Thinking Woman’s Weblog

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Unassisted Childbirth (UC Birth) Preparation May 16, 2008

Filed under: birth — Thinking Woman @ 5:36 pm

I could never have had a unassisted birth (UC) without the help of others. Most of the people who helped me were people I never actually met. Some of them rubbed me very much the wrong way. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t help me!

The most important resource was the C-Birth yahoo group. It was through online discussions that I was able to process concerns and finalize my plan for birth.

I am such a strong believer that we create our own realities that my plan did not include hospital as backup plan. While that might seem irresponsible to some, it goes according to my beliefs. My midwife was my backup plan. (I later learned that my husband had scoped out routes to the nearest hospitals. That was something he needed to do in order to be comfortable, just as it was something I needed not to do!)

When I first joined the C-Birth yahoo group, I just lurked. They were so deep in it that I couldn’t even figure out where I might fit in. As the players and plots started to unfold, it became clear that this was a group of people who got straight to the point. Perhaps I am more accustomed to sugar coated messages so it took me a while to decide if I could handle this place.

I am so glad I stayed! Birth isn’t exactly one of those things in life that is sugar coated, and neither is having a newborn. Having it told like it really is and directly to the point helped me shed some layers of baggage I still carried from before my first birth.

I came to understand that not all that many things were likely to go wrong, and for most of the possible scenarios, there was time.

We are led to believe that birth is some kind of a crisis and that it starts with water breaking out of the blue and leads to pushing a baby out within 15 minutes. I was still under that impression to some degree after my first birth. I still had not fully come to understand that birth can take days, and that is normal. And that there are purposes for birth going on for days such as getting the muscles in shape for an easier birth. When we learn to trust our bodies and the process, fully baked babies come out. I also learned that fully baked is not exactly 40 weeks, but rather a range. And that there were a whole lot of underground moms who’d been pregnant well over ten months and had gone on to give birth naturally to normal babies.

So much of the so-called science of birth according to medicos is not science at all! In fact, it is more superstition than you would want to believe

For example, ultra sounds are total crap. Not only do they subject both the mom and the baby to unnecessary and harmful radiation, they serve no purpose except to entertain. There isn’t anything you are going to find out from an ultrasound that is not something you could not find out another way or find out later. Is the baby moving? Well that’s easy to feel. Is there a heartbeat? Use a fetoscope if you must. What gender? Why do you need to know that? Are you planning to abort the wrong gender? Must you have all pink or all blue or must you have a name in advance? And how big is the baby? Don’t get me started! Not only do they make up numbers that are hugely innacurate, but they then use this information as yet another reason to induce birth because the baby is “too big” and could not possibly fit through your pelvis. Because, you know, women nowadays somehow got strangely wired with tiny pelvises. Perhaps this theory is based on the size of the pelvis when the mom is not giving birth? Um, dudes, it all opens up! And one last thing about the baby’s weight and how stupid that is as a measure of whether or not a mom can fit a baby through her pelvis. My babies were both the same weight at birth. But one had a huge head and one had a small head. And I could totally feel the difference during birth.

After my first birth, I was kind of a proud warrior, bemoaning the fact that my birth had taken 36 hours. This information was always met with impressed, “Wow”s and often with people sharing that they were not allowed to labor past 8 or 10 or 12 hours. How utterly ridiculous! What is the fear there? Not making it to dinner on time? Yes, that turns out to be exactly right; most unplanned cesareans are performed just before dinner or just before bedtime. How disgusting. Missing dinner now qualifies as a “medical emergency”?

I am not sure where you start timing the process, but my second birth, once things started heating up for real, progressed very quickly. I never felt it slow down at all. I am certain this is because I was fully comfortable in my own space and had no fear. No fear of anyone telling me I was taking too long nor pooping too much nor not pushing hard enough.

In the end, my plan was simple enough. My midwife knew when I was due, roughly speaking. I did not inform her that labor had started. We bought an inflatable kiddy pool which worked out so much better than the hard rental birthing pools. It only cost around $20! We used a hose with an adaptor to fill the tub. We got a lot of towels and sheets from a thrift store so we could toss them out after the birth instead of being faced with tons of laundry. I know this is wasteful but it really felt like a blessing to be extravagant in this way. I prepared and froze meals for at least a month and kept the refrigerator well stocked. We also were lucky enough to have many friends drop off meals which meant that our stash lasted much longer.

