Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Birth, A Journey, Part Two

Here are the second two birth stories from the same mama we heard from yesterday.  Isn't it beautiful and amazing how important our birth choices are to an outcome that is both happy and healthy?

Enjoy-

Birth story #3 - Homebirth

When I learned I was expecting again, the memories of my previous birth experience were still fresh. I didn't want another circus for my birth experience! I decided that if I had another quick birth, I would rather have my baby at home rather than a roadside birth attended by semi-trained EMTs.

I made the best decision and sought the care of a midwife who would attend a homebirth. Because of my previous experiences of pre-term labor, my midwife was a little reluctant to take me on as a client and made sure that I understood that if I had pre-term labor before 36 weeks, I would have to go to a hospital. She interviewed me extensively and we both agreed that the stress and my nutrition had been major contributing factors to my pre-term labor.

What I discovered with my prenatal care in this case was that when I had someone show genuine interest in my health, I was more likely to take care of myself as I knew I should. It was more than peeing into a cup every month - she visited my home and met my children and had an understanding of what my life was truly like. She made sure to ask specific questions about my diet and exercise, which was a novelty. My previous OB had never asked about my nutrition, and no one had ever talked about dietary supplements to augment my prenatal vitamins.

My midwife spent an hour with me at every visit. It was such a HUGE difference in prenatal care! Emphasis on the work CARE! She made sure that I stayed hydrated and encouraged me to take care of myself and the importance of quitting work at 32 weeks instead of focusing on the loss of income. I ordered my birth kit and had everything ready for a calm, serene home birth. I carried my baby girl until 38 weeks, when I went into labor at about midnight. The first contractions were mild, and about 10 minutes apart. By the time I detected a pattern and had called the midwife, I was starting to get really intense contractions. All the careful planning for music and relaxation went out the window as I delivered my baby about 3 minutes after the midwife arrived! Again, my water did not break until the contraction right before the baby emerged.

I had labored unassisted (my DH had been getting the kids together to go to Grandma's house) for an intense hour. It was comforting to have the midwife's arrival, as well as that of her assistant. The hours after the birth were such a different kind of experience than my hospital birth! I got to hold my baby right away and nurse her immediately. I got to eat a healthy meal prepared in my own kitchen and enjoyed the convenience and comfort of being in my own home. I learned that again, I could labor on my own without medical intervention.

My prenatal care was superior to any I had received with a physician or physician's group - I had a 7 lb. 14 oz girl, beautifully healthy. Instead of prenatal care that consisted of hours spent in a waiting room, only to be seen by an OB for 10-15 minutes, I had personalized care with an emphasis on me and the health of the baby. I also think it is important to note that midwives will usually only accept clients who are in great health with no diagnosed health risks. It made sense for me to choose a homebirth because of the shortness of my previous labor.

Birth story #4 - Homebirth


While I had had a wonderful homebirth experience with baby #3, there were some drawbacks. In my state, it is illegal for a midwife to attend a homebirth because she would be labeled as practicing medicine without a license. I had to get my lab work and ultrasound on my own, and I frequently was questioned about why I wasn't having these things done at my OB's office. A lot of people were negative about the prospect of homebirth, so I eventually ended up feeling like a criminal. For this pregnancy, I decided to try an OB again.

I called around to find out the mindset of different OB groups, and found a doctor who seemed pretty open-minded. She made it clear that she didn't agree with homebirths, but seemed to want to work with me and took the time to listen to my concerns. I felt very comfortable with her, and got my initial blood work done so she would feel comfortable with me. I made it clear that I didn't want any prenatal testing other than one ultrasound. She was OK with that as long as I understood the "risk". I had also mentioned that I was interested in possibly being induced at around 37 weeks so that I could avoid another fast delivery, possibly in the grocery store or on the side of the road. She also agreed to that.

However, things started to unravel after that. At my 26 week check-up, I again declined the glucose test. The OB got really defensive and said that I should have it done. When I pointed out that we had already had the discussion earlier and that she had OK'd it, she actually said, "Oh, I was just kidding"! Then I asked about being induced, and she told me that she wouldn't do an induction before 39 weeks. (That is great, I don't really think inductions are a great idea. I was just super-paranoid about having a really rapid birth in a public situation)

The point was, we had already discussed this and she again had changed her story. I was losing trust in her. Also, during two of my appointments, she had to leave to deliver babies. "But that's OK, I'll be back in 10 minutes". It just showed me that the women and the nursing staff were the ones who do the hard work, and the OB just shows up to catch the baby and then disappears again! Also, during one of my appointments, I was having a heart-to-heart with her about my fears, and her nurse popped her head into the room and said, "Oh, I didn't know you were with a patient. You have a call, but I'll tell them you'll call them back." The OB said, "That's OK, I'll be right there" and basically ended our conversation like that. So much for personalized care!

So I requested a copy of my medical records and contacted a midwife to assist in a homebirth. To top it all off, I was going through my medical records and saw that the OB had requested a genetic test (that I had had done with my first pregnancy) that cost me $800 when she knew that I didn't want any unnecessary tests!

It was such a relief to switch over to midwife care. My midwife came to my home, saw that I had three children and knew that I was a little stressed out on that level. She spent hours with me and recommended dietary changes to avoid any pre-term labor. We talked about food, exercise, and supplements and she knew if I was committed to taking care of myself. It was so nice, and I think that a majority of women in America who only see a conventional OB have no idea on the standard of care that they are missing out on!

On to the birth:  I was 37 weeks exactly and went into labor early in the morning. The midwife lived 45 minutes away. By the time she arrived, I was almost completely dilated. I wanted to push, but she held me off. She was a total support. After about ten minutes, I delivered my third beautiful daughter. I remember just seeing her look clearly up at me and I felt the peace of having her in our home. Within minutes, she was snug with me in my bed, with family around. Again, no beeping monitors, no shift change bringing strangers into my room. It was without drama and very peaceful. She weighed a healthy 7 lbs. 2 oz. and was 19 1/2 inches.

I was disappointed with the medical community again, however, when I went to take my 3-day-old newborn to a new pediatrician in our town. She sent her nurses out to the waiting room to tell me that she would not take us as patients because my newborn did not have medical records! I said, "well, that's why we're here" but that was not acceptable to her. They kept repeating, "How do we know she's healthy?", to which I responded, "You're the doctor! You tell me!" It was just crazy. My family doctor examined the baby and declared her "perfect", which, of course, we already knew.

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