When it comes to planning for baby Miller, the mister and I feel a bit behind. We haven’t really bought anything. We haven’t taken down the bunk beds, let alone started on the nursery. We haven’t looked into daycare and we haven’t picked out names. We’re a little jaded from so many of our plans not working out and from having to undo so many of our adoption plans, so we’re just taking things slowly.
We also haven’t decided where or how we’ll deliver.
My normal Ob/Gyn is at North Kansas City Hospital, so when I found out I was pregnant that’s where I headed. The staff there is nice enough, but it’s like a typical doctor’s office. We usually wait for quite awhile, a different nurse takes us back and talks to us for a bit, and then we see whatever doctor we’re scheduled to see that day. We usually spend 5 or 10 minutes with the doctor.
I’ve had friends who have delivered in all different ways – from the typical hospital birth to a drug-free birth at home in a birthing pool. I knew there were dozens of different options for giving birth, but I didn’t know what was important to me or what I wanted.
Until today. Today I decided I’m switching from an OB practice to a midwife practice. I’ll still deliver in a hospital, but a different one than I had originally planned on – one that the midwife group works with, that is known for honoring however the mother wants to deliver. Oh, and I’ll be doing it without drugs.
Holy Batman that sounds scary!
Have you seen how big babies are?
Let me explain. I’m not trying to win a gold medal, and I’m definitely not against medicine. I want to be in a hospital and have medicine nearby in case there are complications and those things are necessary. No doubt that good medicine has saved thousands of babies’ and mothers’ lives. Medicine is a good thing. But to me, I want medical intervention to be a last resort, not the thing I go to first. And the more I research this, the more convinced I become. Warning – if you are not interested in the birthing process, the next part might make a good bedtime read. It’s not gross, just boring if you’re not into this stuff.
One example: When in labor, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin. This is known as the love hormone because it is released during lovemaking and breastfeeding – it promotes attachment and bonding. It is also the hormone that triggers contractions. During a medicated birth, you are given an artificial hormone called Pitocin. This suppresses the natural oxytocin. It’s supposed to take oxytocin’s place, but it causes the body to react in different ways. Oxytocin is released in a pulsing action. Pitocin is given via an IV in a continuous manner, which can cause longer and stronger contractions. During a natural birth, your body releases endorphins that help counteract the pain. Pitocin prevents the body from releasing these endorphins, which leads to more drugs for pain management. Oxytocin peaks at birth, allowing for a faster and easier delivery. Pitocin’s release is regulated and does not peak, which can make the end of birth difficult. Pitocin also poses a higher risk for placental rupture and separation, high blood pressure, and jaundice, among others – all which can lead to more medical procedures and more drugs. Of course, Pitocin is not “evil” and most births using this hormone go just fine – but as with most drugs, it comes with risks.
During a typical OB birth, you are under an IV and cannot walk around or be active – thus, it takes more drugs to trigger labor. You cannot eat anything besides ice chips so that your stomach is empty in case you have to have a C-Section. During a birth with the right midwife, you can be active throughout labor and move into whatever positions are comfortable. You can also eat and snack throughout the labor. The numbers I’m finding vary somewhat, but about 25% of typical hospital births result in a C-Section. About 4% of midwife births end this way.
So what is a midwife? A midwife is a nurse practitioner with extensive training in delivery, often natural delivery. Midwifes deliver just about 5% of babies in the US, but 75% of babies in Europe. Midwifes tend to look at birthing as a natural part of life rather than a medical procedure. Midwifes typically only see women with uncomplicated pregnancies – high-risk pregnancies should see a doctor. For uncomplicated pregnancies, delivering with a midwife is just as safe, if not safer, than delivering with a doctor. Plus, midwifes are cheaper- when you read about healthcare costs in the United States, there’s a lot of people advocating for more midwife births.
This is all still new to me, and to be honest I still have a lot more questions than answers. I am very thankful that we live in an age and a society where women have so many options available to them. I am excited that we have finally made a decision for Nugget! And I am a little-okay a lot- nervous about my pain-coping skills. Maybe I can start enlisting people to inflict pain on me to build up my tolerance?