Monday, July 9, 2012

My Birth Journey- part 1

So.. I've put off writing this, because honestly I didn't really know where or how to begin. It just feels rather daunting to express accurately my feelings surrounding birth and labor. Also, I know that my opinions are not mainstream and not necessarily there was fear of making people upset. But, I feel extremely passionate about pregnancy and birth, so I feel like it is my responsibility to at least share my thoughts and experiences surrounding the topic.

In order to really understand my birth story, you should know a few things. 

Disclaimer: Of course there is always exceptions to things revolving around labor and birth. Please understand that I am referring to healthy women laboring and birthing. I understand that medical intervention is sometimes very necessary, but I also understand that SO many of the times it is used in this country it is unnecessary.
On another note, I have my opinions about this and I respect that you all have yours too!

I believe that birth is a natural and normal happening, not a medical procedure.
I believe that America has a distorted view of birth and labor, and I think that women are constantly being fed that their bodies simply can't birth on their own. This results in women actually believing that this is true.
I believe that God knew what He was doing when he designed the woman's body and I don't question it's ability to labor and birth a healthy baby on its own.

I love how Ina May Gaskin puts it:
 "There is an assumption that we humans are inferior to the other five thousand or so species of mammals in our ability to give birth to our young. I have always found it hard to accept this notion, probably because my father was a farmer for years. Those who are used to the birth ways of other mammals know that it is easy to cause complications during labor by disturbing the mother. If we put horses, goats, and cows through the restrictions and indignities that most laboring women in U.S. hospitals are routinely subjected to, the animals would surely have as many complications as we do. The astonishing thing to me is that we have come to believe that our human bodies are not as well designed for birth as other mammals’ are. Really it’s our brains that can pose problems: we alone among mammals have the ability to scare and confuse ourselves about birth."
Read more of her interview here.

Before I found out I was pregnant, I hadn't given too much thought to the labor and birth part of pregnancy. I mean, in my head I definitely liked the idea of doing things natural. But, there was a fear that surrounded that thought. I mean you're told constantly that birth is scary, excruciating, awful even. And that you shouldn't dare do it without a epidural or you're just crazy. How would I not be freaked about doing things natural after hearing all of that for years and years?
My fear, caused me to start thinking things like 'well, what's it matter? as long as my baby gets here okay then I don't care how he gets here' 
Honestly, that thought disgusts me now.
It wasn't until I was actually pregnant for a few weeks that I really wanted to know more about birth & labor. So, Lee and I watched the documentary: 'The Business of Being Born'. 
And wow. 
My mind was opened to the sick reality of America's style of laboring and birthing. It really was a business. It seemed like women were viewed as cattle. Get them in and out as fast as possible. There was no regard for the well-being of the mother and baby. There was no respect for the beauty of what birth could be. 
I felt sick after watching it. I knew that I couldn't do things the way everyone else was doing it, just because a doctor told me that was the right way. Of course, it feels a little scary doing things so differently then everyone else. You feel like people will think you're crazy or weird. Or that they'll think you're bad parents for not having you're child in the 'safe-haven' of hospital walls.

But you know what, I decided that respecting my body and baby were more important then the negative thoughts that I may have gotten from others.

Part 2 will come soon! 
I'm guessing that there will be many opinions in the comments, and I look forward to reading them. 
Just please, keep things civil!! ;)

Read Part 2 here.


  1. Did you go natural successfully? The hubs and I are planning a natural birth and I very much agree with what you said. Can't wait to read part 2!

  2. Oh yay, I love birth stories! I agree with you completely--as women, our bodies were created to carry, labor, and birth children. And it was done successfully since Eve. Can't wait to read more!

  3. Well written Bethany. Dr Mercola just tweeted this: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to have your heart...walking around outside your body.”-Elizabeth Stone Love you, Papa Rossi

  4. I can't wait to read how your birth story went!

    I will say that I'm not sure exactly what you mean when you say that birth is treated like a business, with just trying to get women and babies in and out as quickly as possible - I disagree with the thought that doctors are just in it for the money and want to get you in and out, and I think it's incorrect to say they don't care about the well-being of mom and baby. The decisions they make are their best attempt at keeping both mom and baby safe through delivery. Women used to die alot more in childbirth back when these interventions weren't available, which is why they were developed and used in the first place - to save lives. I'm not saying that everything they decide to do is always strictly necessary, but I think it's a wrong judgement (and a pretty big accusation) to say that doctors aren't making these decisions in an effort to do what is in the best interest of their patients. Midwives know that these interventions are there to help save lives when things go wrong as well - that's why birthing centers are always so close to hospitals, so they can transfer patients quickly if they need to.

    This is coming from someone who experienced the worst side of labor and delivery - Wyatt or I (or both of us) could have died if I had not been induced, or if I had labored at home, and I am very grateful for the swift decisions that my doctors made to intervene. I was very happy with my birth experience because I knew the doctors/hospital staff cared about me and were doing their best to make sure my baby and I were okay, and that made me feel safe. I definitely did not feel like a piece of "cattle". :-)

    1. Thank you for your comment, girl! I really love discussing this.. and seeing a little more into 'the other side' of the things.

