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Birthing Plans

For 38 weeks of my life, I was consumed with pregnancy and methods of giving birth. I read all the "must-reads" at the time obsessively: "The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy" and "What to Expect When You're Expecting." I read about moms using doulas, moms using midwives, moms giving birth in water; moms using birthing balls; moms who liked their obstetricians and the hospital and moms who hated obstetricians and hospitals. I read statistics of rising numbers of Caesarian births with amazement.

When wonderful husband and I went to a hospital-based childbirth class and the teacher asked us to group ourselves on whether we wanted drugs during childbirth or not, there was no question in my mind. Epidural all the way. The sooner the better ... I really am not a fan of pain.

Once the delivery was over and son number 1 had arrived, it quickly dawned on me, all this stressing about how to give birth really wasn't the important thing. What was important was caring for and parenting this child for the rest of his life. Well, that and figuring out how to nurse the little guy. Once pregnancy number 2 came along, thinking about the birthing details was the last thing on my mind. I dutifully went to the doctor's appointments, worried less about the pregnancy and popped the not-so-little guy out. Until the day son number 2 arrived, my focus was all about the child in my life day-to-day.

So, it was with amazement that I read yesterday's Washington Post Health section story, Do-It-Yourself Delivery. Never in a million years would it occur to me to give birth at home without professional assistance. Maybe it's because I came along only after my mother had a stillborn child or maybe it's because my sister suffered health complications during one of her deliveries. But the thought just never crossed my mind that I'd ever go the route alone ... or that it could be safe.

Advocates of "freebirth" as it is called spend a fair amount of time planning their home births. And not just with first children. In fact, some of the women quoted in the story took this route with later children after feeling dissatisfied with previous births. While a part of me says, good for them -- they made an interesting choice that was right for them and it worked out -- another part of me wonders: Do we focus too much on the moment of birth rather than what comes afterward?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  August 1, 2007; 7:10 AM ET  | Category:  Babies
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Comments


Everyone needs to think more about what it means to bring a child into this world and to be a parent. But women also need to think more about birth plans. I still meet countless women who have *no idea* that they don't have to go to a hospital and take medication to have a baby. Part of being a parent is being pregnant and giving birth. One of the first things you do as a parent is try to have the healthiest pregnancy possible as well as give your baby the safest, healthiest birth possible. Many times, that means NOT using medical intervention--especially when there is no reason for it!

Posted by: Silver Spring | August 1, 2007 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Who would gamble with the lives of their children?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 7:50 AM | Report abuse

I agree, a lot of focus has centered around birth lately. But this is a good thing in that it helps parents to be informed about their options. I myself chose a midwife and doc practice, so that I could labor with a midwife and have a doc on hand if needed. But the first rule of parenting is that nothing goes as you thought it would, and I ended up needing a planned c-section. And for those who would write in that I didn't 'need' the c-section, save it. My son would have likely died without it. Everyone deserves to make their own choices. But as someone with serious medical problems (unrelated to child birthing) I often find healthy people not understanding what it really means to be sick, or in a life threatening situation.

Posted by: Wendy | August 1, 2007 7:56 AM | Report abuse

My position is that a healthy parents plus a healthy (future) baby equals a high probablility of sucessfull home delivery. If a baby has birth defects or otherwise unstable it won't survive home delivery, but what's a point having such baby anyway? Unassisted birth is for people who believe in survival of the fittest.

Posted by: Sabrina | August 1, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

I think the surge in home births is a response to the surge in elective c-sections at the other side of the spectrum.

Posted by: hmm | August 1, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Yes, we do focus a little too much on the moment of birth.
During my pregnancy I "read along" that is, read sections of the pregnancy books that were relevant to where I was in my pregnancy. Unfortunately, those books focused on just the pregnancy. I was totally unprepared for needing to know a whole lot of information and being too sleep-deprived to be able to read a book and get the answers I needed.

Posted by: still-new-mom | August 1, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse

I had a completely unremarkable pregnancy and I ran most days up until month 9. I would seem to be the healthy candidate for an unassisted birth, but boy am I glad I didn't. My daughter had the umbilical cord wrapped twice around her neck. I don't think she would have survived if I had just pushed and pushed forever and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have come out unscathed.

The fact is that humans generally need help to give birth due to the fact that we have evolved to have narrow hips for walking upright and we have larger heads to fit out larger brains in. Even with help, humans have more complications with the process than other mammals. These facts would make it a pretty easy decision for me to have immediate help available in case something goes wrong.

Posted by: MaryB | August 1, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse

When my husband and I sat down with my OB at the 32 week point in my first pregnancy, she said "What's your birth plan?" And I said "We don't have one." She said "Perfect." My intention was to see how things went. I didn't assume I'd need an epidural, had no idea what the pain would be like and whether I could handle it or not, didn't want to rule anything out. I was distinctly on the fence between the "no drugs during birth/pregnancy, not even caffeine" crowd and the "sign me up for an epidural at the point of conception and hand me that glass of red wine while you're at it" group.

As it turned out, when I was 2 weeks overdue, I was induced, labored unproductively for 9 hours, and then had a c-section. The end result? A beautiful, healthy baby boy and a wicked sore but deliriously happy mama. All's well that ends well.

I think the way your baby comes into this world is a decision you and your husband/partner make with the support of your doctor/midwife. I think people who do water births at home are either much braver and smarter than me or slightly insane, not sure which! For the rest, to each his/her own.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 1, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why we feel the need to judge other women for their choices. If a child is coming out of my body I'm going to go out on a limb and say that how it happens should be completely my decision. If I want to sit in a tub, or lie in my own bed with candles all around, or go to the hospital and be monitored by a medical staff what business is it of anyone else? These options and many more are available to us all - and THANK GOD for that!

A year ago, I attended the hospital birth of my nephew because my sister-in-law doesn't speak English very well. It was without complications and he was - and still is - a very happy and healthy child. But I came away feeling that it could have been such a better experience for her if she had been more educated about her options. While I don't think we should be judging women for their choices, I am happy to see the debate because it opens us all up to choices might not otherwise have thought about.

Posted by: Puzzled | August 1, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

If I had a baby at home, would I have to get up and clean the mess up afterwards? I can't imagine that.

Posted by: charlotte | August 1, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Well, I think it is easy for people to say that uncomplicated pregnancies are survival of the fittest if they have never had a complicated pregnancy. We are not Neanderthals and people spend a whole lot of time in medical school so they can save the preemie baby or fix the birth defect of a child. Plus, it is easy to say survival of the fittest when it's not your baby.

I don't care what other people do, if you want to have a baby at home more power to you and good luck. I on the other hand, am 28 weeks pregnant and have already been in the hospital three times with cramps, bleeding, etc. My baby is fine, but that doesn't mean he would be if I just sat around and did nothing when I started cramping.

I went through the same thing with my daughter and she is just fine. I have really uneventful delivers, but I would never have them anywhere but the hospital.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 1, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm with you Charlotte! I wouldn't want to deal with the mess but that is just me.

I didn't have a choice as we were military at the time. They did have mid-wives and I used them for the prenatal care. I'm glad I had my daughter at one of the better military hospitals because she required NICU care for the first 10 days even though she was a full term baby.

I think even though you have a birth plan, you have to understand that you may need to be flexible to change it at the last minute. You never know what is going to happen at the actual time of birth.

Posted by: MDMom | August 1, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

'Freebirth' is the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. It's the same type of twisted logic that says you can also not strap your kid into a car seat, and as long as you never have an accident, who's going to notice? I know this was the way they did it in the stone ages, but there were also a lot of women who bled out, high infant mortality rates, and serious infections. Finding a competent physician or midwife to assist in the delivery process is the first of many parental obligations you have. As far as I'm concerned any parent who 'chooses' oppositely is simply playing Russian roulette with both the mother and the infant's life.

Posted by: StoptheMadness | August 1, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

The problem with all the talk about "birth plans," etc, is that it encourages women to think that giving birth is all about them, and that their personal satisfaction with the experience is the most important goal- when in fact the most important goal is a healthy baby and healthy mom. Want to feel empowered by pushing a baby out all by yourself with no professional assistance? Ok, do a "freebirth" at home, and don't worry about possible complications that could hurt the baby- your doctor is telling you that there are risks just because she wants to make a buck.

