Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What if I don't want an epidural?

This is what I asked the nurse on the hospital tour after she told the group that once we received our epidural we would be hooked up to monitors and in the bed until delivery. From everything I've read and every birth story I've heard, laboring on your back is not exactly comfortable when you aren't numb from an epidural. The nurse and entire hospital tour group looked at me like I had 2 heads at the mention of doing this delivery thing sans epidural. The nurse quickly dismissed my question and said that 90% of patients at that hospital received an epidural and I would at the very least be given pitocin and wouldn't be able to walk around. My hopes for a natural childbirth quickly vanished the more time I stood in that hospital.

When I informed my doctor about my desire for a natural birth, she was very discouraging and almost dismissive. I could almost see her thinking, "Oh geeze, why can't all of my patients just be compliant." She informed me that whoever was on call when I went into labor would be my doctor, and stated that she liked to schedule (a.k.a. induce) births around her on call time for this reason. Ok, first of all if I don't need to be induced I don't want to be! Second, if I do need to be medically induced she will induce me around my baby's schedule not hers! Third, there are many other natural ways to induce labor without using pitocin. Pitocin severely increases pain and often results in an unnecessary/unwanted epidural. I'm not against this if it truly is medically necessary but if everything is normal, I think I should be allowed to labor at my own pace and to be able to walk/jump/squat/dance off the pain. After leaving her office, I understood why the hospital she delivers at has a 90% epidural rate and a sky high c-section rate. I should mention that I actually really like and respect this doctor, she has great bedside manner and is very knowledgeable in the world of infertility (the main reason I picked her). If one of my friends was planning on an epidural, I would highly recommend this doctor in a heartbeat. She is one of the top doctor's in my area but she is trained to be, well, a medical doctor - someone with the belief that pregnancy is a sickness and should be treated as such.

Call me crazy, but yes I hope to have a natural birth. I've always felt empowered by my mom's natural birth story when she delivered me and always hoped that I could also tell my children a similar story. The fact that she was in labor for 2 straight days scares the crap out of me but it also makes me realize that my body is designed for this and if she can do it, so can I...or I can at least attempt it. It's not like I'm going to show up completely unarmed for my labor/delivery, we've signed up for a Bradley Methods class and I'm continuing to workout throughout this pregnancy. I also recently started prenatal yoga to help me better prepare. I'm definitely not knocking women who decide that an epidural is the way to go, I just feel like women should have the right to make that choice and to not be shamed or discouraged for whatever that choice is. I totally reserve the right to change my mind as labor progresses but again, as long me and my baby are healthy, I feel like it is is my right to have full say over my body.

For these reasons, Mr. Baby Fever and I have started interviewing home birth midwives. Yes, I said HOME BIRTH! Don't worry, we've done our research and we aren't blindly walking into this. I feel like most people don't understand that midwives are licensed and trained professionals who can handle emergencies. We met with the most compassionate and knowledgeable midwife team yesterday and I have the utmost confidence in their abilities to handle an emergency situation. Their hospital transfer rate is at 5% and the most common reason is due to exhaustion for first time moms (a great reason for me to continue working out during my pregnancy). Their c-section rate is around 2% and their episiotomy rate is almost non-existent. They take their time during the delivery and make sure that the body stretches with the use of olive oil/warm towels so nothing rips or tears. They are extremely conservative, meaning that they very cautiously screen their patients to determine if you are a good candidate for a home birth (no gestational diabetes, no twins, no high blood pressure, etc.) and constantly monitor and assess for emergencies. They have attended over 1,000 births together and Mary, the older of the two, has attended over 2,000 births. They willingly gave me the phone numbers for several of their recent patients without me having to ask and I'll be calling these home birth veterans this week to learn more. I'm excited about this possibility and want to make sure that I'm 110% comfortable in my decision before I make it.

My friend, who has had 2 home births, warned me to be prepared for negative criticism and ignorance regarding home births. So, I'm prepared and realize that I'm opening myself up to this by blogging about it...

17 weeks & 3 days pregnant

17 comments:

  1. DO NOT in any way shape or form let ANYONE discourage you from having a natural birth. sure "90%" of patients might get an epi but I hardly doubt most are at their own request. Dr's will always push you to get an epi. It makes life easier on them and in the long run you will have your baby sooner since I'm sure they'll push pitocin on you. And once you have pitocin there is no way you can labor without an epi because the contractions are worsened!

