Help for natural childbirth in a hospital setting!

The more I look into these things, the more I realize what an anomaly my births have been — five births, uninduced, unmedicated, all-natural, all in a hospital setting.  It appears to me that, despite some great attempts to the contrary, the birthing camps are becoming more polarized — the “gimme and epidural NOW” folks in one corner, and the homebirthers in another, and neither the twain shall meet on middle ground.

I understand that’s a sweeping generalization.  However, especially as I look into possibly becoming a doula, and as I’ve been researching more and more on natural birth to help with my dear friend Erin as she births her first baby, it does at least seem like things are pretty much stridently divided into those two camps.

I’ve even read some stuff from the perspective that my own babies’ births don’t count as “natural” because they were in a hospital setting.  Forgive my strong language, ;) but that’s a load of crap.

I realize that medical costs are out of control in the U.S., and our 31.8% cesearean surgery rate and unnecessarily medicated vaginal births contribute greatly to the excesses, and that birthing at home is a much more affordable alternative — and possibly even a part of the solution to taming medical expenses.  HOWEVER.  It makes me a wee bit upset to read — as I have, and read a LOT — stuff that makes it sound like a natural hospital-based birth is impossible.  There is definitely homebirthing propaganda that tries to scare women out of trying to birth naturally in the hospital, which in my book, is shooting mothers in their own feet (or uterus??) and lending to the passive, defeatist attitude that many women adopt at the hands of hospital medical staff, instead of empowering them to advocate for themselves and their baby.

Now, I will say that my… umm… strong personality, personal convictions, and willingness to swim upstream were all definitely aids in my success.  I had to stand my ground on more than one occasion to advocate for myself to be able to have a natural childbirth, going against the advice of my doctors, and definitely against the advice of L&D nurses — declining induction, refusing continual fetal monitoring, getting a hep lock in lieu of standard IV fluids, eating and drinking during labor, declining pain medication, declining Pitocin, declining AROM, declining episiotomies, etc.   Nothing has been handed to me on a platter;  I’ve had to read, research, know my options, and stick to my guns.  But, I am proof, five times over, that it is definitely possible to have a natural, hospital-based birth.

However, I have frequently wished for more information online to support those who — for whatever reason(s) — choose to birth in the hospital, yet have a desire to birth naturally.  There just hasn’t been enough readily-available information on it, at least not that I’ve seen.

Voila! Here it is.  Mother’s Advocate (co-produced with Lamaze International).  I love the name.  I more greatly love what it provides:  Well-produced, concise print materials, and similarly well-produced short videos, all with the purpose to help women birth naturally especially in a hospital setting.

Seriously.  If you watched the seven videos, each 2 – 3½ minutes long, and really applied all six of the steps illustrated, you would be well-equipped to have a natural birth.  The 18 page complete pdf document (also downloadable in seven separate sections) is helpful, as well.  I would suggest watching the videos first, then printing out the pdfs as a reminder.  There are also 14 pages of additional information, like a birth planning worksheet and a “references” document if you’re a research-wonk and want to look into it more thoroughly.

I did not take Lamaze classes or anything, but I did each of these steps, partly on instinct, and partly gleaned from other various resources.  It’s great to have them all in one place — short, sweet, and effective.

Intro:  Birth —  As Safe and Healthy as it Can Be (click for pdf)

Step 1:  Let Labor Begin on its Own (click for pdf)

Step 2:  Walk, Move Around, and Change Positions Throughout Labor (click for pdf)

Step 3:  Bring a Loved One, Friend, or Doula for Continuous Support (click for pdf)

Step 4:  Avoid Interventions That Are Not Medically Necessary (click for pdf)

Step 5:  Avoid Giving Birth on Your Back, and Follow Your Body’s Urges to Push (click for pdf)

Step 6:  Keep Your Baby With You — It’s Best for You, Your Baby, and Breastfeeding (click for pdf)

I dearly hope that this info and these links are a help to someone, anyone out there.

Also, if you are a natural childbirth advocate of any kind, and have further links to suggest, do leave them in a comment!!

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About Karen Joy

I'm a homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 17, 15 and 12 years old, and three girls: 8 and 5 years old, and our newest, born in June 2013. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I am a natural childbirth advocate and fledgling birthing class instructor. I'm a CSA coordinator for a local organic farm, Crooked Sky Farms. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on July 20, 2009, in Babies, Birth, Medical Stuff, Pregnancy. Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. Interesting! I had 4 births in the hospital but naturally. I had great midwives (CNM) that coached me and my hubby through it. People look at me like I’m crazy. I wouldn’t do it any other way! And…I’d like to do it again! I didn’t know it was such a rarity! God created this process in such a miraculous way…I stand in awe!

    Thank you for the links. I am involved with our local pregnancy center and think these would be great resources to have for our clients.

