Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Giving birth: the most natural phenomena on earth

To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

Genesis 3:16

I don't believe God really did that as punishment for Eve's sin, but the men who wrote it wished God had. The part about ruling over women was definitely an earthly, manly mandate. That's been pretty evident for a long, long time.

This post isn't to argue original sin; it's to talk about giving birth, one of the most natural phenomena on earth.

Prior to the early 1900s, giving birth at home was the normal thing to do (yes, mortality rates were higher, I know, but still). In the early 1900s, women began going to the hospital because modern health care at the time made huge strides in reducing the mortality rate and improving the likelihood that mom and baby would live to see another day. However, the medical community consisted of men who in turn wanted to increase the ease of functional delivery for themselves – things like complete sedation for the woman, strapped down in a bed with restraints with feet hiked up and locked into stirrups.

Today, if most births are normal, vaginal births due to the advances of prenatal care, then why is the cesarean rate in America upwards of 40%?

Most of you know we've planned a home water birth with our very capable midwife Kathe (who by the way corrected me about her visual aids not being from the 1970s – just kidding Kathe!), but I can't tell you how many times people go right to the horror stories when I tell them we're having a home birth.

"Oh my God, my niece had a home birth and it ripped a hole in the space-time continuum, along with tearing her perineum and her neighbor's as well, and the amount of blood and evil inter-dimensional beings was horrific..."


I even received a response of late that we're more concerned about our feelings, and not Baby B's health, because we wanted a home birth.

What the – ?

We're not having a home birth to burn incense, sing kumbaya and pat ourselves on the back. No, we're having a home birth solely to have a more natural and safe experience for mom and baby (with a certified midwife) the way God and millions of years of evolution intended (yes, I can reconcile both and do).

But just in case, we do have a plan B. No worries there. And you can have great prenatal care with a midwife instead of an OB – and we did both. We're also in a community that embraces midwifery including the local medical profession. A qualified midwife can identify breech well before early labor even starts and if they can't adjust the little bugger, plan B starts early.

Our midwife has attended over 1,200 births and only a small percentage has had to go to the hospital for whatever reason.

We watched a water birthing video the other night with our doula called Birth into Being (definitely not for everyone). A Russian spiritual midwife recorded five water births, some of which were women giving birth in the Black Sea. (Yes, I had visions of Jean Auel's books, The Mammoth Hunters, but no, we're not running down to the water to birth by the lighthouse where we met to be spiritually romantic in 55 degree water.) Water birth can help soothe the mother's labor and the baby comes right out of the water once it's born. And if all goes as planned, Baby B will be born in its very own room.

For those of you keeping score at home, here is more information from a great mainstream site – the American Pregnancy Association:

Home birth might be an option for you if:

  1. You are having a healthy, low-risk pregnancy

  2. You want to avoid episiotomy, cesarean section, epidural and other interventions

  3. You want to be surrounded by family and friends

  4. You want to be free to move around, change positions, take a shower, and eat or drink freely during labor

  5. You want to enjoy the comforts of home and familiar surroundings

Home birth is not for you if:

  1. You are diabetic

  2. You have chronic high blood pressure, or toxemia (also known as preeclampsia)

  3. You have experienced preterm labor in the past, or may be at risk for preterm labor now

  4. Your partner does not fully support your decision to give birth at home

Most midwives will bring the following with them the day of delivery:

  1. Oxygen for the baby if needed

  2. IV's for mom if she becomes dehydrated or needs additional nutrients

  3. Sterile gloves, gauze pads, cotton hat for the baby, drop cloths, waterproof covers for the bed, a thermometer, a pan for sitz baths after birth

  4. Fetoscopes or ultrasonic stethoscopes

  5. Medications to slow or stop a hemorrhage

  6. Special herbal preparations, homeopathic remedies, massage supplies/techniques and even acupuncture needles

  7. Items for suturing tears

In what situations would transfer to the hospital occur:

  1. Mom decides to go because she feels exhausted and does not want to continue

  2. Premature rupture of membranes

  3. High blood pressure

  4. No progress

  5. Fetal distress

  6. Cord prolapse

  7. Hemorrhage

Some pointers when considering a home birth:

  1. Compile a health care team by hiring a midwife and obstetrician

  2. Interview several midwives to discuss their birth philosophy; you may be more comfortable with a midwife who shares your view of birth

  3. Write out a Plan B in case a hospital transfer is necessary

  4. Hire a doula

  5. Ask your midwife if she works with a backup OB/GYN

  6. Choose a pediatrician to see the baby within 24 hours of the birth

Home birth perks:

  1. Home birth may be significantly easier on your pocket book. An average uncomplicated vaginal birth costs about 60% less in a home than in a hospital.

  2. Home birth provides immediate bonding and breastfeeding. Early breastfeeding helps mom stop bleeding, clear mucus from the baby's nose and mouth, and transfer disease-fighting antibodies in the milk from mother to baby.

  3. Home birth allows you to be surrounded with those you love. When you include children, family, and friends in the birth process, it provides you with many helpers and allows a very intimate bonding experience for everyone involved.

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