Friday, February 1, 2013

Home Birth

So, I want to talk a bit about home birth. That's my current plan of attack/transformative milestone/shot in the dark approach to delivering my baby.

I think that it's important to put this into context. Home birth is not something the average first-time mother chooses. Most home birthers tend to be second-time moms who had a poor experience at the hospital and wanted to explore another option. Generally, there is an element of apprehension involved in doing something this intense for the first time and the "just in case something goes wrong" reasons ultimately guide a new mother to the hospital.

So why not me? Because I have come to believe over time that if I want to be safe and maintain my bodily autonomy, I need to stay out of the hospital.

It may have been the time I needed a vaginal ultrasound and the male technician, after his exam of me, ignored my discomfort and the female supervisors requests for him to stop, and continued to penetrate me against my will.

Or perhaps the time when I went to the hospital prior to my IBS diagnosis (And access to a family doctor) and the doctor insisted I be anally examined and did not allow me to say no. It happened against my will and I went into a panic. I hyperventilated and even once I caught my breath, I could not stop the tears for 30 minutes. It was very disconcerting to sit calmly in a hospital bed crying without actually crying.

My doctor berating me because I can't treat a pap smear like a handshake hasn't helped. Being given shots without any discussion about my right to refuse or the side effects (Laying me up for two weeks with pain and lethargy) lessened my faith in the medical establishment.

Overall, when I'm in the hospital, I feel as though I'm treated like a thing, a project, a subject. Not a person, not someone with feelings and hang-ups and needs.

I'm bypassing all of it.

If my health were in jeopardy or the baby was found to have problems or there were any indicators of risk, I'd resign myself to the hospital and work with it the best I could. I'm a little over five minutes from the hospital as it is, so there's easy opportunity for me to get there should I need to.

As it is, I have two midwives, one for me, and one for the baby, who are trained to understand normal birth and distinguish between normal labours and pathological issues. I have a doula, who will act as a support person for all us while I labour and birth. I've rented a birthing tub to have as an option if I want it. And importantly, I'm not afraid.

When you've had kidney stones, appendicitis, and live with IBS, you come to understand the nature of abdominal pain. It bothers you, yes. It's upsetting, sure. You sometimes cry or pant or moan. But you learn how to cope and the thought of future episodes doesn't worry you because you know you're able to handle it.

With this birth, it's not going to be a pathological pain. It'll be bringing me what I want. It'll be the baby and I working in tandem to meet each other. I'll know why it's all happening. I'll be supervised by medical professionals and an experienced wise woman and my husband. I can meet the intensity. I have faith in myself. I'm going to be in the driver's seat of this experience, and that will benefit me. And what benefits me will benefit the baby.

I'll rent a birth tub.

Avoiding the hospital and staying in my cozy home, on my own turf, gives me confidence and a sense of calm about the birth. No IV to distract my attention or have to cart around with me. No fetal monitoring to restrict my movement or make a machine the centre of the room. No pitocin or epidural to alter the course of my labour and potentially cause problems. No unfamiliar nurses entering my space and wanting to insert their fingers into my vagina. No one clocking my labour and planning a C-section for me if I take too long. No labouring and birthing on my back.

Again, if I develop an issue, I give myself up to the medical institution and I'll put myself at their mercy to handle the problem. That's the beauty of modern medicine. It can handle ailments and illnesses that previously could have meant death. But birth itself is not inherently a problem. I don't see my current state as something that needs fixing, managing or direction. Just support. No pre-emptive procedures. I don't want to be around anyone who doesn't think I can do this. I don't want to have people around me who don't have faith in me. I'm a woman. I was built to do this.

If other women want to opt out of the full bodily throes of labour, I salute them for knowing themselves and wish them well. Do what you got to do. Be comfortable with your choices and caregiver and place of birth and go for it. I've often seen birthing without medication described as "having something to prove" or "being naive". For me, it's about being in touch with who I am as a person.


sarah said...


(and for me, it was 'get him out safely but GIMME ALL THE DRUGS!)

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