Why I Chose a Natural, Out of Hospital Birth

Baby Lindszlo has arrived!!  —hence the blogging hiatus…

I am excited to share more about his arrival, but first I thought I would share a post that I actually wrote BEFORE I went into labor about my choices regarding his upcoming birth….

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My views of childbirth have definitely changed over the years. If you had asked me how I imagined giving birth three years ago, I would have said something along the lines of “ugh…if I have to do it, I choose a c-section.”

Two and a half years ago my sister invited me to watch the birth of my nephew. I really didn’t want to do it, but realized it may be my only chance to see an actual birth in person, and was surprised to walk away thinking “I guess I could do that.”

After I got married and the thought of having children started to actually appeal to me, I discovered that I had a desire to approach childbirth much differently than I had expected. I didn’t know much about childbirth, but my health journey had taught me a lot about my body and my feelings toward the medical field. Long before we got pregnant I started to scout out the different birthing options in town, paying attention to who used which doctor and what their experience had been. So by the time we were “in the market,” I already had my heart set on using the midwives at the local birth center whom I had heard such great things about. My husband, on the other hand, operated under the common assumption that all babies need to be born in the hospital. But he knew how important it was to me, so he agreed to take a tour of the birth center and have a consultation with the midwives. Going into it, I think he had been just as set on having a hospital birth as I had been on having an out of hospital birth, so I was very surprised when we walked out the door and he said “Let’s do it. They are legit and I was really impressed with all of their answers.” Cue happy dance!

This would probably be a great time to say that just because I chose a natural, out of hospital birth doesn’t meant it’s right for everyone. In fact, one of the best books I read was called “Choosing the Birth That’s Right For You” and it emphasized that everyone is different, so what’s right for your mother, sister or best friend, probably won’t be the exact right thing for you. Knowing yourself and your needs is the best tool for ensuring a successful labor, whatever that looks like.

Why I chose a Midwife

There are several blogs I read that are written by naturally minded mamas, and when the topic of pregnancy and childbirth comes up, I tend to see the same thing over and over again from the women in those communities: a list of procedures that are routine but not always necessary, and encouragement to “stand up for yourself!” or “fight for your rights!” Anyone can tell you that I am not a fighter. I fear confrontation, and instead will go along with whatever is prescribed, even if I am strongly against it, only to cry my whole way home. So of course reading about the need to fight for the prenatal care and birth you desire filled me with dread for the upcoming 9 months. But I also read that midwives tend to be more open to letting things progress naturally, so I figured that sounded a little bit more promising, but still prepared myself for a fight (and by that I mean I planned on having my husband accompany me to each appointment). I was pleasantly surprised when I started my prenatal care (and actually before that during the consultation) and all of my questions were met with what I dubbed “perfect answers” in accordance with my beliefs and desires. It actually made me feel really bad for those women who had been posting on the blogs, because they didn’t have these great prenatal care options wherever they were located.

As I’ve learned more about childbirth I’ve discovered that having a trusting relationship with your practitioner is probably one of the most important things to ensure a successful labor and delivery. I completely trust that my midwives have my best interest in mind; they won’t do anything without my consent, and they will choose the least invasive option. This means that during labor I will be free to labor—instead of worrying about what is going on around me, feeling the need to be on guard and “fighting for my rights.”

At our initial consultation the midwife explained to us that their philosophy of care revolves around education and prevention. Basically our bodies know what to do instinctively; the midwives are there to educate us so we can make the choices that will allow everything to function as it should. This is in exact alignment with my personal beliefs, so it was nice to know we were on the same page from the beginning. I never realized how different a philosophy it was from the field of obstetrics, until I mentioned I was keeping a food log for my midwives and I had several people question why they had me doing that, wondering if something was wrong. Proper nutrition is one of the best ways to prevent complications, so I appreciated that they were examining this area of my pregnancy early on, instead of waiting for a complication to arise that would then need to be treated. Somewhere along the line I read that midwives treat every pregnancy as if it is normal until proven otherwise; obstetricians treat every pregnancy as if it were abnormal until proven otherwise. I’m with the midwives.