    • I had four doc births and one CNM birth — my second. She was not very helpful. She pretty much stayed with me the whole time and stared, then did an AROM, at which point it was discovered that Grant had let go his meconium, and it was a good thing I needed to push, but she did an episiotomy w/o my permission, because she felt we needed to get him out ASAP due to the meconium…. which, maybe we did. Still. It wasn’t the best experience. Now that I’ve been reading more, I understand that there are LOTS of different practices and theories for CNMs, and maybe mine was just TOO hands-off during labor, and too hands-on during the actual birthing… If I got pregnant again, I’m entertaining the idea of birthing at home, though I think I might be too high risk (I’ve got a call into an LM/CPM with whom I’m acquainted, to ask her!!). Not that we’re planning another baby, but with our history, you just never know… :D

  2. Can’t wait to watch the videos!

    It is totally possible to have natural birth in hospitals. You just have to be aware and be prepared! That’s what I teach my students, the majority of which have hospital or birth center births. Being a home-birther, I am in the minority, even amongst my own students and clients. I’ve doula-ed for many people in hosptials and birth centers.

    You should totally be a doula, Karen! I think you’d be really good at it!

    • Thank you for the vote of confidence, Daja!!

      The only problem is that, according to http://www.dona.org, the only doula training workshop for the ENTIRE YEAR in the Phoenix area is in Mesa (40 miles from my house), in November, on the weekend of my 15th wedding anniversary. I don’t think that’s how my hubby wants to spend our anniversary. I don’t think that’s how I want to spend it either!! :( Not sure what to do.

  3. Take doula training in So Cal and stay with me!!!! :-) We’d have such fun!

    I was a dona member for years. (I let it expire though! Oops!) I really like DONA. There are, however, other doula training and certifying organizations.

  4. Having had a natural birth in a hospital setting, I say (nice word) to all those that don’t agree that it is natural. Our hospital did what we wanted and it was nice to have someone else clean up after us. I did also have one at home and one at the midwife clinic.

    After much more researching I do agree that an epidural is not the way to go. Wish I had learned that before the first 2!

    BTW I have enjoyed all the other recent posts. We are gone so much right now that I read but don’t always have time to comment.

  5. I had all three of my births in a hospital. The first one ended in a c section; due to what my next OB called “a cascade of intervention”. Too much pitocin led to an epidural, let to a foley catheter that wasn’t put in properly, led to a distended bladder (which will, trust me, cancel out ANY AND ALL pain medication), which led to the largest dose possible of anesthetic, led to me not being able to push.

    Oh, and the fact that they didn’t let me eat during the entire labor didn’t help either.

    Second time around, I signed up with a midwifery practice, only to find out at my 18 week appointment that they were no longer able to support VBACs. So I did research, asked around, and found a wonderful OB with a 90% VBAC success rate. He listened to me, agreed that I could most definitely attempt a VBAC and he gave me “70% chance” of succeeding.

    I went in there and told the nurse, “I don’t want pain meds. Don’t ask me during labor, because I don’t want to change my mind in a weak moment.” They all respected that. The OB assisted with a vacuum extractor, and I had my first natural–even with a bit of pitocin, because my babies just don’t like to come out on their own, apparently–childbirth. Baby was 10 pounds. It was heaven. To be able to sit up right away and reach for my baby, to eat a sandwich right afterwards–a miracle.

    My third baby was 12 pounds, 5 ounces. We hired a doula for extra support and in case my husband had to go into work, which as it turned out, he did for an hour during the labor. He came back right as the baby was being born! Again, I told the nurses I didn’t want pain meds and they looked skeptical, but during transition I heard one of them saying, “Wow, she’s handling the pain well.” I’d learned to make low sounds, not high sounds. I’d learned that I, personally, labor better on my back near the end, and I do not like to push in a squatting or sitting position, thank you. I had also learned to eat during labor. I had my doctor put it on my chart that I was allowed to eat.

    After the baby came out (shoulder dystocia, healed in three days—however I had NO stitches or tearing)–my OB leaned over my bed and said, “If you have another one, I’m retiring.” Ha!

    • KAREN! TWELVE POUNDS FIVE OUNCES???!!!???? Wow. My largest was 10 lbs even — my 3rd and youngest son. When both Audrey and Fiala were in the birth canal, I thought, “Whew. She’s not 10 lbs.” I could definitely tell the difference. I actually birthed my 10 pounder unassisted, because the doc wasn’t there, and the nurse didn’t believe me that the baby was coming, and when she finally came into the room, I was pushing him out, and she was still putting on her gloves when he came out all the way. BUT, I hadn’t learned at that point that my tendency is to push too hard and too much, and I did tear, but not too badly. Still. I honor you for pushing out a 12+ pound baby with no tearing!!

      I can’t — or at least, it’s unwise for me to — squat for birth, too, because the baby comes too fast, and because of my tendency to push too hard… with both my girls, for pushing, I was mostly sitting. I was in the tub with Audrey (9 lbs even) and walking with Fiala (8 lbs 13 oz) right before transition, and went to the bed only for transition, which lasted five minutes or so, then they both came out in less than five minutes, and about three pushes. However, if you watched the videos, the lady who is laboring backwards on the bed, with the bed all the way in sitting position, and she’s leaning over it… that looks very comfortable to me, and I’m wondering if she birthed that way, too.

