With the birth of Baby #3 coming up, I’ve decided to write some posts on pregnancy and childbirth. I wrote a post on my experience with pregnancy and birth the first time and then one about my experience the second time. And now I’d like to talk about why I chose a birth center.
It all came down to my decision to have a natural birth. The more I have read and become educated about health, the more I believe in trusting what is natural.
I believe that natural foods like fruits and veggies and meat will keep you healthier than eating man-made processed foods full of chemicals that live in packages. Not that I always eat that way…but I believe it!
I read an amazing book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It is a book for all women- women who want to know more about how their bodies work, women trying to get pregnant, or women who want to learn natural ways to not get pregnant rather than using chemical forms of birth control. The stories in that book really made me think. For example, not every woman has a normal 28 day cycle. If you have a longer or shorter cycle, it could really affect some things. There is a story of a husband and wife who waited to have sex until their wedding night- their insurance kicked in that week. But because her cycle was different than most, the insurance wouldn’t cover her because they thought she must have conceived before the insurance coverage started. It can also affect your due date. If you have a particularly long or short cycle, you may not be due when they think you must be due if they go by the date of your last menstrual period. So your “late” baby that you had to induce for might actually not have been late at all. Knowing your body and charting your cycle can help you to take charge of yourself and could alleviate these problems. Charting also allows you to know your cycle and know if you are ovulating or not- which will help you in conceiving a baby…or not.
Most doctors tell you about birth control pills, iud’s, and etc. But they don’t tell you about how your body works and offer charting as an option of birth control. Why? Well, it takes work. You really have to take charge- pay close attention to your body and make responsible choices. These days it seems like nobody can be trusted to make responsible choices. So they want to give every kid a vaccination for an STD because we doubt their ability to choose to abstain from sex. They give every baby who is born some goop in their eyes to protect them from blindness/infection caused by STD’s because…why? Because we can’t trust mothers to know if they have an STD or not? I don’t understand why they would give this stuff to a baby with no risk whatsoever.
As I came across questions like these, I became more and more interested in what else was happening routinely that wasn’t necessary. And what I found out was amazing.
Every intervention that is done- an epidural, fetal monitoring, pitocin, breaking the waters…they all can be the start for more and more interventions, making the body less able to do it’s own thing and more and more likely that you will end up with a c-section.
It turns out pretty much everything that happens in a hospital during a normal birth isn’t necessary…including being there! Birth is a natural process that a woman’s body is made for. Sure things can go wrong…and thankfully hospitals and doctors are available for those situations. But there really aren’t very many reasons that you would need to go to the hospital once you’ve begun an on time (not too early) natural labor. I’m not a birth expert but from what I’ve read, most really serious complications require you to go to the hospital rather than having a baby at the birth center or at home anyway. You know about them in advance. If your baby is breech, if your water has broken and you don’t go into labor within a certain time frame, if you have a complication like placenta previa…all these things are known before you start labor so if you start a birth at home or at the birth center, things are likely to go well. I believe my birth center has a 17% transfer rate. I am not sure if that counts births that never started at the birth center, like for breech babies. But either way, it’s a pretty small percentage. The most common reason I think is failure to progress.
The decision ended up being an easy one for me. After I started questioning things and doing research as described above, the following reasons are why I think I ended up choosing the birth center:
- Because of my belief in natural foods and limiting the exposure of chemicals in our bodies, I definitely believed it was in the baby’s best interest for me to have a natural birth. I am well aware that I am exposed to a lot of chemicals already through food and bathroom products and whatnot (a doctor once pointed this out to me as if I was going to say, “ok, I’ll change my mind…might as well add some more to the list”) but I don’t want to purposefully expose a newborn baby to more chemicals than I have to before she has a chance to grow strong and develop an immune system. I know that women have epidurals and whatnot all the time and babies are healthy and fine…but since an epidural is only for me avoiding pain and not for the baby’s well-being and because we can’t say for sure that there won’t be negative side affects, I decided to go the natural route.
- My birth center is near the hospital. If for some reason I would need to transfer, it is a five or ten minute car ride depending on the time of day.