Posted by: randommom | August 1, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I think that most women are rather less-well-prepared than not for the realities of birth, hospital-based or otherwise, and that in pregnancy we do need to take a moment to focus on the kind of outcome we want, or want to avoid. Like Stacey and another poster, I skimmed what was out there before Baby #1 and figured it would all work out, as I'm not a pain-fan myself. Baby #1 was born healthy, but in all other ways it was disastrous -- my epidural was ineffective, as many women find, and subsequent research before Baby #2 confirmed my own experience - that women who go the epi route have a higher risk of interventions and c-sections with its attendant risks. With Baby #2 I went sans epidural in hospital not because I'd become a convert to pain, but because I'd since learned a lot more about common hospital practices and related outcomes and I wanted to avoid the unneccessary and/or downright dangerous medical practices that happened last time. While I'm somewhat alarmed by the danger factor of unattended home births and thus chose not to go that route, I think we have to look at the real reasons why this is happening: American practices of hospital births, compared to those of other Western countries, are outdated and dangerous.
We need to adopt other methods of pain relief that won't endanger the baby and mother by consistently raising blood pressure and slowing/impeding the progress of labor, as the epi does. I'm glad the epidural led to a safe, pain-free vaginal birth for Stacey and others, but unfortunately that is not the outcome for all -- or even most.

Posted by: Let's Educate Ourselves, not judge | August 1, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I think it's important to focus on the "moment of birth," as you put it. While it may pale in comparison with what comes after, birth is still an important process. Moreover, what happens at birth can have a huge impact on what happens later. I had a tough, long labor that finally ended in a c-section. I neither saw nor touched my daughter until hours after she was born, and will always wonder if that had something to do with the fact that it took us weeks to catch on to nursing.

I can completely understand the desire to avoid medical intervention in a birth. It seems like once you're told you have to submit to one intervention, they fall, one upon the next, like dominos. Coming to the hospital early leads to pitocin which leads to an epuidural which leads to constant monitoring and immobility which leads to even more pitocin which leads to the vaccuum extractor which leads (sometimes) to a c-section. It's tempting to think one could just handle things better on one's own.

Posted by: NewSAHM | August 1, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I don't think I *ever* commented on a story as much as that one yesterday ... nor have I ever been rated up so much!!

At the risk of being redundant, what boiled my blood the most was how some of the proponents of "freebirth" were manipulating statistics to make themselves look like a SAFER alternative to hospitals. For example, the midwife in the online chat said that there were fewer risks of complications in a home birth than in a hospital - however, doesn't it seem logical that people with less risk would self-select into homebirth, and people with more risk would go to the hospital, thus inflating the stats on complications?

Likewise, there was another utterly insipid post by an advocate who slammed the US c-section rate as being higher than that of 3rd world countries. Again, doesn't it seem logical that with the maternal age here ever-increasing, and fertility therapy being available to those who otherwise might not conceive, that c-sections are more likely?

To me, it was offensive and very telling that one of the proponents responded to the point about fertility treatments by saying that "if you need fertility treatment, then you are not supposed to have kids." Reallll nice.

Posted by: Pantoufle | August 1, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

"Again, doesn't it seem logical that with the maternal age here ever-increasing, and fertility therapy being available to those who otherwise might not conceive, that c-sections are more likely?"

I'm not sure I see the connection between fertility treatments and c-sections. How one gets pregnant doesn't seem to have a logical link to how one gives birth. Can you explain?

My only gripe with the freebirthers (at least, the ones profiled in the story) is that in addition to planning home births, they disdain prenatal care. That, to me, seems far more dangerous than simply trying for an unattended birth.

Posted by: NewSAHM | August 1, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the earlier comment that the free birth movement is perhaps a backlash against the rise in numbers of elective c-sections and the overmedicalization (is that a word?) of labor and delivery.

I am pregnant with our 3rd child, the first was born at a military hospital (with a midwife, though my baby was taken away from me for several hours, it was my first and last military birth), the second at a midwifery center within a hospital and our third will be at home under the care of a midwife (or two) and a birth assistant.

It's funny to me that if I wanted to get an elective c-section (and even a tummy tuck), that would be much easier to achieve in rural MD than a natural, unmedicated birth. While I am not comfortable with free birth for me, I can see why there is such a thing.

Becoming educated about birth is a stepping stone to educating yourself about motherhood. For example, breastfeeding. I think there are times when women are not able to nurse due to health problems/medications, but too many of us use that excuse to bottlefeed. You have to nurse a lot the first few weeks to establish your milk supply, that means a lot of time sitting around staring at your baby, not going out and running around etc... I don't care what anybody choses, but being more educated about the value of nursing and the fact that formula will never duplicate it is something that many parents seem to overlook out of convenience.

I feel that is just one side effect of "scheduling" births. It pains me that many new moms know more about the pattern they chose for the nursery (and all the unnecessary baby items expertly marketed to new moms and dads) that they lose sight of the fact that the baby really doesn't need all the stuff at first.

We need a change in this country, maybe free birth will help us start to think about what we are doing to future generations. Are our daughters all going to have to go through IVF to get pregnant and have scheduled c-sections to give birth? Is that what we are heading towards?

Posted by: Hawkeyewife | August 1, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the earlier comment that the free birth movement is perhaps a backlash against the rise in numbers of elective c-sections and the overmedicalization (is that a word?) of labor and delivery.

I am pregnant with our 3rd child, the first was born at a military hospital (with a midwife, though my baby was taken away from me for several hours, it was my first and last military birth), the second at a midwifery center within a hospital and our third will be at home under the care of a midwife (or two) and a birth assistant.

It's funny to me that if I wanted to get an elective c-section (and even a tummy tuck), that would be much easier to achieve in rural MD than a natural, unmedicated birth. While I am not comfortable with free birth for me, I can see why there is such a thing.

Becoming educated about birth is a stepping stone to educating yourself about motherhood. For example, breastfeeding. I think there are times when women are not able to nurse due to health problems/medications, but too many of us use that excuse to bottlefeed. You have to nurse a lot the first few weeks to establish your milk supply, that means a lot of time sitting around staring at your baby, not going out and running around etc... I don't care what anybody choses, but being more educated about the value of nursing and the fact that formula will never duplicate it is something that many parents seem to overlook out of convenience.

I feel that is just one side effect of "scheduling" births. It pains me that many new moms know more about the pattern they chose for the nursery (and all the unnecessary baby items expertly marketed to new moms and dads) that they lose sight of the fact that the baby really doesn't need all the stuff at first.

We need a change in this country, maybe free birth will help us start to think about what we are doing to future generations. Are our daughters all going to have to go through IVF to get pregnant and have scheduled c-sections to give birth? Is that what we are heading towards?

Posted by: Hawkeyewife | August 1, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

No prob, NewSAHM. I'll give you three examples :)

1) I needed to have some uterine surgery so I could conceive my daughter. This slightly elevated my risk of hemorrhage, so I needed a c-section to deliver her.

2) A friend in her 40s recently had a baby by c-section after needing fertility treatments due to her age. Older mothers - as are becoming a norm in this country - are more in need of c-sections in part because labor can progress extremely slowly and lead to fetal distress. There is also a higher risk of uterine dysfunction in this age group, which can also lead to a c-section.

3) Online, I know another lady who needed Clomid to get pregnant. The medication caused to her get pregnant with twins (not uncommon), who needed to be delivered by c-section.

Basically, when ladies like us needed help getting pregnant, we were in a way cheating Mother Nature. Our bodies didn't want to cooperate in the childbearing process, which meant we needed extra intervention from doctors.

Hope that helps! :)

Posted by: Pantoufle | August 1, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

by NewSAHM at August 1, 2007 09:00 AM

"I'm not sure I see the connection between fertility treatments and c-sections. How one gets pregnant doesn't seem to have a logical link to how one gives birth. Can you explain?"

I do not know what "Pantoufle" was thinking of specifically, but I believe she was referring to older women using fertility treatments to become pregnant later in life. The older a woman gets, statistically, the greater chance of complications durring pregnancy and the higher chance of needing a c-section. It an observable correllation, not a connection, but it certainly is a logical hypothesis.

Like mid-wifery, the freebirth movement might want to consider that sometimes going to the hospital is a good idea. I think every couple I have known that has gone with a mid-wife has been prepared that they may need to go to the hospital if complications arise. This is not to say that freebirth is bad, just that pregnancy can be dangerous and has killed a great number of women (and babies) in the history of humanity.

Posted by: David S | August 1, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I had a very easy pregnancy and a very difficult birth which ended in a C-Section. I am so thankful to be in a hospital and to have doctors attending. I kept thinking of all the women who died during childbirth, in the previous century. Who, in their right mind would chose anything other than a safe child birth?

