We chose to strive for natural births with all our children out of my fear of a needle first, and as we educated ourselves, we became convinced that we did not want to introduce our children to any drugs as infants that are illegal when they are taken recreationally as adults.
If natural birth was not your choice, then I hope you will read on and learn about why some of us "run the marathon". I never understood why anyone in their right mind would push their body to the other side of the breaking point. After having a intervention-free birth with our second child, the light bulb went on - the feeling of accomplishment and awe in the wonder of your body is irreplaceable.
When we found out we were pregnant with our first child, we had a lot of the same feelings most first-time parents have: excitement, joy, anticipation and awe at the wonder of creation. How was one new life going to grow inside of me?
As the pregnancy progressed, we had some cause to worry since I had some bleeding throughout the pregnancy. I gained a massive amount of weight due to the fact that my thyroid condition went unchecked - at this point I can't even remember who suggested I had my tsH levels checked - thank God they did because my medication was way off.
And then, as the due date got closer, I began to fear labor. What was I going to do? How was I going to handle it? And I was sure as heck not going to be stuck with a gigantic needle into the life-line of my body.
I knew I wanted a natural birth, and I had no idea that natural birth is anything that I should prepare for. Both of my grandmothers had given birth at home - what did I need to know? As it turns out, a lot.
As birth moved out of the home and into hospitals, we started missing out on a major part of the life-cycle. How many of us women have seen and/or attended a live birth before we are faced with our first labor? How many of us know that birth in real-life is usually quite different from the births that make good Hollywood scripts?
A good friend from church told us about the Bradley Method (R) and told us we better get going on finding a childbirth class if we wanted to have a drug-free birth. At the time I just took her advice because I trusted her - what a blessing her advice turned out to be.
The Bradley Method (R) classes taught us to be informed consumers - not to argue with our care providers, but instead ask them why they were recommending tests, procedures and anesthesia for labor. We got to see videos of real births with dads and/or coaches that were actively involved in the births of their children; not the types of birth that made good television. We also learned how to stay healthy and low-risk so we could have more choices in our labor and birth.
Every week we covered different aspects of exercise, nutrition, education and relaxation - all working towards "training the athlete" - the mother. Adding to our knowledge base of birthing facts and myths, we had an ease of mind. This lends an informed person the confidence to let her body do what it is beautifully designed for. Relaxation is the key to labor in the Bradley Method (R) - accept what is happening, know what is coming so you are not afraid, and welcome the power of the contractions because those waves lead to the miraculous birth of another very special human being, your child.
Not every birth went according to our well-crafted birth plans, which I now refer to as more of a "wish list". We were able to work with our medical teams and make the right decisions regarding interventions and antibiotics when the situations presented themselves. However, each birth achieved two goals: firstly, they were epidural-free to avoid introducing our baby to narcotics, and secondly, we had a great outcome - Healthy Mom and Healthy Baby.
And truly, however you get there, Healthy Mom and Healthy Baby are the most important aspects of every birth. I hope you will come back and keep reading and please take time to comment if you have any opinions one way or the other. Next time I will try to write more on why we chose to avoid as many drugs as possible when we were laboring in the hospital.