Laboring the Haun-ly Way: Our Decisions

To begin, William and I had decided long ago that we wanted to deliver Trey naturally, with as little medication and intervention as possible. I understand that each has its place and legitimate use in the laboring and delivery process, but I also know that women have been giving birth “naturally” since the beginning of time. The female body was created and designed to carry and deliver a child. Another reason I chose this route was to give myself the first hand experience. Who knows, one day as a family doctor overseas, my experiential knowledge may come in handy.

As I thought about natural childbirth, I looked into various methods of coping with the pain of childbirth…

As I thought about natural childbirth, I looked into various methods of coping with the pain of childbirth. One of my closest high school friends recommended the Bradley Method, which is a husband guided approach. The main focus of the Bradley Method is relaxation. Instead of fighting the contractions, the laboring woman is encouraged to focus on relaxing every other muscle in the body, breathing deeply and slowly, and allowing the body to do the work it is equipped to do. While medical school made it difficult to commit to 12 weeks worth of classes, I was able to find a great book that explained the process and techniques and gave helpful tips for the husband/coach. For the past 2 months, I have been reading through the book and beginning to practice the techniques. I earmarked the most helpful passages and asked William to read through them. I knew that it would not be the most enjoyable reading for William, but he obliged and gleaned what was important.

Many of you have shown interest or at least intrigue into my choice to do a “waterbirth.” With my desire to give birth without medication, a friend of the family (who is a midwife) recommended that I look into laboring and/or delivering in the water. She explained that the water, with its warmth and buoyancy, has provided much relief to many women in labor. I was hesitant at first, but decided to look into it. We took a 2 hour class in July, and actually found it more informative than the 8 hour prepared childbirth class we had taken previously. We were at first concerned about the safety of the water for the baby. First of all, the tub water is kept between 98 and 104 degrees, roughly the same temperature as the amniotic home from which the baby is emerging. The baby also has a reflex that keeps him from breathing in the water. Since the umbilical cord is still attached to the placenta, the baby continues to receive oxygen from the mom until he is out of the water, breathing, and the umbilical cord is cut. For the mother, the water releases endorphins to ease the pain. The water aids in the progress of contractions while it also softens and stabilizes the perineum to minimize the amount of tearing. The water works to dilute any contamination of the water, besides the fact that the baby is exposed to whatever is in the birth canal as it descends. When it comes time to deliver, the doctor/midwife takes the normal position to catch the baby, yet she remains out of the water, reaching in with elbow high plastic gloves. Although there have been accounts of babies being allowed the time to “swim” up on their own, it is common practice in the States to pull the baby straight out of the water in a non-hurried fashion.

There is one water birthing room at Morton Plant, the hospital where I was scheduled to deliver. I was set on using the tub for labor. However, just a few weeks before delivery, I spoke with a prospective pediatrician whose scare tactics made me second guess my decision to deliver in the tub. I resolved to leave my final decision about delivery until the time came. I knew that if I had doubts, or if Trey was in distress, I would remain on the bed for delivery. In the event that there was difficulty in delivery, I was in a hospital and the doctor on call would have come to the aid of the midwife. Therefore, I felt secure in our decisions about birth.

3 thoughts on “Laboring the Haun-ly Way: Our Decisions

  1. barbara

    Thanks for sharing this Heidi! It’s great to read details about other people’s decisions surrounding the birth process.
    Love you!

  2. Christine

    I’m so proud of you both for having the courage to stand by your convictions even in the face of others’ fears and misconceptions.

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