Birthing Decisions- So Many Options! Medicated Vs. Natural, Hospital Vs. MidWife

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?

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10 Comments

Filed under Birth Options

10 responses to “Birthing Decisions- So Many Options! Medicated Vs. Natural, Hospital Vs. MidWife

  1. Cathy

    Good for you going with out drugs! I know you can do it..you are a strong woman. Just as an FYI, Pitocin is the drug that they give you to induce labor. So, if you go into labor naturally, you don’t need pitocin. One thing that my doctor always told me (when I was being stubborn about what I wanted) is to make sure to have an open mind about everything. You don’t want to be addiment about not having any drugs, because then if the pain ends up being unbearable and you get an epidural…you may feel like a ‘failure’. Just a thought for you. I’m not trying to talk you into getting meds…because if you can do it without…DO IT. I’m to big of a wimp. We had pitocin to induce labor with both kids…and epidurals with both. hahaha Love you!

  2. Kelly

    You are a lot braver than I am…when they told me that I was just going through pre-labor, I couldn’t imagine actual labor pains, because I already wanted pain killers. I had a few other things as well that might have caused more pain or I’m just a wimp. LOL

  3. have you watched “the business of being born”? it is a really eye opening documentary that contains a lot of truth. i think it is awesome you want to do a natural birth. if by chance things don’t go as planned or you end up wanting an epidural, it is not really that bad.

    i had an epidural with both babies and had great labors. i made a point to refuse the pitocin for the reasons you listed. i’m sure you already know this, but if you want to breastfeed, try to feed the baby as soon as possible after birth! they let me feed pax like 10 minutes after he was born and checked out and it helped a ton. best of luck with the labor and delivery–it is really not that bad and will be over in 24 hours or less (hopefully! :))

  4. I went with a midwife both times for the same reasons as you. I still delivered my boys in a hospital but I loved the attention, care and expertise they gave me. They were so supportive and knowledgeable. I agree with not getting too set on one plan. It has taken me a long time to get over that I chose to get an epidural and pitocin the first time around. I’ve made my peace with it and I was able to go without the epidural the second time…amazing experience! Good for you for doing your research. I went with the midwives at Research so let me know if you have any questions. Good luck!!

  5. Kaydee

    Yay, I am excited. I am no expert in birth, but in my infant development class the teacher loved talking about birth; she was a huge advocate for midwifery. Of course I have no personal experience to relate to. And I agree and acknowledge that medicine is there if you should need it. But, anything you receive logically goes to the baby also. Of course these medicines are deemed ‘safe’ for baby, but I am maybe a bit conservative when it comes to this. I guess that goes along with the notion of eating organic and avoiding conventional medicine in general when not necessary- sure these chemicals may be ‘safe’ by the FDA; but that doesn’t mean a whole lot to me.
    And one more thing; regardless of the medicine aspect, having a midwife has lots of other pros that you touched on. Skin-skin touch is one of the greatest bonding experiences you can have with baby. Often in a conventional hospital birth, the baby is taken away to be cleaned and wrapped before you can hold him. As gross as it sounds, there is something amazing in holding baby in his first moments out in the world. It is calming to him, and makes it all worth it for you. And, this starts the incredible bond between you and little nugget.

  6. I think that whatever you chose as your birthing plan will be wonderful for you. Let me tell you a little about Riley’s birth. I was supposed to be induced. The way that process was explained to me was that the doctor would give me something to soften my cervix and then a bit later I would get the Pitocen to start the labor process. Riley had other plans. When I checked in and got settled, around 9 am. I was given the cervix softener. Then I took a nap. Around 4 am I felt the need to use the little girl’s room. When I got settled back in bed I knew it was time. My water broke. The contractions started and it wasn’t too bad. After a couple of hours I decided it was unbearably painful. I called for an epidural. The best thing I could have done. Around 7 am the anesthesiologist came, gave me a little bit of Heaven and I napped again until 9:15 when they woke me to tell me to push. 4 big pushes later Riley came into this world at 9:40 am. Now, the reason I am telling you this is to give you a heads up. I recommend the epidural. I wasn’t hooked to an IV with Pitocen. I don’t recommend that. I was against it, but since my blood pressure was high, Riley needed to be coaxed out. (Although, apparently, he was more ready than we all thought.) I did however need, and believe in the epidural. It’s the best thing ever, especially if you have a low tolerance for pain like me. (It also saved Uncle Chip’s arm. I nearly broke his hand and arm squeezing it with ever contraction.) No matter what people tell you about how you forget about the pain once your child is in your arms, it’s all lies. You don’t forget, it’s just really worth all the pain the second you look into that little face. No matter what you decide, epidural or not, you will have the most wonderful experience known to a human. It’s something that no one will ever be able to take away from you. It’s something that no one else will be able to top. It makes everything you have gone through to that moment worth it. 🙂

  7. Ashley

    I can’t resist commenting. Let me start out by saying that I agree with Midwife births in a hospital 100%! I think it’s one of the best ways to go if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy.
    Now, just for the record…. Pitocin is not given to every woman in labor. Most docs prefer to let a mother labor naturally without intervention. It is only given when induction or augmentation is necessary. Is it ever misused? Sure, but that’s why you choose a doctor that you trust!
    Most doctors will require you to have an IV while you labor. That doesn’t mean you’ll be hooked up to anything, it just means that you have IV access in case of emergency. That will look like a 2 inch clear tube taped to your arm, no IV pole or anything to lug around. I don’t like that most sources don’t explain why doctors advise you to do the things they do. In the case of a severe hemorrhage, immediate IV access may save your life. Hemorrhage like this is rare, but I am taught to prepare for the worst.
    Also, I routinely encourage my patients to walk around during labor and do everything I can to make that possible.
    I am not trying to be offensive, everyone has their own preferences and as long as they are educated I think that’s great. I just find it personally offensive to hear people say that doctors don’t have your best interests at heart. I have sacrificed many hours with my family in order to allow my patients to labor naturally and I think people need to hear this side of the story as well.

  8. Leah

    I’m so excited that you and Mark have chosen a midwife and natural birth. I do not plan on having kids for several years but that option already makes so much sense. Its going back to the way women have been having children for centuries, the way God designed us to. I am so excited to see your journey with this!!

  9. Josh Burton

    What an exciting step for you and Mark to start to think through your birth plan. There are so many options, and to agree with many of the above comments, the real goal is a healthy baby and healthy mommy. We had a natural childbirth with Dalya and plan to have another with Rookie. There are lots of things you can’t predict, and I really had to work through some expectations and what-ifs and just laying down my hopes for an “ideal birth experience”. If I end up needing/choosing/being advised to do something that wasn’t in our original birth plan, it’s totally okay. Yes, make your plan, get prepared, and then get prepared for things to change. (you are becoming a pro at this!!)

    For me, one big factor in our decision was Josh’s commitment to helping me through the pain. He had to be in it 100%, or I never would have made it. I posted our birth story on FB in my notes, if you’re interested. Can’t wait to hear if you decide to find out the gender, and how things continue to go on this unexpected part of your journey! Blessings~Sarah Burton

  10. Jeanine Fotheringhame

    I am having the hardest time finding contact info for any midwives that deliver at NKC. Can you please share your midwife contact info? Thank you

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