Another big difference for me is geography. With pregnancy #1, I lived in Oregon. I attended a prenatal yoga class and met other like-minded women. I seriously considered going to the gorgeous birthing center in town, but then opted to let my family practitioner deliver my baby in the small, rural hospital where my husband worked. I was so supported. It was so intimate. It was a wonderful birth experience. Everyone who worked with me during my labor and delivery read my birth plan and followed it. In fact, when I was pushing and ask my Doctor for some pain medication, he calmly waited for the contraction to stop and then asked me if I meant it and explained my very limited options. A very unique experience in our western world of trying to control labor and delivery with medications, metal devices, beds... I am very thankful.
Now I live in rural NW Pennsylvania. I love it here. But I do not love the corporate hospital or the lack of options pregnant women have. In fact, every woman here has 2 options: Use the hospital and get whichever OB is on-call OR .... what... OR WHAT? The first few months of my pregancy were filled with that question. You cannot have an easy labor and delivery if you are not comfortable with your surroundings and the people supporing you... I HATE the hospital here. I HATE the fact that I might have met the doctor who will be supporting me, or I might not.
Then Tara's book arrived... I have now hired a midwife and am excitingly preparing for a home birth! Below is the review I wrote months ago when I finished reading this book (the first time).
Little did I know, the book would arrive just days after I discovered that I was pregnant! Just long enough for me to begin to grapple with fear. The fear of labor & delivery. Something I didn’t experience in my first pregnancy. During my first pregnancy, I read Ida May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth. That book knocked my socks off! Here was birth story after birth story of women who enjoyed/cherished/delighted in their births experiences Positive birth stories… now that was a novel idea!
That book inspired me while writing my birth plan. I had a family practitioner that was my PCP and he was going to deliver the baby and be his/her Doctor. He was the expert on me! He was amazing. I delivered in a small, rural hospital. Everyone that worked with me read my birth plan and fully supported me. The nurse and aid even tried to set up the “squat” bar over the bed… I must have been the first person to request that. Unbelievable. I went into labor 5 weeks early, but from the time my water broke at 10pm till the time I started to push around 6:30am, I was calm and under control. I had my yoga mat and birthing ball. I had my mental mantra: “I was made for this.”. I had positive energy and support. The contractions were mere ocean waves rolling through my body. As long as I didn’t have to lie down, I could handle them. When it was time to push, I was surprised by the intensity and pain. I asked for pain meds. My supportive Doctor waited till the contraction passed and gently asked me if I was sure. I am so thankful for his support! I was able to birth my daughter naturally, but experienced a lot of internal and external tearing. My first reaction to her was relief and awe…awe that that little nugget caused me such pain!
I’m telling you this so that you know why I had such mixed reactions while reading Birth Unhindered. After the first few chapters, the pit of dread in my stomach grew. I had forgotten about the “ring of fire”. The birth stories, though incredible, were bringing the pain of pushing back to me.
Then an amazing thing began to happen. As I hungrily read each birth story, I began to believe in myself. My own power. I no longer live near that supportive Doctor or small town hospital. I have one option: a corporate hospital where you get whichever OBGYN is on call. The only thing that scares me more than pushing another child through my birth canal… is that impersonal corporation/ hospital.
I had researched Birthing Centers, and there are NONE within a 2-hour radius. Yes, I knew that Tara, the author, had done home births, but though I respected her, I had always thought that a home birth was WAY too hippy for me. I couldn’t imagine relaxing in my own home. Wouldn’t I feel compelled to do housework or disgust at myself for not doing housework? Wouldn’t it make an awful mess?
Chapter after chapter, the transformation took hold. As I neared the end of the book, I made a tentative mention to my husband that the idea of a home birth with a midwife was beginning to sound appealing. Much to my surprise, he sounded like he’d been thinking of this option all along (though he hadn’t). His complete acceptance and willingness to look into this idea gave me confidence.
It was with a sad heart that I finished this book. Whether I find a midwife or not, I am once again empowered. Less naïve then my previous birth, but less scared then before I read Unhindered Birth. I’m excited about my pregnancy and eager to write my birth story (perhaps one that includes a birthing pool on my 2nd story deck overlooking the forest?).
WIN IT! open to residents of US/Canada
Win a copy of Birth Unhindered, by Tara McGuire.
*TO ENTER: Please leave a comment sharing either your own positive birth experience, share what your dream birth experience would be OR simply share a positive thing/story/idea you've heard about birth. If you do not plan on having kids yourself, this book is still eye opening and a great thing to share!
Winner will be chosen by random.org. All entries must be completed by 11:59pm November 2nd, 2010. Winners will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen.