Why I am Choosing a Natural Birth: My Inspiration

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I really struggled with this post. Not because I'm scared of what people may think or say, but because I really don't like the fact that I feel the need to explain myself for wanting an unmedicated birth. Childbirth is literally the most natural experience us humans have! Medicated births have become the norm over the years, and positive birth stories have been replaced with horror stories. Now, let me also say that there is a reason that these medical interventions exist and that I do not disagree with the use of them. I digress...

I am so passionate about this topic, I am breaking it up into multiple pieces. Today I am just talking about my inspiration and next time I will talk about the facts 😎

Most of you don't know this, but I am actually a certified doula! For those who don't know what a doula is, they are women who help other women through labor, delivery and some even help with breastfeeding and postpartum. They are trained individuals who support the mother while she is laboring and giving birth by giving encouraging words, massages, counter pressure, reminding you to move positions and breathe, and SO much more depending on their expertise! They are your advocate for your birth plan when you and your significant other are at a loss for words and distracted by the laboring process. 

But let's backtrack. Why did I take the class in the first place?? Well, I guess it all started with one of my Nutrition professors back in college at NC State: Dr. April Fogleman (Hi, if you're reading!). She is involved with breast milk research at NCSU and has extensive knowledge on the subject! Her passion really shined through her course and inspired me to want to know more. So, my senior year I worked with her and the North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition for my capstone project where we worked to "Ban the Bags" at local hospitals. "Bags" in this case are referring to formula-sponsored baby bags that are handed out to new mothers as they are leaving the hospital. They are filled with formula samples and coupons. You might be thinking, "what the heck is wrong with that??". And I answer that with a counter question: Why is a hospital promoting formula when breast milk is proven to be the healthier option? Aren't hospitals supposed to be about health and healing? This part of the story is probably unnecessary, but I want you guys to know where my passion stemmed from. Through this project, I learned all about the benefits of breastfeeding and a lot about the hospital and formula industry.
I also got to meet even more strong women like my professor and continued to be inspired by their stories! I was captivated and wanted to keep learning more about the beautiful process of bearing, laboring, birthing and nurturing a child.
So, I took the Doula course as a way to broaden my horizons and really get involved in this community. But I quickly realized that I could not pay rent doing this and knew that I needed to go a different direction. Chris and I got engaged soon after we graduated and I knew I'd be moving around a lot, and if you want to be a successful doula, you really need a solid community (in my opinion!). It just wasn't meant to be! But, I continued to keep up with research and stay connected. 

When I found out I was pregnant back in October, I didn't even think twice about having a natural, unmedicated birth. It is what I have always pictured for myself! Well, not always but since I educated myself 😊  Since I was surrounded by these strong women, and heard their powerful birth stories I knew that's what I wanted for myself and baby. This is quite the opposite experience as most other women in the U.S., however. We are taught from a young age (by other adults, movies, TV, magazines, etc.) that pregnancy is miserable and childbirth is a painful experience that requires medication. Trust me, I believed this too! If you would have asked me in high school or beginning of college how I would handle childbirth, and epidural would have been one of the first words out of my mouth! And I think this is true for many women my age. It's not normal to talk about natural childbirth or breastfeeding in a positive way and they are even looked at or referred to as "barbaric". But, I do think that this is changing as more information about childbirth is coming out/becoming more available! More on this in the next post. Let's continue with my inspiration :) 

I knew I didn't want to have a home birth (just a personal choice! I admire all women who choose to birth at home!), but that I would have to find the right hospital or birthing center, doctor and doula who support my decisions. I found a great OBGYN office attached to a hospital soon after we moved here, that happens to also have midwives! My first appointment was actually with an OBGYN, but after talking with her about my ideal birth, her statistics and practices, we both decided that a midwife was the best option for me. Since then I've been seeing the different Midwives at the office and have loved every single one! They rotate their shifts, so there's no guaranteeing that I will see a certain one. That's where the doula comes into play. My doula will be there with us from the start of labor until hours after the birth (as well as a few weeks afterwards) to be that consistent reassurance and support that a midwife in this setting just isn't able to do. I also have the time beforehand to get to know my doula more personally than a midwife. Okay, enough about the benefits of a doula...until next time 😉

Side note: I highly recommend Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, as well as Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper if I had to pick just two books. There is also a great documentary on Netflix called "The Business of Being Born" that goes into the "typical" hospital birth. I'm sure I will have more recommendations at the end of this pregnancy. 

As always, thank you for reading! If you have any suggestions, recommendations or questions please don't hesitate to reach out!

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