My midwife said something to me when I first met her that stuck.
“Do you call an electrician to change a lightbulb?”
She meant it as a way to explain that birth is a natural process and your body knows exactly what it is supposed to do without excessive intervention. You don’t need anyone to boss you around or try to tell you the best way to complete a process your body was made for! A midwife guides you, but allows you to be in charge and feel empowered as your body takes over and brings your little miracle into the world.
When I would tell people I wanted to have my future children in a natural vaginal birth, like my mother did twice, or like millions of women have done before me, I would get crazy looks. When I told them I wanted to do it outside of a hospital, people were even more “afraid” for me. Honestly, having a c-section or being transferred to a hospital was my worst nightmare in this pregnancy. I was anxious some complication would prevent me from having my dream birth plan. But why?
For starters, the US has one of the worst rates of maternal deaths for a developed country, and c-sections are 3x as risky as vaginal birth. The America Pregnancy Association says that having a c-section increases your chances of hemorrhaging, infection, internal injury, and not to mention the extended recovery time (2015). They also recommend that you choose an OBGYN with a low c-section rate. Of course, sometimes a c-section may be the safest choice for you and your sweet baby, but in my case I did not see it as a necessity and I wanted to avoid it at all costs.
Secondly, there are some risks associated with an epidural that I also wanted to avoid. Epidurals can lead to a potential emergency c-section, they increase the risk of needing further interventions, have a higher rate of tearing in the perineum and blood pressure issues, and can lead to back problems or headaches long term. I am terrified of needles, so being on an IV or getting the epidural would’ve been horrible for me. I was given a Pitocin shot right after delivering my baby boy, and even after going through labor that little shot almost gave me a panic attack! I also wanted to be 100% aware of my surroundings and have the ability to move around and change positions as I labored so being confined to a hospital bed and hooked up to whatever drugs they use made me very uncomfortable.
I was only 3 weeks pregnant when I took my pregnancy test and realized we were having a baby. I wasn’t going to go get checked up yet because it was so incredibly early, but our plans changed once I started to experience sharp pains and extreme nausea (throwing up more than 5x a day) that I tried to ignore. We finally made an emergency appointment with my usual gyno when I had heavy bright red bleeding in the middle of the night. It was more blood than I had ever lost and nothing like a heavy period, so we were distraught and convinced I had miscarried.
They sent me to a specialist to have a sonogram done, and there we found that I had a ton of cysts lining the walls of my uterus. They were filled with hormones which were causing an imbalance and fueling my nausea. They also found that I was overproducing eggs and I was making so many that they actually thought I had been on some sort of fertility medication. Our specialist believed I had possibly lost one fetus in a twin ectopic pregnancy, which would explain the heavy bleeding and pain. The heartbeat on our baby was still going strong, but the experience was scary and the doctors felt cold and unattached. I was prescribed Zofran and sent on my way, anxiety through the roof. I was unhappy with how the OB was handling my situation and with how nonchalantly they would throw a prescription at me. I switched to Lover’s Lane birth Center at 8 weeks, THANK GOD.
Once I was all set up with my midwives, Dinah, Emily, and Teree, my experience was wonderful. They would give me recipes and natural remedies for any problem I encountered. They talked me off the ledge whenever my anxiety was high. They guided me through every step and read me an affirmation at each appointment to remind me I could do this!
I had access to birthing classes, chiropractors, a free library, and Lactation consultants that seemed like real people who cared about me. Best of all, everyone respected my wishes and my birth plan. I was never second guessed or questioned like I was when I mentioned I wanted nothing to do with an epidural to my OB. Doctors literally rolled their eyes at me, so if I wasn’t supported before labor how could I trust them to be my support when I’m delusional and ready to bring baby into the world?
Natural birth was unbelievably difficult. I was in labor for 41 hours and looking back my midwife never once seemed stressed, tired, or overwhelmed, even when I screamed and cussed and said I was going to give up. My water birth experience was beautiful and exactly what I imagined, and would have been impossible in a hospital. The birthing classes prepared my husband who was my rock the entire labor. The tips the midwives outlined for me guided my mom and sister who also supported me during those 41 hours and in the days postpartum. My baby never left my side, he wasn’t bathed, I breastfed him to soothe him while he got his first shots, my mother held him while the midwife checked me for tearing or bleeding and while another midwife did his newborn testing. We got a really good look at my placenta and learned about how it had nourished my baby for those long months. At my two week check up we talked about how I felt about the experience I had and I cried happy tears and we hugged it out. Those women are angels on Earth and I can’t recommend Lover’s Lane enough.
Of course, every momma knows what experience is right for them. If you’re curious about the benefits of natural birth or just scared and need reassurance, I’m always willing to discuss it with anyone who needs more information!
In the end, remember your bodies were made for this!