At the beginning of 2011, I set a goal of doing 1 doula birth per month. Today is February 14 (Happy Valentine’s Day by the way) and I’ve already had 2 births. They were both very similar and yet SO different. 2 moms with about the same level of partner support, approximately the same level of prenatal education (except prior birth experience), and both were getting regular chiropractic adjustments. Both moms hired me relatively late in their pregnancies and they both wanted a natural birth but were not completely opposed to drugs if needed so why were they so different???
Let me start with a little background. Momma “a” was having her 3rd baby and hired me because baby 2’s birth was a bit traumatic. She was induced with cytotec (which I really, really don’t like). We stayed in contact throughout the day and we both decided that I should meet her at the hospital around 4. I knew it was a bit early but it worked out good. We worked together for a while and mom decided to have her water broken at around 12 that night. She was 4am. 2 hours later, her 8 lb baby boy was born naturally while she was standing up holding onto me.
Momma “b” was having her first baby and hired me because she was from a country with a 90% (yes, you read that right) rate and she really wanted something different. She didn’t even know she had a choice to have a natural birth until she was about 7 months. She was also induced but with pitocin and her water was broken right away when she was about 2 cm. She called me about 9am to say she was fine and she would check in soon. At 4 pm, she was 4 cm and had an epuridural. The dr was supposed to come check on her soon so she would call me after that. I tried to call her around 9 and never got an answer so I went up to the hospital to find she had a C-section. When the dr came and checked her, she was complete and was told to push. After 2 hours of pushing, she was told the baby wouldn’t fit and she needed a C-section. Her baby was 7 lb 5 oz.
So what happened? I think there were 2 main factors in momma “a” having a natural birth: provider choice and focus. I don’t mean focus in that mom “b” couldn’t focus on birth but more that she was more focused on what she didn’t want because that’s all she knew. She had the expectation of a C-section even if that’s what she didn’t want. Momma “a” knew she could give birth so she expected she could have a natural birth. The second factor is provider choice. Momma “a” didn’t choose a doctor/hospital that was known for supporting natural birth but momma “b” went to the hospital with the highest C-section rate in Atlanta. Momma “a’s” doctor was at least willing to work with her and was willing to be flexible.
So where do we go from here? Do your research, do your research, do your research. It is never to early to start talking to your doctor about the birth you want. Make sure that your “team” really is on your team. Your care provider can be your best friend or your worst enemy. They can help you get around “hospital policy” or they can make sure everyone is enforced. The reputation of the doctor is a good place to start but communication goes a long way. If you can talk to your doctor and develop a mutual respect, it will go a long way when it’s decision time.
Secondly, focus on what you want. A good childbirth class, like Hypnobabies, will go a long way to increase your confidence and knowledge. If you really want to buy a new car, you’re not going to spend hours on researching horse breeds. Likewise, if you really want a natural, beautiful birth, you don’t need to focus on C-sections and drug interventions. What you focus on will expand so focus on what you want. There is no such thing as a perfect birth, but there are things you can do to get in that general area. Have a good support team around you and focus on what you want.