- The certified nurse midwife at the birth center really knows her stuff. She has been doing this for 30 years- she got her degree, worked at a hospital for a bit, worked in Africa for several years performing births and educating new midwives, and she started the birth center here. A doctor’s education is based on the medical side of things. They know what to do when something goes wrong and they know how and why to do all the interventions, but a midwife is more focused on just letting your body do its thing. My midwife is really knowledgeable about everything birth related and is super good at keeping her cool and handling anything that comes her way. She is really laid back and lets you labor as you choose but if something needs to be done she takes charge and does it.
- I knew I wouldn’t have to fight anything at the birth center. A birth plan isn’t really necessary for me there because the midwife is just going to naturally do things the way I’d like to do them. I want to not be hooked up to any machines, free to roam around or take a bath, not be encouraged to do an epidural or break my water or use pitocin, hold my naked unwashed baby on my bare chest as soon as she’s out, wait to cut the cord, not do the eye goop, not give them a bath, always be with my baby, no bottles or pacifiers, go home quickly, etc. Even if they respected my wishes at the hospital, I just didn’t want to be offered things or encouraged to do things or feel like a weirdo or like jerk if I had to stop someone and remind them of something I wanted. My midwife not only respects what I’d like to do but understands and even agrees with pretty much everything. She is always really helpful in talking through decisions or problems with me and discussing natural options during pregnancy, birth and recovery.
- Although this wasn’t a part of my decision initially, one of the things I really love about the birth center is the laid back atmosphere. It is usually just my husband and I, a nurse, and the midwife. I also had a friend come to be our sort of doula at our second birth. It’s super calm and a very relaxing atmosphere…which is perfect for the Bradley method of natural birth because it is all about relaxation. They are there if you want them and they’ll get you anything you need, but I was there laboring with Big Sis for quite a while and it was mostly just my husband and I doing our thing. Then after birth it’s pretty much the same. It’s just a big bedroom with a jet tub and a queen sized bed. My husband and I can lay on the bed comfortably together and snuggle with the baby. They check vitals and all that stuff while you’re sitting there snuggling. At some point after you’ve had plenty of snuggle time, they’ll weigh and measure the baby. Usually they’ll do it at a time you’re up anyway- because I’m busy eating or the baby pooped. Haha. But that’s all they really do to the baby and the only time you aren’t snuggling. The rest of the time we just lay there staring and snuggling and nursing. They have a list of things that need to happen before you can leave- one of them is having a meal. With Big Sis we had some friends pick us up some dinner food that we were craving. With Little Sis, our friend who was our doula made us pancakes and brought us orange juice (there is a kitchen there.) It was fun to eat exactly what we wanted rather than having to pick something off of a menu at the hospital…although I’ve heard from other moms that the hospital has some good food.
I know a lot of people who have had home births and really loved that experience. We thought about doing that at first and actually met with a really awesome homebirth widwife for more than half of my first pregnancy, but our insurance covers the birth center so we ended up changing our mind. I think that it would be really nice to be in the familiar setting of your own home but I like how everything you could possibly need is at the birth center- all the supplies that they need…and a giant awesome bathtub 🙂 I like how close it is to the hospital. And I like that we can just leave and not have to worry about cleaning anything up.
I could go on and on and on…and I admit that this post is probably already way too long. But I just really love and believe in natural births and in the birth center that I go to. I hope that by going on and on as much as I did, that I have helped someone in some way. Maybe someone who wasn’t sure about their options or even someone who has never thought about any of this and has some weirdo hippie relative who keeps talking about “natural” births. 😉 hehe I hope that this leads you to look up some things if you aren’t sure about what I’m talking about…or feel free to ask me questions! If you feel like you want to share about your birth experience or why you chose to do things a certain way, that’s great! Just remember to be respectful of other choices because every woman can and should have the power to look at all of their options and choose the thing that they feel is best for them and their family.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Here is a link to a blog post that I found about a lot of the things that I brought up in this post…things that you might want to research during pregnancy and have as a part of your birth plan to either do or not do. I am particularly passionate about the skin to skin cuddling immediately after birth! 10 Decisions For Parents of Newborns. It is in two parts so this will take you to the first five and then you click on their link to get to the next five.