a big needle in my back! I would talk about this with Robbie and he was anti-epidural as well. However, I still defended having them. You know those comments... "As soon as YOU have a baby, then you can tell me whether or not to have an epidural." I would SAY that, but I was still terrified of having one AND terrified of NOT having one.

Last February was my first encounter with a home water birth. I never heard of such a thing! One of Robbie's friend's wife had a home water birth and wrote about it on her blog. I don't remember how I came across her blog in the first place, but I am glad that I did! I immediately did a whole bunch of research on home water births and fell in love with the thought of having a baby that way!

A few months later I met one of the sisters I was visiting teaching for the first time on her due date! We had no idea that her baby was supposed to come that day and that she was having rushes while we were visiting with her-well until I asked her if she was feeling anything yet. She was planning a home birth and we had a LONG talk about that! It was the first time I ever talked with her (and it was one of the last times-we didn't stay in that ward very long), but she really made an impression on me. At that time, I wasn't sure if home birth was for me, but I knew I wanted water and I wanted a natural birth. She told me of other options such as going to a birthing center rather than a hospital.

Fast forward several months...I began asking a lady I worked with (A) about natural birth. I suspected that she had experience in this. I don't know why, but I just had a feeling I should ask her if she'd had a natural birth. She had! Her first baby was a C-section, but her second baby was a natural home birth. She was patient with me as I did my own research and asked her questions about birth, labor, and even cloth diapering.

Finally, early on September 26th I found out I was pregnant! Yay! We were very blessed with how quickly our baby decided to come. As soon as I got to school, I walked to work (I wasn't even supposed to work that day) and immediately had to tell A that I was pregnant. (She probably was too at this time, only it was way too soon for her to even know.) She told me about the midwives at St. Luke's. This was the perfect option for me because I knew I wanted a hospital birth...just in case.

Throughout my pregnancy, I searched for and surrounded myself with POSITIVE birth stories and people. This is how I prepared. I know a few people thought I was crazy for wanting to give birth naturally, but I was determined! I considered pregnancy, labor, and delivery to be a special EXPERIENCE, not a painful event that I needed to endure.

In order to pass the time the last week or two of my pregnancy...I was getting a little ansy, but I was not in any hurry to be in labor...I read Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth and Marie Mongan's Hypnobirthing book. After reading those two books, I felt ready to give birth. I don't remember how many days after finishing those books Lily came, but it wasn't very long. I feel I was prepared emotionally and mentally for the birth. I did pretty well to prepare physically, but I could have done better. Even though Robbie and I prayed about the welfare of my baby and about my pregnancy and delivery nearly every day, I probably could have done better to prepare spiritually for the birth.

All things considered, I could not have asked for a better experience! Even though I had my baby in the hospital, I spent most of my labor in the tub exactly like I wanted. The lights were out and it was very quiet and serene. By the time I was in the tub, labor was very intense and my waves came right on top of each other. I felt like I never had an opportunity to rest between each wave. I entered a place deep in my mind and somehow coped with each wave one at a time until my baby was born. Even though I could hear what was going on around me, I really only had the ability to do what I was told. I could not answer if someone spoke to me, and I did not "hear" any questions. I especially did not answer any questions. I only registered the encouragement Robbie was giving me, even though I could not acknowledge it at the time, and the instructions Debbie was giving me to help me relax during labor and pushing. I am still very happy and giddy over my experience.

So the final bit of preparation for childbirth was labor! Our bodies are amazing in the way everything works to prepare our minds and bodies for the birth of our babies!