Posted by: ThankGodForHospitals | August 1, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, David and Pantoufle. So the connection isn't between fertility treatments themselves and c-sections, but rather is related to the circumstances leading to fertility treatments.

I find that comforting, as I sit here contemplating that any future children I have may well be from IVF. I'm still holding out hope for a VBAC someday, and I'd hate to hear that my scarred tubes have taken that hope away, too.

Posted by: NewSAHM | August 1, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

My grandmother had 10 at home with a midwife assisting. All were healthy and survived. She was up and outside chopping wood the next day. Her children grew up during the 1920's, Depression, and WWII. You yuppie wusses don't know how easy you have it.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I planned for a drug-free delivery in an in-hospital center w/ a midwife. Turns out my water broke, I then had no real contractions for over 24 hours (midwife allowed me to go past the "physician" limit, feeling my baby was safe and with a strong heartbeat).

Finally, my midwife decided I needed pitocin. I then said, (knowing pitocin makes contractions stronger and thus more painful) get me an epidural!

I was moved from the drug-free delivery center down the hall to regular labor & delivery. I still had a midwife attending, and had to get 2 epidurals (the first didn't take). My son was born healthy.

He was placed immediately on my chest (no interest in nursing though) for about a half hour. Then they took him, weighed him in the room, etc. (Turns out, as we watch the video taken by my husband, he was sucking his hand repeatedly during this time -- why did no one give him to me to nurse??? We had a lot of trouble after this).

Regardless, the LD nurse told me that if I had been attended by a physician, I would have had a c-section for certain. I'm grateful I had a natural birth and had a patient midwife who was very experienced.

I had two friends give birth the same time as I did -- one had an unplanned c-section that seemed a little suspicious (ie, for the convenience of the impatient doc) and one had an ok birth but they only held up her baby for her to see for a second and then whisked him away for a long time.

Out of 4 friends total in addition to myself, I was the only one who used a midwife/hospital combo, and the only one who felt mostly in control and satisfied with how things went. Post-birth, I was the only one who was generally happy (one had post-partum depression, and the rest confessed to some depression as well).

I would advocate for an informed birth simply because I believe the mother's feelings about her birth and labor affect the post-partum period for a long time. We discount this beautiful and challenging experience in women's lives with a "whatever, all moms do it". But moms who have given birth know -- it's a heroic act and a great physical challenge.

Posted by: Rebecca | August 1, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

"My grandmother had 10 at home with a midwife assisting"

Yadda, yadda, yadda your grandmother. My grandmother gave birth in one of Hitler's death camps. With bupkis assisting.

Posted by: Spike | August 1, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I too only had my baby held up for a second after my c-section, but was told the reason for it is that the drugs given to me can impact my ability to hold the baby w/o dropping it for a couple of hours (not sure if that was the xanax or the spinal). It's just a safety precaution. My husband was allowed to hold the baby however, so it's not like she was unattended.

Posted by: StudentMom | August 1, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

To 9:53:

Truly spoken like someone who has not herself (or himself- if you're a he) had 10 kids or ever worked in a field. My grandmother picked cotton during the depression and had her children on a farm, and never did she suggest that this situation was ideal.

What hogwash- that because somebody could chop wood the day after giving birth 70 years ago, the rest of us should suffer today. Everybody benefits from medical advances in maternal care, not just "yuppie wusses."

Posted by: Rock Creek | August 1, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"Do we focus too much on the moment of birth rather than what comes afterward?"

Great comment! Seems very analogous to women planning their weddings and forgetting to think about the marriage afterwards.

Posted by: Virginia | August 1, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I am just 10 weeks pregnant and like many pregnant women have been reading everything I can get my hands on regarding pregancy and birth. I have friends who have gone all sorts of routes (plan & unplanned) including one who had midewife assisted births at her home.

Before I had my first appointment with my OB/GYN, I had done my research and was ready to develop my birth plan for a epi-free birth and start interviewing doulas which seem like a great idea.

But I've hit a snag - I had a congenital heart defect that was corrected when I was a child. At my appointment I found out that because of this there is a 1 in 3 chance that my baby will have a heart defect. In addition, pending a consultation with a cardiologist, the safest option for my health may be to schedule a C-Section. Additonal research supports this and my internist concurs.

I have been suprised and hurt by how some of my well meaning friends have continue to caution me against just going along with what the medical professional say. Which is now basically my plan.

I just wish that folks would not be so judgemental and just let others do want they feel is best for themselves. I keep on hearing here and from other sources that they just want women to be educated about their options - but how to they know they aren't.

In my case I am deliberately moving my thoughts to things like decorating the nursery (although I won't start doing anything or buying anything until much later.) It helps me stay positive as I face monthes of extra tests and visits to specialists. I am not being frivilous with spending my energy on these things instead of a birth plan.

Posted by: Alicia | August 1, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

with heartfelt thanks for my healthy children born in noisy, cold hospitals that did not cater to my self-esteem, I firmly believe many people have lost sight of the fact that it's the result that counts, not the process. Pregnancy has become another consumer orgy - how long will it be before the "perfect birth" takes its place beside the "perfect wedding"? We are not that far removed from the age in which graveyards were full of healthy young women and their babies who died in childbirth -as they still are in much of the world. A previous poster was right - evolution has made childbirth a risky process for our species. We should be thankful we have the technology to counter that risk, even if it seems a bit impersonal and humiliating.

Posted by: lurker | August 1, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Alicia, I am sorry to hear about your risks but commend you for thinking your choices through and being responsible!!

Prior to my scheduled c-section (needed one for uterine difficulties), I also encountered many similar women to the ones you have encountered. Unfortunately, I believe that their definition of being "educated" means that we need to agree with them and their apparent anti-doctor agenda. If we don't, then we are "blindly following the advice of greedy doctors" or whatnot. I challenged a couple of women on their opinion that I should do a vaginal birth contrary to medical advice, and the one thing they all seemed to have in common was a very large chip on their shoulder re. the medical establishment. I had a 10% risk of uterine rupture, but I seriously had one woman tell me that was a "small risk that was being overstated" and that "even if I ruptured, it didn't necessarily mean that the baby or me would be in trouble."

Posted by: StudentMom | August 1, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Who would gamble with the lives of their children?

Posted by: | August 1, 2007 07:50 AM

You know I could post this or that.Make this point, explore that point. But I can't because in 9 words YOU made the the most concise , perfect point that could be made. Congratulations, that does not happen too often. Frankly after your post, any other post is just irrelevant.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 1, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Alicia-

It's great that you have come to terms with what works for you. When I was pregnant with twins, it was determined that they both had congenital heart defects and I heard from many friends and acquaintances that I shouldn't just go along with the c-section birth that the doctors recommended. It was hard listening to people tell me the doctors were just doing that to avoid a lawsuit or because they were being lazy. My twins were born in a hospital, a few weeks pre-mature, they spent several days in the NICU. Now at 2 1/2, they are healthy and happy kids. When people would tell me these things I would tell them that all I wanted was happy, healthy kids and that after listening to the doctors and reading what I could, I had determined that for me the best way to have that was by having them in a hospital via c-section.

Posted by: MomtoLED | August 1, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I understand the desire to have a more "natural" experience, but what I don't get is the feeling that unassisted birth is the best way simply because it was the way it was done in the past.

It seems like we are all about modern technologies and modern medicine until it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. We go through heroics to save adults and children who are gravely ill, then turn around and say babies and/or moms who struggle with natural childbirth are (in essence) unfit to live?

Posted by: skm | August 1, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I love the analogy of planning for a wedding without thinking about the marriage. Yes, the moment of birth is important, but it is peanuts compared to the lifetime of love, nurturing, discipline, etc that follows. If you don't tell your child that he or she was born via c-section, with or without drugs, or at home with only mom and dad there, it won't make a whit of difference in who that child becomes. Every parent has the right to chose their own birth plan, but we're all kidding ourselves to think that it makes a difference to the baby.

Posted by: Arlington | August 1, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I can't deal with the hassles of pain, so I opted for a C-section as soon as I found out I was pregnant. That was my birthing plan.

Posted by: Britney Spears | August 1, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Another Thought:

Why do women who gave birth to healthy babies mull over their births and try to figure out what they did wrong? Maybe it's me, maybe I'm not introspective enough, but MOVE ON. I overheard a woman once saying "I'm still so disappointed that I couldn't take the pain and had to have an epidural" and I wanted to shake her. Obviously, if there are complications or problems, a review of some kind is required to determine what could be done differently or better next time, but can't you just accept your blessing and go on with your life?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 1, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Well, I strap my child into a child safety seat, but I understand people who don't, especially while driving in 25 miles per hour zone. People have different levels of risk tolerance, and it's not my business, anyway. The same with unassisted birth. Can't take away the freedom.

