Friday, August 27, 2010

Planning and Meditating on Birth - Part 2

If you missed Part 1, click here to read it.

There is no magic recipe for a perfect birth. 

We have ingredients, or options, and each of us is in charge of writing the recipe that's best for us.  Why must we write our own? Why can't we just take an existing recipe and hope for the best? The Feminist Breeder writes on her blog why she won't leave her births up to chance. When you follow someone else's plan without serious consideration you are essentially leaving everything up to chance. I've done it myself, twice. Sometimes this works and things still turn out OK, as it did for me. You survive and your baby survives... oh, but I've gone over this already.

1. The first thing to do is become an informed consumer.  I've talked about this many times. It's one of the main reasons I have this blog. I believe every expectant parent should do their research and become an informed consumer. Know your rights and your options, and know that you are the one in charge. As a consumer everyone else serves to please you. Doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, hospitals, birth centers, clinics... ALL of them are there to serve you. They have training and expertise in their various specialties, and can act as consultants in helping you make choices. Their place is not to dictate what will happen or make choices for you. Uninformed consumers must have choices made for them. It's your choice who will control your baby's birth.

How do you know if your birth will be like mine, better off at home away from medical intervention and unnecessary surgery, or like the other mother I mentioned whose baby needed to be in the hospital where he could get the immediate care he needed?

2.  Assess your feelings and follow where they lead you.  Ultimately you must make a choice, based on both knowledge and your personal feelings. Some people have paralyzing fear of hospitals and doctors and would be most comfortable elsewhere. Others have paralyzing fear of NOT being in the hospital where there is ready access to all the medical technology you could ask for. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is really up to you. I have an almost paralyzing fear of surgery, and I would do anything in my power to prevent an unnecessary surgery. That fear definitely plays into the decisions I make for birth, and so far it has served me well. Even if you don't have a paralyzing fear of anything, you will likely have some kind of feeling that will help guide you in the right direction.

3. Honor yourself and tune out the outside noise.  Pregnancy is a time when unsolicited advice seems to come at you from every direction. Whether you want it or not, everyone seems to know what they think is best for you and your baby. Everyone has a story to tell, and they love to tell it. Whether you plan to go to the hospital or have your baby at home or in a birthing center, someone will always have a horror story or opinion to tell you.

I was due to have my fourth baby in January. A very nice lady at church asked me about my due date and I told her that I was focusing on getting through the holidays and then I would feel ready to have my baby. She told me about her daughter who wasn't due until January, but the baby came unexpectedly a month early and she had nothing ready for Christmas. It may have seemed like a harmless story to her, but it stressed me out!

Hypnobabies teaches women to use a "bubble of peace" to help them stay connected with their own feelings and not allow outside advice or stories to upset their emotional balance. Essentially, you imagine a bubble that surrounds your body and keeps in all the happy, good feelings and blocks out all the unwanted stuff that invades you from other people. This is a good way to stay focused on your own feelings, whatever they may be. If there is fear within you then address that fear. Figure out where it's coming from and whether it's valid. Is there anything you can do to allay that fear? Do you have any control over what you're afraid of? If you have control over it, then take care of it. If it's beyond your control then you've done what you can and you can let it go.  Understanding the truth about power and control may help you be able to let go of what you can't control.

4. Continue to check in.  If there's a persistent nagging concern or fear that you just can't shake, then take it seriously and consider changing your plans. Just like the mother I met who never felt comfortable planning a home birth, there could be something you're unaware of that needs you to make a different choice.

In my case, I prayed. I felt I should consider home birth, even though I'd never considered it before. I felt peace about it, and peace as I chose my midwife and moved forward with my plans. I didn't ever feel a need to change my plans, and I never felt the need to prepare for a possible transfer to the hospital. Even as the due date approached, my midwife prayed about who to ask to provide support at the birth, and a specific person came to her mind. That person was a midwife with extensive vaginal breech experience. I feel God knew my baby would be breech, even though none of us did, and He helped me to prepare for it all along the way. I was blessed, I feel, because I knew my options. I had learned as much as I could and then I followed my feelings. I was blessed to avoid surgery which would likely have been traumatic for me. I had the desired experience and the desired outcome, without having to choose between the two.

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