Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Natural Childbirth

Natural childbirth is an AMAZING experience. I always knew that when I had children I would want to have them without any drugs and with limited medical intervention (mostly because I am deadly afraid of IVs), and I feel extremely blessed and lucky that my birth (and my midwives) provided what I had hoped for. Many mothers that I know who had intended to give birth naturally were unable to for a wide array of reasons. For some women, this sort of experience is non-essential. But, for others, not having the birth they dreamed of can take a long, long while to get over.
Natural childbirth has many advantages for both mother and baby. For one, if birth happens naturally, the baby is not flooded with chemicals before entering the world. The placenta does block a portion of the chemicals from reaching the baby, but about 70% actually make it to the fetus (aka soon to be your kid!). These drugs can slow the baby's heartbeat and affect the respiratory system and remnants of these drugs remain in the baby's system for weeks, potentially causing sluggishness in the weeks after birth. The long term effects of these drugs on the baby is still an unknown.
As for the mother, we can all imagine that epidurals, c-sections and other medical interventions carry some sort of a small risk. The biggest problem with these interventions is that one intervention oftentimes leads to a whole host of further interventions with the end result being a c-section, the furthest things from a natural birth that there is. For example, pitocin, which is used to stimulate labor/increase contractions make the contractions worse and often causes the women to need an epidural. The epidural slows labor back down, and requires more pitocin to be put into the bloodstream. The cycle usually continues on and on until the doctors decide enough is enough and the birthing mama gets sent in for a section. Ugg. These drugs can all have a slew of potentially negative side effects to the mother (from headaches and backaches to huge drops in blood pressure, respiratory problems and even death). The more drugs and different drugs that are used, the more potential for a negative reaction!
Lastly, that first interaction between mama and baby can be seriously altered when labor drugs are involved. Mama and baby can both be drowsy and out of it (or still under medical supervision and not even near one another) making that initial bonding, as well as breastfeeding, harder to establish.
How to avoid all of this? If you are a low-risk pregnancy, consider having a birth at home or at a freestanding birth center (where no doctors are involved). I had my birth at Alma Midwifery, in Portland, and had a magnificent experience. It was a free standing birth center, with patient midwives, and no available pain medication. So, if I changed my mind and wanted drugs.. too bad! Risky you say? I would have to disagree. My midwives were wonderful and we had a backup plan for a hospital trip if ANYTHING did not go as planned. Birthing was painful, but not nearly as bad as I had imagined it to be, and I never even thought about wanting drugs. I loved being present and involved in my birth and it was THE most empowering thing that I have ever done. The picture shown above is in the room where my son was born less than an hour after his birth.
Natural childbirth is not for everyone, I understand, and I would never, ever look down upon any women who chose drugs because I know that everyone experiences pain differently. Every women should be congratualted for her birth no matter how the baby arrives. But, for those of you who would consider having a drug-free birth, I encourage you to look into that option. You are a woman and you are strong. Your baby will thank you!
If you haven't already seen Ricki Lakes' 2007 film The Business of Being Born, it is a MUST see. Ricki talks about some of the misconceptions of homebirths, tells her story of a homebirth and follows a mother along her birthing journey. Empowering, powerful and amazing. Every women should HAVE to see this before choosing where to birth.
Also, the September-October issue of Mothering magazine has some great articles on natural childbirth.
Birth-on ladies! Pin It Now!

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