The birth dilemma.

Now that I am a full 17 weeks along in my pregnancy (for you normal people, that is roughly the equivalent of four months… twenty weeks marking the halfway point), I am starting to consider the type of birth I want to have. My doctor(s) have not broached this subject with me yet, but thanks to the shenanigans of Dooce and the birth story of her second child, I'm becoming increasingly intrigued by the idea of attempting a natural birth. I use the word attempting very generously, because there are no words to describe the fear that I have of this whole process. I cannot guarantee that I'm not going to chicken out at the last minute, throw caution to the wind and snatch the doctor by her scrubs demanding that they shove the giant epidural needle up my spine FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. I'd like to think that this is a fear I share with most pregnant first-timers out there, perhaps with the exception of my mom who claims that giving birth was the most easy thing she has ever done. And I was born breech! You must take into consideration the fact that she is a tough Icelandic Viking woman, and she gained 60 pounds during her pregnancy eating nothing but oranges, all of which fell off almost immediately after giving birth and she went back to looking like the supermodel that she is. My dad totally scored.

The one birth-related question I did sneak in at my last visit was whether the odds of me carrying a breech child are higher since I was born breech and so was my mom. The doctor said that it has nothing to do with genetics, but more with the build of the woman's body than anything. She said that if I'm built more like my dad's side of the family I may be in the clear. Good to know since I'm built EXACTLY like my mom, who is built EXACTLY like my grandmother. Awesome.

So despite the fact that back in the dark ages of maternal medicine when breech babies were delivered vaginally, and came out perfectly normal (I mean, how am I not the picture of normal? Why the funny look on your face?), the chances of me being able to deliver my baby, should he/she turn out to be breech, without a c-section are slim to none. While I do unabashedly question my level of pain tolerance in the throes of labor, there is a huge part of me that feels like I will be missing out should I not be able to deliver my baby naturally and epidural-free. Women have been doing this FOREVER, with no medical intervention (did I mention FOREVER?), so why the heck can't I do it too? I'm scared to death but more than that I want to experience the hormone-induced high and full awareness that so many women who give birth naturally describe. 

I'm not gonna lie, come labor time, I could totally think the pregnant me was absolutely out of her mind thinking this ever should have been done without the assistance of an epidural. The pain is going to be horrendous, I know, but I dealt with some pretty outrageous stomach cramps in my track days that still go down in the record books as the worst pain ever. Granted, those plagued me for an hour at a time, not so many hours that it almost equals an entire day. 

I'm doing my research though, and I want some opinions from the moms out there. Tell me what you know, what you experienced, what you believe about the state of maternal medicine today, and share advice. I'll be the first to admit that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, but in light of that, I want to be as educated as possible as I approach that day in January when our little one comes into this world, one way or another. 
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8 thoughts on “The birth dilemma.

  1. I was very similar to you with my first pregnancy. I thought I wanted a natural birth but I also felt that maybe I’d want an epidural when the time came. Well, I had a 30+ labor in which I went drug free for around 24 hours, then got an epidural, then ended up having a very emergency c-section. Personally, this time I’ve already requested my epidural!
    My firm opinion now is that some women get lucky, their labors are short, or not that intolerably painful. But for most women if you want to achieve a drug free birth you need to have a very serious plan. You need to chose birth method (lamaze, hypno-birthing, etc) and get educated, and maybe consider hiring a doula for support. The hardest part about labor in my opinion is that you never know how long it will take. You can say to yourself “I can take this pain for one more hour” but in labor, it could be one hour, or 30. I have heard great things about hypno-birthing and if I were to try for a natural birth again I think I’d take a hypno-birthing class and hire a doula. But like I said, this time I want the drugs for sure!

