Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Birth Wishes and Preparing for Birth Part 1

I'm less than eight weeks away from my due date and I've been thinking a lot about our big day... The day she arrives.

I've been torn for a long time on where to put my feelings on the topic of D-Day. I've witnessed people get more emotionally invested than I want to be in how labor plays out. Every time I find myself worrying about how things will play out I force myself to take a step back and realize this is just one day in the rest of my life.

I came across an interesting quote in the first chapter of "The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth With Confidence." It says:
"Research shows that the day a woman gives birth is not 'just another day,' and that decades later, women clearly recall positive and negative aspects of their birth experiences. Women's satisfaction with their birth has little to do with the length, difficulty, or painfulness of their labors and more to do with their personal expectations, their involvements in decision making, and how they were treated by their caregivers."
It goes on to say that your "memories of birth can influence your confidence and self-image in the future." Which is slightly surprising to me. Sure, I may be upset if things don't go the way I want but I think there are so many more moments to relish in rather than one bad experience.

A birth experience that isn't "beautiful" or "perfect" won't make me a bad mother or set my child up for failure. Sure, we may have a few setbacks at first but we'll overcome them, as we'll overcome other challenges in life. That said, I want to prepare myself in every way possible to make the most out of my experience, because like my wedding day... It's just one day, but one I'll remember forever.

Taking control of my Birth Wishes started long before Lamaze class and prenatal yoga. Before I was even pregnant I got numerous referrals from doctors and friends I trusted about obstetricians choices.

I decided to go with an obstetrician because my insurance and because personally, I don't have a problem with it or a hospital birth. I think there are good and bad OBs and Midwives and the issue is finding the right person to care for you no matter if MD comes after their name or not.

One of my biggest pet peeves is stereotypes. I don't like when people assume because of someones looks, OB title, or background they're going to act X, way ie: Cut you open if they're an OB.

That said, it works the opposite way as well. Just because someone is a doctor doesn't mean they're perfect or better qualified to handle your situation.

I went to a dentist who told me I had 13 cavities. Obviously he was trying to make a fortune off me, but I wasn't having it. I went for a second opinion, got a COMPLETELY different analysis, and have been sure to review my experience with his practice on every dental ratings website I can find.

It's sad when you go to someone expecting to be able to trust them because... Oh, they're a PROFESSIONAL, but then they don't act that way. It's called life. And Business.

But birth shouldn't be about business. It's a big deal. A bigger deal than my pearly whites.

My family practitioner, whom we love, referred me to my OB. She's a wonderful woman who is just as talkative as our family doctor. She remembers our names, our baby's name, and always takes time to get to know us and make sure all of our questions have been answered.

Given the information I'd seen about cesarians being at an all time high, I was sure I researched what the rates are for my hospital as well as for my OB practice's office. I discussed labor and delivery practices, and have continuously asked questions about how she handles things, and have been comfortable and confidant with my decision of choosing her.

My first tip for expecting mommies worried about their birth experience: RESEARCH your caregiver. It's not fair to play eenie meenie miny mo then blame your horrible experience on all ____s who have ever delivered a baby.

Now that I'm comfortable with my caregiver, my hospital, and I've toured the facility I'll be having my baby in, I'm preparing for delivering my baby.

I've been back and forth over and over again about my approach to childbirth. Do I want to deliver NATURAL, or MEDICATED? At some times I was SURE I'd get an epidural the moment I walked in. I envisioned myself in a dreamlike state waiting patiently for my baby to arrive while I enjoy the last few calm moments with my husband before we welcome our new baby into our lives. Sounds great right?

I'd say it went something like that for about 80% of my friends. Hospital birth, epidural, beautiful, healthy baby.

Now I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a curse, but because of the World Wide Web I've come into contact with many people on the OTHER extreme. Home births, natural labor, failed epidurals, stalled labor from epidurals. Who knew there were so many negative possibilities? I didn't. Not until I joined Twitter and had a few dozen people rain on my parade. But somehow I'm grateful for them.

I've come to see a different side of things. And while I'm not on the polar opposite side than before, I'm somewhere in the middle observing both sides and keeping a moderate, yet enlightened stance.

Birth is natural, and I do think more women could have a little more faith in what we can do. I know I needed a little faith-boost myself. I'm not promising that I'm going to have no help with pain medication... But I'm WAY more open to the possibility of natural childbirth than ever before.

I became acquainted with a woman who works for Lamaze and became familiar with their Six Healthy Birth Practices, and agreed to give them a try.

Looking them over first glance the one that states "avoid medical interventions..." made me a little squeamish because I thought that meant "no epidural" (I don't like committing myself to one thing and that leading to disappointment if I change my mind.) but that's not what it means. Their healthy birth practices are a great guide and philosophy for childbirth.

So, what I've decided is I'm going to prepare for a natural labor. I have been, and I will continue to, and plan to stick it out as long as possible. If I can give birth without an epidural, great! If I decide I want it earlier than I thought, fine! But I'm not going to make my decision one way or another at this point in time. I'm going to wait and see what my body tells me to do.

Earlier, you may have noticed I called some of this my "Birth Wishes." Many online friends, as well as my OB suggest writing a "Birth Plan," which outlines how I'd like my labor to go and what I think about certain interventions, or decisions such as "who will cut the umbilical cord."

I decided to call it "Birth Wishes" instead of a "Birth Plan" because I don't think labor isn't something you can plan. From the moment it starts to the moment that child comes out, it's not up to me... But her.

Some criticize me for calling it "wishes" saying it's too forgiving, or flexible-sounding. To be handing the staff attending me a piece of paper and calling it "the plan" is a little pretentious, and I'd rather show them a bit of respect, (even if it's so slight as the title of a document) so that they'll show me the same respect. Anyway, it's what's written in the letter that's more important than the title anyway.

I intend to take the list I made from Earth Mama Angel Baby's free birth plan creator, as well as the principles from Lamaze, plus my own twist on things, and write it into a personal letter. Print several copies on heavy card stock and present it with a basket of goodies.

What are my Birth Wishes? It's not all about "no Pitocin" and "don't ask me if I want an epidural, let me ask" ... But a lot of the things important to me are after birth or in the experience of labor... What I'm wearing, or listening to for example and what I want my baby to wear right after birth.

Tomorrow I'll share the next segment of my Birth Wishes with you and the BIG goal I have for my birth experience.