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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Secret of Home/Natural Birth

Thanks to commenter Katelynn for suggesting this awesome website about post-partum bodies!

On it, an anonymous poster talked about her five birth experiences, including her last one, a home birth: "I had my son on October 27, 2009. He was 8 days overdue and weighed 10lb 6oz. He was born after a literally painless 30 minute labor. If I had known how much better home-birth would be, I wouldn’t have waited so long to have one!"

I've been thinking more and more about natural/home birth. I think the home aspect DOES add something because of the level of comfort, privacy, and not having to go anywhere in labor. I also think the recovery is better because James and I were totally alone with our baby in the days after his birth--this might sound overwhelming for someone who has never done it, but it only takes this few days to LEARN YOUR BABY and build this confidence in caring for him. I know this can and does happen in the hospital too, but honestly I think having the nurses and other people there and around would make most people naturally want to ask for help or a second opinion in caring for their baby. When you don't have that option, you just do it and immediately you are the expert on your own baby, instead of someone else.

I always read these stories about how amazing natural birth was, and while I believed the stories and experiences, my mind was still infected with the popular perception that birth is inherently painful, scary, and foreign. This infection of self-doubt in my ability to birth is much too common.

Think about it--evolution and the procreation of the human species is the ultimate biological imperative. Birds evolve miraculous colors and plumes and mating rituals in order to procreation their species. Humans must be at least as good, right? What is the most important thing for the procreation of our species? The ability to give birth. Why should we doubt something that millions of years of careful "breeding" have guaranteed to work?

Well there is a history and explanation, which I won't go into now, but my birth experience eradicated the infection of doubt that I had possessed. Now I understand what those crunchy natural birth women were talking about. Birth is not something to fear. It is not inherently painful, and it is certainly not something to doubt. It's as easy as breathing--your body will do it without any help at all. All you need to do is YIELD. All you need to do is have a clean and confident mind that will not interfere with the body's imperative.

But since we are INFECTED, that is where the difficulty comes from. There is so little exposure to natural birth, it's importance or ease or even pleasure. All we see is screaming (which I admit, I did do, but it was not a scream of fear, it was a scream of power--it was like the "hiya" of a karate chop--the exercise of my gong power). All we see is women begging for their epidural as they clench their husband's arm (which I also did--but it was not a clench of pain, but a clench of power and adrenaline, like when you grip the steering wheel of your car during a racing game).

Our womanly messages have been twisted by fear and doubt, and it's a pity because we are missing out on a hormonal and spiritual experience with deep importance. I hope in my lifetime I will see a transformation of our culture's perception of birth. I am certainly going to do all I can to spread the "secret".


Anonymous said...

A - I am so happy to hear your experience was positive, but that just is NOT universally the case! It wouldn't have mattered if I were at home in a palace of my dreams, it was excruciating all three times! Worth it (well, most of the time I think that...), but absolutely excruciatingly painful nonetheless! - Peggy

justadrienne said...

I know that other people have different experiences, but I really think that education and training your mind not to fear and to have confidence in birth makes a huge difference (though obviously it's not a guarantee). It's hard to estimate, but I probably spent 500+ hours reading positive birth stories and educating myself and basically "brainwashing" myself to know deeply that birth is natural, normal, and not intrinsically painful. I know that it isn't a guarantee, but I challenge anyone to make such an effort and to share the results . . . as Ina May Gaskin, one of the most experienced and respected midwives in the country says: "Perception matters in birth."

Katelynne said...

I agree that there are differing situations. For instance, my last birth was harder to handle than my first homebirth. The midwife had to leave and I labored on my own with a very fast labor until the backup midwife came in as I was pushing. That birth was harder for me to handle and contractions harder to integrate because, lets face it, I was nervous that there wasn't going to be a midwife! I completely agree that natural birth NEEDS to be prepared for. Can you get through it without preparing? Of course, the baby is coming out one way or the other, BUT it is sooooo much better when you understand what is happening and can escape the fear/pain cycle.

And FTR, I ADORE Ida May!

Anonymous said...

I agree that women have been lead to believe that birth is an emergercy and they NEED doctors. Birth is a natural process, but there can be complications. My experience:

1st was a breech baby who would not turn. Footling breech is the most dangerous kind and I needed a c/s.

2nd Attempted a home VBAC. After 36 hours of back labor and a midwife would had lied to me that "my birth would be the way I wanted it" (for example she would not check me after 36 hours of labor and I NEEDED to know that I was making progress, plus other things), It was all about "her way" Anyways, we finally went to the hospital where they broke my water and out came baby (still with out pain meds). But that was not without a 3rd degree tear that needed many stitches. Also much blood loss causing me to pass out.

3rd planned hospital birth with an easy 6 hour labor but an awful 3 hours of pushing becuase baby was so large (head 14 3/4 inches). I finally got the baby out but once again I had much damage. even my small labia was torn in half. It took the doctor over an hour to sew me back up. Once again much blood loss and near the point of passing out.

All this said, I agree that home birth is and can be wonderful for a lot of women, but please be careful to present it in a way that makes women, who had it a lot harder than you did, to not feel guilty about having a hospital birth.

Amy said...

I am glad you had such a positive home birth experience. It's not for me. I don't doubt my ability to birth at home, but I don't WANT to. I am more comfortable in a hospital to be honest. I loved my birth and my midwife and I only regret not being able to have more family come visit me! BUT I do disagree with the above comment on one part, I don't feel you have ever made anyone feel guilty about choosing a hospital birth. I feel like it's more of a situation where your birth was so awesome and empowering for YOU that you want to share that so other women know they can experience it to. However I felt all of that while in a hospital so it really depends on the person, how they react to pain, and what their mindset is. I really believe if you went into a hospital to birth you wouldn't lose any of those happy birth feelings, but I am happy we each got to do our first choice in how we want to give birth! :)

justadrienne said...

I definitely think that a hospital is a better choice for some women--exactly those that would feel more comfortable there.

Mostly I think that women NEED to be in charge of their own birth process, AND not be scared of birth. You also need a care provider that is going to respect your wishes 100%--there are great doctors and great midwives just as there are disrespectful, pushy doctors and pushy, disrespectful midwives.

I would never want to make someone feel guilty but I also need to honest about my experience. I don't think it was a mistake that I spent so much time researching birth and had the experience I did. So others can take that for what it is--I believe anyone can strive for a great birth and it will improve their chances of having one. The power of positive visualization is proven.

Penn and Janet said...

Can the power of positive visualization safely deliever a footling (one foot up and the other down) breach baby?

justadrienne said...

Haha, no I don't think so! But there are pregnancy exercises and more natural options like chiropractic and acupuncture that can help the baby get into the right position. I saw an acupuncturist and a chiropractor throughout my whole pregnancy.

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