My thoughts on childbirthJanuary 21, 2012
So I haven’t posted on here in about a million years. That is the joys of having a full time job and a 1-year old, then 2-year old, and now 3-year old! But I have now been on maternity leave for a month, with baby #2 (a boy) due on January 24th. With his impending birth – any day, hour, minute now, I find myself thinking about the act of childbirth a lot.
With Penny, the maternity clinic I was being seen at was a low-risk obstetrics unit. There were 9 doctors there and you would see any one of them for your appointments, because you didn’t know who was going to be on call when you went into labour. They were all great doctors, to the best of my memory. But they just sort of rushed you through your appointments and made it a routine instead of personalizing it. Anyway, I ended up at a different hospital and not dealing with anyone familiar from the maternity clinic so it didn’t matter. The clinic I am at this time is the same setup with 4 doctors. One is also on maternity leave, being due the same day as me (but with a significantly smaller stomach than me). I have only seen 2 of the doctors, including the one now on mat leave, so chances are I won’t know the doctor who delivers this baby. Even still, I have had much better feelings about this clinic and the ability to have this birth go the way I’d like it to.
First of all, I do NOT want a cesarean section unless it is to save one of our lives. A c-section is major surgery, with considerable recovery time, nevermind the risks of having any surgery at all. I know it happens to other women all the time, but how am I supposed to take care of an active 3-year old and a newborn with a huge gash in my stomach? How am I supposed to be as independent when I’m not allowed to drive for 6 weeks? These are limitations to my life that I’m not willing to impose simply because my birth isn’t quite progressing the way the doctor would like. With Penny, the doctor threatened a c-section at the end because I was ‘getting tired.’ But honestly, when I look back at the birth now, there were a number of factors that contributed to ‘nothing happening’ and none of them were about me being tired. I had an epidural, which completely masked the contractions. I had no concept of when to push, except for the nurse telling me. And because I couldn’t feel anything from the waist down, I had no idea how hard I was pushing. Now it feels like I was barely pushing at all and I could have made much more of an effort. We also figured out just before Penny was born that my contractions would get stronger/longer if I laid on my side. As soon as I realized that, more then 24 hours before, I should have purposely laid on my side to get the birth moving. But in my fear of the pain, I would immediately move to my back again, effectively stalling the contractions.
Pain management is not an issue for me. I’ll go as long as I can without intervening pain management, because it allows me to respond more accurately to my own body’s needs. I can do morphine. I can do laughing gas, although last time I would almost pass out from using it and would have to switch to oxygen really quickly. And I won’t say no to an epidural, but this time I’d prefer a walking epidural if I need one at all.
What I have been thinking about the last few days is my desire to not be induced. I didn’t want to be induced with Penny, but was told that as soon as I declined being induced I was no longer a low-risk patient and couldn’t go to my clinic anymore. There are times when an induction is needed for health reasons, but I believe the majority of the time it is not required. Did you know that the pitocin they pump into you is hundreds of times higher than what your body produces naturally during labour? This places extra strain on your body, and in turn on your baby’s body. They increase the amount of pitocin so rapidly that your body does not have time to naturally adjust to the pain levels and the things it is making your body do. The number of interventions (forcep extractions, vacuum extractions, c-sections) required when you are induced are ridiculously higher. When I was pregnant with Penny, I did all the research on this and had the numbers – now I can’t be bothered to go find them again for you.
What reason do they have for inducing? Based on the date you give the doctor for your last menstrual cycle, they count 280 days and that is your ‘due date.’ But we’re not machines! Not everyone is the same. We have different length menstrual cycles, we have different bodies, we have different factors affecting our births. If you buy 2 bunches of bananas from 2 different stores, they’re going to ripen at slightly different times. If you bake a loaf of bread in Calgary, and use the same recipe and steps to bake a loaf of bread in Victoria, the loaves will be different. Nevermind that! If you use the same recipe and steps to bake a loaf of bread on a bright sunny day versus a rainy day, the loaves will be different. Our bodies ‘ripen’ to birth at different times and in different ways. I don’t think a doctor can say that you need to be induced on a specific date, because your body just isn’t quite ready yet. The oven timer hasn’t dinged yet!
When you allow your body the extra time to prepare, if it happens to be 42 weeks or 43 weeks (I’ve even heard of 44 weeks!), I believe your body knows what it is doing. I believe your joints loosen more, the ligaments stretch more. Your baby will obviously be bigger, but this is what our bodies are meant to do and they know how to do it. Women birthed big babies before medical interventions came along. I realize there were more deaths of both moms and babies back then, but that is where the medical community comes in now. They recognize these risks and should be there ‘in case’. But it is not their place to dictate that your pregnancy be 280 days long, with active labour lasting no longer than X hours because you might get too tired to push, and that the baby needs to be ripped from you if your labour doesn’t follow their text books. I’m going to talk to my doctor on Tuesday about not inducing and how they feel about it, but I am going to push to not be induced (Just a few more days, doc. Just a few more days!)