I also have noticed the difference in my attitude towards appointments. As mentioned above, most doctors appointments end with me crying, regretting the whole thing, and swearing I will never go back. I actually look forward to my appointments with the midwives. I leave saying “can’t wait to see you again in two weeks!” and I am not afraid to call them or drop by if I have any questions. It’s like a whole new world!

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Why I chose an Out of Hospital Birth

The thought of an out of hospital birth scares a lot of people. I get that. For some people, the peace of mind knowing that they are already in the hospital should an emergency arise is important. For me, I am willing to risk being 10 minutes away from the hospital to ensure that I have a more peaceful labor and delivery experience.

I wouldn’t say I’m one of those people who hates hospitals. In fact at one point I even wanted to work in a hospital as a chaplain. But the sights, sounds, and smells of the hospital definitely conjure up thoughts of the sick, hurt, and dying, and that’s not exactly where I want to welcome my baby into the world. I have heard that people who don’t like hospitals actually stall in labor once they arrive, because their body tenses up. Based on my experiences, I can totally see that happening, which is one of the reasons I am choosing an out of hospital birth. The rooms at the birth center are set up like bedrooms, with medical equipment hidden from view to make things more cozy and relaxed.

Having witnessed my nephew’s birth, I know there is a lot of hustle and bustle that happens in the hospital—nurses on rotating shifts, lab techs, and people coming in to run tests and do whatever it is they are assigned to do. I do best when left on my own, and I definitely need time to get to know someone before I let them see me in my most vulnerable state. Knowing that it will be just the midwives, our doula, and my husband and I brings me great peace. Also, since I have spent the last 6 months getting to know our birth team, I know that we connect and work well together, which would not necessarily be the case if I were to show up on the labor and delivery floor and be randomly assigned a nurse.

Most of the people I talk to are appalled that I would choose to birth somewhere where getting an epidural is not even an option. To them I usually say “I know that I am an all or nothing person, and since I want to go natural, I have to go where medication is not an option.” Because how many people have you known who have said “I’m going to wait and see what happens” who HAVEN’T chosen to get the epidural?

Why I chose a Natural Birth

There are several reasons why I am choosing a natural birth. One of the biggest reasons is because my body does not react well to medication. It tends to reject anything that is not natural, and a horrible reaction to something that’s just been injected into my body is the last thing I want to deal with while in labor.

I’ve also always thought it was a little strange that they tell you to avoid even over the counter medicines during pregnancy, and then right before birth they inject narcotics and the strongest painkillers possible into you and your baby. Sure, most babies don’t seem to have long term side effects, but it’s still just a little suspicious to me, and based on my own reactions to medications, I don’t want to chance it, not knowing how my little guy may react.

I’ve read a lot of birth stories in preparation for labor (which I would totally encourage—when you talk to friends and family for some reason you tend to only hear the negative stories. Reading positive stories has been so encouraging), and they have changed the way I think about natural childbirth. Sure, I’ve known that women have been having unmedicated births for…forever…but most people will say “that’s just because they didn’t have drugs.” But as I learn about the scientific process of it all, it truly is a miracle that God designed our bodies this way. The way that the hormones act as natural “painkillers” and cause everything to progress is amazing. When we inject our own chemical “labor aids” we screw with the whole process (which is what can lead to the starts and stops and endless back and forth between Pitocin and epidural) and tend to cause a need for more interventions.

I am actually excited to labor. I feel like I know my body well and I am eager to see how it guides me. I believe it will be a spiritual experience as I depend on strength from the Lord and experience Creation in a whole new way.

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It was fun to look back on this post AFTER delivering our little guy to see how it held up. I can’t wait to share more about our actual experience with you guys…but it’s hard to find time whilst holding a newborn!

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