      Contrary to popular belief, America actually has the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world. This is shocking to most!
      Here are some reasons that I feel really solidify the fact that women are treated as cattle a lot of the time and that doctors don't always have the best interest of the mother and baby in mind. (These come from this website:
      -In a 1999 survey, 82% of physicians said that they performed a C-section to avoid a negligence claim.
      -There was a study done that revealed C-section procedures peaked at the hours of 4 PM and 10 PM.
      I don't think these times are just coincidence. It seems that at 4 PM the doctors want to get home for the day, and at 10 PM they probably want to get home to bed.
      -The lithotomy position (the ever so popular position in hospitals) where the women lies flat on her back makes the pelvis smaller, makes it very difficult for the woman to use her stomach muscles to push, and increases the chance drastically for an episiotomy (which doctors also use to make laboring go quicker)
      Doctors know that the squatting position is much easier on the mother and baby, but the squatting position is harder and more stressful on the doctor because he would have to get down low in order the catch the baby. I feel like someone that had my best interest in mind wouldn't be bothered by having to get down on the floor to catch my baby if this meant an easier and safer labor for me and my baby.

      Another thing that, I believe, is used to speed things up is the use of seemingly harmless drugs. Ricki Lake says it perfectly, the use of one drug introduces a 'snowball effect'.
      When you give a woman the epidural, yes, it kills pain.. but it also retards natural contractions. So then, the doctors give you pitocin to keep the contractions active. Pitocin causes such horrible pain because it makes contractions longer and stronger. So then, the woman needs another epidural.. this then requires even more pitocin. And then, because of all the drugs used .. the baby becomes distressed. More times then not, this whole cycle then requires an emergency C-section.

      It seems so obvious to me by looking at all of these things, that doctors are trying to make things quicker and faster. And when your main goal is that, you start to disrespect the woman's body. When you try to rush things during such a tender time, of course there is going to be problems. And because the doctor can fix problems that HE created, does that really make him the 'hero'?

    2. Hmm, there are alot of things to address here, so I'm just going to go down the list.

      -That's an interesting statistic (and sad!) about the newborn death rate in America. But my point is that in developed countries (any developed country) where these interventions are more readily available, the death rate is most certainly lower than in non-developed countries, and that's not a coincidence.

      -Interesting about the C-sections as well, but I don't think it's right to claim that most doctors are still not acting in an effort to keep their patients safe. The reason they would receive a negligence charge would be because something awful happened to the patient, so even if they were trying to avoid a negligence charge, they were also trying to avoid the reason for a negligence charge, which would be harm to the mom or baby. You can't be sued unless harm is caused, and they are ultimately trying to avoid any harm that might come to their patient's by their not acting quickly.

      -I'm not convinced most doctors or hospitals would have a problem with mom trying different positions during labor. I know my doctors would not have a problem with it if I wanted to deliver while squatting, on my hands and knees, etc.

      -Ultimately it's a women's decision whether to get an epidural or not. A doctor might encourage it, but they aren't going to force it on you - you have to choose it, and if you do you should be aware that you might need pitocin to keep things going. However, if you wait until after 5 cm to get it, it's more likely to speed up dilation from there, as opposed to slowing it down. I went from a suspected 6 centimeters (they couldn't check before, but that's where they think I was) to an immediate 10 cm right after my epidural, just because I was able to relax. If you get it before 5 cm, it's more likely to slow things down.

      Okay, I have to split this up because it's too long to post - ha!

    3. -I also think the situation you described is pretty extreme - I've never heard of someone having to get another epidural because pitocin is used. One is usually sufficient. I started out labor with pitocin, and I was completely comfortable after my epidural - I didn't need another one when they turned up the pitocin. I think that would only happen if the initial epidural wasn't done correctly in the first place.

      -I'm not sure you can say that more often than not you are going to get a C-section if you get an epidural. I'd have to see some stats on that. You might be more likely to need a c-section than if you didn't get an epidural, but I highly doubt that more than 50% of women who do get an epidural need a c-section.

      -Episiotomies are one thing that aren't completely necessary, but it's also something that I think doctors are willing to work with these days. Often if you are at the point where they want to do an episiotomy, you are going to tear anyway. I requested that we avoid one if possible during my delivery, and I did end up tearing.

    4. -It does not seem like the natural conclusion to me at all that doctors are just trying to make labor go faster with these interventions. If you choose the epidural, they might have to use pitocin to keep your labor from stalling - that's not trying to make it go faster, just to keep it going. They give episiotomies when it looks like the baby is going to get stuck, because that's not healthy or safe for the baby, not because they are trying to get the baby out to make money (and once again, I think these days you can request not to have one and they'd be fine with that, unless your baby is REALLY stuck). I don't believe most of the procedures that doctors do with regard to labor and delivery have anything to do with speeding things up so much as keeping their patients safe and getting the baby here safely.

