Jacob and I believe in preparing for and having as natural a childbirth as possible. Because this is our belief and our goal, I thought I'd break down why.
As it is with most young couples, there was a time when we didn't know much about birth or have any opinions. We were getting closer to wanting a baby and found ourselves watching The Business of Being Born one night when we lived in Seattle. The documentary explores the history of birth, specifically in America, and raises some very valid questions: i.e. why are our Cesarean rates so high and why has birth in our country changed so much in the last 50-100 years? The underlying premise of the documentary is that birth has become, unnecessarily and not to our advantage, overmedicalized.
When we were pregnant with Jack, this movie plus some subsequent reading on my part led us to the Bradley Method childbirth classes. The Bradley Method, also called Husband Coached Childbirth, espouses viewing pregnancy and birth as normal events (not sicknesses or illnesses to treat), the importance of good nutrition and exercise during pregnancy, and using relaxation and coaching during labor as opposed to medications for pain relief, and the primacy of the woman and the husband as the key players during a birth.
We went to 12 classes, read Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, and entered my labor intellectually prepared for a non-medicated birth. We felt strongly that this was the best choice for us and this conviction and mindset is what I attribute to my successful natural childbirth. My labor with Jack was long (27 hours) and pretty hard the last 5 hours or so. At some point on the afternoon of December 3, 2009, I was no longer thinking clearly, but I had Jacob with me throughout to keep me focused and doing the things we learned help bring a baby along (walking, changing positions, trying to relax, etc.) We also had clearly communicated our birth plan and our desire to have a natural childbirth to the hospital/nurses and they all were supportive as well. I specifically remember my third labor nurse arriving a little after 7pm (Jack was born at 8:38pm) and I remember begging her to help me and she just kept telling me to listen to Jacob and what he was telling me to do, which in hindsight I very much appreciate her honoring our wishes.
I want to have a second natural childbirth for 3 reasons. First, I believe that birth is a normal event and that the body has an amazing process in place to bring a baby into the world. I think that once you start altering that process (with any of a long list of possible interventions), then you are actually getting in your own way and hindering the body's ability to bring out the baby in the most efficient and least painful way. Second, I think that an unmedicated birth positions both the mother and the baby to be in the best possible places to bond, start breastfeeding, and just to in general start motherhood after the birth. Lastly, I found it to be an empowering experience and something I feel really good about.
In the effort of full disclosure, let me be clear that I don't think I handled my first birth gracefully AT ALL! I repeatedly was asking to die (in all seriousness), along with begging for all kinds of help. I don't think I was particularly brave and I give a lot of credit to Jacob for making sure we didn't veer way off of our plan. My goal this time is to not fight the contractions because I think that makes them more painful (tensing up as opposed to relaxing). I also think I'll be going in with more perspective since the scariest thing last time was that I didn't know how the whole experience was going to play out and I couldn't imagine the pain ending. This time I know that labor does lead to a birth and the pain pretty much goes away instantaneously when the baby is born. I also think I've had some life experiences that will make me be braver and I hope that I will remember those during this birth.
Now I know you get THIS at the end!!
I will definitely let you know how it all turns out! In the meantime, I do highly recommend the Bradley Method courses as they really do educate you and your partner A LOT about the whole spectrum of pregnancy, birth, and early parenting!
Week Thirty Stats:
How it feels to be pregnant at 30 weeks: Feeling pretty good still - backache has not come back; have leveled off to about 20 contractions a day, so they are not too disruptive. I did feel pretty tired this week, but I also ran out of iron pills, so hopefully now that I'm back on them, I won't feel so wiped out.
My healthy pregnancy intentions for last week (how I did):
1) Do all 4 Bradley exercises three days this week (Yes!)
2) Read four chapters in Bradley book and continue reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (Yes!)
3) Cook 4 healthy meals for my family and don't forget to take my iron pills (More like 3 and I was out of iron for several days)
My healthy pregnancy intentions for this week:
1) Midwifery appointment on Wednesday
2) Keep reading Bradley book and do Bradley exercises 4 days this week
3) Do one practice relaxation exercise with Jacob from Bradley book
4) Finish up the requirements of my La Leche League Leader certification