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List: Posted: 10/12/11
Most people would think that having a baby is as simple as getting pregnant and then showing up to the hospital when labor starts. However in a consumer-driven society where everything is about having whatever you want, whenever you want it, it might be a surprise to say that this mentality doesn’t end when it comes to childbirth.
The Explosion of Childbirth Options
In today’s world you can have your baby just about as many ways as you can order a Burger at Burger King. For starters, you could do a scheduled c-section, a home birth with a midwife, a hospital birth with an epidural, a natural hospital birth, a natural birth in a birthing center, a water birth... and the list goes on. It can be overwhelming for any woman who is looking into her options about childbirth, and scary when the proper resources aren’t available on the day to help you with whatever option you've set your heart on.
Truly though, every option above holds its value within the birthing world, and it is wonderful that we now have so many choices. Natural childbirth however was unpopular in the Western world a couple decades back and has been gaining popularity since the recent increase in birthing centers. A lot has to do with women being more educated about the benefits of natural childbirth, and facilities offering up the best care imaginable when it comes to the delicacy of birthing without any form of pain medication.
Making the Choice to Go Drug Free
The unfortunate thing is that many women today are coerced into believing that they simply can’t survive a drug-free delivery. The US especially has taught our society that the pain is an unnecessary evil, and that when you can schedule a c-section and take the guesswork and stress out of childbirth, why bother? People have forgotten that our bodies were designed to birth children with no outside help, and that before the 1920’s, almost 95% of deliveries were un-medicated home-births.
Many people also wonder what’s the point of having a drug-free birth when you can get the same result with little to no pain. The basic idea behind natural childbirth is that you take back control of your delivery and are allowed a freedom that doesn’t exist when hooked up to IV’s, epidurals and lying in an uncomfortable hospital bed. This freedom is something that everyone woman is entitled to, and yet little take head of. Instead, we willingly hand over our bodies and babies to our doctors and hope that they know what’s best for us. When the truth is no one knows your body better and no one can understand how you feel during labor better then yourself.
First Steps to a Natural Childbirth
The first rule in choosing to have an un-medicated delivery is to believe in yourself that you can do it. If you can’t establish this in your heart and in your mind, then the moment someone offers you pain medicine you will give in. You have to truly desire the experience and want yourself to be in control. The mind is a powerful tool that can either work with you or against you.
The second rule is to have an extremely focused support person. This can be your spouse, partner, friend, mother, sister or you can guarantee yourself to have the best support possible by hiring a doula. Doula’s are basically men or women who provide non-medical support to the woman and their families, during labor, childbirth and the postpartum period. Some birthing centers and hospitals do provide volunteer Doula’s on an as-needed basis, but generally they are hired at the private level and can be quite expensive.
Whichever option you choose, this support person will need to commit to being there from beginning to end. A woman undergoing non-medicated labor needs consistency and focus. If her support is constantly changing it will be hard for her to hold it together in the heat of the moment.
Finding a Birthing Center That Supports Natural Childbirth
The third rule is more flexible, but should be implemented if available: find a birthing center or a hospital that supports natural childbirth. If you do not have one in your area then it still is possible to go un-medicated; however, be aware that since the hospital doesn’t support your birth plan the chances of your success will be less then in a setting in which it is supported.
Birthing centers are the number one choice when available, because they provide every possible support that encourages an un-medicated delivery. Resources such as laboring tubs, medicine balls, massage, focus music, and scented oils to encourage relaxation are readily available, whereas hospitals will not provide such unique items even if requested. Items brought in from home may not be allowed in the delivery room because of the fear of contamination.
Lastly, the fourth and final rule in surviving natural childbirth is to read the works of author Ina May Gaskin. Ina is the nation’s leading midwife, and in her book “A Guide to Childbirth” you will find dozens of women’s real life stories of success with going un-medicated. These stories will form a foundation of encouragement as you embark on your own journey. Her words and guidance will shed light on an experience that most women have never had and might choose never to partake in. Her books are a wonderful resource that shouldn’t be forgotten, especially if you are a first time mother.
Inova's mission is to improve the health of the diverse communities we serve in Virginia and DC through excellence in patient care, education and research.
Loudoun Community Midwives Lansdowne VA.
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