Monday, November 22, 2010

Our Quest for a Natural Birth with Baby #2

So we're out of the first trimester (Whew!), and I am finally starting to feel human again-- as in, food is not repulsive, I can cook and change diapers without gagging, and I do not fall asleep sitting up on our futon watching Gossip Girl (Yes, I watch Gossip Girl. It is my one guilty pleasure).

And now it's starting to really hit me-- we're actually having another baby. And let's focus on the verb there. HAVING. As in, there will be labor.

I had preterm labor with Gabriel, and I contracted for seven weeks before I was induced with our first little nugget. My husband and I had signed up for breathing and relaxation classes that were scheduled for while I was on bedrest. As in, we never went to them. And in all the fear of "I'm not ready to be a Mom of a preemie," etc., our plans for an epidural-free birth went out of the window.

And now I'm not scared. Of preterm labor anyway. If it comes again, I am not going to let it intimidate me from having the birth I want. And I will say that Gabriel's birth was beautiful-- I was very clear that I would only go with induction if I had extremely good odds of it working well (I was dilated to 3 cm before any pitocin, and Gabe was very low-- I had very good numbers in the "this will work well" column), and things took off once my water was broken. I had a vaginal birth, which was the most important thing to me in the world, and I am so glad for that.

What was awful? The epidural. I was stuck more than five times. Whatever the resident did to me made me feel like a metal straw was being stuck into my vertebrae over and over again. The head anesthesiologist of the hospital then came to patching things up, and things went uphill from there... but the mere thought of an epidural sends crampy aches through my lower spine. I just can't even imagine thinking about epidurals while in labor. I just want to labor.

Is that reason I want a natural birth? No. I want to experience natural birth because I feel strongly that I want to experience the full-natured embodiment of child birth. I want to birth a baby without drugs going into his or her little body. I want to be able to walk right away without nurses hovering at my sides. I want a lot of things.

And so now, we're figuring out how to do this. We have decided, and to some natural birth mothers this may seem odd, to remain in the care of our OB team. I really have enjoyed working with these doctors, and they are in full support of letting us go natural. They have agreed to allow us a low intervention experience at the hospital without the constant monitors and IVs (so long as there is no emergency). And I do think this practice roots for vaginal birth. And they did a few things that made me happy while in labor with Gabriel-- one of them being a massage of oil for my perineum while I pushed rather than an episiotomy.

But what now? How are we planning to cope with the pain? Will I be able to get the room with the tub at the hospital so that I can labor while in water? What about water birth? Lamaze? Bradley? Hire a doula? Can we do any of this without spending a bagillion dollars? Is anything natural covered by insurance? What?

These questions all seem awkward, because a lot of the classes and things are meant for first time parents. And I have already been in labor and been coached and pushed. My husband and mother were amazing. My husband was such a calm, loving, and encouraging presence, and my Mom was empowering-- she always let me know that the head was coming closer or that she could see more. They helped me along so well. So I know that as my husband undertakes the role of a hands-on labor coach (I'm thinking massages and the like), he will be amazing at it. We just need the details.

So here we are... looking for the details. Any suggestions on our quest for a natural birth, including books, etc., would be great!


  1. Preterm labor kept me on bed rest for 10 weeks with my son. I was induced with pitocin, I had an epidural & episiotomy. But I gave birth vaginally to a full term baby and held him skin-to-skin for almost two hours after he was born. To me, it was perfect. It was enough.

    I am scared out of my mind to get pregnant again.

    I admire your calm planning. I'm not even pregnant again and all I can think about is: What could I do to prevent preterm? How can I bed on bedrest with a toddler? Can I deal with that preemie fear again?

    Maybe its too soon for me. I hope with all my heart you get your natural childbirth but even more - a healthy full term babe.

  2. Good luck to you! It sounds like you are on a great path to a natural child birth. As far as the OB goes - if they are supportive of you then you will be successful. Since it sounds like there is a birth tub and they allow water births at the hospital - then wow, they are way more progressive than 99% of the OBs I have been doing research on. If I could find an OB like that I would be all over it! lol
    As far as the epidural...I couldn't agree with you more. I was going for a natural birth of my son - however the labor and delivery turned into a nightmare. The OB that agreed to my birth plan was out of town - and suddenly everything we had discussed was out of the window. I wasn't "allowed" to get out of bed, had continuous monitoring,etc. It was awful. I ended up with an epidural after 16 or so hours of laboring in the hospital with no food or water, not allowed to get out of bed to go to the bathroom,etc. And as bad as laboring in the bed was - the epidural made it much, much worse. And then I ended up with a c-section (which I admit, I actually needed- my son was brow presentation and the OB didn't realize and had major trauma, ended up in the NICU, and has had four surgeries so far)
    My next labor will be different - I know the questions to ask and what to make sure I have in an OB or MW. But one thing is for sure - I will have an epidural.
    As far as books - I am sure you have heard of these but my favorites are Ina May's books and Birthing from Within.
    I look forward to following your journey to a natural birth!!