      The only thing you mentioned where I might agree that they are trying to speed things up is the part about c-section rates spiking at 4 and 10 - but even if they do do more at those hours so they can go home, I still don't think they'd recommend it unless they thought you'd need it eventually anyway - and once again, c-sections are one of those things you have to agree to. There is nothing stopping the patient from saying no, unless their baby is in distress, but then a c-section would be the recommendation regardless.

      I just don't agree that doctors are trying to get labor to go quickly without regard for the health of their patient. Like I said before, I think that's a pretty big accusation, to judge someone's motivations like that. Actually to judge a whole people group's motivations like that, because you aren't talking about individual doctors who are acting poorly, you are talking about them as a group, and I don't think that's really fair.

      Also, you finished it off by saying that doctors are only fixing problems that they created - not true at all. Maybe that's the case for some birth stories, but you can't make a blanket statement like that. My doctor did not cause me to have pre-eclampsia. But I did. And to keep my baby (or myself) from a more dangerous situation, I was induced. That was their effort to keep us safe through a pregnancy complication that was in no way caused by them. As I said, before, if I wasn't induced, we could have died. I chose the epidural, they didn't force it on me (and actually my final decision to get it had nothing to do with my pitocin-induced contractions - I could have gone longer with just the contractions, even on the pitocin). All of the interventions that were done were done (1) to keep us safe, or (2) because I requested them (the epidural). I think that's the case for most births as well. Patients are free to decline any suggestions by their doctor if they want to, but in some instances it would be foolish to decline an intervention when it is regarding the safety of their baby (like with pre-e).

      I want to say, I am in no way against doing things naturally. I say go for it, if that's your choice! If you feel more comfortable with midwives/doulas than with a doctor, I think that's fine. But I do have a problem when people start to pick on the motivation of doctors, which is why I felt the need to comment in the first place.

      Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject. And I think I'm gong to stop there. We just aren't going to agree on this one. :-)

    5. Thanks for the comment! You're right were not going to agree on this one ;)

      I will say, that I'm sorry if I came across as putting all doctors in the same bunch. I don't think every single doctor is 'bad' .. I'm sure that some are very respectful of women's decisions and feelings during labor and delivery. It's just that I don't think that's the majority.
      I'm so happy that you found a doctor that respects you!

      Thanks for the discussion, girl!

    6. How many doctors have you seen that allowed you to come to this conclusion that the majority of them are not respectful of women's decisions? I have worked on a labor and delivery floor and have never once seen this happen. I just feel that you need to check your facts before you go ahead and make statements that you are in no way qualified to make.

  5. I love how you've started this. I saw the business of being born, also, and it totally changed my perspective on childbirth. When we found out last year we were pregnant with son #2, I knew I wanted a homebirth with a midwive and doula. I just wanted my body to be respected. And so in January of this year, we welcomed little Colin Ezra at home in our living room. He was born after 4 hours of labor, and 8 minutes of pushing. So different from my first hospital birth where I was induced...22 hours of labor with Owen. God bless you and congratulations on your precious new son!

    1. Love this! I'm so glad that you had a beautiful experience. Thanks for your comment!

  6. I had my daughter naturally in a hospital after 9 hours of labor, a little over 2 of those hours being pushing. No epidural or drugs but I did have an episiotomy because her head was huge. Still in the 97% at 7 months lol. The hospital and doctor were very supportive of me going natural and I was very pleased with my experience. I guess it is different for every woman. Can't wait to hear the rest of your story!

    1. So happy to hear that the hospital and doctor were supportive of your decision to go natural!
      Lol about her head! My baby had a rather large head too ;)

  7. Can't wait to hear how your birth went! Birthing at home was something Jared & I considered for quite some time, but after much prayer and consideration (and talking with doctors and midwives) we decided the hospital would be best for us. I suppose it's different for everyone! My OB is incredibly supportive of us choosing to have a drug free, natural birth, laboring as long as possible at home, and letting me labor how I want at the hospital. I truly believe that labor/delivery is something that should not be treated as a sickness, and know that my doctor, and many others for that matter, feel the same. I did watch the Business of Being Born, and while I do agree with plenty of what was said, I don't agree that every hospital and every doctor treats birth as a business, herding cattle as quickly in and out as possible. Doctors become doctors because they care about their patients, they do what they believe is in the best interest for the patient. Just as God intended for women to birth naturally without drugs, etc, he also intended for hospitals and doctors to be there, ready to go in case a medical emergency occurs. I'm totally in support of your decision to birth at home, what an incredible experience! I just feel a little more comfortable being at the hospital in case something does happen and myself or my baby need some sort of medical intervention that a midwife at home could not provide. (Plus we live in an apartment complex and I don't think the woman who lives across the hall would like to hear me moaning in labor at 3AM, ha!)

  8. I'm really interested to see how this turns out. ;) can't wait!! :)
    Emily at Amazing Grapes