Monday, April 19, 2010

Natural Childbirth and hiring a DOULA!

Having a natural, un-medicated, childbirth is very important to me. I really believe I can do it and I think it's what will be best for me and my baby. (I am by no means condemning pain drugs or obstetrical tools because I believe that they can be beneficial and necessary in certain times and places.) But for me, if there are no complications, I think that laboring and delivering naturally is what is best. I will be able to feel what is going on therefore I will be able to follow my own instincts and rhythm. Women have done this since the beginning of time so I have faith that I will be able to do it too.

No, I am not a hippy. I paint my nails pink, shave my armpits and wear pearls. I use Clorox cleaning products in my kitchen, and I don't even like granola. So that’s not what this is about. It's just what I believe is best for me and our baby. I am somewhat of a control freak so the idea of being hooked up to an epidural (in my SPINE) which would prohibit me from moving out of bed, and necessitate being catheterized to drain my urine is enough motivation (I hope) for me to endure the pain so I can hold on to my freedom through out my labor.

Yes, I know it is going to hurt worse than I could ever imagine, but I am choosing not to be afraid of the pain. Instead I look at is like this: What won't kill me will make me stronger. I can endure anything for one day. Millions and millions of women have experienced natural labor and lived to talk about it, so I believe the same can be true for me.

Why do I want to do this? Why would I choose to be in immense pain? There are a lot of reasons….too many to list, but mostly it's just what my gut tells me. Ben and I had such a hard time conceiving as we had to use so many interventions to get here. A doctor literally selected which sperm would unite with which egg and physically injected that sperm into my egg. If I think about it too much it makes my head spin. By choosing a natural birth we feel that were are taking some of our power back from medical technology. Don't get me wrong, I am beyond grateful for the interventions available and that we were able to afford it, and even more so that it worked for us. But at the time we had to succumb all our trust and faith over to a doctor and his medical process. Now I'm ready to take some of that back. I want to do this on my own without the help of doctors, technology and medicine. I want to feel human again and what is more human than giving birth naturally?

I have known this about myself from the beginning of my pregnancy. I selected my doctor because of his reputation for supporting women in their desire to give birth naturally. At our last appointment we were discussing my birth plan and he suggested that maybe a doula would be something we would find helpful. We met with one our doctor recommended this past weekend and I liked her very much. For those who don't know what a doula does here is a snipped from her resume that explains a little:

"I have been in practice for 26 years, and trained through ALACE (Association of labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators). I am very committed to helping women achieve a positive, informed, and powerful birth experience. My personal philosophy about birthing is that every woman is unique, and each of her birth experiences will also be unique. Some women need and desire lots of physical support during labor (back massage, compresses, help with positions, etc); other women need more emotional support; and others need only a "guide" along the way. Most moms need a bit of each! I feel that I am very flexible and realistic and will attempt to help each mom get to where she needs to be in order to achieve a wonderful birthing experience. I believe that a doula's role is to educate and support the mother in achieving the kind of birth she wants. I also strongly encourage the father to become as involved as he is able and willing, and am happy to guide them through this process."

After our doctor's appointment, I was on the fence about hiring a doula. I just wasn’t sure… It was Ben who really encouraged that we meet with her to see about what she can offer us. Ben wants to be as supportive as he can possibly be during my labor, but knows that he doesn't have all the tools and experience that a doula could bring us. He believes that it will be a better experience for both of us if we have someone who is devoted entirely to helping me through each phase of labor and delivery.

Can I really do it…natural childbirth? This is where a doula comes in. I believe with the help and support of my husband AND our doula that I will be able to reach my goal. I know there are going to be moments during my labor where I will wonder what the hell I was thinking, but I'm hoping that her support and experience will pull me through. That she can show me a position that will help with the pain or massage my back, encourage me to walk, or get in a warm shower when I feel like giving up.

The best part of her service is that she comes to our house as soon as I feel that labor is starting. This way I can labor at home through the early stages instead of going to the hospital too early. I know Ben and I are going to feel scared and anxious and having someone with us who has over 25 years of experience watching women labor will be very comforting. We will be able to trust her to tell us when the right time to head to the hospital will be. Ideally I would like to get there once I’m in active labor (4-8 cm dilated) so that I won’t have too many hours left before its time to push. I know for many first time moms early labor (going from 0-4 cm) can take many hours and I would rather be at home in my own bed, shower, floor, couch etc instead of pacing the white halls of a hospital.

Our doula is planning on visiting us at home for two prenatal visits prior to 37 weeks so that we can get to know each other and share any thoughts, anxieties or concerns that they may arise. In a way it feels like we are hiring a personal nurse to be 100% focused on me and my needs during L&D. I know the hospital assigns a nurse to each laboring woman but their main concern in monitoring the baby….which is GREAT, but I’ll be glad to have someone else whose main concern in MY wellbeing. I feel really good about our decision to hire this doula.

