1. The decision to deliver with a midwife
What exactly is a midwife? In our society its not common to hear much about midwives and many people don’t know anything about them. Or worse, they have major misconceptions of what they are about. We didn’t know anything either, honestly, until we were referred by trusted friends.
Midwifery is way more popular and mainstream in England and other countries than it is here in the United States. A midwife cares for a woman during pregnancy and labor in a way that facilitates a healthy, natural birth experience with minimized interventions. Healthy and happy mom and baby are the priority.
We actually began our pregnancy seeing a midwife named Bethany Monte who we loved, but she was unavailable during the month of January to deliver our baby, so we chose to deliver with a certified nurse midwife in the same practice named Lin Lee. She was amazing! The name of the practice is Bay Area Maternity and Women’s Health. They are still working on their webpage but here is some contact info: http://www.lucinamaternity.net/contact.html
I will simply describe what we experienced with our midwife. I’m not an expert and don’t know much, but what I do know I feel pretty motivated to share! She was caring and knowledgeable and confident that she could help me deliver naturally. Throughout pregnancy and labor, she was quick to tell me what is normal and not push me towards medicines or interventions. She did not have an agenda to make money or to get the baby out quickly so she could get home for dinner. You hear horror stories of unnecessary C-sections in hospitals because doctors want to make it to their son’s baseball game or something.
I actually saw Lin yesterday for my 3 week appointment. She teared up when we talked about my labor and said she’s told the story several times to folks. I asked her how many babies she has delivered and she said in 1989 she had estimated about 3000, but that she’s lost count now! I asked her how many episiotomies they do typically in their practice, and she said like 5 a year! Can you believe that?! I asked her how many C-sections they end up performing in her practice. She said 6-10 percent, and that includes breach babies that won’t turn. C-sections are not the end of the world of course, but if you want to deliver naturally and avoid a C-section, statistically speaking you are so much more likely to experience the birth you want if you deliver with a midwife. The C-section rate in the U.S. depends on the hospital but is usually somewhere around 30-40 percent of births, with some hospitals higher than that.
I would venture to say after our birth experience with Lin that this type of care is what all women want but they either just don’t know about it or have misconceptions about midwives. I know that’s a bold statement 🙂
2. The decision to hire a doula
Doula is a greek word that means slave or servant. Practically a doula provides non-medical personal support and encouragement for women in labor. She’s like a birth companion. A cornerstone that never leaves your side. Our doula even came to our house and helped us know when it was time to go to the hospital. She is available around the clock for questions leading up to and during labor (also for a time after the baby is born). She helped us develop our birth plan to bring with us to the hospital so the nurses could see what we wanted (huge!).
We interviewed Tara in my first trimester, and signed a contract with her at about 25 weeks. We paid a small fee and her services included 2 prenatal appointments, support for the entire labor and delivery process, and one postnatal appointment. It was so worth it! Especially for a green couple like us having our first baby!
In the prenatal appointments Tara answered our questions about EVERYTHING under the sun, and it was so nice to have access to someone knowledgeable and experienced. She provided information on how to prepare well, what to expect in labor, and how we can work together as a couple.
During labor Tara was able to help me find positions to rest in the beginning and to make the contractions more effective throughout. She provided emotional support and was a huge help to my husband David as well both leading up to labor and during. My labor was so long that there were times David needed to go eat, or step out for a breather. She was there with me. She didn’t take over David’s role but encouraged him in leading me through the process. I would absolutely recommend Tara to anyone! Here is a picture of her with Ella at our postnatal appointment.
3. The decision to deliver naturally
I started out my pregnancy not really having a strong opinion about whether I wanted to deliver naturally or not. I knew I didn’t want a C-section but regarding the epidural I did not have strong feelings. I didn’t believe I had anything to prove so it wasn’t really a big deal to me. But the more we learned and researched, the more we realized how an epidural effects mother and baby in the labor and delivery (and post delivery) process. How it works against natural hormones in the body, and it interferes with how God designed a woman’s body to work. Sometimes its unavoidable, and sometimes people get it because they are pressured to or aren’t prepared for labor. Many of my friends have delivered this way and things worked out fine. I’m simply sharing my thought process and our experience.
In order to feel how and when to push, I learned that I needed to feel! I wanted my body to be able to discern what it needed to do and when. Many women who have had epidurals say they couldn’t tell when a contraction was coming so they weren’t able to work with it to push the baby out.
I don’t want this to be a bash the pain meds blog, because like I said, many people do it and love it. And I am not the best one to describe what an epidural does because I didn’t have one! But I do know that when Ella came out, she was so alert she could look me and David in the eyes and even could hold her head up. Check out this picture taken in the first few minutes after birth. She was locking eyes with her daddy and listening to him tell her how beautiful she was.
And as far as my physical recovery in the moments after labor, I was thinking “just hand me my baby and let me eat lunch” ha. I had Ella in one hand and an apple in the other. After they stitched me up from the episiotomy I was able to walk to the bathroom, and other than being completely exhausted I felt like myself. Recovery was rough primarily because of the episiotomy (4th is the most severe and mine was a 3rd degree). The last thing I needed was an epidural hangover.
I will say however, that I knew I needed to be flexible. I knew that because of the length of my labor things might not go like I had envisioned. If Lin told me I needed an epidural for some reason, I would have listened. Simply because I knew she knew I didn’t want pain meds and she didn’t want to have to give me them!
4. The decision to create a written birth plan
This decision came largely because of our doula, who I have mentioned above. She helped us create a birth plan that reflected what we envisioned for our labor and delivery. I had never thought about doing this before, but it makes so much sense. You arrive at the hospital and there are all these nurses and others who don’t know you from Adam and if you are in labor you’re probably not in the frame of mind to articulate your preferences. So we had our birth plan at the hospital for the nurses to read. Click here to view it: Hibiske Birth Plan PDF. Big thank you to Tara for helping us with our language and content!