Sunday, September 21, 2008

Its really real

I have been preparing and planning for an unassisted birth since I realized how traumatized I was by my first child's birth. It was that trauma that also brought me to the awareness that medical attendants at a birth are not neccessary all of the time. When it came to unassisted birth, I think of it as something I'm going to do, but when not pregnant it like saying someday I'll hike Mt. Everest.

But now I'm pregnant. I found out yesterday. Which illicits from me a hushed "yay" because I'm happy, its what I wanted but now the prospect of an unassisted birth is real. Its really being planned. But, between not knowing I was pregnant and knowing now, honestly nothing is different. Other than the fact that before it was all hypothetical and now its real.

For so long now, I've thought about what will be different with this birth and how to prevent being coerced and bullied by others during labor and birth. But all that time, no concrete plans could be made. There were plans made for what to do once we learned about being pregnant, but none of those things could occur until that positive proof was there.

Of the things we have agreed on, this is what we now our course will be for this pregnancy:

1. A reduced prenatal schedule. Even though we plan the birth to be without a midwife in attendance, we plan to see a midwife for infrequent pregnancy visits. The average prenatal schedule in the United States is 14, if I recall correctly (from "Expecting Trouble" by Thomas Strong, MD). The fewest number of visits for European countries (with lower maternal and infant mortality rates) is 5 with many countries only scheduling 9 for pregnant women. I plan to follow a schedule more similar to Luxembourg than the United States. Now that I'm pregnant, I need to figure out when and how often they are occuring.

2. Routine 20 week ultrasound. My husband and I have agreed to the routine 20 week ultrasound which is the anatomy check for fetuses but is better known by parents as the time to find out the baby's gender. We went around on that issue but have determined that at or around the 20 week mark, we will have the anatomy ultrasound and find out the gender of the baby. If its a girl, she'll be named Carolyn Belle. If its a boy, he will be Joey (Joseph) David.

3. Private Childbirth Education Classes. My husband is supportive of the idea of having this next baby at home without a midwife present but he is still nervous at his ability to handle that situation. Because of that he has requested that he and I take childbirth education classes that address the specific preparations for an unassisted birth, especially detecting and handling abonormal situations and complications. The typical childbirth education class does not contain information detailed and accurate enough. Instead childbirth education classes are often orienations to hospital policy and how to cooperate with medical professionals. We have found a childbirth educator who will be preparing and teaching us those classes, starting after my husband finishes his qualifying exams as a PhD candidate and after my thesis is submitted.

4. Not disclosing an exact "Due Date." Because EDDs (Estimated Due Dates) are often treated more like deadlines for the birth of babies and in the age of a 40% induction rate taking place often just days after the 40 week deadline, we are only telling people that this child will likely be born between Mother's Day and Father's Day of 2009. We do that to prevent some of the well-meaning but annoying comments about going "overdue" or from having to disclose definite plans to people who are not likely to understand the rationale of our actions.

5. Praying and relying on the power of the priesthood and personal revelation. My husband's and my faith is such that we beleive that God will guide our decisions for what is best for this pregnancy. While I beleive that unassisted birth is the ideal birth for me, I also know that everyday situations that arise in pregnancy and birth may not be ideal. Based on the best of knowledge and understanding that we can gain from seeking out accurate information and education and the guidance of the Lord's Spirit, we believe that if it not right in our circumstance for an unassisted birth, then we will make alternate plans for more emergent situations and seeking out medical assistance.

6. Having a water pool available. Warm water pools in labor and birth are called the "natural epidural" for its ability to soothe and relax some of the intensity of labor. We plan to have one available. Nothing fancy here, just a $35 inflatable 22" in high kiddie pool with cartoon fish on the side. There's a clever device that can attach a garden hose to an indoor faucet that will bring warm water from the kitchen to the living room. And there's always heating large pots of water on the stove.

7. Practicing Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies. With Willem's birth, I prepared using Hypnobirthing. I found it to be very useful to coping with contractions and some hours of back labor. Since then I've learned about Hypnobabies and their greater selection of scripts for pregnancy and birth. I'll invest in some of those for this coming birth.

8. Being selective in who we tell about our plans. We hope that it will not become common knowledge for people to know we are planning an unassisted birth. They are also the people who are a) not likely to read this blog and b) are very indoctrinated with modern birthing practices to think that anything out of hospital is unsafe.

Beyond those plans, there are somethings we don't know or haven't decided yet.

One is what are we going to do with Willem while I'm laboring. I want him at home with me for nursing and cuddling and being present for the birth of his sibling, but my husband will need another support person who can help attend a toddler and a laboring woman. A doula comes to mind as a qualified person to do that, but I have continued fears about being negatively influenced by having another person present while I'm trying to birth. Since unassisted birthing is so far out of the norm in our society, I fear it would be difficult to find a doula supportive and encouraging of me and our plans.