    So if you dont want drugs and an epi then say no and tell them to leave you alone and not to ask you again. It's that simple. Don't forget your rights as a patient.

    Also, if you want to walk around, then walk around. Tell them u want a heplock so IF they need to give you fluids and if they want to monitor you then u can come back. but that 247 monitoring they do is not necessary also, again, it just makes their life easier.

    Do what's easier for YOU not them.
    Do what's comfortable for YOU not them.

    Don't them the hospital make you do anything because it's your right as a patient and mother to do what you want.

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  2. I agree...and unfortnately yes, you might get some grief from others because of the way the world is these days, but you are right, our bodies are made for giving birth...how do you think people did it before drugs? I will most likely have an epidural, but I definately look up to and dont knock those who are able to endure this wonderful life experience without drugs. Stand your ground! :o)

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  3. I think as long as you and your husband are on the same page and you have done your research you should do what feels best for you. No judgement here. :)

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  4. I am sorta jealous, I wish my husband was more on board with the whole home birth thing..I am just nervous that I will have bad hospital experience!

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  5. I wanted to have a natural childbirth. Unlike you I didn't reasearch ANYTHING and I had no idea how to cope with the pain of natural labor and I ended up having an epidural at 2cm. Everything was a breeze after that, but I would like to look into trying it natural again for my 2nd. I'll definitely be doing research the 2nd time around! You can't walk into that kind of pain unprepared.

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  6. I feel the exact same way that you do and am so upset that my only birthing option is the Naval Hospital. I wish that I had the option of doing a home birth, but can't with my medical problems. I'm just going to labor at home for as long as possible and make it very clear to the hospital that I WON'T be bullied into anything that I don't want.

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  7. I am so surprised that a doctor would want to induce you for her convenience. I guess I am just not in the pregnancy and birthing loop. That just seems wrong! I think you and your husband have to do what is best for you. I know you are going to research and make a great decision. I think home birth would be pretty amazing. Good luck in your decision!

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  8. The Bradley Method is the best! It got me through a natural birth after having an epi during my previous delivery. I highly recommend it.

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  9. Good for you. I am due 2 days after you and enjoy reading your blog. I just switched doctors (and hospitals) after learning that my group of doctors discourages natural birth. We also hired a doula :) Home birth sounds like a great option. Good luck!!

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  10. Oh, when I first started reading this - it reminded of me of my experience! I had an OBGYN and was not happy. I quickly switched to a CNM (certified Nurse Midwife) and chose a hospital that is more about Mind, Body and Soul and natural options vs medical. I did end up being induced (which now looking back saddens me - but I remind myself that she wasn't moving much). I did have a 100% drug free birth (not counting pitocin of course) and it was AMAZING! I am so happy you have decided to look into midwifes because when I first started reading this, my brain was saying repeatedly midwife, midwife, MIDWIFE! I am so happy you are educated on all aspects and your options. Most women would think that being induced on doc's schedule, getting epidural, etc is routine and normal. Which sadly enough, because women are just taking their word for it, it is becoming the norm. I also would recommend a doula. They are amazing :) Kudos to you are looking for a midwife.

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  11. My *children* are 26 and 22. At the time, epidurals were available and starting to become the norm but unmedicated births were still relatively common. Also, inductions were limited to situations of medical necessity or if someone was significantly overdue with a large baby.

    I had difficult pregnancies which I won't go into and yet I still managed to birth both times without an epidural or any other pain control during or after. I honestly believe that all the inductions and epidurals we are seeing now are contributing to high c-section rates. I find that unconscionable.

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  12. How awesome that you have done your research and are refusing to accept this idea that your body is broken. I wish more women were able to see that they have options and the strength to exercise them.

    I have had 2 wonderful, calm home births after 3 hospital births. There is no comparison. For me, home wins for comfort and safety.

    Happy birthing to you!

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  13. I hope their referrals give you a good impression and everything goes well. It's sad that we have to avoid the hospital all together just to avoid unwanted management of OUR births. I'm happy you are open to home birth and the midwifes I know are phenomenal people. GL!

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  14. Go Homebirths!! I have had two(after two hospital births) and totally wouldn't want to do it any other way. Just remember that ppl who say it is dangerous are not at all informed.

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  15. Thank you so much for your supportive comments!! We're really excited about this new option!

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  16. oh I admire you so much for wanting a natural birth. I am still ttc, but I'm hoping to go as natural as possible too. I haven't done much research yet, so I'm excited to find your blog! I look forward to hearing what else you learn during this process. Good luck!

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