Our most recent adventure came in the way of an un-medicated, natural birth. Even though it is an increasing trend to see designer c-section births, or births that are filled with medical interventions, we decided to plan on an all natural birth assisted by a doula.
By the time we were in week 40, contractions had become a regular part of our lives, and since our due date had passed days before, our gradually diminishing expectations had reached an all time low by this time. When you reach 40 weeks of pregnancy, its normal to start feeling the pressure from all that surround you. “It looks like you’re ready to pop out that baby”, “When are you going to have this baby?”, “Any news yet?”, are some of the things my wife and I heard throughout week 40 of our pregnancy. Of course the most terrifying pressure came from my wife’s obstetrician. A month ago, he had mentioned, “If you’re feeling uncomfortable we can induce you at 39 weeks”, but after reaching week 40 this friendly suggestion turned to “You’ve been dilated 4-5 centimeters for a week now, and you’re 100% effaced, this means you’re ready and if we don’t induce you now you won’t get to the hospital in time and your baby’s life will be in grave danger”. Despite the pressure, we decided that, for our case, it was wiser to wait. We had no problems in our first pregnancy, and this was an even more healthy trouble free pregnancy than the first one. Besides, the doctor’s justification was not a medical one, but a practical one. He was off on vacation starting that day and would not come back for a week.
The doctor would indeed miss our baby’s birth as Emily decided to surprise us on a beautiful Easter Sunday. I started at 4am. By the time my wife woke me up, I already knew this was not another false alarm as I had heard her in pain for a few minutes prior. “Why are you getting dressed?”, she said. I kept on dressing myself as I knew things would happen very quickly. “I’m going to call the doula”, I said. After a couple more contractions we realized they were increasing in intensity and thus it was time to gather our belongings and head towards the hospital.
Unlike the first time we were pregnant, my wife was a lot calmer, in fact we both were. We needed to get to the hospital quickly, and yet she was serene and embracing the pain that comes with childbirth. In my opinion, childbirth is a rite of passage all women need to go through in order to become mothers. This rite of passage was in many ways taken away from women in the early 1900s by modern medicine. Because of this, and fear spread by mainstream media, most women have chosen medicated births, where the doctor is the one who decides how the pregnancy progresses, while women can sleep through their labor. While, at a simple glance, this is convenient, it has not rendered healthier babies or moms. In fact the US holds the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world and one of the highest maternal mortality rates among all industrialized countries. 1
Off To The Hospital
As soon as we arrived, the nurses knew we didn’t have much time. My wife was already at the end of the transitional phase of labor. “She’s almost there”, said the nurse with a worried face. This probably meant that we had anywhere between 9-10 cms.
Nurses quickly prepped the room while the doula and I gave my wife what women need most during labor, encouraging words, love and support. The substitute obstetrician was making an emergency c-section, so a third obstetrician had to be called in to deliver the baby. I could hear this woman walking down the hall with a strong european accent and an even stronger and bitter character. This personality earned her the nickname Dr. Terminatrix.
“I can’t believe it, let’s get this over with”, said Doctor Terminatrix as she approached our room. My wife was quickly positioned into one of the most counterproductive positions for laboring that exist. This position is still practiced today and it appears to be a position that contributes to intervention via forceps, ventose and vacuum extraction. It is also proven to make the pelvis smaller. Fortunately, it took two pushes to get our Emily out into the world. Dr. Terminatrix was in a hurry to go somewhere, so she didn’t give my wife a chance to have the next contraction. “Quickly, push now”, she said. My wife started pushing and the pain took over, she was screaming and clearly out of control. “Relax, focus and concentrate”, said our Doula as my wife was relaxing and getting focused to push properly.
I was exited even though I kept being distracted with questions from nurses. No doctor had been present until now so my wife had signed a document allowing me to make decisions for her health and that of the baby. In between questions I said enthusiastically, “push! I can see the head, we’re almost there!”. At this point I was more concerned of Dr. Terminatrix strongly pulling our baby from the neck than I was of anything else going wrong.
Before we knew it, Emily’s head was out. And one more push made her whole body come out.
My Impressions On Childbirth
For my wife, myself, and our Doula, this was of course a truly remarkable event. Becoming a parent is a gift and privilege and no matter what you do in life, this is the single event that is likely to change the rest of your life. Of course for Dr. Terminatrix and the hospital staff this was nothing remarkable, and just another day in the life. This is very likely the reason why other countries around the world still commonly practice home births. They have proven to have less medical interventions and to be just as safe or in some cases safer than births in a hospital. 2 The fact that over a third of births in Denmark take place at home and they happen safely with the help of midwives seems to support this statement. It would appear as, in the United States, we certainly have a lot to learn from how the birthing process occurs both safely and naturally in other countries where most women are allowed to do what they were born to do, deliver babies more naturally. I hope to see more women go through this life-altering experience giving birth naturally like my wife did.
How was your birth experience? Please share your comments below.
“The Business Of Being Born” Documentary 2008.