  2. Hi Andrea. Grandma Sylvia here. I can only tell you that my experience was the closer time to delivery the fear seems to leave you. It seems we know that this has to end SOMETIME, so we can anticipate the event with no fear. You are doing well to think and write about it. I believe that helps us to deal with fear. I am so anxious to have this baby in my arms so am praying everything goes well. Love you.
    Grandma

  3. Hey, Andrea. No real wisdom for you–just my experience. I loved my epidural so much that I would marry it if I could. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Anyway, I have lots of girlfriends who’ve birthed with pain relief and without–and all most all of them said they preferred doing it without pain relief. I agree with the poster who recommended hypnobirthing and a doula–many women swear by them. Also, I thought my birth would go down just like my moms (whose experience was just like HER moms). Mine was completely different.
    Good luck with your journey!

  4. I don’t have a baby, but I am friends with midwives, and women who have gone to the hospital, and women who have given birth at home. I recommend doing what you feel safest with. What I mean by that is if you feel safest and most comfortable doing the natural thing then that is what you should do. If you feel safest and most comfortable about the decision with the epidural then that is what you should do.
    So many choose to go down a path they aren’t prepared for, or they have not researched enough, or they are doing it for the wrong reasons.
    I recommend doing research. Watch documentaries. Watch birth stories. Call up a midwife and ask to check out videos of natural births. Then make your informed and well planned decision. If you plan doesn’t go to plan, that’s okay. Sometimes that happens, but knowing what you want and being ready is important.

  5. I had planned to “attempt” a natural delivery as well just to have that experience. As it turns out, my kiddos had another plan and both of them were born by emergency C-section. My son after 6 weeks of pre-term labor so I got the full efect of constant contractions–I was dilated to 10 when they took me into the OR. My daughter after my water broke 11 weeks early–no actual labor whatsoever. The best advice I can give you is to plan what is best for you and your baby….but not forget that the option may not be yours in the end. I had horrific pregnancies/deliveries with both my kids. Every once in awhile I do wish I had experienced a “normal” delivery. But, then I get to listen to my 6 year old read Dr. Seuss to my 4 year old and I realize how lucky I am that I am their mom! Regardless of how your little one comes into the world, it is the first time your eyes meet their’s…the first time you hear that precious cry…and the first time you get to hold your son or daughter for the first time that really matters. =) Do you research, plan as best you can so you are aware of your options and all the possibilities and enjoy the ride–you will never forget it!

  6. I had great experiences with both my babies’ births-one vaginal and one c-section (she was breech). I had an epidural with my son and it was a great choice. I have no regrets. I’m a nurse and I’ve seen many births and I knew that I just didn’t want to have a natural birth.I really got to enjoy and remember the day with my husband. We watched movies, laughed and anticipated the arrival of our first born son for the 8 hours it took me to fully dilate. I really didn’t want my husband to see me go through all of that pain. We found out that my daughter was breech when we had the ultrasound at 18 weeks. I did everything short of an external version to get her to turn but nothing worked and I had to have a c-section. I really wanted to have another vaginal birth but the c-section went well. Do what you feel is right for you. Trust your instincts. It will be a day you and your husband will never forget.

  7. I have to say that overall my pregnancies and deliveries were the best I could have hoped for. Sure I would have liked to have had them vaginally, but circumstances were beyond my control. Long story short, I had to be induced with my first pregnancy due to low amniotic fluid. I was in active labor for about 48 hours on pitocin. I have heard that contractions are harder when on pitocin. It was painful in the sense that it hurt but basically like menstrual cramps. I ended up having a c section because my labor was not progressing and my water had been broken for a full 18 hours. She was born with “jewelry” as the OB’s called it. She had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice. Because I had a c section for my first birth, I knew I would have to have a c section for my second. Please only take peoples stories with a grain of salt. It will only make you more nervous. I recommend taking a birthing class, it will help you become more acquainted with what to expect as far as the process of labor and some pain managment options, also how to take care of the baby and yourself after the birth. But don’t be to dead set on a plan, because everything can change in a heartbeat. I am so excited for you!

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