Mar 13, 2009

Home Birth Manifesto IV--Denouement...

Part I; Part II; Part III; Safety; Logistics

In Part III, I mentioned that, in this post, I would talk about our experiences since deciding to plan a home birth, finding our midwife, getting the insurance in order, etc.

But as I look back over the past six months or so I am finding that things have really been pretty boring since then. Boring in a good way, mind you--I've had all my regular appointments and most of the screenings that they usually do for pregnant ladies, and the little kiddo has been growing & growing, getting ready for mid-April. My first-trimester queasies lasted way longer than the first trimester, but everything has been well within the norms for pregnancy and these days I'm feeling pretty good, as long as I remember to eat regularly, steer clear of a few key foods depending on the day, and drink lots of water. Funny how that works.

I guess I'll toss out some snippets, then...

--As far as the labor goes, I'm expecting pretty much the same as with the last time, except I won't be going anywhere. I'm hoping that feeling more relaxed in my own space, along with this being my second kiddo, will help the whole process go faster than the first time. I know there are no guarantees there, but I'm still pretty hopeful about it.

--I'm not necessarily planning a waterbirth, but I do plan to sit in the water for at least part of the labor--buoyancy is an excellent alternative to drugs for managing pain. I don't know how I'll feel in the moment, so I want the option to stay in the tub for the birth if I want. But I'm cheap, so instead of buying or renting a tub built specifically for labor/birth, I bought the inflatable kiddie pool my midwife recommended, for less than $40 including shipping. It has an inflatable bottom for added comfort, and cheerful aquatic creatures printed on the sides. That last part just strikes me as funny. I keep thinking, "Must get pictures of the cheerful sea creatures."

--Support people--Since the birth of His Highness, both the Cat Daddy and I are pretty vocal about encouraging people to have a doula or other person for added support during labor. I appreciated having a couple other women present who knew lots of different ways that I might like to be supported and encouraged during the hard parts, and the Cat Daddy appreciated that he didn't have to read my mind to know what I wanted. He was able to support me well, without worrying whether or not he was supporting me well, if that makes any sense. As he says, "birthing really is women's work," and I tend to agree. For me that additional support made all the difference.

Let me harp on this one just a little bit longer. It irks me when I hear people say "trust me, just do such-and-such," or some other condescending phrase based only on their experiences, because it causes women to question their own experiences and strength and think "gosh, maybe I really can't do this." There's a big difference between "I had to..." and "I chose to..." When it comes to normal and uncomplicated birth, the truth of the matter is that you absolutely can do it the way you want to. Knowing all your options and having supportive people around you saying "You CAN do this" makes all the difference in being confident about whatever choices you make in the process. Then you are powerful and in charge of your own birth, which I think is the only acceptable way to do it. Rather than saying "trust me, get a doula," (!) I'll leave it at "consider carefully who you want to have supporting you, and do what you want for your birth."

--My favorite questions I learned to ask are "Am I OK? Is my baby OK? Why are we doing such-and-such?" I like it because it makes the doc/nurse/midwife articulate their reasoning for you. Sometimes there is a legitimate need for an intervention, but sometimes it's just what they "always do." Knowing this helps you decide whether or not you want to go ahead with whatever they are suggesting.

My other favorite is "I do not consent to that." I did not use that one, but I have heard stories from other women who felt strongarmed into procedures that were unnecessary. It's easy to feel like the doctor is "the boss," but in reality they need consent to proceed with a procedure. I think a good doc/nurse/midwife will include you in the decision-making process whenever possible. You are the one doing the work and the recipient of whatever treatments you decide upon, after all.

...That about concludes my manifesto. I think. I could ramble on forever, but I think I've pretty well captured the gist of things. Obviously I'm geared more toward natural & such, but my big thing is that people know about all their options, and hear that they are capable of doing labor & birth the way they choose. I feel grateful to have learned about this kind of stuff, & to have been able to make very different choices than I might have otherwise. And one side-effect of this is that I feel more confident & powerful in other of areas of life. It's a beautiful thing.

The Q/A is in process, so that'll be next...

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