Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Home Birth and Natural Childbirth



Source: via Melissa on Pinterest

Like many women, before I became pregnant I never gave labour a second thought. For a good majority of my life up until a few years ago, I didn't even give motherhood a second thought. But as soon as I found out that I was expecting, I starting researching like a fiend. I wanted to know everything that was going on inside my body. I wanted to be as prepared as I could be for the arrival of my baby.   

I've spent the last 7 years or so changing a lot of my habits.  I went from a meat eating diet, to a vegan lifestyle.  I try to purchase as much organic produce, locally grown foods, and organic/natural beauty products and cleaning products.  These decisions were based on my respect for myself, animals, and the environment that I live in.  So, it only makes sense to aim for the most natural, non-medicated pregnancy and birth that I can. 

What I found difficult when researching, and listening to people's opinions, was that more often I came across two different extremes.  People were either really for an obstetrical model (ie. in a hospital, being monitored, accepting a physicians advise on interventions/medications/tests etc...), or for a midwife (less instrusive and generally more open to listening to the patient's concerns or beliefs.  Less interventions.).  My observation has been that there is a difference in opinion depending on generational gaps.  Meaning, parents and grandparents think that a home birth is a wacky new-age idea that borders on being irresponsible, because why would someone choose that when our medical system is 'so modern.'  Whereas a younger generation tends to be more informed on their choices and open to different birthing options.  That's not to say that all 'young' people are open to home births, because I've come across quite a few who question why I am not having an elective c-section.  The same goes for the older generation, meaning I've had some positive responses from people saying they wished they had that option when they gave birth. 

What really sold me on having a home birth was a combination of attending a home birth session at my midwifery care centre, and watching the documentary The Business of Being Born.   I highly recommend the documentary, as well as discussing your options with your midwife.  What I learned was that my midwife actually brings a ton of equipment to my house, which is equivalent to a basic level 1 hospital.  Most births do not require expensive monitoring equipment, and rarely do they become a split second emergency where the baby needs to come out immediately.  Often there are signs along the way that complications may arise, and a midwife is trained to see these signs so they can transfer you safely to a hospital for more observation and assistance (if needed).  A midwife can also administer saline injections for pain management, do basic sutures for tearing, and have on hand medications for excessive bleeding, oxygen, and other medical supplies. 

After being diagnosed with fertility issues and going through a very unnatural process to become pregnant, I knew that I wanted the least invasive pregnancy and labour and delivery experience.  I don't think it was until I watched The Business of Being Born that I realized how much I wanted that natural birth experience.  I never realized how flawed the medical system was when it came to inducing women, giving women a time limit on how long they can labour for, and then there's the negative results of the interventions (epidural, pitocin, fetal monitoring, c-section, episiotomy etc...).  There's also the fear that women are losing the ability to deliver naturally because  of unnessary medical interventions, and the high rate of c-sections in North America.   I want to be able to let what the human body should be able to do on its own.  In order to do that, I decided that a home birth would give me the best chances of having a natural delivery.  Here are some reasons why:

1.  I will be comfortable in my own surroundings.  I will be able to control my environment (lighting, music, heat, food, etc...).
2.  I won't have to experience streams of medical students coming in and out of my room, or nurses changing shifts.  I will have a team of people I know and trust.
3.  I will be less likely to ask for an epidural, because I would then be forced to transfer to a hospital.
4.  Being more comfortable in my environment means less stress.  Stress can play a big factor in how you labour and deliver.  It can cause labour to slow down or stop.
5.  I won't have the worries of traveling to and from a hospital during labour or post-delivery with my newborn.  Also, less worry of infection or sickness for the newborn. 
6.  I will be able to get in lots of different birthing positions, use a birthing tub, and essentionally have more ability to labour how I want to labour.

I just wanted to add, that I realize that I won't know how I will respond to labour until I go through it.  It's very possible that I could have a difficult delivery, but it's also possible that I could have the birthing experience that I set out for.  Hospitals exist for emergencies, or when there needs to be more medical care than is typical for someone who wasn't deemed high risk.  I believe there is a place for both midwives and obstetricians, but I also acknowledge that their models of care are different.  In order to give myself the best chances for a natural birth, I am choosing to labour and deliver at home with a midwife. 

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