My midwife must have intuitively known what was going on with us because when we called her after the birth, she was over within 30 minutes. It was a relief to have all our paperwork properly handled. I am not sure if she said she was there for the actual birth or not. We did show her video of what she’d just missed!


Unassisted Birth Story May 15, 2008

Filed under: birth — Thinking Woman @ 9:16 pm
Tags: , ,

I won’t actually publish specific facts about my birth story because there really are a lot of wonderful stories out there and mine has been published in various forms already so I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you in case you came across another version.

Rather, I want to talk a little bit about all my swirling thoughts around birth. Why did I come to have an unassisted birth and how did it transform me?

I have never been fully mainstream; I was a vegetarian for the first time at age 13 at a time when people openly harassed vegetarians. So that tells you something about being willing to think for myself. I did come a long way. I honestly used to believe that a doctor should be able to look at me and I wouldn’t even have to speak; he or she would do some testing maybe and then know just exactly what was wrong. I used to also believe in drugs and procedures, but that is a post for a different day. Suffice it to say that by the time I was giving birth, my faith in doctors had gone way down but I still totally believed in them around birth.

My only exposure to women who’d given birth was at work. I thought I was giving myself an education by listening to them tell me what they thought were facts about pregnancy, birth, and the long-term effects on the body. I was right there with popular assumptions that the hospital was the safest place to give birth.

I was lucky during my first pregnancy enough to surround myself with enlightened people that I did grasp that a natural birth could not occur in a hospital so for my first, I opted for a midwife in a birth center. What I was to take years to understand was that natural and intervention free are two very different things. It was through reading The Mother Magazine that I unraveled the pain of that birth. There were so many interferences and times I was disrespected. Instead of coming away empowered, I was humiliated and my confidence shattered. It was a terrible start to being a mother. And yet, everyone there went on about how beautiful it had been, my husband included, so I was not even fully aware of my own feelings for some time to come.

For a while, I likened birth to an episode of the worst constipation ever (which, ironically, I suffered during my second pregnancy). Imagine if you will, struggling for hours, even days, to get a huge hard poop out and having people watching, coaching and threatening surgery and other interventions the entire time. Imagine them putting you in bed and giving you things without really explaining what they were doing. Birth, it turns out, is a natural bodily function just as is having a bowel movement. Just because we don’t do it every day does not mean we won’t be able to when the time comes, even if it is a very difficult process (or not!)

The growth work for me was to come to a place where I realized that part of why I was not getting the baby out was because there were so many people there. I don’t know who any of them were. I’d only met the doula before that point. Then the masks went on and my butt went up in the air. Talk about being totally humiliated. Could they have made it different? Heck yeah! The little comments about what was going on back there showed an attitude of disrespect that makes me cringe even now. For years, I wanted to write a letter. But why bother? They really feel they are offering a better birth, and they are. But they don’t get it. They don’t get what birth can be.

So with my second, I felt close and intimately comfortable only with my husband and older daughter. Is it ironic that I likened that second birth to projectile vomiting? Is it because of my being so comfortable in my own home with my own family that there was no holding back? Who knows! But that is what happened and my confidence soared. My husband got it! He totally saw the difference and the reasons. We all felt the spiritual nature of what had just happened, and yet, it also felt a bit like an ordinary day. Once everything was put away, it was such an ordinary day, except now we were four instead of three!

We all felt so powerful. Like we could do anything, anything at all! We’d taken a step to unplug from the grid.

It was definitely a spiritual thing to have done. I can understand that not everyone would be willing to have an unassisted birth. I did so much growth that I was absolutely in a place of knowing that both my baby and I would be perfect. I can’t explain how I knew that but I knew it with every fiber of my being and if I felt otherwise, I would not have gone through with it.

One of my most important learnings is to only read positive birth stories. And in fact, only positive information was allowed through my filters during pregnancy. Intuitively, I knew it to be the most spiritual of times. I do believe some people get a sense of something being wrong. What I do not know, and hope to never have first hand experience of, is whether the worry causes the issue, or the intuition reveals the issue. I do believe that we can create our realities and where we focus is where we go. I take credit for having created that birth.