Sunday, June 9, 2013

26 Weeks & My Drug-Free Labor Decision

Here we are, the two of us, at 26 weeks!

I don't remember feeling those "third trimester" symptoms as early with my other pregnancies as I do this time.  I'm going to the bathroom more often, have to ask Tony for help because I'm "beached" on the couch already, and baby girl seems to be dancing on my bladder more than I remember at this point.  Oh, and I'm moving into what I call "Stage Three" maternity clothes.  And I don't want to hear from you ladies who pretty much wore the same maternity clothes the entire pregnancy.  Yes, I go through three sizes.  :)

Hadley and Leila turned four years old last week!  I promise to blog about them soon.  They bring so much laughter and joy into our lives.  Four years old is going to be a great age.

Today, though, I have something else on my mind.  As I mentioned before, I'm going to go through this labor and delivery "drug-free", and I want to write down some thoughts as we prepare for it.

Here's my history (if you don't know): when the twins were born in 2009, I got an epidural because complications occur more often with twins, and in the rare event that an emergency c-section is necessary, the epidural is already in place, which saves time getting to the distressed baby.  Rare event, they emphasized, but I was the lucky winner of that lottery -- Hadley was born vaginally, and Leila followed 28 minutes later after a placental abruption and emergency c-section.  Placental abruption is one of the riskiest things that can happen to a baby during delivery, and I'm so thankful that our team of doctors and nurses saw what was happening and delivered Leila safely.

Nearly 2 1/2 years later, when Marlowe was born via VBAC, Tony and I opted for the epidural again.  I think we were anxious about the VBAC - there's a small increase in risk when compared to a normal vaginal delivery - but also, it was what we knew and felt comfortable with.  The epidural was just what you do when you have a baby.  Everything went well, and Marlowe was born safely and happily.

This time around, before we even got pregnant, I knew that I wanted to give birth "naturally".  Something inside me was just nudging me toward that decision.  So, I've read the books.  I've talked to mothers who have given births all kinds of different ways.  Mostly, after all my research, I've decided that both sides ("pro-drugs" and "anti-drugs") are making broad generalizations about the other side that are not necessarily correct.  I felt like I needed to "take out the trash", figuratively, and decide what my own reasons are for pursuing natural labor this time.

Here's what I came up with: my three driving reasons for drug-free labor, from least important to most important:

3. Epidurals and scheduled inductions increase the likelihood of a c-section.  This is a fact.  Allowing your body to work in the way that God designed it, without interference, decreases your likelihood of major surgery and other complications.  (With that being said, I want to add that I understand the merits of each of these things at the right time.  They've been designed for a reason.)

2. It's my body, and I want to understand and be educated about what is happening to it when I give birth.  American women are severely under-educated about their own bodies.  Looking back after giving birth to three children, I find the hospital birthing class almost laughable.  There was absolutely no training on drug-free pain management techniques.  It's no coincidence that women are walking into the labor and delivery unit at the hospital, after attending the hospital birthing class, and going straight for the drugs.  They don't have a clue what they would do if they had to give birth drug-free.  I'm finally taking a personal responsibility to educate and empower myself.

1. I want to.  Without this desire, the other reasons wouldn't matter to me enough to change my mind.  I want to form a bond with the generations and generations of women who have given birth naturally.  I want to sweat and work with my husband, and feel the rush of oxytocin after the baby is born.

That's all.  These are probably not the reasons that other women choose to go drug-free.  And that's what makes this experience special and unique to me.  Even though there will be a great deal of pain, I'm genuinely looking forward to September ... but I guess that's mostly because we get to meet the newest member of our family.  And that's something that unifies all mothers, no matter how we give birth.

1 comment:

Anne said...

Hey Heather,

Let me first say that I am completely impressed that you had to endure BOTH kinds of delivery for the twins. You.are.amazing. ;)

I support your drug free labor decision...I had all 4 kids without any epidurals and while I don't think I'm some sort of superwoman for doing so (I'm actually more terrified of a needle going in my spine. I'm not afraid of needles in general. Just ones going in my back. ;)) That said, looking back on them, there was only 1 time I really wish I had asked for an epidural and that was with my 3rd, because I had horrible back labor with him. I hope your labor and delivery is quick and as pleasant as possible. :)