This is definitely a post I never thought I would be writing.
As month 5 is halfway complete, I am more than halfway through this pregnancy. The most common questions I get asked on a day to day basis are, ‘how are you feeling? [fantastic now that I don’t have a stomach virus]’, ‘do you have any cravings? [no]’, ‘do you have any morning sickness? [no]’, ‘do you have a name picked out? [yes, Jude]’, ‘have you felt him kick [yes, and Jason has too], and most surprisingly, people have begun to ask me if I’m going to get an epidural.
This awakened me to the fact that I am going to have to make some decisions soon. I hadn’t done any research or any fact checking on the birth process, partially because I am in denial. I know most women just allow themselves to be filtered through what is considered the normal baby having system: you find a doctor you like, you have a hospital birth, complete with drugs, a possible c-section, and maybe a couple overnight stays. As I started doing some research I was alarmed to find out more information about hospital births, starting with the drugs that are considered normal. The pain killers numb the pain and slow the birth, so you receive another drug that speeds the birth up. Seems counter-productive to me and makes me lean towards a natural birth. On top of that, America has the highest rate of any industrialized country for c-sections, infant mortality and maternal mortality.
This caused me to want to reassess what options where available to me. I had always thought of mid-wives and birthing centers to be too ‘crunchy’ for me. That’s just not what we do here in America. Only hippies entertain that option. The couple of friends I have had that have used a birthing center, I’ve always dismissed as, ‘oh, they didn’t have enough money to go to a hospital,’ or ‘oh, how strange.’ Turns out they are a lot more legitimate than I imagined and that the rest of the industrialized world relies on them to receive their children into the world instead of hospitals. Midwives have to be certified through a state board, and most are traditionally trained labor and delivery nurses. I had no idea. On top of that, birthing centers are typically exponentially cheaper to deliver in than a hospital. No $20 charges for that one ibuprofen pill. On top of all of the medical reasons for considering a birthing center, I hear that midwives tend to be more concerned, involved and less sterile and ‘business’ oriented than a hospital workers. They want to make you feel ‘at home’ (I know this is a blanket statement and not true across the board, but it’s worth considering).
So now, we are going to go visit and tour the Austin Area Birthing Center. The overwhelming responses I have read and heard from mothers that have had hospital births and birthing center birth is that they have preferred the birthing centers. I haven’t made a set decision, but I feel like I am leaning towards this option.
It’s a bit scary to be making a decision that 1) makes me feeling like I’m cheating on my OB/GYN – who I think is wonderful and highly recommend, 2) extremely countercultural in our society, 3) causes me to directly face the pain of childbirth.
Any readers out there have anything thoughts about these shenanigans? I’d love to hear about your experiences and friend/family experiences. . .