Posted by: Sabrina | August 1, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX

"Obviously, if there are complications or problems, a review of some kind is required to determine what could be done differently or better next time, but can't you just accept your blessing and go on with your life?"

No. Women are brainwashed to be martyrs.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I had my son 9 months ago at the Bethesda Maternity Center, which just closed its doors to in-center births due to financial pressures. It was a wonderful birth (as biths go) and I wouldn't change it. Three hours after my 10 lb son was born I was home in my own bed with my family around me. It was lovely.

But...it wasn't for everyone, and I would never assume that it was. My midwives were very good at making sure I understood that an out-of-hospital birth was an option for a low-risk pregnancy, but not for one with any possible complications. I accepted that, and would have planned for a hospital birth (or been tranfered when in labor) without question if the midwives had advised it. One has to be practical, and safe.

For me the birth center birth was a reaction against a horrible OB, plus past non-birth experiences in the hospital that were truamatic and painful. I simply wanted something peaceful, relaxed, and trauma-free. If I could have been assured a hospital experience that did not include needless IVs, pressure to stay still, and separation from my baby, I would have had no beef with a hospital delivery. Thankfully more and more hospitals are offering this, and I think in the future the pressures that make many women want home births, or at least out-of-hospital births, will lessen. I hope there are always options for different ways to birth, though!

Posted by: Mommabean | August 1, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Arlington, that how a baby is born makes no difference to the kid. But, did anyone see the article on the front page of WashPost yesterday? The woman had had 6 kids, the first 4 at the hospital and the last two as freebirths. She said she feels closer to the freebirthed children. That's gotta make the other 4 feel great - to have their mom say, in a national newspaper, that she is less close to them than their siblings due to factors they had no control over. That's gotta do more damage to the kid than giving birth in a hospital ever would.

Posted by: Chicago | August 1, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX-

It seems that some women think of it like getting their badge in "natural child birth."

Posted by: Mom2LED | August 1, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Many poor women in countries such as Afghanistan, Sudan, and Chad can only dream of giving birth in a safe, clean hospital filled with people whose job it is to ensure a healthy mother and healthy baby. I wonder what on earth such women would think of American women voluntarily giving birth at home without a doctor or midwife present.

Posted by: dc | August 1, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

dc

"I wonder what on earth such women would think of American women voluntarily giving birth at home without a doctor or midwife present."

Cuckoo, cuckoo .....

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Student Mom & MomtoLED thanks so much. It's nice to know others understand.

I appreciate it and it helps keep me positive!

- Alicia

Posted by: Alicia | August 1, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I ended up choosing to have a c-section because that was the right choice. I had a phenomenal pregnancy and everything was right on schedule, until it came time for my son (who is normal in every way) to be born. Two weeks past my due date, I was induced. After a day and a half of pitocin and only dilating to 2 cm, I finally caved and got an epidural. That allowed me to relax and I dilated to 4 cm six hours later. At that point, everytime I had a contraction, my son's heart rate would take a dip so I was maxed out in terms of the pitocin drip rate. The doc said that I could continue at that rate and maybe deliver 3 days later with my son's heart rate continually being affected or I could have a c-section. The choice was totally mine to make, and I chose the CS. I am so glad I did. Not only was the umbilical cord wrapped around my son's neck, but my placenta had started to degrade. I believe that if I had chosen to make the birthing process all about me and not about the well-being of my son, that I would not be a mother today. To the Darwinists and Freebirthers out there - who are you to say whether or not I or my son deserve to live or die?

Posted by: MeanMommy | August 1, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Alicia,

The people (men and women) who tell you how to give birth, and act like you are an unfit mother because you don't to things THEIR way, are the same parents who will constantly compare your child's "progress" ("Is he walking yet? No, well, MY little darling walked 3 months ago. Do you think there's something wrong with yours?")

Ignore them now, and ignore them later (at least you'll have some practice). You sound like you have a great outlook. Good luck, and congratulations!

Posted by: BLE | August 1, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"Why do women who gave birth to healthy babies mull over their births and try to figure out what they did wrong? Maybe it's me, maybe I'm not introspective enough, but MOVE ON."

I think part of the reason is that the way a child is born can have reverberations in the first several weeks/months of his or her life (for example, problems establishing nursing, recovery from a c-section that makes it harder for the woman to care for her child, etc.)

Plus, I know at least a few otherwise knowledgable, competent and assertive women (including myself) who feel like they were pressured by doctors and nurses to submit to interventions that, in retrospect, were more for the convenience of the hospital than for the safety of the baby. That kind of disappointment/anger can be very difficult to get over.

Posted by: NewSAHM | August 1, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

MeanMommy

"To the Darwinists and Freebirthers out there - who are you to say whether or not I or my son deserve to live or die?"

Your son lived - Darwinism took its course.

Posted by: YLS '85 | August 1, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

NewSAHM

"Plus, I know at least a few otherwise knowledgable, competent and assertive women (including myself) who feel like they were pressured by doctors and nurses to submit to interventions that, in retrospect, were more for the convenience of the hospital than for the safety of the baby. That kind of disappointment/anger can be very difficult to get over."

Only if you let it.

Darwinism takes it course.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

"Only if you let it."

Ah, but the doctors are holding the trump card -- "it's for the baby's own good." What woman, in the midst of labor or in the hormonal aftermath of the birth, isn't going to be swayed by a medical professional arguing that his/her proposed course of action is the right one?

And, of course, if she does hold firm to her beliefs, then there's a chorus of people like those on this blog standing ready to judge her selfish for "putting her own wants before the good of her baby."

Posted by: NewSAHM | August 1, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

NewSAHM |

"What woman, in the midst of labor or in the hormonal aftermath of the birth, isn't going to be swayed by a medical professional arguing that his/her proposed course of action is the right one?"

A secure woman. Really. Face it, deal with it, forgive yourself, and get over it!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"I understand the desire to have a more "natural" experience, but what I don't get is the feeling that unassisted birth is the best way simply because it was the way it was done in the past."

From what I am reading, it is not because it was done that way in the past, but rather because women don't like a lot of the things that have happened to them in a hospital environment. Things like not being able to hold their babies, scheduled C-sections that are not necessary, etc.

Seems like there should be a safe, middle ground. Perhaps moving more towards a European model, where C-sections are a lot rarer...

Posted by: CJB | August 1, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

To SAHM - the doctor only holds the trump card if you let him or her. If you walk out of the hospital weak from an emergency c-section and holding a beautiful healthy infant, count your blessings and move on with this new phase of your life. You're not doing yourself or your child any favors by resenting the circumstances of the birth.

Posted by: Arlington | August 1, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand the freebirth concept. After being assured that the baby sized itself to the mother (and having three over 9 pounders while being 5'1" if you count my hair) and being told that gestational diabetes only occurs in overweight people (I weighed 106 lbs at the beginning of pregnancy number 3) I doubt anyone knows what is "supposed" to happen. Who cares HOW your baby comes into the world!? Isn't it the baby that is the important thing? And as for too many c-sections occurring, the mortality rates for mothers and infants are much better than unmonitored vaginal births. I was recently asked, "What kills a woman every minute?" and the answer, "Childbirth". My grandmother died in childbirth. The doctors may not know everything, but they do want everyone to be safe and healthy and they do know what to do in an emergency.

I guess I feel strongly on this topic...

Posted by: Carrie | August 1, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

A lot of defensiveness from people on the blog today.

For those that think that the U.S. is just tops in infant care and we shouldn't question our system:

"Despite the fact that the United States spends more money per capita on medical care than any other industrialized nation in the world, it ranks in the bottom quartile of a list of 29 industrialized nations in both life expectancy and infant mortality and its relative ranking in both these categories has been declining since 1960."

From: U.S. Drops In Rank Of Industrialized Nations For Infant Mortality, Life Expectancy
http://www.pslgroup.com/dg/448d6.htm

Granted, the above article is 1997, 10 years ago, but here's an article from 2006:

U.S. Scores Poorly on Infant Mortality
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0510-06.htm

So if some of us (I'd say those in a low-risk pregnancy certainly have the right) don't feel like buying into the medical establishment's line of "you need to have/do this" 100% of the time, perhaps you can understand our thinking.


