Sunday, June 10, 2012

on birthing plans

Before my pregnancy I was of the mindset I want the drugs when I have a baby.

In my early- to mid-pregnancy, I was of the mindset I want to try it without the drugs but if I need them to be successful (i.e. to get rest if I've been laboring 24+ hours with no end in sight) I won't oppose. This mantra was due to me trying to save money on the epidural, not because I am morally opposed to the intervention.

Well my friends, there has been an unexpected change in this mama's heart. I really want to do this thing without the epidural. I need to give you a little back-story before I continue.

In high school health class, we watched a 20/20 documentary about hypnobirthing: the practice of hypnosis during childbirth. This woman's home video of her labor was ridic: she was in a state of total relaxation and didn't make a peep during pushing. She was also going naturally. That day I decided to pursue hypnobirthing should I ever have a baby. 

I've since half-read a book about hypnobirthing techniques and whatnot but then totally dropped the ball when life got nutso with the house situation. I mostly read the background about how/why it can work. As dumb as it sounds, one of the things I hadn't really thought about before reading the book was that women's bodies were made for this. The medical interventions are amazing and even lifesaving in complicated situations, but more often than not, women do not need painkillers to get through it. Sure, it helps, but you are capable of having that baby without. Just ask our moms and their moms and all the women before epidurals came into play.

Another point made by the book was that the pain experienced during childbirth is much greater when you are stressed or tense because a contraction is simply a contraction of the uterine muscles. Tensing up prolongs labor and increases pain, so if you can get yourself in a mentality where childbirth isn't some evil/terrible act and relax you will have an easier (but not easy, obviously) labor. 

That being said, with all of the relaxation and breathing techniques we've learned during our childbirth classes thus far and my inherent frugality, I really want to try to do this naturally. Last night it hit me: I am one of the most stubborn people I know. If I can convince myself I 100% want to do this naturally I should be stubborn enough to follow through. Granted, I also tend to crumble in the presence of pain so who really knows. But here is our tentative birth plan:

  • no epidural--go natural
  • when labor starts to progress and contractions get worse, Jon will be my only "support person" in the room
  • minimize medical interventions where ever possible, but we will obviously not deny anything that could benefit the baby if things are going wrong - this includes me getting an epidural if it is strongly recommended by my OB to make progress and/or avoid a c-section
  • skin-to-skin after the babe is born - prolong the vitamin K injection and silver drops of the eyes as long as the babe is doing okay
  • doctor/medical personnel cut the cord--Jon wants nothing to do with this, and honestly, I get it
  • there WILL be a towel placed on my belly prior to delivery for the baby to be wiped off on--I'm sorry, child, but all that gunk you come out with makes your mama gag
I've been warned by several people, my nurse-sister and OB included, that birth plans tend to go by the wayside during the actual labor. I'm fine with that--our birth plan is more or less a wish list.  We understand that childbirth is unpredictable, especially since we've never experienced it. Those are just my goals and I hope we can follow through. So to those of you who went naturally: do you have any tips on how to cope with the pain?


  1. I went totally natural with both Jacqui and you. Having 5=4-6 hour labors from start to birth may have had something to do with that. I say give it a you said you can always cave if things get too intense!

  2. I know that Jon will be an excellent "support person" during delivery. He has a calming effect on you like no other. He is a solid, stand-up guy that will always do right by you.

  3. i saw a documentary once that said that women in africa tend to deliver standing up. i know it sounds ridiculous, but a woman will be working, feel the need to deliver the baby, and go to an area with supportive people around her and literally stand/squat as she pushes the baby out. it actually works out in both her favor and the baby's favor as the baby's body doesn't have to do gymnastics to get around the pelvic bones. the big thing they have there though is finding a way to catch a slippery baby!!!
    anywhooo....i guess they make little contraptions like a vertical hammock that you lean into and some really brave american women have tried it. personally, i can't imagine being on my feet while in pain, but whoooo knows!

  4. Natural childbirth and parenting is something I'm pretty passionate about [but don't want to preach about] so I was pretty excited to see this on your radar. I would recommend also looking into the bradley method, which gives lots of info about different positions you can be in to cope with the pain. I also think that you should try to educate yourself as much as you can on the labor process. Knowing what your body is doing and why it is doing it helps you to feel more in control and to feel like their is purpose to what you're experiencing. It becomes more like work instead of something that is just happening to you. There is a documentary called The Business of Being Born which I liked a lot. I know you're not super comfortable watching births, but I recommend it. It gives great information about the natural birth process compared to what usually occurs in most hospitals. It has a home birth theme, but I think it will help you know what to watch out for in a hospital that will increase your chances of interventions. Lastly, continue focusing on the fact that yes, you were designed for this process. While it is good to be open minded that things may not go as you plan, it is much better to focus on the fact that this is a normal body process, you're body knows what to do. It is not a condition or a disease, but a normal function. There are lots of good books (and blogs) with natural birth stories. Read them for encouragement and to gain confidence about what our bodies are capable of. Lastly, there is a really good chance that you will want to cave when it comes down to it, make sure your support person is ready for that and able to remind you that you can do it!