I also don't know what I'm going to do about the early ultrasound. It is typically for a transvaginal ultrasound to be performed between 9 and 10 weeks gestation. This is when any differences in due dates from the last menstrual period might be detected. I had anticipated to refuse that ultrasound but there is some concern in my mind that my dates may be off. Conceivably, I could be a month further along than I think I am because possibly there was bleeding that I mistook to be a period. I will continue thinking on that one...

I need to figure out the prenatal visit schedule and figure out when I want to notify the midwife. Its a good thing there is time for that...


Rixa said...

I still don't feel like it's "real" yet, except of course for the wooziness and queasiness. I really don't know what my plans will be for this baby. I find myself wanting to have more options at my disposal rather than UC or the ER. But I also really don't want to compromise on having a more "managed" style birth with a midwife at home, just to have that backup available. So I don't know...I think I need to meet the local midwives and go from there. I've also been having more misgivings about UC because of some of the really anti-education, anti-midwife, anti-preparation attitudes I've seen coming out of the UC community lately. And it concerns me that there's this idea that "all you need to do is follow your intuition" that is starting to exclude things like preparation and gaining knowledge. I think that some of those concerns are playing into my personal feelings about doing it again. I just feel conflicted about some things and don't have a clear picture, yet, of what is right for this baby.

I think of everything on your list, #5 is the most essential.

~Aimee~ said...

Congratulations on your pregnancy. I hope all your plans come together smoothly as you embark and this new and exciting adventure. :-)

Katharine Graves said...

You've obviously thought very carefully about your pregnancy and birth, and it was extremely interesting to read your thoughts. Do practicing the hypnobirthing again that you learnt first time round. It really does pay off. I taught a 'refresher' course recently to a mother who was expecting her third baby. She did hypnobirthing for the first birth and it worked very well. She did no practice before the second birth because she reckoned she knew it all, and it wasn't so effective. So for number three she decided to do a 'top up', and has been practicing the techniques again.

Have a wonderful pregnancy and a beautiful baby.


Katharine Graves is a hypnobirthing teacher in London

TopHat said...


Abby said...

congratulations! you are going to do great with this birth.

Carrie said...

At my birth, though not unassisted, my doula was what I needed her to be, and that is what they train to do. If you just need her there to be a reassuring presence, let her know, and if she is a good doula, she will do that for you. I encourage you to get a doula, or at least a supportive friend there with you, if nothing else to give the hubby a "support break" occasionally and you some peace of mind. Congratulations on the wonderful person growing inside you!

Emily said...

Congrats! I'm new to your blog, but I wanted to throw in my support. I just had a UC in July. I used to have another blog "Diary of a Hippie" that got deleted accidentally :( but I have a new blog now, and I've reposted my birth story there. You're welcomed to read it:

I agree with what Rixa says about the current UC trend toward anti-education/preparation. I did TONS of research. I also went in for the 20-week u/s, but continued the rest of my pregnancy unassisted. I had two friends at my birth, specifically to provide support for my husband LOL. I am also LDS.

I was extremely happy with my UC. If you have any questions about my experience, I'd be happy to share them. Congratulations again and good luck!

Emily J

Susana said...

Congrats Jenne!

I know how you feel about it not being "real." I can empathize. I also understand the "I have wanted a UC, now I am pregnant, do I really want a UC?!?!"

For me I truly have always wanted a UC, with every baby and I always will, but that doesn't take away the realities of birth, the fear, the possibilities. We all have to go through the wilderness, that trying time of searching for answers.

Remember that you should go with your feelings, not with what others would have you do, no matter which side of the fence they are coming from.

My children and I will keep you in our prayers. May you be blessed with the ability to let go, be strong, focus, reach, have patience, know, grow, accept,release, conquer. May you birth in joy, peace, power, safety, and health.

I love you Jenne! Your spirit is strong and giving and wise. May you go in peace.


P.S I finally was able to express some thoughts that I had tried to share with you over the phone. I am so much better with words on paper (or typed) than orally!

Yes, I am sure Willem is attached! Maybe you should just ask to be called to the nursery???

Susana said...

Let me clarify what I meant about wanting "a UC with all of my babies."

I am not referring to the first two, when I didn't even realize that I could birth out of the hospital. I mean with the last 5.

I DID end up having UC's, and my heart wanted a UC with each one, but each time I there were periods when I was unsure and I had to wrestle with doubts.

I think this is natural and part of opposition in all things and also God's way of motivating us to do our best.