Posted by: Rebecca | August 1, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Rebecca

"So if some of us (I'd say those in a low-risk pregnancy certainly have the right) don't feel like buying into the medical establishment's line of "you need to have/do this" 100% of the time, perhaps you can understand our thinking"

Don't care what you think. It's MY baby.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Yes, please go ahead and do what you think is best for your baby.

Making blanket statements of any kind is impossible. We can only share our experiences, those of people we know and then make our own decisions.

I shared my friends' negative experiences and my own positive one. However, if you make your own decision (that is perhaps at odds with my experience) and end up feeling great with a healthy, happy child, that is wonderful!

With my friends, I have done nothing other than share my experience (which they all have already heard, and I only share it again if they ask). Once they indicate their path to me, I am nothing but supportive, no matter if I agree or not. That's what being a friend is about.

Posted by: Rebecca | August 1, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

If you leave the hospital weak from an emergency c-section but are holding a beautiful and healthy infant, how can you say you were forced into the wrong choice? You have NO idea what might have happened without medical intervention, so why second guess the moment when you had to make a split-second decision or have someone else make it for you?

Posted by: DC | August 1, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Rebecca, as a doctor pointed out on the discussion yesterday, infant mortality means nothing for this discussion - it is death up to 12 months. Perinatal mortality is birth to 1 month, and the US has one of the lowest rates of that. Please stop quoting stats that are misleading just because they serve your agenda.

Also to CJB, c-sections are on the rise in the US because moms are older here. With the increase in age comes an increase in complications, therefore, an increase in c-sections. The only way to decrease that would be to either deny women the right to have babies in their 30s and 40s.

Posted by: StudentMom | August 1, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

The only way to decrease that would be to deny women the right to have babies in their 30s and 40s.**

Grr hit submit too fast, that's what I meant to type.

Posted by: StudentMom | August 1, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

StudentMom

"Also to CJB, c-sections are on the rise in the US because moms are older here. With the increase in age comes an increase in complications, therefore, an increase in c-sections."


Cite evidence, please.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

To YLS '85

The point I was trying to make is that my son is alive today because he was born in a hospital setting, and that he most likely would not be if I had gone the freebirthing route. Perhaps I overreacted to the combination of an earlier comment about freebirthing is a natural process and the taken out of context phrase "survival of the fittest". Sorry about that.


To Alicia

Hang in there and remember that you really only need to stay true to yourself and your baby. If you are informed (and you are), then you will/have make/made the right decisions. The well-meaning noseys are just that... nosey. And, just because you shared some of your decisions with them before doesn't mean you have to continue to do so. Becoming a mother was the most amazing experience for me, and I believe that it will be the same for you.

Posted by: MeanMommy | August 1, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I found myself thinking that maybe some of the women advocating unassisted home births have never lost a child or known someone who has lost one. One of my friends, trying for a VBAC and leery of medical intervention, got to the hospital too late and---rare but much-feared complication---her uterus burst. The full-term baby girl did not survive, and the mom's life was in danger.

Once you have a few friends who have been through situations like this, you tend to become a little less sanguine about the "naturalness" of labor and delivery, and a little more thankful for any medical help you receive that allows your baby to be born safely, and you to survive to tell the story.

Posted by: dc | August 1, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

StudentMom, I'm not aware of yesterday's discussion. But I don't have an agenda, or if I do, I guess it would be that I believe all women should be informed about healthcare and options available to them (in general, not just in birth).

I've had too many people in my life follow doctors blindly (despite even disliking them) and feel regret.

I'm not saying a woman in a high-risk pregnancy should ignore her physician. Absolutely not! But I would encourage her to educate herself about her situation.


Posted by: Rebecca | August 1, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

but can't you just accept your blessing and go on with your life?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 1, 2007 11:15 AM

You gotta start the guilt tripping and perfectionism EARLY!!! If you don't get going right at the gate, you'll never catch up to the other neurotic mothers!

Posted by: Liz D | August 1, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

To 1:11pm:

Not that I really need to, since a cursory investigation would give you the details you want, however I'm feeling generous ... so please go to the library and check out:

Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2007 Aug;47(4):286-90. "The role of maternal age and episiotomy in the risk of anal sphincter tears during childbirth."

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2007 Jul;29(7):546-55. "Comparing pregnancy in adolescents and adults: obstetric outcomes"

J Reprod Med. 2007 Mar;52(3):194-8. "Risk-adjusted cesarean rates"

Rev Invest Clin. 2006 Sep-Oct;58(5):416-23. "Risk factors for birth injuries"

Also check out (Lancet 2000;356:1375-83) - a randomized, multicenter study that found that at 6 weeks postpartum, vaginally born babies had a mortality rate of 5% compared with 1.6% for c-section babies. Maternal outcomes were the same.

Posted by: StudentMom | August 1, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

but can't you just accept your blessing and go on with your life?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 1, 2007 11:15 AM

You gotta start the guilt tripping and perfectionism EARLY!!! If you don't get going right at the gate, you'll never catch up to the other neurotic mothers!


Posted by: Liz D | August 1, 2007 01:18 PM

You're right, I'll never catch up! But my kids might beat the cr*p out of their honor students on the GMATs some day. :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 1, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Studentmom, your quotation of the Lancent article: infant mortality of 5% and 1.6%? That would put us on par with sub-saharan Africa! We don't have infant mortality that high. Can you imagine if 5 out of every 100 babies in this country died?

Why is there such vitrol about this? I had my son 9 months ago in a free-standing birth center with a midwife. It was truly a wonderful experience, and my son and I are healthy. I have dear friends who had their babies in hospitals and are well and thriving. Do your research, make your choice, and if it was the wrong choice this time, make another choice if you have another baby.

For low-risk pregnancies the birth outcomes are statistically the same for all methods of US birth (excluding freebirth, I imagine, which probably isn't studied)because birth outcome has the most to do with prenatal care, not birthing method. So chose what makes you feel safe and comfortable.

Posted by: Mommabean | August 1, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX

"You're right, I'll never catch up! But my kids might beat the cr*p out of their honor students on the GMATs some day. :)"

A lofty goal indeed!

More Natural Selection...


You can't make this stuff up!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Chicago, thanks for finally bringing up the mother's comment about the two children she delivered at home. I am not into free birthing at all, but what really disturbed me about yesterday's article was the mother's comment about how she felt somehow "closer" to those two kids. To me, that was just incredibly sad.

The free birthing mother also does not believe in vaccinations - a whole other conversation. Puts her own and other kids at risk.

Posted by: telecommutingmom | August 1, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

"I am not into free birthing at all, but what really disturbed me about yesterday's article was the mother's comment about how she felt somehow "closer" to those two kids"

Who cares what trashy mothers think?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

It is sort of funny to me as I get ready to type this comment to quickly scan the user review rules...personal attacks or inappropriate comments will be removed from the site.


So about half of the comments here have been personal attacks against freebirthers, does that mean that they will all be erased? Or is bigotry against homebirthing moms the new fashionable form of judgement.

In the comment section to the article I tried to explain some of the reasons that women choose freebirth.

Lynn Griesemer has been attacked multiple times in this section. I can't think of a more loving, educated, proactive, and kind person in my personal sphere of friends. And some of you people have the audacity to call her names, denigrate her choice, and stereotype and falsely accuse her of being a Trashy Mother?

This is absolutely maddening and galling to the extreme. We homebirthers don't give a rodents behind what people like you think of us, but I am not going to sit her for one more second and let this beautiful mother be publicly flayed.

Stacie, as the author of this blog, I am calling on you to delete all of the personal attacks against Lynn Griesmer in particular and freebirthers collectively.

And if any mods from WaPo are reading, please do the same in that comment section.

It is impossible to have a reasonable conversation about birth politics and choices when personal attacks are allowed to stand without being challenged or purged.

Jenny Hatch

Posted by: Jenny Hatch | August 1, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

For crying out loud. Go to the damn hospital and spit out the baby. What's all the fuss about?

Posted by: Joan | August 1, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

The privileged, elitist parents are the ones who fret over the moment and how the birth will happen. Why? Because they are control freaks who feel the need to separate themselves from everyone else.

Posted by: YouStrawberry23 | August 1, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I'll just say what I tell folks who give me dirty looks when I go sky-diving with my 4 month old strapped to my chest:

"I know what I'm doing. Besides, it's my baby, so I can do whatever I want with it!"

Posted by: ibc | August 1, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I had an emergency c/s in '92 followed by infection in the incision, and a hospital VBAC with pitocin and epidural in '97. I think I get it why any mother-to-be would make whatever choices she makes for her birth. She needs to feel that she and her baby are safe.

