Sunday, November 6, 2011

Childbirth Class

If you are sick of me only blogging about pregnancy, then you probably should not bother reading this post. I can't help it, it of course dominates my life. I feel like I am a very boring person right now as most of my energy and thoughts are pregnancy related, whether it be what I need to eat, how tired I am, or something I need to ask at my next appointment. Despite my efforts not to always be talking pregnancy, it comes up more than I intend, sometimes simply because I feel like I have absolutely nothing going on. This does not bother me too much for the most part because I am happy to be pregnant, but it occasionally worries me that other people are annoyed. Oh well!

So DH and I spent all day on Saturday at a Child Birth class at the hospital where we plan to deliver. It just happens to be the same hospital where the popular Lifetime series, One Born Every Minute, is filmed. Anyways, it was 9am-5pm, plus a hospital tour. Unsurprisingly, it was a bit overwhelming. The morning was spent discussing the anatomy/physiology of childbirth, how baby's position affects it, how mothers positions before and during labor effect it, positions to use during labor, and relaxation techniques for labor. In the afternoon we looked at medical procedures and options that might come into play - both what possibilities were and when they might be used. We also talked about post-postpartum recovery and the hospital experience. I liked the class because it seemed to start out with the assumption you would not be having pain medication.

I am not really one of those people who is afraid of labor or childbirth. I guess I fall in the "woman have been doing it for a million years" camp. In fact, most of my fears are more related to the people and society surrounding me than to the process of childbirth itself. I am not afraid of labor pain, I am afraid of doctors and nurses "forcing" medical procedures on me I don't agree with.(I know they can't literally force me). This ranges from trying to get me to induce when I don't want to, to trying to get me to use pain meds I don't want, to moving to a C-Section before it is actually medical necessary, either because they are being over cautious or because it is convenient for them. Riverside is a great hospital. We chose it because it is level 3 both for adult and neonatal care. That means that if something goes wrong, if either I or the baby need surgery, emergency treatment, etc etc, we will be right there able to get it and not have to deal with being transferred anywhere else. However, it is also a hospital where 85-90% of mothers get epidurals. When I told one of my friends I was delivering at the hospital where One Born Every Minute is filmed she was horrified. She tried to play it down, but it was pretty clear her opinion on the matter. She related to me an episode where a mother wants to have a natural birth and the nurses are making fun of her in the nursing lounge. It does not exactly inspire confidence.

Perhaps you are reading in between the lines here and thinking or asking "is she saying she wants to go for a natural birth?". I guess the answer is yes. The more I learn about picotin, epidurals, and other interventions, the less I want them. But I am not some crazy hippie "natural is best" chick. I don't want a water birth, the idea of home birth terrifies me, and I don't have an elaborate birth plan with meditation and breathing routines planned to make it some "holistic emotional experience".  Its more like I land on the option of going "natural" when I consider all of the evidence. I guess it is also a continuation of the "woman have been doing this for millions of years" theory as well. Really I guess it started with my general dislike of the entire concept of an epidural. I am by no means criticizing woman who want one - as with all medical procedures, its a cost benefit analysis and for me the costs out weigh the benefits. They are sticking a needle into your spine and numbing nerves that give you motor control in your legs. That sounds like a procedure I will avoid if at all possible. It probably helps make the decision easier considering I have read the medical records of 1 or 2 women who have had long term effects of epidural. I just don't want to mess with my neurological system if I can at all help it. The statistics about slower labor and increased c-section rates, plus unknown ultimate impact on the newborn are just icing on that cake. So once I decide no epidural, it does not take much to conclude that most interventions are bad for me. For example, Picotin, the drug most commonly used to induce labor or to speed slow labor, causes contractions to be much stronger than natural and thereby increases the need/desire for epidurals. I guess when I look at everything combined it is not any one intervention that bothers me, its the fact that once you start with one you get wrapped up in these cycles of possibly needing so many others, and ultimately significantly increase your risk of requiring major surgery (caesarean). I don't want any of it, its not for me. In an ideal world, I would be able to deliver in a hospital, but not even have an IV. I know this is not an ideal world though (as evidenced by my desire to be in a hospital!). I know that a lot of times you end up with little choice. Your baby is breech, or in distress, or your labor just stalls out, etc etc etc. But I will do what I can on my end to make this happen "the old fashioned way". I just really hope that I only end up fighting mother nature and my own weaknesses on this and not my doctors and nurses as well.


Allison said...

Good for you for wanting to do it the natural way, but still being very rational (as if I expected anything different from about taking intervention if it *is* actually medically necessary. I hope that you have a very smooth delivery!

And I am perfectly happy reading about your pregnancy, but you probably already knew that.

Sabrina said...

Manday the natural way is entirely possible in a hospital. I had G. With out an epidural or pain medication in sight. It was like an endurance sport exhausting and challenging but not what I would conasider painful. I was in a hospital (a different one in town) with IV access but no IV except for antibiotics I needed.

Your not crazy to think You want to do this with out an epidural just as anyone who chooses to have one isn't. Personal preference but it can be done!

rising esoteric said...

Maybe they've improved! As the horrified friend, I googled around and the episode was filmed about 5 years ago. New nurses could be there and they could be better.

I am highly sensitive to agency in medical treatment, especially childbirth. I hope everything goes extremely well for you and I'm so happy you have DH to be there with you.

Flatmate and I loved watching the British "One Born Every Minute" as we're both baby-obsessed grad students who can't even think about kids for a few years. We made it about halfway through an episode of the American one. It might be the differences in cultural presentation, or how midwives are taught and trained, or the simple difference that epidurals cost money that insurance companies will pay and the NHS would rather not pay.

The biggest difference seemed to be the British nurses were cheerleaders of their natural birth women and the American ones seemed to be waiting for their women to fail, which was sad, more than anything else.

You're a very strong, confidence person, so I have every faith you'll be able to rationally get what you need from Riverside, provided nature agrees. ;)