Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Childbirth options

Pretty much anyone who's been reading my blog for any length of time knows that I really want to have a baby, and I'd like to have it soon. However, I am mandated not to start trying to get pregnant until I'm a year out from surgery, so in the meantime I content myself with looking into baby names, admiring baby clothes--and, recently, actually doing some research into childbirth options.

I am not actually QUITE as far ahead of the game as you might think. I need an annual exam in a couple months, my first one in Denver, so I'm in search of a new gynecologist. Since this will be my last annual exam before we start trying to get pregnant, I would, if possible, like to have it with the person who will manage my prenatal care while pregnant, so I can meet them ahead of time and decide if I like them.

So, I started doing some research to find the place where I'd like to give birth, so I can make an appointment there for my annual exam. I had some parameters in mind: if I give birth in a traditional hospital setting with a doctor delivering my baby, I'd like there to be some kind of advocate in the room other than Torsten who knows my birth plan and will work with the doctors to achieve it as much as possible, so that Torsten can focus on me and my needs and what's going on and not have to worry about dealing with doctors and making decisions, if necessary. So basically, I'd like some sort of doula or midwife.

I also figured out a few things that I would, in an ideal situation, like. I'd like a natural birth, if at all possible. I know that all births are different and everyone has different circumstances and it is quite possible that when it comes down to it, depending on the specifics of my own birth process, I will change my mind about this.

Also, I understand that a lot of women feel a lot of guilt, shame, and/or regret about the way their own birthing experiences played out. I hope to avoid that. Of course I would like to have things go a certain way, and will have a birthing plan and a clear idea of what I want. But I also want to try to accept that things can't always go the way you would like, and that the important thing is that the baby is born healthy and that the mother is healthy--no matter what it takes to make that happen. So if nothing ends up going according to my birthing plan, I am very much hoping to be OK with that.

Still, if it is possible, I would like to give birth naturally, and avoid a c-section. It is a little upsetting to me that the c-section rate in the US is over 30%. While I recognize that quite often c-sections are truly necessary, I simply do not think that's the case 30% of the time. I think that the whole process of pregnancy and childbirth has become way too medicalized and fear-based, and I want to avoid that as much as possible. So it's also important to me to go with a practice that has a low c-section rate, preferably under 10%.

However, despite not wanting my birth to be overmedicalized, I do want to give birth in a hospital. I want the peace of mind of knowing that if something does go wrong or become complicated, I'm in a facility that's equipped to handle it right away. I know Torsten needs that peace of mind as well.

Also, if possible, I would like to do a water birth. In reading about these, I've found that some doctors won't let a woman in labor get into the water until she's five centimeters dilated, because it is so relaxing that it can slow or even stop labor. I think that's great. Something that relaxes you so much? Excellent idea as far as I'm concerned.

So, I did a bunch of research on local options, and you know what I found? A Denver hospital that has a state-of-the-art birthing center with private rooms and birthing tubs, a midwives' practice IN the hospital (meaning that a midwife will deliver your baby unless a c-section is required or there are other serious complications, in which case doctors are right there to help), and a c-section rate of 9%.

In other words, I have found my dream facility. And I am totally making an appointment there for my annual exam to confirm. And I'm pretty sure this is the first time ever that I have actually looked forward to a gynecological exam.


  1. So jealous!!! We have NO birthing center options, and midwives are practically non-existent here. (Homebirth with a midwife is illegal in my state.)
    It's hospital or give birth at home, alone. Uh... what a choice.

  2. I had baby Q with the birth center in Chapel Hill and I loved it. I think birth centers are wonderful options for those who would prefer not to be in the hospital and aren't comfortable with a homebirth either. I highly recommend reading the forums on mothering.com - the women there are SO helpful and informative and there is so much great info - probably even about the birth center you are talking about. That said, I'd love to have a homebirth with my next baby (hopefully soon!).

