there is an interesting post over at crunchy domestic goddess this week on the way natural childbirth is portrayed in the media. she also links and reacts to a video of a scheduled cesarean that the today show aired live last week, and it's worth checking out, too.
giving birth is an accomplishment and a miracle, whether medicated or natural, at home or in the hospital, with a doctor or a midwife. there is no one "right" way to give birth. i do think, however, that women are culturally conditioned to fear natural childbirth--and we don't need to be. we're afraid we won't be able to do something our bodies were created to do, and we may not consider the risks of certain interventions.
"birth story" details to follow. so you know.
i'd wanted to have dylan naturally. maternal drugs get to the baby through the placenta, and even if they are considered safe, i knew that they can interfere with a baby's interest in breastfeeding, and i didn't want to create any barriers.
my contractions began intensely and at five minutes apart right off the bat. after a sleepless night at home, we went to the hospital a 8 AM, only to discover that i was barely dialated. they weren't even sure they wanted to admit me. i labored there for hours with jim and our doula, who helped me to relax as best i could. i walked the halls (thankful to not be hooked to an IV), labored on a birth ball, and tried all sorts of positions. my contractions grew closer and more intense, but they still weren't progressing my labor.
around 3 pm, after 13 hours of active labor, i was still at only 1 cm, and i had a epidural in order to rest and gather strength. i labored without pain for a few hours and my cervix finally dialated, but when it was time to push, i didn't have all my sensation back, and my body just didn't know what to do. i must have heard "just one more push!" dozens of times, and each time i grew more discouraged. finally, my midwife performed the episiotomy i had not wanted, so that they could get dylan out--at 8:50 PM.
i was so exhausted (and i think partially traumatized) that i barely remember those first few minutes after dylan was born. thankfully, i came out of my "baby daze" and was able to hold and nurse her soon after birth, but it was a long and painful recovery that in many ways was harder than labor and delivery.
james was born naturally, and it was such a different birth experience. with him, my contractions never got to five minutes apart (the magic number that is supposed to signal a trip to the hospital.) contractions came and went. by dinner they were coming more regularly, and by 8 PM, they were really intense. we watched glee, i focused on my breathing, we went to bed. i tried to rest but couldn't. my contractions were fierce, and sometimes they'd be spaced at five minutes, but then i'd have a bit of a longer respite.
at midnight, even though they weren't completely regular, my contractions were painful enough that i no longer wanted to labor at home. this was my second baby, it was a 40 minute drive, and i did NOT want to have a baby in the car! we woke up a friend to come stay with dylan and left for the hospital at 1 AM.
we called the hospital to say we were coming in and later learned that they did not call my midwife--who lived an hour away!--until after i arrived. we checked into a room at 2 AM. i was seven centimeter dialated and progressing rapidly. this baby was ready, but my midwife didn't arrive until after 3:30. she didn't even get her lab coat on before telling me to push!
pushing was short and productive, and she put our sweet boy into my arms immediately (at about 4 AM). i held and nursed james for over an hour in the early morning stillness before they even weighed him or cut the cord. we enjoyed the loveliest, quietest family time together, and i cherish those memories. i didn't need an episiotomy, and my recovery was remarkably easier.
my natural birth and recovery were significantly easier than my medicated one. we read books about the bradley method and used strategies we learned there to manage pain--and it made a huge difference. having a doula for a first birth (whose focus is entirely on the mother's care) is something i wish for every new mom aiming for a natural childbirth. i also really appreciated our midwives, who really listened and offered wonderful care. with our insurance we didn't pay anything for prenatal care or our natural hospital birth--a blessing that cannot be understated in these days of bankrupting health care bills.
any thoughts you want to share about your birth experiences? do you think the way childbirth is portrayed on tv or in the movies affects the choices women make? did anyone see that c-section piece on the today show? what did you think?