Hospital, Center, or Home?
Telling someone nowadays that your baby was born at home gets you the same look as if you had just announced you do not have a refrigerator. The responses range from “I wish I could, but my family would never allow it.” to “Oh my goodness! Why would you do that! Don’t you know how dangerous that is?!” It’s funny how our society has become so dependent on the medical establishment that we can’t even conceive of a natural bodily function occurring without the constant aid of a doctor. As if every baby born is automatically in jeopardy and it is by the grace of the OBGYN faculty that the child survives the process. We’ve forgotten that the medical system we have today is only about 100 years old and most people didn’t buy into it until the last 50-60 years. So why is it I get the fearful looks and accusations of endangering my child when I choose the traditional method that has worked for thousands of years? Because we have lost all faith in our God-given bodies to heal, defend, and give birth.
I am no stranger to the many different processes available in our modern society of evicting our expected children. I myself have had 5 currently, each being a different experience, a few of which were unpleasant. My first 3 were born in a hospital, as “normal” as can be in today’s standards. The first was 2 weeks “late”, meaning because the baby wasn’t coming in their time they had to force it. I was induced, making contractions extremely painful and close together, laid flat on my back, hooked up with wires and I.V.’s, and left in this state for hours. The baby wasn’t handling it well, so they had to do internal monitoring (by screwing wires into the baby’s head). The doctor was in a hurry to get off his shift and rushed the pushing process making me tear something awful. He then proceeded to push his fists into my stomach and pull the umbilical cord (a pain worse than labor) to force the placenta out. Once out I began to hemorrhage. They patched me up, cleaned up the mess, and sent me to the shower. Standing in the shower I began to black out, and had to shout for a nurse. She came, helped me out, and wheeled me to another room, so the next lady in the hallway could have mine. It reminded me of an assembly line and our babies were just a product.
My second child was a few weeks early when my water broke. Of course we went to the hospital and after a few hours was told my labor wasn’t progressing fast enough and (you guessed it) Pitocin! Again! A devils concoction if you ask me. Once again on my back, hooked up, poked and prodded. Hours of super painful contractions, one on top of the other. I had become delirious with the pain. Finally, a new nurse came on shift and suggested I go to the bathroom (it had only been 5 hrs of lying in the same position). I almost didn’t make it back to the bed, one push and she was out. The doctor missed it, but he did get the privilege of pushing my stomach, forcing the placenta out, and stitching me up while announcing that I was a bleeder.
My third baby was born in a different hospital. Maybe the first two bad experiences were the hospital? Nope, this one was just as bad. Being a bigger hospital they had two levels to pass, before you were graduated to the labor and delivery area. First you had a meeting in an office, where they asked you questions. If you answered correctly (ex. How far apart are your contractions?) they would move you to the second level, where they strapped you into (basically a closet with a bed in it) and left you there to “monitor” your contractions for an hour. Finally, if you pass, they put you in a chair and wheel you down several halls, up several floors, and into a bigger room with a bigger bed to be strapped to. By this point, I could feel my labor stalling out and the doctor said I could go home or he could break my water. I was in a hospital gown hooked up to I.V.’s and machines and had already vowed I would never go through the series of “tests” and labyrinths again. I just wanted to leave and never come back, so they broke my water. She was not ready to come! The agony of having a baby on your cervix with no water to cushion was excruciating. On my back and hooked up, once again, I labored for hours with the same ending. Rip! Push and Pull! Wow, you’re a bleeder! But the worst thing was the stitches. He claimed to have numbed me, but I felt every stitch! I told him so several times, but he continued. He then told me that I shouldn’t have more children, because my bleeding got worse with each baby and I might eventually bleed to death. I went home and vowed I would never go through that again!
My fourth baby I found a mid-wife center. The practice was run completely by women (the first 3 were all male doctors). The delivery rooms were beautifully decorated bedrooms (Ocean, forest, or desert theme options). I met the mid-wife there late in the night, no one else was there. She checked everything out, had me walk around, and said she felt it was stalling out. She suggested I go home and rest and that she would see me soon. I was there probably a total 45 min. I went home, slept, and spent the next few days walking, eating pineapple, and doing squats. On the 3rd morning, I knew. They were getting closer together and I was feeling anxious (something I never had with the first 3). We met her at the center again and things were getting more intense, but not unbearable. I got settled in the desert room and we joked and laughed, until my water broke, a few minutes later he was born, but one familiar thing happened. The pushing and pulling of my placenta and then the blood to follow. They couldn’t get it to stop, they injected all kinds of things, all the protocols they had on hand. Finally the head mid-wife was brought in and she told me to have a talk with my uterus or they would send me to the hospital. The thought made me want to hurl so I focused all my heart and soul into clamping down my uterus praying and praying that I would be sparred that horrific experience and it stopped. The power of the mind and prayer should never be underestimated. A few hours later I went home. I was never hooked up to anything, I stood and walked freely most of the time, I had no stitches, but I still hemorrhaged. Overall though it was an entirely different and amazing experience. I laughed nearly through the entire labor. I got there at 7:30am, had him at 10:30 am, and went home at 6:30 pm. I couldn’t believe that delivering a baby could be like that!
When baby #5 came around we had moved to where no midwife center could be found. For weeks I researched and looked at my options and finally had found a midwife who did home deliveries. I met with her at her house and loved everything about her! I could tell we were going to be great friends and who doesn’t want their best friend to deliver their baby? When the time was approaching, I called her and she immediately picked up her assistant and headed over. When she pulled in, I was sitting on a rocking chair on the porch enjoying the sunshine while the kids played in the yard. I walked around outside for an hour or so, until I felt the need to get changed. I went in, changed, and put the bottle of Frankincense up to my nose to help with the contractions. The midwife watched me carefully, checking the baby every now and then, and aiding me when necessary. Not once though did she do an internal to check dilation. She didn’t need to. She knew exactly what was going on just from watching me and feeling my stomach. Eventually she told me to go to the bathroom to empty my bladder. I did and my water broke in the toilet. I barely made it back to the room. She had me sit on a birthing stool and that was it. My son was born and in my arms that fast.
Now here is where the major change happened. She handed me the baby and then sat there. She did nothing, but watch. We all sat, talked, and marveled over the baby. No poking, no prodding, no pushing or pulling and we sat like that for 20 min, with her watching carefully. Finally she said my placenta was ready to be delivered and out it came without assistance and minimal bleeding. Less than most of her deliveries actually, which came as a surprise. I was told I was a high hemorrhage risk, how could I have less than normal bleeding? Oh, turns out, it wasn’t my body malfunctioning, but the doctors procedure to rush the process. My midwife had studied all my previous births and made sure to give my body extra time. She explained that the placenta was like a scab, if removed before the body has a chance to heal, it will bleed, but if left to come off on its own the chances of a hemorrhage are greatly reduced. Wow, something that is so simple and doesn’t cost anything, and yet is rarely practiced!
I will do everything in my power to never go back to any other setting to deliver my babies. I had such an amazing experience having my baby at home, that I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. I have never met a woman who has had her baby at home, who didn’t feel the same. The training that a midwife receives and their methods are completely different from that of an OBGYN and my belief that our bodies were designed to self-regulate, repair, and reproduce is better aligned with the philosophies of midwifery. Bringing a human being into the world is always a painful and laborious act, but the experience can be so much better by being in your own space, walking where you please, digging through your fridge, going outside, getting in your tub, standing in your shower, changing your clothes, all the family and friends you want. It’s your domain and you have complete control, nothing can be more relaxing and peaceful, which happens to be the key to a swift and easy delivery. So give it a try, I promise you won’t want it any other way.