Friday, November 25, 2011

Birth Plan..? Uh...How do I do that?

Creating a birth plan was a very stressful process. One would think that it would be easy, after all women have been having babies since the beginning of time, this isn't brain surgery right...!?

What is a birth plan after all? 

I kept hearing this phrase "birth plan" and wanted to know what it really meant. It means that you have thought about what your ideal birth would be. This means that you have thought about what you want the day to look like, that you have thought about what you interventions the doctor my suggest or insist on and that you feel comfortable with the decisions that you may have to make. In trying to understand what "birth plan" was I had to understand what giving birth would entail. Taking a childbirth class was very helpful in understanding what the birth day would look like and in understanding why the hospital would suggest and do the things that they would do. For me, it didn't matter what my plan was because things did not go as planned at all!

My Journey

I have to admit that before getting pregnant I felt completely comfortable with a C-Section. I even told my doctor on my first visit that was how I wanted my baby to come into the world and I needed to know if she had a problem with that. She didn't and I was relieved. However, something happened in my second trimester and I started thinking about a vaginal birth, and after thinking about it I started to research it...that made me start to think that I could do vaginal birth if I prepared my body, mind, and husband for it. My husband is also an advocate for vaginal birth but is supportive of a C-Section if that is what I choose. In thinking about vaginal birth a little more seriously I started doing a little research...I watched a couple of movies...I talked to a few friends who have had kids and I read a couple of books. I started to feel more comfortable with vaginal birth. I even started taking a prenatal yoga class once a week because studies show that women who yoga do better at giving birth. However, there are still some factors that make me more than a little apprehensive about vaginal birth and make me feel more comfortable with a C-Section.

I feel very strongly that I do not want to deliver my baby at home, I want the safety and security of delivering in a hospital with doctors and all the proper equipment. That being said, when you go to the hospital you are also saying to the medical professionals "I want your help and your interventions" this is the area that begins to make me uncomfortable. I do not like the interventions that they use sometimes. My research has shown that hospitals tend to watch the clock and give milestones in the birth process time lines. When your body does not do things by that time line they want to give you drugs and use interventions to push things along. I understand that they have good reasons for this, they are scientifically trained after all. However, I do not like the side effects and consequences of these drugs and interventions.

There is plenty of research that shows given the right amount of time and the right techniques a women's body handles childbirth just fine without drugs and with out medical interventions. It seems that many medical professionals in the U.S. do not know these techniques or they do not fit into the timeline of when they think things should be happening. For example, laying on your back to give birth is absolutely the wrong way to give birth. It goes against gravity, it goes against the way the muscles function and does damage to the pelvic floor. Yet, this is the way women give birth in American hospitals...Another example: a woman's body naturally creates the hormones needed to make her body dilate but Pitocin, the synthetic version of this hormone, is free given in hospitals which speeds up the contractions and forces them to come faster and stronger. This often results in having to get an epidural because the pain is unbearable. The epidural slows down the dilation process and more of this drug is given...a vicious cycle. How about one more example: Women were not meant to lay in bed while they labor, our bodies need to move in order to make the baby turn and move into the proper birth position (it is the same with our bowels and with circulation). Laying in bed does not allow the body to do its job. Hospitals in the U.S. liberally give epidurals to laboring women which causes them to have to lay in bed. This not only prolongs the labor process and requires Pitocin to keep things going, it means that you are going to have to deliver on your back. Epidurals also cause more damage to the pelvic floor because you cannot feel when something is wrong or you are pushing too forcefully....So far my research on how to healthy and affect (not to mention time tested) methods of giving birth is making me feel justified in being concerned about having a vaginal birth in a hospital.

This led me to look into doula's and birthing centers in my area. I started to feel, and still feel, that if I could labor at a birthing center but be near a hospital then that would be ideal. However, I have come to find out that there are no birthing centers in my area...there are only hospitals...the birthing centers in the LA area are no where near my doctor or my hospital should I need them...this is not ideal!

In the end, labor and delivery did not go has I had planned at all. I was in the latent stage of labor for almost a week without the proper progression. I ended up getting very sick and having to have a C-Section. My C- Section was a beautiful experience, it went smoothly and there were no complications. I was really glad that I had read the book The Essential Guide to C-Sections (See helpful Reading for Mama's). Now that I have been through a C-Section I have no desire to go through a vaginal birth.

Movies that I Watched:

Pregnant in America

This was a very interesting watch. I did not care for this film makers tactics or his style. My personal opinion is that he is the kind of person who is not happy unless he gets exactly what he wants and is not reasonable enough to realize that he is not the center of the universe. That being said I found the information he presented compelling enough to research some of what he was saying on my own. I am still of the opinion that he is incredibly biased and only presenting one side of things...his side. He is incredibly unfair to the medical profession.

The Business of Being Born

I first read the book that was written out of this documentary. I wasn't impressed with the book but I did watch the movie. I found this movie to be a little more balanced than Pregnant in America and it has a much more professional polish to it. I did not feel like they were trying to scare me into believing their side of things or that they were trying to shock me, it seemed that they were simply presenting information and letting the viewer decide.

Natural Childbirth Techniques I Researched:

T.E.N.S Machine during Labor- there is a good chance that they will not know how to use this in the hospital and you will have to bring your own machine. You will also have to take it off for fetal monitoring because it interferes with the equipment. Many doulas know how to use them and can assist you with them should you hire one to help you during labor and delivery. Below is a link to give you more information on using a T.E.N.S unit in labor.

Prenatal Yoga

The day that my son was born I spent about 40 minutes doing yoga. Yoga was an amazing benefit to me during pregnancy and in recovering from my C-Section it helped me with breathing techniques for the painful movements right after surgery. In the childbirth books that I read that movement is the key to a successful birth. Yoga helps with breathing and with birth positions. Here are a couple websites on the benefits of Yoga during Labor and Delivery.

Medical Advance Directive

This was something the I didn't really want to think about but I am glad that I did. I did not have a Medical Advance Directive on file and in thinking about the worst possible outcome I decided to put one together so that my wishes could be known. Even though I didn't need it and my husband would automatically make decisions for me, I felt it was good to cover my bases in case my family wanted to fight with my husband regarding medical decisions. It also gave me a chance to talk about my wishes withe my husband before hand.  I got the document for free online. If you are not married to your spouse or the father of the baby it is even more important that you have an Advance Directive on file and that your family knows what it is that you wish. Be sure to make sure that your doctor and the hospital have one on file as well.

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