Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Preparing for a Natural Childbirth, Part 1

I have two children and both of them were born naturally in a hospital setting. By naturally I mean vaginally and without the use of drugs. The experience of giving birth was amazing. It was intense, empowering and at the end triumphant. I enjoy giving birth more than I enjoy pregnancy. Call me weird, but I think I'm a birth junkie. I just love it. God created the woman's body with amazing inner strength. In birth, God is calling forth the strength of a mother, to persevere to the end, to sacrifice greatly and to lay down one's own life (not usually in death but in the sense of not owning your life anymore) for another - your precious child.
One of my core "mantras" (a phrase I say over and over to myself) when I'm preparing for birth is "God created my body to give birth to this child and I can do it."

I have so many thoughts on childbirth, I hardly know where to start. Forgive me if this seems disjointed and random. What you're reading is the rough draft of a future book, hopefully.

If I could summarize in a few sentences what I believe about birth this might be it:

1. God created the woman's body to give birth, equipping her with natural pain killers and inner strength to overcome the obstacles in the process in order to give birth to live and healthy babies. Most women have the potential within them to give birth naturally without the use of drugs or medical interventions.

2. Fear is the primary cause of pain and loss of contral within the process of preparing for and giving birth. Most women in America have a lack of confidance in themselves and their ability to give birth. They have many fears about birth and they do not properly process those fears beforehand.

3. If you work through your fears as you prepare for birth by facing those fears head on, spending time in prayer and research, seeking out the answers God has for you - you will find yourself gaining confidence and overcoming those fears. You will then be able to go into the labor experience confident and joyful.

4. This does not mean you will labor without pain, just that you will labor without fear or at least less fear :)
Your focus may be less on the pain and more on your baby. During my second labor experience, during intense contractions I found myself wanting to soothe my baby, holding my belly and whispering, "shhh, shhh, shhh, shhh, shh, It's okey, it will be over soon and you're going to come out and meet your mommy." Childbirth pain that isn't shrouded in fear is much more manageable. You feel like you can go through it - it's a joyful pain because the reward is great.

5. Fear greatly increases the pain of childbirth and retards the process. The just like you can't poop easily when you are all stressed out and in fear, you can't give birth easily when you're stressed out and in fear. The sphincter muscles that control your anus and your vagina work by the same principles.

6. You need to even overcome your fear of not being able to give birth naturally. Accept that God will be with you, leading you to make the right decisions as you prepare for giving birth and as you actually go through labor and delivery. It may be that having an epidural is the right decision or even a c-section. C-sections save lives sometimes. An epidural can give an exhausted laboring woman the chance to sleep and recover strength. But keep in mind, in most cases, neither is necessary and both are implemented for too often and encouraged by doctors and nurses for many faulty reasons.

7. Generally speaking, doctors are afraid of being sued. As a result, they push laboring women into unnecessary medical interventions in order to cover their own butts.

8. It is easier for doctors and nurses to maintain control of the labor process when women have surrendered their control of the process and accepted epidurals. An epidural paralizes you. You are no longer a mighty lioness giving birth, in the birthing zone. Women experiencing the natural process of birth, who have entered the "birthing zone" don't care much for external control or limits placed on them by people in authority. A birthing woman is a powerful woman.

9. It is tremendously important to have a doctor or midwife who truly does support your decision to have a natural birth (not just in words but in practice - she should have many patients who successfully give birth naturally). Your caregiver should be willing to take time with you to answer questions and listen to your requests. There are lots and lots of questions you should ask - these will be coming up in a future post. The more you understand what your doctor considers protocal, the more prepared you will be for your actual birth experience.

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