My Chosen Birth Plan
Even before I got pregnant I always knew I wanted a natural birth.
To me, a natural birth is an unmedicated vaginal birth.
When we found out we were going to have a baby, I started researching natural birth methods.
There are various methods but most focus on deep relaxation techniques.
I chose to use the Bradley Method. This method used to be referred to as "husband coached childbirth". It emphasizes deep relaxation, proper nutrition and exercise, as well as birth and labor "education" for both mom and dad.
The dad is also given the title as "coach" and is taught how to assist the mom during labor (effectively, without making her want to kill him).
We found a Bradley instructor in our area and started attending weekly classes for about 10 weeks.
The class included 5 other couples and was held in the instructor's home. We learned the different stages of labor, signs to look out for, the most efficient time window for medical interventions, deep relaxation techniques, proper nutrition, effective exercises, and even how to communicate effectively with the medical staff.
What I really liked about this method is that it wasn't just a "drugs are bad" approach to labor and child birth but more of a "when is medical intervention necessary"approach.
Why did I want to have an unmedicated birth? Why not just take the pain medication?
My health philosophy is that if you maintain a healthy lifestyle and take care of your body, your body will take care of you. Under certain circumstances medicine is necessary to save lives. However, I don't believe in using medicines or medical interventions for situations that my body can handle on its own. For me, specific situations include common ailments like colds and headaches, as well as childbirth.
And when I say medicine, I'm referring to pharmaceutical medicines and the current modern medical system (hospitals, MDs, pharmacists, for example).
So in what situations have I accepted medical interventions? The most recent would be when I had my wisdom teeth removed before my wedding in 2010. I took the pain meds during the procedure and recovery as well as the antibiotics.
C'mon, I had 4 teeth removed via surgery! The pain meds helped me get back to work and the antibiotics helped fight of any infections I may have gotten while my gums healed.
As you can see, I'm not an all or nothing type of girl, but definitely a "do your research" woman!
I trust that my body knows how to give birth. My mind might not know what's going on, but my body does. I had 9 months to catch up and learn as much as I could and the Bradley Method definitely prepared me.
Our classes taught me how to manage my pain and understand that the pain I was going to feel wasn't for nothing- every contraction would bring me closer to meeting my baby! It was pain with a purpose!
You might be thinking, "Well, even if the pain had a purpose, why not get the pain medications so you don't have to feel the pain but your body can still do its job?".
Well didya know that if a woman receives an Epidural too early into labor it can stall her efforts? Thus leading her doctor to label the situation as a "failure to progress" and at the risk of the baby going into distress offer an emergency c-section?
Or that an Epidural may work so well that a woman won't feel anything at all, not even the urge to push and thus lose the ability to labor effectively, causing labor to stall and (you guessed it!) lead to an emergency c-section?
Or that an Epidural may not work at all? That a woman will get a needle stuck in her spine and still feel pain?
Or that an Epidural may cause additional pain through spinal headaches?
Needless to say I was more afraid of a needle going into my spine than I was of actual labor.
To be fair, there is a time when an Epidural may be necessary. Once a woman is in active labor (her mood is serious, contractions are consistent and about 2 minutes apart, and cervix is dilated at least 6cm) and her labor stalls (cervix stops dilated, baby isn't moving down, cervix isn't softening), it may be because she is too tense for her body to continue.
Stress, fear, and adrenaline may slowdown or stall labor. An Epidural may help a woman relax so that her body may continue to progress.
So if a woman is in active labor but after a couple hours stops showing any signs of progress, an epidural may be the way to go.
Why did I want to avoid a Cesarean Section (C-Section)?
Um, because it's major surgery with a lot of potential complications! It's not something that I take lightly. The only surgery I've ever had was an in and out procedure to remove some teeth- not a freaking baby.
Bottom line? I wanted an unmedicated birth because I trust my body and the process. I was open to medical intervention, as necessary, but wanted to be knowledgeable about my options and to always give informed consent to any procedure. To be informed, I needed to learn as much as I could before hand and not make a decision based on what a nurse was telling me at the moment.
For any of my readers who are contemplating an unmedicated birth, I highly encourage you to look up the Bradley Method. Actually, any method. Don't go into your labor uneducated expecting to be able to handle the pain. Be prepared and armed with knowledge!