If I were somehow to become pregnant again (I'm not officially menopausal quite yet) I'd probably opt for a homebirth with a midwife, but do all my prenatals through my health plan, so if anything went wrong during the homebirth, the hospital back-up would be available.

Reasons for the c/s - toxemia, and the baby's heart rate was dropping to the 30s or 40s during contractions due to placental abruption which wasn't identified until after the delivery.

The hospital VBAC wasn't too bad, but I've learned a lot more about antibiotic resistent diseases spread by hospitals, and quite simply put, hospital interventions can increase risks of complications.

Choosing a home birth means not being exposed to lots of unhealthy people in a hospital. Anything at home, mom and the rest of the family already have built up immunities to, so baby is protected too as long as s/he is nursing. Mommy's milk will have all the right antibodies.

I'm actually pretty amused by some of the suggestions that "strong self-confident woman" wouldn't get pushed around by hospital staff, who will follow standards of care, even though sometimes those standards are outdated and unhelpful. I'm one of brashest, most in-your-face, stand-up-for-myself person I've ever met, and I was totally and completely suggestable while laboring. Thank goodness I didn't hear the resident who commented that I was "never going to have a VBAC". I'd have believed her and given up.

There are most certainly differences for the mother and baby depending on the way the birth went. C/s deliveries have something like 4 times (sorry, all my stats were from International Cesarian Awareness Network, 10 years ago and may be out of date now) the rate of post-partum depression. I went through that, and it had consequences for my health and my relationships with my baby and my husband.

With the VBAC, three days after the birth, my older kid had his 5th birthday, and I and the new baby were at the party having a good time. Three days after the c/s on the way home from the hospital, hubby had to stop at the grocery store for dinner, and I was wiped out and almost in tears just from leaning on the shopping cart and stumbling through the aisles.

Yes, a c/s can save a baby or a mom's life, but some things done routinely during hospital births can make a c/s more likely - like pitocin and epidurals - (again, 10-y-o ICAN stats), so anything a woman does to minimize her risk of a c/s - like not going to the hospital - is a good decision in my view.

Posted by: Sue | August 1, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Sue

"I'm one of brashest, most in-your-face, stand-up-for-myself person I've ever met, and I was totally and completely suggestable while laboring."

Darwinism takes it own......

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"This is absolutely maddening and galling to the extreme. We homebirthers don't give a rodents behind what people like you think of us, but I am not going to sit her for one more second and let this beautiful mother be publicly flayed"

Wait, I'm confused... So do you, or do you not give a rodent's behind what people think?

Oh, and incidentally, a "personal attack" is when someone attacks an individual. By definition, a general comment that homebirthers are endangering their children in order to indulge their own narcissism, or soothe some irrational grudge against "the medical-industrial complex" is not "personal." So please don't take it that way.

Posted by: ibc | August 1, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

The freebirthers are (at least in the Post and here) are making a false comparison - it's not hospital v. freebirth, but any form of assistance whatsoever v. freebirth. If you don't want to go to a hospital, fine, there's some merit to that, to not have any trained professionals present is just nuts. Even in the "good old days," there were midwives present!

Posted by: BLE | August 1, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

"This is absolutely maddening and galling to the extreme. We homebirthers don't give a rodents behind what people like you think of us, but I am not going to sit her for one more second and let this beautiful mother be publicly flayed"

Sounds like a Nursing Nazi....

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

"I am not into free birthing at all, but what really disturbed me about yesterday's article was the mother's comment about how she felt somehow "closer" to those two kids"


Exactly! I feel pretty bad for her other kids, who are apparently relegated to second-class status because it hadn't occurred to her yet to not have them in a hospital.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Sue said:
*************With the VBAC, three days after the birth, my older kid had his 5th birthday, and I and the new baby were at the party having a good time. Three days after the c/s on the way home from the hospital, hubby had to stop at the grocery store for dinner, and I was wiped out and almost in tears just from leaning on the shopping cart and stumbling through the aisles.************
Really? Your husband couldn't drop you off first and head out? He couldn't stop at the store on the way to the hospital? You couldn't sit in the car with the AC running? If it was your first kid, then you wouldn't have had anything other than that kid to worry about. It sounds like bad planning masquerading as a c-section complication.

I had a c-section, reluctantly, with my baby. My OB told me to take my time, but let me know that I likely would end up having a c-section, either that day or the next, because my labor was not progressing as it should. I opted not to wait. The cord was wrapped around her neck twice, she had ingested meconium, the placenta had started to degrade, and I started to hemorrhage. I had a very uncomplicated pregnancy - no gestational diabetes, no anemia, no excessive weight gain, no high blood pressure, no morning sickness, nothing. My husband (an MD) later told me that when he was in medical school on his obstetrics rotation, his attending lost a patient in a similar situation as me (she took 20 pints of blood, had a hysterectomy, and ended up dying). He is leery of my having a VBAC (I'm pregnant again) because he has seen uterine ruptures and is not inclined to let me have one. My daughter was in the NICU for a few hours. We had no feeding problems, no post-partum depression. I think it's a canard to attribute a whole host of issues to interventions. I'd rather have a c-section scar and a healthy baby than have some useless merit badge to prop up my self-esteem. There is nothing wrong with drug-free, drugged, vaginal, c-section births. If the objective is to get the kid out, and the kid emerges healthy, then the objective has been met. The only time I regretted my c-section decision was when I was one week post-partum and my girlfriend came over with her new convertible. I wanted to drive it, but I could not. I can honestly say that I go months without thinking about it.

Posted by: MamaDeux | August 1, 2007 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, MamaDeux, the grocery stop was poor planning. If only I could teach DH to plan better! (grin) The point of that little vignette was the contrast between that day, and the 3rd day after the VBAC birth. Having a good birth matters!

I'm not going to share details of my c/s here because there are pregnant women reading these posts. I was absolutely terrified that I'd need a c/s before the first birth, and my female coworkers, in a misguided effort to make me feel better, all told me their c/s stories. It only made me more upset and frightened. After my c/s turned out to be worse than any of the stories that were inflicted on me, I promised never to frighten another woman in that way.

And I'll admit there are worse stories than mine - the ones where a mother or baby was permanently damaged or died - but I've never heard a worse story than mine where both made it through okay.

Sometimes a c/s is necessary and lifesaving. That doesn't change it from a bad experience to a good one. It's still bad, but the alternative is worse, so I chose the bad to avoid the worst.

Thank the-deity-of-your-religious-path-if-you-have-one that c/s was available when we needed it. Me, I'm grateful that my 15-y-o is a healthy and happy teen today and not a stillbirth, but I'd still do *everything* possible to avoid needing another "slice-and-dice".

Nothing in birth is 100% safe. Even in a hospital, babies and mothers don't get perfect outcomes every time. So every mother gets to weigh the various options, risks and benefits, and make the choice that feels safest to her.

I wouldn't presume to second-guess someone else's choice, even when I have the studies, facts and statistics to argue that a different choice would be better. On the other hand, if I'm being asked for my views, I'll provide them and the data that supports them.

Posted by: Sue | August 1, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Sue, your non-sharing of your c-section experience does nothing to allay the fears of women who might be reading your post ...

And so, I will share MY c-section experience!! :)

I knew from the beginning of my pregnancy that I would need to have one due to my medical history. I wasn't looking forward to it - having had prior major abdominal surgery, I was prepared for the worst. However, it was pretty cool!

The room was COLD. VERY COLD lol. Probably for the equipment. I was half naked (but got to keep socks on!) and surrounded by at least 5 doctors: 2 OBs and 3 anesthesiologists. There were more nurses than I could count, and everyone kept asking if I felt ok. I got a spinal epidural - it did not hurt at all .. I just got slowly more and more numb. That was the one part I didn't like - that I couldn't move my legs! The surgery started, the doctors were surprisingly conversational, probably to allay any stress. My hubby took a ton of pictures, I could see nothing because of a curtain. The doctors told me that the "whoosh" sound would be the amniotic fluid being drained out, and the baby would be born shortly thereafter. Sure enough, I heard a whoosh, then two little squeaks, then my baby cried!! They held her up to me and whisked her to the other end of the room to be measured and checked out. She was about 15 feet away from me, I could see her just fine - she was so small though! The anesthesiologists left before my surgery was done, but they were replaced by several nurses, all of whom were really nice. One even helped me blow my nose lol! I was stitched up within about 10 minutes and wheeled to recovery. I couldn't hold my baby alone because it apparently wasn't safe with the spinal that I got, but my hubby helped me hold her.

