If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know I’m a bit “crunchy”.
But I haven’t always been into doing things naturally.
My “obsession” as my husband likes to call it, started when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I started researching the pros and cons of different birth options.
What I found, shocked me.
(Before I give you my reasons for choosing a natural birth at a birth center, let me remind you that I’m just one person who made an educated choice that was best for her family. I know that things don’t go as planned (you should read my first birth story and see how far from the plan we veered). I know that sometimes natural isn’t an option. I know that OBGYNs have done incredible things and saved many lives. I just want you to be informed so that you can make the choice that works for you! No judgement here!)
NOTE: This post assumes you’re wanting a natural child birth and is solely focused on the benefits of the LOCATION of a natural childbirth; a hospital birth or a home birth.
Spoiler Alert: We chose to give birth in a midwife-run, independent, birth center. It was staffed by two midwives and not under the authority of any hospital.
First I’ll list the reasons we decided to avoid the hospital (though we did end up transferring there with my first birth.) And second, I’ll explain why home birth just wasn’t for us.
Why We Rejected the Hospital
Freedom from Fear
Birth IS natural. We women have been doing this thing for a long time. Doctors tend to treat pregnant women as if they’re sick. OB/GYNs are great at responding to emergencies and performing surgery. But they tend to distrust the female body’s ability to handle birth.
Freedom from Temptation
Since I was convinced I wanted to give birth without pain medication, I knew I wanted to be physically far away from any of those options. Nobody likes pain. And the intensity of birth is like nothing most of us have ever experienced. With both of my boys, I buckled and asked for an epidural. But because they weren’t readily available I was able to muster more strength and keep going. (I did get one with my first born, full disclosure. Here’s the story.)
Freedom from Unnecessary Interventions
This is a big one. Hospitals love to get involved in the process of birth. And half the time, it just makes the situation worse, which calls for more and more interventions. I’m convinced half the things they save us from, they cause in the beginning. Example: An epidural often slows labor and lessens contractions. Pitocin is administered. Contractions become abnormally strong. More epidural, more Pitocin. Contractions are too intense for baby to handle, heart rate drops. Emergency C-section.
Freedom to Birth at My Own Pace and Schedule
Even if you’re adamant about no drugs during your hospital birth, there are guidelines and rules that they want you to fit into. The clock is king at the hospital. If a labor is taking too long, or the pushing process is longer than expected, they’re always threatening a c-section or other interventions. After I was transferred with my first labor, I was right on the border of getting cut open just because of the length of the labor, nothing else. Made it just under the wire.
Freedom to Eat and Drink
Most labors are long and difficult. I finally got an epidural with my first birth not because I couldn’t take the pain, but because I was inhumanly exhausted. Keeping blood sugar and energy up during a grueling labor is essential and food is the obvious way to do that. Because hospitals are always thinking about an eventual c-section, they don’t allow eating or even drinking. That’s a recipe for a weak laboring mother.
Freedom to Move
The positions of labor look very different in a hospital, compared to what women naturally do when given the freedom to move the way they want to. I absolutely cannot imagine going through an unmedicated contraction on my back. With every contraction, my body involuntarily sprung to all fours to ride it out. Hospitals tend to monitor everything and have you connected to so much equipment that walking, swaying and basic movement isn’t possible. For the actual pushing, doctors want patients to be in the least ergonomic position; on their backs. It’s convenient for the doctor, easy line of sight and ability to catch. But it makes the outlet of the pelvis literally smaller and forces the baby to go through at an extremely odd angle, which of course adds to longer push times and yet more interventions.
Why We Rejected a Home Birth
Better Equipment at the Birth Center
When our boys were born, we were living in apartments. I loved laboring in a tub, but our personal bathroom was cramped and uncomfortable. The birth centers had all sorts of emergency equipment, including incubates, oxygen, defibrillators and I ton of stuff I didn’t pay attention to. I know a homebirth midwife brings a lot of backup equipment with her as well, but there’s no way she could be as prepared as the birth center was, mostly because some of the equipment is bigger than a car!
I know a lot of people feel most at peace when they’re at home. But my house is chaos. Especially when my second son was born, we were one week away from moving. Definitely not the zen feeling one wants when giving birth. I loved that when labor started, there was nothing for me to prepare. No pool to blow up, no space to clear in the madness. I just arrived at a perfectly clean birthing center that looked nicer than the swankiest hotel I’ve ever been to. And no clean up! Woot!
Better Arrangement for Siblings
Obviously not an issue the first go around. But I know that my two year old would be well aware of my pain in labor if I chose to do it in our small little apartment. He’d have no place to get away, and a night labor would probably keep him awake. (I’m a really loud laborer.) I liked that my son was welcome to participate in the birth as much as he and I were both comfortable, but if need be, he could escape to his own home, without a crazy noisy mom in the other room!
Better Proximity to the Hospital
This of course depends on your individual situation. With our first birth, we lived well over 45 minutes from a decent hospital. I didn’t want to be in the throws of labor, have an emergency situation arise, and have to be literally airlifted over a mountain. Instead, we did our traveling at the very beginning of labor, and did the majority of the labor at the birth center that was only one minute down the road from the hospital.
Oh, and if you want to read my birth stories, here’s the first one and the second one. Both started off at a birth center. First labor was 28 hours and a nightmare. Second labor, I almost had him in the car and it was blissfully and awesomely natural. But two incredible boys were gifted to me. 🙂
I hope this helped you think through some issues you may encounter in your birth and what location will best suit your needs. I hope that this helps you in your own decisions about labor locations, and that you maybe learned a little some thing from our experiences. This was the reasoning our family used to make this tough decision, nothing more, nothing less.
Many blessing to your growing family!!!
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