  3. Yay! What a great post. Congratulations on the decision to push for a natural childbirth. Even with all the preparation in the world, a great birthing team, and everything else, sometimes it just doesn't happen the way you want (just keep it in mind so you aren't "sad" if and only if it can't happen). The best thing is knowing that you are in control. If you end up getting an epidural, it is YOUR decision. "Emergencies" happen all the time in the birthing business. If you truly needed a c section, for example, they wouldn't have time to talk to you and have you sign papers and then wait in the c section line. You would be flying down the hallway because your baby's health was in jeopardy.

    Since you are sticking with OBs, I would highly recommend a doula (or a doula in training, they can be very affordable)--they will be super helpful in a medical environment. Even with a midwife practice, ours was essential. I have a huge community of home birth and natural birth mothers that will recommend it to you. Some insurances cover labor assistants. Also, natural childbirth requires eating and drinking through labor or else you can't get your job done. Most hospitals won't let you do that so check with yours. You can't labor with no energy. I ate the whole entire time...and drank water constantly to avoid the IV. They say they will let you try for natural, but their policies don't always go along with it. Will they chart your progression and tell you after 30 hours you aren't making progress and deny you your birth because of the "rules"--can you select your labor and pushing positions? Pushing out a baby on your back is the worst position for a woman! What about intermittent fetal monitoring, will they do that? Just things to ask the docs.

    We were at a hospital and our birth was so rare that doctors wanted to come by and watch--we said no, but still!

    Our Bradley class had two families who had already had medicated births--it is an entirely new type of birthing so I don't think you would feel out of place at all. In fact, having those people in our class was amazingly helpful and it enriched the class. This will be a completely different way of approaching labor, birth, and the entire pregnancy process. It starts from the moment you know you are pregnant. Natural childbirth preparation is about mind, exercise, and most importantly, diet.


    Birthing from Within
    Spiritual Midwifery
    Husband Coached Childbirth

    Business of Being Born

    Our experience was life changing. I knew I wanted a natural childbirth and everyone told me I couldn't do it and I did. It was empowering. The experience of feeling every single movement and contraction is like doing a decathlon. I walked out of (and in to, at 9.5 cm) the delivery room and one day later was taking my girl for a walk in our neighborhood. You can always check out placenta encapsulation, too. I highly recommend it. We are posting our birth plan in honor of Dal's Bday, you can always check that out, too.


  4. I definitely recommend a doula. I did not have a natural birth but I knew I would need some assistance before and after because my husband is in the army and only was able to be there during the actual labor - then he had to leave. I live in NC so it was VERY affordable ($300) and she spent a lot of time getting to know me and what I wanted for childbirth, and then during labor she was getting me in all sorts of different positions, massaging me, keeping me going, etc. I didn't get the epidural until 8cm so she was really great! I also didn't go to any classes ahead of time so I needed her to give me the breathing and pushing cues. Overall it was the best $300 I ever spent!!!!!

  5. Check out BirthWorks.org BirthWorks childbirth education classes are not a "method". They believe that every women was born knowing how to give birth. They focus on education, empowerment and reducing fear....and they let your partner be a partner and NOT have the pressure of "knowing what to do" no matter what. They are NOT classes for first time moms. In fact, they would rather have a mixed crowed of new and experienced mamas.

  6. Hi Erin -
    I don't know where in NJ you live, but I wanted to tell you about the practice I went to - they are in Hackettstown and you can go to the regular ob-gyn (who I love)... HOWEVER, there are 4 mid-wives there that specialize in natural childbirth and water births!!
    Hackettstown Hospital specializes in water birth (and yes its all covered by insurance)... they actually push natural birth and are against drugs. They let you do WHATEVER you want for your birthplan and they follow it for real! It was the most amazing experience going with them. The midwives are amazing and they spend an hour with you during your appointments - and they spend the whole laboring time with you as well - I can not say enough good things about them!
    The birthing class we took was given by a doula- OMG, it was awesome, very very imformative - it's not Lamaze. It teaches you how to deal with labor and natural birth, etc. Amazing. We had people from all over NJ & NY come to this class and our midwives b/c they have such a good reputation and they let you go natural.
    We even had a couple in there that was going to do a home birth, and they came there b/c not alot of obgyn practices can or will support that.
    With that said, I chose the epidural b/c I knew I did not want a natural birth from the get-go ... but I had been going to this practice for 10 years so I stuck with them. They respected my wishes and did not push anything on me I didn't want. I know several others that went there and went natural and water births - and the experience was incredible for them. Roxy was my midwife for my delivery and she was amazing. The midwives are actually on that show "A baby story" - so many people do know who they are.

    If you have any questions - please email me through my profile email address ... I would be happy to tell you anything about the midwives... I will say, they cater to exactly what you are looking for - and everything you said in your post, just fits perfectly with them.

    Here is their website:

  7. I cannot thank you all enough for your thoughtful responses. The information you shared is very helpful, and my husband (and baby!!) and I really appreciate it!!

  8. Fun Fact? Epidural delivery of anesthetics does not reach the baby, its is retained within the membrane surrounding your spinal cord.