Why I am Choosing a Natural Childbirth: The Facts

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Let me start out by saying that there is no right or wrong way to have a baby. Your choice is your choice and mine is mine. In the end, we all are trying to do what’s best for our little ones! We can do the same research and come out with different opinions. And that's OKAY! I just wanted to share a little more insight on why I am choosing a natural, unmedicated birth. 

In my previous post about choosing a natural childbirth, I talked about my inspiration (read here). Today I’m going to go into the facts and my (condensed) research, with a splash of opinion, about natural childbirth. My goal for this blog post is to educate others and share facts that may not be commonly known. My goal is NOT to tell you why medicated births are bad/wrong (because they're not!) or to offend or guilt anyone. How you want your labor and delivery to go is 100% up to YOU, and I do not judge any momma out there for their choices! There are reasons that interventions exist, as they have saved many women and babies. I am not here to pass judgement on others, or to scare people into having an unmedicated birth, or vice versa. Do your research and make educated decisions that best suits YOU! 

Alright, time to dive in...

First and foremost, I have to point out that God handcrafted women to cary and bear babies. We ARE capable! We ARE strong! We don't [all] NEED interventions! I am confident in my ability to go forth with an unmedicated birth because He gives me strength. He created this body, crafted so perfectly to grow and birth a baby human. How amazing is that?! When we stop thinking about childbirth being a punishment (some believe that women experience pain in childbirth because Eve ate the forbidden fruit) and start thinking about it as a gift that we are blessed to be able to experience, our mindsets change. Change your mindset, change your life :)

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10 

Babies born without an epidural or other pain medications are more alert.
Babies born without and epidural have a higher Apgar score. This is a quick way in which physicians measure the health of a newborn by their appearance, pulse, grimace (reflex/response), activity, and respiration. Midwives and physicians all around the globe have observed that babies born without interventions are more alert. 
Why is a having an alert baby important?
One (very important) reason is breastfeeding! Your baby already has those instincts, and adding medications to the mix can interfere with them. A drowsy baby is less likely to be interested in breastfeeding due to lack of energy and also interference with natural hormones (mom's and baby's). Oxytocin (aka the love hormone) is released naturally during and after birth and while breastfeeding, aiding in the bond between mom and baby. It also is responsible for contractions during labor, helps slow down bleeding after birth, and contracts mom's uterus post-birth. I'm getting off topic, I could talk about the benefits of breastfeeding for hours :) 
In the end, there is not enough evidence (for me, at least) to prove that an epidural or other pain medications do not affect the baby or have long term affects on the mom. Actually, the FDA has addressed that they do indeed cross the placenta and therefore to the baby.

[Opinion: We are told all throughout pregnancy to never take these medications, don’t eat these foods, don’t lift more than this amount of weight, etc., because it they are bad for the baby. So why is it all of a sudden okay to be pumped with pain meds when going through labor and delivery? I mean, we can't even have Ibuprofen for crying out loud! Just a thought.]

You are free to walk around and move to whatever position is comfortable.
The freedom to walk around and change positions is crucial for me. I don't sit still long. Ever. And I know I will be the same while laboring! I like being in control of my body and being able to feel movements (hence the love for working out and weight training!).
Epidurals limit you to the bed. When an epidural is chosen by the patient (or physician), so is an IV, continuous fetal monitoring, blood pressure monitoring and in some cases even a catheter. So not only are momma's legs numb from the epidural, but she also has an IV and fetal monitor attached to her, keeping her in one position. This forces momma to push on her back which, in my opinion, is the least effective way to push a baby out. This position narrows the size of a woman's pelvis, making it more difficult for baby to get through the birth canal, causing stress to the baby and could potentially put mom at a higher risk of tearing. Add this increase in baby's heart rate to momma's fever (side effect of epidural) and you have yourself an emergency c-section in the making :(

