America is about the only country that treats a natural birth as an emergency. It is often helpful to remember that women have been doing this for thousands of years. So far, they have repopulated the earth just fine.
I have experienced both a hospital birth and a home birth. The hospital birth was a nightmare. I obtained issues that could have been avoided, but now must be dealt with for the rest of my life. If only I had known these twelve simple truths. I am not against doctors. If it weren’t for doctors I wouldn’t be here today, several times over. But as I said before, “Having a natural birth is not an emergency.” I understand that sometimes, things just don’t work out to have a home birth. Hopefully you will find this useful. Keep in mind that these twelve “things to know” are written for a normal, non emergency birth.
1. Ask your doctor about your test results at your regular checkups. When you have a blood test; ask what your iron level is. It should be a 12. When you have a urine test; ask how your hydration is. Do you need to be drinking more water?
2. Some birthing centers will have a jetted bathtub. Take advantage of this until you are ready to push.
3. You don’t have to deliver on your back. It is more natural to stand up or squat. Even being on your hands and knees is easier. Let gravity help.
4. Only push when you feel the need. Let your body do the work when it wants to.
*Occasionally a doctor will not let you push until you are dilated to at least a 9. When your body is ready to push, they will tell you not to push. They will suggest that if you push, you will have to have a Cesarean. Try not to be bullied into doing something that is not natural or can even be impossible for you to do. If your body is pushing; you are ready.
* There can be an opposite effect too; where the doctor and nurses walk into your room and tell you to start pushing when you obviously don’t have the urge to. Listen to your body. No worries. When it is time to push, you will know and your body will do it for you on it’s own.
5. There is no need for the doctor to break your water or give you drugs to speed up the birthing process. It is perfectly normal for a first birth to take as long as 36 hours. Another technique that is used is called “sweeping membranes.” This is done by your doctor separating your water bag (amniotic membrane) from the lower part of your uterus (cervix). This releases hormones into your body that cause labor. There are side effects to this in the healing of your vagina after birth. It rips much needed muscles.
6. If your doctor cuts your vagina, even a little, it will tear. (Not just a little, but all of the way.) Your doctor will then have to sew you up; stitches inside of stitches. You will then tear again during any future births, even if you are not cut. Women were made to stretch. You will need to inform your doctor if you wish to not be cut.
7. You need food and drink during labor. You are working very hard. For an added boost of energy; take a spoonful or stick of honey just before you feel the urge to push the first time. Then drink Recharge and/or coconut water in between pushes.
8. It is very beneficial (for your baby) to allow the umbilical cord to stay connected for a little while after birth. If this is your wish, you will have to notify your doctor. Also, if there is no emergency, then there is no need for the nurses to whisk your baby away. You can ask them to give you your baby right after it is born and let it start sucking when those important instincts are active (right after birth). Otherwise those special sucking instincts will not return until hours later.
9. You don’t have to let the hospital give your baby any shots or drops in it’s eyes. You will have to sign a document stating that you decline this. They will not be happy. Be firm if this is what you and your spouse have decided.
* They will give your baby a hearing test and a Pediatrician will look your baby over.
10. Do not let your doctor pull out your placenta. You should push it out on your own. If some considerable time has gone by; they will give you a shot to release the placenta. Try sitting on the toilet for a while first. Pulling out your placenta causes scar tissue to form on the inside of your uterus. This creates problems with future periods and can cause fibroid tumors later in life. It also causes you to receive your babies blood into your blood. This could result in antibodies (although this is rare) Apparently not rare enough; it happened to me.
11. Eat some nourishing food soon after birth.
12. Have someone help you to the toilet for your first time. You could pass out from loss of blood.
In all this, remember that you can always hire a Doula. She is a person that is qualified to be an ambassador for you during birth. The mother giving birth (you) are not always listened to as you should be. Thus a Doula is helpful in making sure that all your wishes are met. She can communicate with your doctor, nurses and hospital staff.