I spent 3 days in the hospital total and was only on 600mg ibuprofen for the pain. They were willing to prescribe me something stronger but I didn't need it. The surgery was so easy!! This is gonna sound weird but the urinary catheter was one of the best parts - it was cool to just be waited on hand and foot and not have to get up to pee for 24 hours lol! I followed doctor's orders and took it easy for a couple of weeks - no driving, no lifting anything heavier than my baby, etc. I was lucky that my hubby and mom could take time off work to help me out.

In a weird way, I actually look forward to my next baby (hopefully!) and c-section. It was ... well ... cool :)

Posted by: StudentMom | August 1, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I know it has been easy for many of you posting here to dismiss those of us who give birth alone at home. But doesn't it make sense that if childbirth is a sexual experience, that ideally it should take place in the home....alone?

Or, perhaps some of you did not know that childbirth is inherently sexual?

I feel really sad for those of you who have had these horrifying cutting experiences while giving birth. I also had a c-section and understand that it is difficult to quantify what is experienced by the mother until she experiences something else....something much, much better.

Please, make the logical leap in your own head. If it is possible to give birth orgasmically and sexually, does it not make sense that the ideal place to give birth is privately, in the bedroom?

Laura Shanley has put together a fabulous little reference page on her web site:

http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com/sensual/orgasmic.html

Here is the text of it:

"My introduction to the concept that birth could be orgasmic came via my college roommate Kim. We were discussing painless birth (I had just read Childbirth without Fear) when Kim casually said, "You know, some women actually have orgasms as they're giving birth. My mom had one with me."

What?! Even as open minded as I thought I was, the concept was almost embarrassing. I imagined this "mother" lying in a hospital bed, having an orgasm in front of a bunch of strangers - and doctors, no less. Yet I was definitely intrigued. If conception feels good, why not childbirth?

In the years to come, I would read about this phenomenon again and again, and although in my own births I was never able to achieve it, I think that in time, it will become more commonplace. Little by little, our culture is ridding itself of the fear, shame, and guilt that keep many of us from experiencing sex - let alone birth - as orgasmic. Perhaps someday, if we can fully accept our sexual natures, more of us will be able to know the joy that the following women have known.


* * * * * * * * * *

"I had been told to expect a 'dogging pain,' but was unprepared for the sensation of sexual ecstasy, the voluptuous feeling of penetration....Crouched on my knees on the little afghan, I caught the infant who rushed from my vagina into the small world between my legs, in the midst of an extraordinary orgasm from the inside out."
-From They Don't Call it a Peak Experience for Nothing, by Ruth Claire(Mothering, Fall 1989)

"I feel the baby come down. The sensation is ecstatic. I had prepared somewhat for this being as painful as my last delivery had been. Yet this time the pulse of birth feels wonderful! I am building up to the birth climax after nine months of pleasurable foreplay. With one push the babe is in the canal. THE NEXT PUSH BRINGS HIM DOWN, DOWN INTO THAT SPACE JUST BEFORE ORGASM WHEN WE WOMEN KNOW HOW GOD MUST HAVE FELT CREATING THIS PLANET....HE COMES, AS DO I."
-From Prenatal Yoga and Natural Birth, by Jeannine Parvati Baker

"I had the most sought-after midwife in France - my competent and funny aunt Marie-Therese, whose radical idea it was that childbirth above all should feel sexy. I listened to nothing but gospel music during my pregnancy, a music quite new to me, and to France, and "It's a High Way to Heaven" ("...nothing can walk up there, but the pure in heart...") was playing on the stereo during the birth; the warmth of the singers' voices a perfect accompaniment to the lively fire in the fireplace. My vulva oiled and massaged to keep my hips open and my vagina fluid, I was orgasmic at the end. Petit Pierre practically slid into the world at the height of my amazement, smiling serenely even before he opened his eyes."
-From Possessing the Secret of Joy, a novel by Alice Walker

"Many mothers experience a burning or splitting sensation as the largest diameter of the baby's head passes through the birth outlet. Some actually experience orgasm."
-From Mind Over Labor, by Carl Jones, C.C.E.

"In 1968, I gave birth to Robert Kirkpatrick. I was prepared, conscious, and in charge. After 4 hours from the onset of labour, I experienced an orgasm when my baby emerged from my body."
-From "Ecstatic Birth: The conscious evolution of a possibility to a present reality," by Binnie A. Dansby; Paper delivered at Congress of the International Society for Pre- and Peri- Natal Psychology and Medicine, Jerusalem, 1989

"I happen to think that having babies is very sexy. The actual birth is so sensuous, very erotic. The feelings we've both had at the birth of each of our babies were so primal."
-Kate Capshaw Spielberg (a.k.a. Mrs. Steven Spielberg), McCall's, May 1999

"I started pushing while Michael supported me as I squatted. Immediately, after one vigorous push I felt Damian coming down. A tremendous excitement filled the kitchen and Michael and I seemed to merge as our eyes met. It was as if we had become one again as we did in a genital embrace. Yes, we were one. It was not just I who was having the baby. Michael was as well. The moment had become ecstatic. Sensations of every kind and color coursed through me. I was one, one with everything....And with that I shouted in sheer delight as I felt Damian coming....out he shot, into the safety of Michael's confident hands."
-From Happy Birth Days, by Marilyn Moran

"Biologically, you are designed to receive great pleasure from your body not only during lovemaking and intercourse, but in birth and breastfeeding, too....Birth offers sexual pleasure on a continuum from pleasant sensations (felt while your uterus rhythmically contracts in early labor if you're relaxed and feeling secure) to an intense birth climax (yes, just like an orgasm) as your baby slithers into the world of your waiting arms."
-From A Good Birth, A Safe Birth, by Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer

"This birth was not only painless, but very pleasurable. We had never read about this aspect, and it took us by surprise. As the baby crowned, I knew from Jean's look and sounds that she was having an explosive orgasm, which rolled on and on. What a long way from the pain and agony of conventional myth! Years later we asked a sympathetic doctor about this. 'Yes,' he said, 'I've seen it a few times. It may even be that many women have orgasms during birth, but interpret them as pain because the sensations are more intense than anything previously experienced and because women are conditioned to expect pain.'"
-From The Home School Challenge, by Donn Reed

"Giving birth is a highly creative act full of orgasmic feelings, and can be a moment of ecstatic pleasure for the mother."
-From "Mental First Aid in Pregnancy and Childbirth," by Joost A.M. Meerloo, M.D. (Child and Family, Fall 1966)

"Pleasure in birth may be the starting point for optimal family relationships. Our knowledge of reproduction suggests there may be a biological reason for connecting pleasure in birth with the best outcome for the baby."
-From "Psychological Factors in Birth and Breastfeeding," by Niles Newton, Ph.D.

"Pushing was absolutely incredible. It felt SO good. I loved the sensation of my daughter's head popping out; and her body coming out was incredible. I made roaring sounds. KT later asked me if I was in a lot of pain and I said I felt no pain at all. I was reaching down into the depths of my being - I felt like I was reaching back through time eternal, into the Great Mother herself - and using my power to push her out. The sounds were sounds of power. And I felt awesomely empowered. It was I could say the best feeling I have ever had. Primal force of life coursing through me. Power of Woman, Power of Birth, Power of Carolyn! If I can do that, I can do anything I set my mind to. The sensation of my daughter's body sliding out of my vagina was orgasmic. I still shudder when I think of how pleasurable that was."
-Caroline S.

"A woman in California was giving birth at home in a portable birth tub and feeling very sexy and loving with her partner. Each time she had a contraction she would cry out, 'Oh, baby, I love it. More...more!' Her windows were open because it was July, and soon a crowd gathered outside her home. When the baby was born amidst shouts of 'Yes!!! Yes!!! Oh, my God, yes!!!' her neighbors gave her a great round of applause. They only realized that it was a birth after they heard the cries of a baby."
-From Gentle Birth Choices, by Barbara Harper, R.N.