  3. That is awesome! It's something I've thought a lot about too and we seem to have pretty identical birth plans. Also, as an FYI, you can schedule a pre-conception appointment with your doctor if you would like to see him/her before you start trying (and between annual exams). It's something I did with my old OB/GYN and I'm so glad I did because it afforded me the chance to get questions answered about trying, fertility, when to start pre-natals, etc...

  4. That's so awesome. That sounds like an amazing place! I really loved the midwives at my OBGYN office - they are amazing people. I'm sure yours will be as well!

    Make sure that when you call for your annual you mention that you'd like to make it a pre-conception appointment as well so they're sure to give you enough time to talk about what you need to. I scheduled an entire separate appointment for it and it was great.

    I did end up with a c-section, and I go back and forth between regret/no regret all the time. In the end, I have a beautiful baby girl, so really it was the perfect birth.

    I am SO excited for you! You're doing everything so right. :)

  5. I gave birth in a hospital with a midwife--and I really can't recommend it enough. I liked the appointments, which were quite medical but slightly longer than ordinary doctors' appointments. I liked the fact that my midwife was there for the whole entire time (well, at least the last two hours) of the birth. I did have a very straightforward and also short birth experience, with very few complications, which is easy in retrospect to attribute to my astute choice in midwives but in actuality was just luck.

    Anyway, good choices! And good luck. Urban Colorado is a pretty awesome place to give birth--lots of choices, lots of woo-woo nontraditional approaches offered as mainstream practices.

  6. I'm happy you found such a great treasure!

  7. That's wonderful that you found a place that fits all your wants and needs. Doing this ahead of time will make at least that aspect of your future pregnancy less stressful.

  8. Oh, water birth is totally up my alley. I figure since water (and swimming) is such a big part of my life, I should shoot my kid into the world in water, why not? Lol. As far as I know, the University hospital is the only one in CO that actually has a midwife and water birth option, did you find another one? The hospital that my OBGYN delivers at offers water laboring, but not water birth, and I figure that'll have to do when the time comes.

  9. Liking your doctor is incredibly important. I loved mine. I actually miss not seeing her all the time. :)

  10. Ok, I believe I've said it before, but sometimes I feel like you are blogging from my mind! I completely agree in the natural childbirth, advocate, and waterbirth plan! People always think I'm crazy when I say no drugs and no C-section. But I figure, my mom did it twice, my grandmother did it 3 times, her mother did it 6 times, so why can't I? For THOUSANDS of years women made it through childbirth without drugs, so why can't I?

    Additionally, if I'm not able to do a water birth, I'd like to find a facility that would allow me to do a squatting birth as opposed to a "traditional" laying down birth. The "traditional" posture is actually not natural, and meant to make it easier on the person delivering the baby. Women actually used to step up on "birthing bricks" and squat down and let gravity help the birthing process along. Someone just needed to be waiting under to catch the baby when it came out!

    I'm rambling. But you get the idea. Great minds think alike!

  11. I am so jealous! I live in Phoenix (the 5th largest metro area in the country), and there is not a single, not even one, birthing center. I am so opposed to overmedicalized birth that I am hoping to give birth to this little baby at home with a midwife (If I can stay low-risk).

    There is a single hospital midwife practice in town, but when I met with a midwife there, almost the first thing out of her mouth was: "if you are even remotely considering home birth, do it. the hospital sucks, it is small and unfriendly. The nurses are not used to unmedicalized birth. Have this baby at home." I have had nothing but support and encouragement from everyone from my regular general practitioner, to my boss (a women's health nurse practitioner).

    The only person I have talked to who was not 100% supportive? My former gynecologist/ob. It was truly disappointing how afraid of being sued she was. Oh well, I am not looking back.

    I wish you the best of luck in finding the right practitioner for you! It is a tough job, when you do research and know what you want! :)

  12. I think that's great you know what you want and are able to find a facility matching your personal needs. On the c-section front, I wonder what percent of women died from childbirth before c-section was available... and whether those statistics have changed at all since the introduction of c-sections. For me personally, if I have my own child one day, I'm not so much into the natural thing ... I'm into the get-this-thing-out-of-me-now-with-as-little-pain-as-possible thing. I found my OBGYN about a decade ago and love love love him. He would be a great advocate for me should I go down that road.