I know that certain things can and may happen that could keep me from achieving a natural childbirth. For example maybe our baby goes into distress because of the cord being compressed and she stops receiving an adequate amount of oxygen or maybe she is in the breeched position in which case I will need a cesarean. I recognize that these situations and others like them may happen, but they are very rare, so I’m choosing to plan for a “textbook” delivery all the while making sure I’m educated on all the possible scenarios. I am not going to say that I think drugs are bad, because it might happen that I need them or change my mind and decide to ask for them. I am trying to keep an open mind and be as well informed and prepared as possible. I am going with my gut now and it says, “Natural birth is best for me.” I hope that I can continue to follow my instincts all the way through my labor and up to moment of my baby’s delivery. I truly believe that having the support of a doula will help me achieve this.


  1. Good for you. I had my daughter all naturally. I wanted an epi SO bad but my labor progressed too fast to get one. If you can make it through the contractions - the pushing is easy! The contractions are the worst part! Keep positive and don't let tv shows or a person scary you out of at least trying to go all natural but also try not to get your hopes to high because you can not really plan your labor and delivery - you never know what will happen and you have to remember you want to do whats best for you and your baby!!

  2. I´m also hoping that I can have a natural child birth. But I´m just going to take it as it comes along and not decide to much on forehand, as I don´t wan´t to feel that I have let myself down if I won´t be able to go through natural childbirth. I´m planning for natural childbirth, but prepairing for everything else.

  3. You go, Girl. The anesthesiologist will be the first person I want to make sure will be available for me, but if you want to go natural, props to you! Definitely a very thought out decision for you. I'm jealous that your doctor actually discussed your birth plan. My doc never says anything other than "appropriate weight gain, everything lookds good. heartbeat good. Any questions?" Well of course then my head goes blank and I can't think of any. Grr. She hasn't even mentioned birthing classes yet, which I had planned to ask her about and spaced it last week. Anyway, back to YOU! Good for you for taking control of your experience :)

  4. Go girl!!!
    Could I just copy and paste this post to my blog? Well, everything about why you want to go natural anyway (haven't gone as far as doula searching, not sure if we will - see questions below...). What I so agree with is how science and technology got us here and I really want to prove to myself that my body can function normally and I can have a natural birth. Wouldn't it be nice to do something the old fashioned way? Plus I have the control issues and being numb from the waste down freaks me out.
    About the doula, I have some questions:
    Is it very costly? I imagine it must be. Is it by the hour or just a flat fee for the whole birthing process? What if another mom goes into labor at the same time? Will she support you if you change your mind and want some relief via an epidural? (not that you will, but what if??) Thanks girl!

  5. You go girly! If and when the day ever comes where I can experience labor and birth, I plan on going au natural also. My main reason being this, it might be my first and last. With my diagnosis things aren't exactly positive, so that's my incentive! I want to feel everything!!!! I truly believe you'll be able to do it.

  6. Thanks for sharing, I've also thought about a doula & would like to at least attempt a natural childbirth as well. I plan to read up a lot on it & ways to cope during the birthing process, but a doula does sound like a good investment.

  7. Awesome post! I think that you have really thought this out and know what's best for you! I bet you'll be able to do it! It's funny, I AM a little bit hippy, but have no plans for natural childbirth! I am ready for the epidural already, LOL! Btw, how aewsome is your supportive husband?! Very cool.

  8. I totally recommend a med free delivery it really is an amazing feeling. But i would add that just like IVF twins are no less natural than spontaneous ones, my medicated delivery was no less natural than my unmedicated one :-)

  9. Tracey: The cost of our Doula is $550 and that is a flat rate. She will come to us for two prenatals, the entire labor (including starting at our house with us) and she'll stay a few hours after the birth to help with the first breast feeding. Then a week or so after the birth she will come to our house again for a postpartum visit. And she is always available by phone or email from now until then. For as many hours as she's giving us and her incredibly warm heart I feel that it really is a fantastic deal. (Especially after paying for IVF-ICSI twice this is practically nothing.) She only takes on 5 clients who are due in any particular month so I doubt that she will have an other birth conflicting with mine. And she is there to support me in whatever I choose, so if I opt to get an epidural she wont be there to judge me or try to talk me out if it. She is there to help me achieve a good birth experience as I define it. Please email me if you want to chat about this or anythign else...I would love to hear form you!!!!

    Anonymous: I realize that I messed up my lingo. I understand that "natural birth" and "unmedicated birth" are two separate things. My bad. I hope everyone was able to understand what I meant. I am choosing an UNMEDICATED birth.

    And I also want to point out that if for some reason I don't achieve that then I will not beat myself up. The most important thing to me is a healthy baby and I will do whatever I have to to get that...even if I have to have a C-section. I'm just trying to invision what I DO want as I believe positive imagery is a powerful tool in life.

  10. You have definitely thought this through, and I think it's great to follow your heart. xx

  11. I hear that hypnotherapy for birthing can be very beneficial for pain management, etc. Check it out, and good luck! :)