"It was the ultimate climax. I felt open, loose and free. Words cannot explain the feeling as my baby's body slithered out. To this day I can still sense that wonderful feeling inside. It makes me tingle."
-From "Unconditional Faith," by Allison Scimeca in the book Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love , by Lynn Griesemer

"Yet in a strange way the energy flowing through the body in childbirth, the pressure of contracting muscles, the downward movement of the baby and the fanning open of soft tissues, can be powerfully erotic....[Childbirth] can be the most intensely sexual feeling a woman ever experiences, as strong as orgasm, even more compelling than orgasm."
-From Women's Experience of Sex, by Sheila Kitzinger

"Birth is fundamentally a creative act, as is the act of sexual union....Indeed many women have described giving birth as intensely pleasurable and have discussed it in orgasmic terms....more and more women are enjoying labor and birth with their husbands just as they have enjoyed the sexual experience....Making love, orgasm and giving birth are all inter-connected."
-From Special Delivery, by Rahima Baldwin

"It was ecstatic, wonderful, thrilling. I heard myself moaning - in triumph, not in pain! There was no pain whatsoever, only a primitive and sexual elation....With the most spiraling, fascinating thrill of all, I felt my baby slither out. I wanted to shout with joy."
-From Natural Childbirth and the Christian Family, by Helen Wessel

"My first son was born by unexpected cesarian section. My second was a planned homebirth with a midwife assisting. He was posterior, so it was all back labor and he wouldn't turn. There was a great deal of pain, but in the last few minutes, as much pain as there was, it suddenly swung the other way to huge waves of pleasure as his body came out - an incredible RUSH like nothing I had ever felt before or since. I said to my midwife, Dhyana, 'Wow! What was that thing in the end!?' She said, 'That was The Gift. A lot of my ladies get that.' I held that baby and instantly loved him with my whole being. Maybe this is the way that nature had intended it to be for us. Now, looking back, the only thing I can think is that he went ramrod over my G-spot...all 9 pounds of him."
-From "The Gift," by Susan

"I asked my husband to make love to me as I was in a very romantic mood and wanted to feel him inside me urgently. It was a wonderful experience. I had a few orgasms during contractions - an absolutely delightful sensation. There was no pain at all....(since then) our lovemaking has gone from great to extraordinary."
-From "The Effect of Lovemaking on the Progress of Labor," by Marilyn Moran (Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, Spring 1993)

"Birth has much in common with orgasm; the hormone oxytocin is released, there are uterine contractions, nipple erection, and under the best circumstances for birth, an orgasmic feeling."
-From In Labor, by Barbara K. Rothman

"Birth is a dark, private, and secret opening up of our ancient sexual selves. Birth sensations, when we allow them to be, are actually highly sensual - much like the intense, luscious, squeezing contracting that happens during orgasms experienced in late pregnancy.... the sensations of giving birth are not fierce and violent; they are rapturous - we feel an ever-increasing pressure on our cervix as our body prepares for the sweetest, most intense of orgasms, the lovely culmination of our labors of love: birth. During birth, we pant, scream, and throw our head back - this is sensuality with a purpose: we are taking in extra oxygen, releasing adrenaline into our bloodstream, and widening our pelvic outlet. And when the baby comes out all slick and new, we are in ecstasy, enraptured by the most heightened hormonal load we will ever know."
-From Resexualizing Childbirth, by Leilah McCracken

"At about 3 AM, I got a real feeling that the baby needed to be born, and also a great surge of energy, the first I had felt. Then I made a very astounding discovery. I was able, through prayer, to get knowledge directly from God, that birth is a sexual event, and involves the same mechanisms that the beginnings involve. I was able to get my labor started again and I was in hard labor within 15 minutes. As long as I was alone and able to yield to the sexual joy of the birthing, I was able to experience wonderful orgasmic feelings and no pain at all."
-From Pat Goltz, in the newsletter, The New Nativity, edited by Marilyn Moran

"My body told me to squat, so I did. I hunkered down on two feet, concentrating, knowing without being told that millions of females before me had brought their babies into the world in this ordained position. It felt so deliciously comfortable to squat; I felt the baby move down. Come...COME... COMMMMME!

It was then I began to scream, but not with pain - with joy. With release. I felt an enormous all-body orgasm as I bore down, again, and again, and again, crying out with lust and happiness. The baby was coming, and so was I. I pushed an enormous last push with every fiber of my being; the head and shoulders appeared. By then I was sobbing. I reached under the baby's armpits and pulled out...a child. A living, breathing infant...born perfect. Perfectly beautiful. My daughter."
-From Awakening, by Jen Bradley

"I returned upstairs with some of Stella's dance tapes. Belly dancing to the music, I found that the contractions were much more bearable....Oddly enough, the more obscenely I thrust my pelvis back and forth, the less it hurt. I was amazed! Why hadn't I known that these movements were linked to the act of birthing, I wondered....Moments later, I discovered that all the pelvic thrusting I had been doing in my life - dancing to get a date, making love, and now, giving birth - was integrally connected. All that thrusting had gotten me pregnant, and all this thrusting would help bring a new life into the world. While the drums banged in my head, I was serene knowing that I had found the secret to life: the glorious pelvic thrust."
-From "The Glorious Pelvic Thrust," by Maria Young Alders (Mothering, Winter 1994)

"Birth is always intimate and sexual, although the intimacy and the sexuality can be masked. My own personal experience of the births of my children confirms this. My feelings throughout my wife's labors I can describe only as those of a very close, physical-emotional, sexual union with her and what I felt to be the transcendent force flowing through her. The sensation was warm and soft, like making love, but was also strong, forceful and awesome. Each time the experience changed my life and allowed me a glimpse of the transcendental."
-Lewis E. Mehl, M.D., quoted in "Psychophysiological Aspects of Childbirth," in The Psychology of Birth, by Leslie Feher


Thanks for considering another aspect of freebirth, something that you might have missed while you were writing posts calling us losers, child abusers, and trash, only focused on the "experience". Well call me selfish, but when I compare and contrast my private parts being cut up with knives juxtiposed with me giving birth joyfully and orgasmically in my own bedroom, that is sort of a no brainer for me.

But hey, to each his own...right?

Jenny Hatch
http://www.naturalfamilyblog.com/archives/cat_diy_homebirth_debate.html

Posted by: Jenny Hatch | August 2, 2007 12:05 AM | Report abuse

How a child is raised is more important than how a child is born. But birth is nonetheless important.

Both hospital births and home births have inherent advantages and risks. A woman has the right to decide how she wants to give birth.

Our daughter was born at home with a midewife. It was the best choice for us.

Posted by: Robert in Austin | August 2, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

"Sue, your non-sharing of your c-section experience does nothing to allay the fears of women who might be reading your post ...

And so, I will share MY c-section experience!! :)"

I'm glad that your experience was better than mine. I'm also glad that my sister's c/s, 6 months after mine, was also better. Nearly always, nearly every c/s story is a better one than mine was.

Please don't take that as some sort of badge, or bragging, or I dunno...

I choose not to share my story here because it could never allay anyone's fears, and would most likely increase fears. Sharing good c/s stories can be helpful, but mine wasn't good and isn't helpful.

Goddess! how I appreciated the women who shared their birth stories while I was preparing for my VBAC. Even the ones that ended with a repeat c/s were helpful in getting me out of reliving what I'd been through, and showing that a c/s didn't always have to be that terrible.

Posted by: sue | August 2, 2007 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Ah, how poignant and humorous it is to witness all the hand-wringing, shouts of alarm, and self-satisfied comments from those who advocate hospital birth.

In 100 years our antiquated and brutal "modern" birth delivery practices will have about the same appeal as leaching and cupping to cure diseases.

Old women will shudder to think that they went under the knife, took the IV and epidural stabs in the back just to have babies.

"Are they doctors?" he asked Ron quietly.

"Doctors?" said Ron, looking startled. "Those Muggle nutters that cut people up?"

Posted by: Rebecca Sharpe | August 3, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Several comments were made that I feel closer to my 2 unassisted birthed babies. I never said that, nor did my husband. The reporter quoted my husband (toward the end of the article) as saying "The closeness I feel to Michael and Millicent is different...As infants, they responded to me differently than the others." In Bob's experience, he felt that he could soothe and calm them more easily. He feels just as close to all of our children - it's just that with him catching our youngest two and fully participating - he felt a slightly deeper connection. Does that make sense?

I, in no way criticize any woman for making various choices about how she wants to birth her babies. Please reread the Washington Post article. Also, you must realize that reporters try their best to quote their subjects; sometimes make mistakes; and often have to consolidate comments to fit in a certain space. Not everything I said in the article was verbatim.

I invite you to read my book (Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love - in its 3rd printing and will be available in November). I invite you to listen to my inspirational CD (Your Body, Your Birth: Secrets for a Satisfying and Successful Birth). And I invite you to visit our website at www.unassistedhomebirth.com. If you spend time devouring these resources, you will discover my philosophies and approach to birth. Thank you! I wish you the best! - Lynn Griesemer

Posted by: Lynn Griesemer | August 4, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

EEEEEEWWWW, gag, yuck. Too much information, people.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 6, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

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