During labor and post delivery care, we often leave critical medical decisions up to the medical staff for mom and/or baby. After my 8th hospital birth and over a period of 10 years, I realized that hospital protocol and birthing policy (medical decisions) kept changing, in the name of ‘it’s in the mother’s and baby’s best interest’. My wishes as the mother were very often overridden, without good cause. After having 2 botched epidurals, internal fetal monitors routinely used on 2 of my unborn babies without my consent, etc. I finally decided it was time for me, as my child’s mother, to decide what was in my and my baby’s best interest. I had heard it said several years earlier, “Hospitals are for the sick and dying, not necessarily for something that comes so naturally.”
I was quite apprehensive about birthing at home but knew I was not willing to go the traditional route unless an emergency arose, so I researched everything I possibly could and finally had enough confidence to proceed with a home birth. There, I found I had the complete freedom to decide where to have my baby, what birth plan and which birth method to use, free speech to state what I didn’t want and much more.
When I first met Linda, I was expecting my 9th child and was 7 weeks from delivery. I had never heard of a thing called ‘a birth plan’ before and also thought there was only 1 labor and delivery position that worked. She expressed a desire to completely understand my wishes for labor/delivery as well as give me other options so she could accommodate me. Her wishes seemed to be what my wishes were!
She also suggested a water birth. Frankly, the red flags came up at the thought of the idea. “I’m not a hippy,” I thought, but since learning the benefits of herbs vs. meds. and home births vs. hospital births, I decided to look into this thing called a ‘water birth’.
My hard labor finally kicked in and lasted about 3 hours. During this time, I labored in the warm soothing water. It’s much like soaking in warm water to soothe aching muscles after a hard day’s work. Since there is no gravity when in water, the intense contractions eased a bit. I had 3 midwives working with me, coaching, breathing, nurturing, whatever it took to make me more comfortable.
During post-partum care, I was asked how I felt about the whole home birth/labor experience. I asked Linda, “What was so different about this labor?” She stated, “in the hospital, they give you drugs. We don’t have drugs so we do other things like, stay with you the whole time and rub your feet or back, hold your hand, wipe your brow, talk soothingly to you. etc. Women naturally respond to nurturing.” That was it! Midwives respond to the deepest need in a laboring mom. Doctors give drugs, Midwives nurture.
One concern I always had previous to my home birth decision was: Would a midwife know what to do in case of an emergency? My 4th child, born in the hospital, was not interested in breathing right away. A few minutes after birth, he was whisked away to NICU for observations where they stuck an IV in his head and he stayed there for 1-1/2 days. The only time I held him was to nurse him. We missed out on a lot of bonding. My 10th child, born at home, was not breathing right away either, in fact, he was quite ‘blue’. Linda was very professional in handling the situation. Calmly, she gave my newborn son whiffs of oxygen and continued to keep him warm. Within a few minutes, he was breathing on his own and was holding his temperature. He began nursing at about 45 minutes old. No NICU, no IV and much bonding! I knew we could always be transported to the hospital if needed, but Linda showed me with her skill that it is not always necessary.
My husband and I by law, are given the right to decide what care is best for me (the mother), and our baby. We should get professional opinions, but as parents, it’s important that we exercise our right to make the final decisions regarding our baby’s health care as well as my own care. Sadly spoken, I had to remind myself each time that ‘the hospital staff works for me, I do not work for them.’ During my hospital stays, I felt the reverse was expected.
If I had known what I know now, having full confidence in my midwife’s capability, I certainly would have chosen home birth with my older children. For me it’s the only way to go!