Thursday, January 5, 2012

Our Decision to Birth at Home

When we found out we were going to have a second child, we were thrilled. We knew from the start that we wanted to be better prepared for this child's birth, but we weren't sure what that meant. I knew one thing for sure, I wanted to do everything possible to avoid an epidural this time around. I had back pain for 10 months after the last one and had hated the way it made me feel during labor. It doesn't take long doing research before you find that the best way to have a natural, drug-free childbirth is to avoid all interventions if possible. So, our plan in the beginning was to have a natural, drug-free hospital birth and to stick to our guns (and the birth plan) this time! We decided that Justin would be my labor coach and we started reading up on the Bradley Method of "Husband Coached" Childbirth. However, I remembered the name "Ina May Gaskin" from some youtube videos that we had watched while pregnant with Cameron. This woman made a big impact on me with her more realistic views of childbirth and so I started reading her book "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" and later "Spiritual Midwifery." Also, Justin and I watched the documentary "The Business of Being Born." Long story very short, I found myself no longer being okay with going to the hospital and wishing Corpus Christi had a birth center. Not because these books and films use scare tactics, but because they speak the truth. I had done the hospital thing and JUST KNEW that it was not the place for a normal birth experience. So, I found myself googling 'midwives' in Corpus Christi and two days later, we had an interview with Elizabeth Overton, CPM. We loved Beth and her way of doing things from the start and so it was official, we were going to have a planned home birth! We were so unbelievably excited! From that point on, I more thoroughly enjoyed each step of the pregnancy and even began taking better care of myself knowing that I was the one in control of things and wasn't going to be "delivered" by a stranger. There's something about going to a group of OBGYNs that makes you feel like its all out of your hands and in theirs and so, you almost have a tendency to maybe not take as good care of yourself or submit to things you really deep down don't agree with (like inductions, etc) But when you're the one responsible for getting your baby into the world, you start taking extra special care of yourself mentally and physically in preparation. Nutrition is key during pregnancy and helps prep your body for childbirth.

When you decide to have a home birth all of a sudden all kinds of options open up. Where do you want to have your baby? What position? Who will be there? Does Daddy want to catch? What to eat and drink? What kinds of things will you surround yourself with to calm you? Music? Lighting? A birthday party for baby afterward? An herb bath with baby afterward? It begins to set in that you are actually going to ENJOY this experience and not panic when you realize those contractions are real!
We decided to plan for a water birth since I had had a pretty bad episiotomy with Cameron (10 stitches). Water birth helps you relax to the fullest and decreases your risk of tearing. I love water, so this was the perfect option for us.
We decided to let Beth's apprentice, Melinda Pond, gain some experience and be the one that would catch our baby. We totally trusted Melinda and were excited that ours would be her first baby to catch. Beth Would be by her side through it all, guiding her and taking over if needed.  We didn't start seeing Beth and Melinda for prenatal care until I was already about 25 weeks, but there was still plenty of time to get to know them. They saw me just as frequently as the doctor would have and at 36 weeks, they came to our house for the check up so that they know exactly how to get there before it's "go time."
It was so much different than going to my OB. The appointments were fun. There was no time spent waiting in a waiting room and they were always so warm and genuinely curious how the baby and I were doing.  They were much more thorough with me than my OB ever was. I loved that they gave me a big thick binder full of information on their guidelines, nutrition, exercise, prenatal testing, and postpartum care. The binder even had a 'homework' section that asks you, in detail, how you would like your labor and birth to go (who you want there, what activities, music, who catches baby, who cuts the chord, etc.) That was exciting. And most importantly, you get a copy of a blank prenatal record to fill in as you go to each appointment so that you can keep up with you and your babies health and your labs. I loved this!
Not to mention that Beth is certified in newborn screening as well, so she was able to care for William during his first weeks of life. They came to our house on postpartum days 1 & 4 to check us both out. Not only did they do a complete assessment and newborn screening on William, but each time they came they asked me a long list of questions, assessed my bleeding, checked my blood pressure, and made sure I was taking care of myself and not overdoing it. They also had tons of good breastfeeding advice and made sure William and I were getting off to a good start with it.
All in all, the prenatal and postpartum care that we received was by far more compassionate and thorough than what we would have received with the usual group of OBGYNs down the street. Please don't get me wrong! OBGYNs do amazing work and are greatly needed, but not for normal, low risk births. They are trained surgeons and are not trained to genuinely help a women through labor. And while nurses may be helpful, their shifts change. We could not be happier with our decision to plan a home birth with a licensed midwife.

The next two entries are the detailed accounts of both my children's births. They were both incredibly amazing and I wouldn't change a thing about either one. The first is my daughter Cameron's beautiful hospital birth. The second is my son William's beautiful home birth.

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