Unmedicated births have a decreased risk of an unnecessary cesarean.
This topic is a little controversial. As with everything else on this post, do your own research and make the best decision for YOU! Generally speaking, labor interventions do cause more labor interventions. 
I think the easiest way to explain this is by describing a typical hospital birth:
(my opinion, based on research and fellow momma's birth stories)
  1. Mom gets medically induced (stripping of membranes, administering oxytocin/pitosin)
  2. Mom can't handle the pain from the contractions that the Pitosin is causing (Pitosin contractions can be more intense and last longer with little-to-no breaks than naturally-occurring contractions) and opts for an Epidural.
  3. The Epidural helps mom's pain but the contractions are just as intense, causing baby to become distressed (increased heart rate), and/or Mom gets a fever as a side-effect from the medications.  
  4. Baby's distress is recorded on the fetal monitor, Mom's fever is recored and doctor stresses that it's time for this baby to come out. Mom is either given and episiotomy, the doctor has to use forceps or vacuum extraction or Mom is wheeled out for an emergency cesarean.
So, you can see in this scenario that Mom could have reduced her chance of a cesarean by letting her body labor naturally. Again, this is a GENERIC scenario that I have seen and heard many times. I am by no means putting blame or guilt on any Mom out there who chose/chooses interventions! The end result is a healthy baby and that's what matters. My point here is to show how one intervention leads to the next. 

The rate of cesarean in the US is 31.9%. To put that into perspective, the World Health Organization recommends a cesarean rate of 10-15%. While we are down 1% since last year, we still have a ways to go in improving this statistic. Babies born vaginally have a lower risk of respiratory issues and are exposed to protective bacteria that boost their immune systems. Not to mention, cesarians are a major (expensive) surgery! They cause mom to be bed-ridden for weeks after having baby. This is can affect mom and baby's relationship, breastfeeding and can even cause postpartum depression. All things that I would like to avoid if I can! **I am NOT saying that every momma will have these affects post-cesarean. Every momma is different. Every baby is different. Every birth is different**

Unmedicated births are less expensive. 
Now, I must say that your insurance, country and state all play huge roles in this. I'm sure there are cases out there where a medicated birth was less expensive than an unmedicated one. You could have a medicated birth and it cost next to nothing with your insurance, or pay $1000+ to have an unmedicated birth at a hospital having no insurance. This is something you would have to look into as an individual. But on average, medicated births do cost more money. You (or your insurance) will have to pay for an induction (e.g. pitosin), pain medication (e.g. Demerol), epidural, c-section (this is a major surgery, people!), extended hospital stay due to complications from those listed, so on and so forth. Either way, the hospital is making more money off of a medicated birth.

Most important thing: Make an informed choice for YOU from a place of knowledge and NOT out of fear. Don’t choose to have a natural birth just because you read this blog post. Don’t choose a voluntary C-Section or induction because that’s what some other blogger said. If you want an unmedicated birth, do your research. If you want a hospital birth, do your research. If you want a home birth, do your research. If you want an epidural, do your research. If you want a c-section, do your research. I can’t say it enough: Do your research! And don’t believe every little thing you read or hear. Find the FACTS! 

No matter how you choose (or chose) to give birth, you are no less or more of a woman than the one who chooses (or chose) to do the opposite. No matter what you choose, realize that things can change in a matter of seconds [while my intention is to have an intervention-free labor and delivery, I will always do what is best for baby]. No matter how you labor and give birth, you are a super woman and don’t ever let anyone tell you different. 

I want to leave you with this quote by Dr. Robert Bradley, developer of The Bradley Method, from his book "Husband Coached Childbirth": 

"Birthing, like swimming, although a normal function, requires knowledge and training to perform. Both can be an exhilarating experience when properly performed and a very dangerous experience when fear or ignorance interfere."

As always, thank you so much for reading. This was one of the toughest blog posts I've ever written, just because the topic is so controversial. I hope that I was able to strike a fire within you to want to learn more <3

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