Where Will I Give Birth?

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The birthing pool at Heart’s Desire Midwifery

The very first question you need to ask when it comes to giving birth.

Recently I have been reading a lot of articles about “Questions to Ask Your Midwife” (for example, read here and here.) With the publishing of the article about the safety of planned Homebirth with Midwives, there has been a lot of renewed interest in the on-going debate about Hospital vs. Home (which is really a debate about hospital versus anyplace else). Starting in nursing school, I’ve read every study I could get my hands on about the safety of midwifery birth and specifically, home birth. At the end of the day, my husband and I chose to give birth at home. But even from a purely scientific or medicalized perspective, it is really hard to make a decision. ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) says one thing, ACNM (American College of Nurse Midwives) says another, and MANA has a slightly different perspective as well, which their study might reflect. The take-home message:

At the end of the day, experts are not in charge of where you give birth. YOU are.

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Photo of a hospital birth via Birth Without Fear

Birth is a Normal, and Very Important, Part of Life

Birth is a normal part of a woman’s life. That should go without saying! Giving birth is an important rite of passage, for a woman, her baby, her husband or partner, and the entire family. Birth deserves the utter respect of everyone present and involved. Birth MATTERS, for this, and this, and many other reasons. A woman’s birth and how she is treated while she gives birth impacts the rest of her life, her connection to her baby, and her sense of herself (regardless of method of delivery). A woman MUST give birth in an environment where she feels safe, empowered, loved, and emotionally comfortable. That might mean a birth pool in her backyard, on hands and knees in her kitchen, a shower in a birthing center, a bed in a Labor and Delivery room, or on a table in an Operating Room under a skilled surgeon’s gentle hands. Every woman is different. Every birth is different. NO CHOICE IS WRONG, if you make it with all the information you have at the time, and while listening to your deepest heart.

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Skin to skin in the OR, via Single Mom on the Run

Birth: Let it Go

To be completely transparent, my perspective reflects my experience. I have been a hospital-based nurse for seven years, so I have seen first-hand the worst possible outcomes when it comes to birth. Before that, I was a birth doula, and a midwife’s assistant. With all the experience I’ve gained, this is my truth: Bad things rarely happen during birth, regardless of setting. To me this fact is more freeing than anything … You can’t protect yourself from something bad happening. You just need to make the choice that feels right, prepare yourself, take responsibility, then let go. The act of giving birth is the first, greatest responsibility you have to your child, of infinite, great responsibilities that you will have to your child throughout his or her life. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to get used to that.

“We’re in a free-fall into future. We don’t know where we’re going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you’re going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It’s a very interesting shift of perspective and that’s all it is… joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.”                           ~Joseph Campbell

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Illustration by Marina Terauds Studio

Your Birth Will Change Your Life Forever

For better or worse. Your birth experience can deeply empower you, or cause you trauma. My daughter’s birth was the single most empowering moment of my life. I have witnessed women whose births were most joyful, deepest and most transformative moment of their life. IT IS TRUE. IT IS POSSIBLE.

I have met and talked to women, age 16 to 92, who vividly remember every second of their birth, every kind word that someone said to them, and whether they felt loved versus mistreated.

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From Should You Hire A Birth Doula?

Feeling loved during your birth is your best chance of having a healthy, fulfilling and empowering experience.

Regardless of what you decide, take good care of yourself. Plan to surround yourself with people who will love and support you no matter what. If you trust, and actively choose your care provider, but don’t feel this emotional connection with them, then PLEASE HIRE A DOULA.

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Photo by Liz Rubicam

Remember, Your First Birth Matters.

Time for some hard truths. There is often a big difference in the quality (TLC) of prenatal care in your typical big OB-GYN practice, versus a typical midwifery practice. There is a difference between prenatal care in a typical hospital-based midwifery practice, vs. a typical homebirth midwifery practice. If you are considering a midwifery birth, please consult with midwives. You don’t need to hire them just because you meet with them. If you are considering a homebirth, please consult with home birth midwives. You won’t regret the hour you spend getting to know more about your options.

If your dream is to give birth in water, don’t wait. Waterbirth is a very reasonable option in a birth center, and especially homebirth setting. If you picture yourself catching your baby (or having your husband catch your baby), don’t wait. Hire a provider that is willing to facilitate that. If you dream of being surrounded by a team of loving women during your birth, don’t wait …. hire a doula! If you want to capture your birth on film, don’t wait. You won’t regret it.

You deserve to feel loved while giving birth.

You deserve the birth of your dreams.

My gift to you is this … whatever it is that you want, you deserve it.

Love, Kate

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The Best Way Out is Through, by Michael Phelan

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