  13. Your preparedness is amazing. I wanted a home birth and was going to get one except that my Jackson was a stubborn little one and was almost a month late and we ended up going to a hospital and had a s-section. It was SO NOT in my birth plan, but what are ya gonna do? He's healthy and happy and that's all that matters.

    Have fun doing research and finding what works for you. :)

  14. I think you just have to be prepared for anything as far as childbirth goes. I planned on natural. Contractions started at 1AM, hospital at 8AM, no pain medication until about 7PM. By then, I was ready for a bit of relief. Pushed for 2 hours, but my son was transverse and I spiked a fever so they did a C-section. The important part? I ended up with a healthy baby.

  15. holy crap, woman. my forward planning at the moment is "make sure you remember your plans this weekend." :-)

  16. WOW! You must have done some serious research there because you found exactly what you were looking for. I'm happy for you.

  17. There are several hospitals in the Seattle area that now have midwifery programs, and they are all EXCELLENT. The best one in the area is less than 5 miles away from where we live now (not that we're planning on babies anytime soon, but...). They are very open to natural births, which is what I want. They allow laboring mothers to walk around as much as they want, instead of being confined to their bed. They also allow you to bring candles into the room, which is a no-no at a lot of hospitals! And they have big birthing tubs in each suite.

    It sounds like you've found a great place that will really suit your needs. I can't wait until you start posting about all this :-)

  18. Color me jealous. That sounds amazing.

  19. My aunt did a water birth, it's actually really convenient for her. Less painful and everything. As for natural birth, I thought they have injections in every opening now to prevent you from being in pain too much or something? I'm nowhere near ready to have a baby but I think birth is a beautiful process, a real sign that woman is a woman, you know? I wont do c-section unless very necessary too :)

  20. I really wish I was at your stage of baby planning. I'm still in the "trying-to-convince-my-boyfriend-that-babies-are-awesome" stage. He's pretty much there, but it won't be until at least another couple of years before we start having babies.

    Which makes me sad because I desperately want one and am so so ready :(

    Ah, boys.

  21. So! I gave birth at a hospital just like yours, and honestly, Jess, it was awesome. I had the option of a water birth -- I don't admit this much, but I wanted to try to at least LABOR in the water.

    But I'll get to that in a second. First off, I didn't need an advocate, because my doctors and midwives at my practice were so unbelievably tuned in to me and what I wanted -- which was basically a safe birth with as little medication as possible, for what turned out to be irrational reasons, but whatever.

    I had a super-medicated birth. But! Because of my facility and my medical practice, it was still amazing and magical and ... hippie-like and awesome and felt unmedicated, even though it was. I had Pitocin AND an epidural, and it turned out fine. (Well. Pit sucks, but whatever.)

    ANYWAY, the whole point was to tell you that I, too, was all WATER BIRTHY and shit and then, get this, when I got into the tub? I freaked out. Turns out it was NOT AT ALL RELAXING for me and turned me into a panicked FREAK. I was all, OMFG! GET ME OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OMG OUT. Like, two seconds after getting my naked ass in there. For real.

    Plus, and this is rich, out of nowhere, a birthing ball came shooting out from atop the shelf above the toilet and HIT ME IN THE HEAD. While painfully contracting. In birthing tub of doom.

    In retrospect, it was fucking hysterical. But my point is, be sure to have a plan B and other labor coping mechanisms available in the unlikely event that the idea of a water birth is better in theory than in practice, like it was for me.

  22. That is awesome.

    If I ever find the SURPRISE that I am going to have a baby, I am all for the water birth method. How wonderful that is an option!

  23. Ah, I think I know of the center of which you speak. I've heard good things. I ended up not going there for insurance reasons (ie, insurance wouldn't accept it), but boy would it have been convenient if I had - it's only 3 miles away.