Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our Birthing Philosophy :)

A lot of readers have been asking me why Michael and I are hoping for a vaginal birth without pain medication or labor management.

And so, I shall share with you, dear reader, our thoughts!

First, bear in mind that Michael and I are not experts.  We consider ourselves to always be learning and growing.

New information can, will, and should make us change our minds, and so we are always open to learning new information.  :)

So although we are far from experts, we have tried to educate ourselves as much as possible for the sake of our child's health.

To educate and empower ourselves, we enrolled in a 12-week course called the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth.  Each class was 2 hours long, so we received a total of 24 hours of instruction.

We had a wonderful teacher, an engaging workbook, and resourceful textbook.  I took extensive notes.  :)

But before I tell you our birthing philosophy, please let me make something very clear. 

Please know that I do not look down upon any woman who chose or who needed medical interventions.  Each woman has a right to make up her own mind about what kind of birth plan is going to make her most comfortable.  If I change my mind during labor and ask for medical assistance, then so be it.  I will not consider myself a failure.  All I am doing now is setting myself up for what will hopefully be a successful natural birth.  I am doing everything possible now to give myself and our baby the best shot at it!

So here is our birthing philosophy in a FAQ format, since these are the questions I am most usually asked!  :)

1. Why don't you want an epidural to dull the pain of childbirth?

I do not want an epidural because an epidural is a narcotic drug.  Newborns do not have a "blood barrier" at the base of their brain to protect the brain from the effects of the narcotic.  Studies are showing that when a baby's brain is introduced to the presence of a heavy narcotic drug at infancy, it can alter the development of their brain and make them more chemically dependent in the future. 

The narcotic will make the baby lethargic which will prevent the baby from assisting with labor.  Conversely, an alert baby that does not have a narcotic in his or her bloodstream will use his or her legs to push at the top of the mother's uterus as they make their exit from her womb.  A baby who has had the narcotic and is now lethargic will not be able to assist in labor.  It leaves the mother entirely on her own to push the baby out.

A baby who is born lethargic due to the epidural narcotic is less likely to be able to breastfeed immediately after birth.  And, if a baby is too lethargic to breastfeed, a woman's nipples will not be stimulated enough to signal to her body that the placenta should begin to detach.  This, then, will often cause a doctor to pull out the placenta manually which has known side-effects.

The epidural narcotic, as you know, relaxes the mother and baby's muscles.  This means that a mother can't feel as well to push, so her muscles become less effective at their work.  The epidural narcotic can often relax the mother and baby so much that labor stops altogether.

This then causes the doctors to administer another heavy drug called pitocin.  Pitocin is designed to kick-start labor again with very strong contractions.

2. Why are you trying to avoid pitocin?

Pitocin will cause unnatural and strong contractions.  These contractions are more intense than natural ones and very often cause fetal distress and mother distress.  When you see women sweating and screaming during labor, it is because they are experiencing pitocin-caused contractions.

If the fetus goes into distress because of the pitocin, they can accidentally poop while in the womb and then ingest it.  This is very dangerous and life-threatening for the baby.

This unfortunate scenario then causes the next intervention, a C-section.  While the C-section in this case would be medically necessary, it is best if things can be done ahead of time to avoid the chances of the need for a C-section.

3. Why are you trying to avoid a C-section?

A vaginal birth will naturally cause a Heimlich Maneuver-like squeezing action on the child's lungs which will cause the child to throw-up during birth, clear the lungs of any liquid debris, and will jump-start the child's lungs for good, solid breathing.  Conversely, a C-section does not provide this action, and in my friend's experience with a C-section, her child had weaker breathing.  Avoiding a C-section reduces a woman's chance for infection.

The administration of these strong drugs, as some of my friends have unfortunately experienced, has side effects.  Friends of mine have experienced intense, whole-body itching; vaginal bleeding; low blood pressure; and an urgent need for oxygen.  Friends have shared with me that such an experience was rather hellish.  Therefore, I am praying, hoping, and trying to avoid the pain medication so that I can have only natural contractions and a natural, vaginal birth.

I realize that on the day of delivery, anything can happen.  And if there is an emergency, I certainly want the doctors to intervene with whatever drugs or procedures are necessary.  But I am looking for a doctor who is supportive of my attempt to TRY a vaginal delivery without drugs.  My current doctor does not want me to try.  My current doctor has a different philosophy than me and believes that all women should use an epidural and pitocin because it makes things quicker and more predictable.  What concerns me about this doctor is that she is not giving me the CHOICE.

Natural labor usually takes much longer than drug-managed labor.  Some doctors are not willing to give their patients time to labor naturally, and this is the case with my current doctor.   So, I am switching to another practice that has a great reputation for allowing patients to take their time and do vaginal deliveries without any drug management.

Please pray with us, dear reader, that we may find our strength in God and have a natural, easy birth!