      • Yeah, my first two were 10 pounds, and I thought (ha) it was because I ate a very healthy diet or something. My husband is 6’2″, and I’m 5’8″. It wasn’t until after the third came out looking like a sumo wrestler that my mother in law “remembered” that her father was 13 pounds at birth. They had to hire wet nurses, since his mother couldn’t produce enough milk to feed him at that size. I told her, it would have been nice to know that before I married your son! She said, Would you have still married him? I said, yes, but forewarned is forearmed!

        Oh, and I had no gestational diabetes, none at all. Everbody asks me that. We just have big babies. They were all 24 inches long; I like to say they were 2 feet tall at birth.

  6. I tried that position and it felt odd…too high…too little control. Everyone’s different though! All 4 of mine came out while I was on my side. CANNOT IMAGINE DOING IT ON MY BACK! I can’t breath in that position!

  7. glutenfree4goofs

    I like this post Karen, lots of research and great insight! :) The reason my 1st child and only hospital birth was assisted was because I had no support. I had my husband (obviously he didn’t know a thing about birthing) and then there were the nurses. When I got to the transition stage, I didn’t know it, they didn’t tell me and the only relief/support they gave me was an epidural. :( I wish I hadn’t had one it was a rough recovery because of it and my son had a terrible time with nursing etc. All I needed was a little support! If a person is going to birth in a hospital I wouldn’t do it without a doula (or of course a good birth coach), I think that is the key. After 4 babies I can say the women who assisted (and the one who didn’t) me made ALL the difference!

    • Definitely. The women who support you make all the difference. Most women who give birth in a hospital stress over which doctor to choose. I think the nurses make a lot more difference than the doctor does!! I tell women who are giving birth to pray in advance for their nurses — that they will be kind, helpful, not jaded, with good bedside manner, with helpful advice, etc. The doctor usually just swoops in at the last minute to catch the baby; nurses are of really higher importance, IMO, and you can’t control who your nurses are!!

      • glutenfree4goofs

        Yeah totally true but then there is a long labor where the nurses change stations just before you deliver and someone new pops in at the last minute! That’s why I say get a doula or midwife if at all possible! :) I loved my first nurse but she went off duty by the time I NEEDED her! You would/will be a great doula!

        I also agree with Nicole (2) below about “waging the war”!

        With my hospital birth in CA they did not respect my wishes (or maybe didn’t know since the staff changed at the end) by that time I was no longer fighting for myself. Mind you it was my first but the difference out of the hospital was definitely the stress level. When a mother cat goes to birth where does she go? A quiet, dark, comfortable hole! A hospital is often none of those. CA was a difficult state to advocate for myself.

        I assisted a birth in WA for my cousin and did everything possible to help her with the birth she desired but when the staff at the hospital is unwilling things just can’t go as planned. :( They were ready to yank her baby because her anterior water broke and they kept insisting that the baby was in danger. Each time I asked them to check the monitors (which they also insisted on, even though she didn’t want them- they ended up being my only proof that baby was NOT stressed)! She ended up with pitosin, later an epidural and was minutes from a c section when her water actually broke and the baby nearly fell out. If only they would have respected her wishes and left her alone from the beginning.

        Anyhow Karen, I do think you have been blesses by your experiences and no doubt prayer was a huge factor in that!

  8. As a nurse and CNM who has only worked in hospital settings I am surprised to hear that your births are not considered natural by some. I have NEVER heard this way of thinking nor do I know anyone who agrees with it. I do believe that an unmedicated birth in the hospital is definitely possible with the right provider, the right support team, and the right personal preparation. Kudos to you for having the strength and confidence to do it 5 times and thanks for sharing this information. You are going to be a GREAT doula!!

    In Birth and Love
    Nicole

    • Thank you, Nicole!!

      Unfortunately, the same people who would say my births weren’t natural would probably derisively call you a “medwife” because of your CNM degree and your “collusion” with doctors. :( I bookmarked your blog; it looks like a great resource!!

  9. I don’t want to totally disagree with you, but – some of the things you mentioned you were able to achieve at your hospital just are not possible at all hospitals. Unless you really DO want to fight your doctors/nurses EVERY STEP OF THE WAY during labor and delivery. Or unless your husband has the same convictions as you and he is willing to wage that war.

    Actually, I TRULY wish I could agree with you! If I could have a hospital birth where I wasn’t worried over whether they were going to try to induce me, pit me, cut me (only if “necessary”). If I knew I would be allowed to eat and drink without having to try to sneak my food. If I hadn’t already had multiple discussions with the OBs in the practice I’m currently using about possibly using a hep lock instead of an IV, to which they gave an adamant, NO. If I didn’t already know that simply by stepping into the hospital that I was asking for a fight at my most volatile emotional and hormonal and vulnerable time, I’d probably agree with you. For me, though – I just don’t want to have to be constantly alert to what the doctors are going to try to do to me – I want to be able to focus on labor and staying calm, not watching out for what they’re going to try to do next. I just don’t think it’s ideal for women to go into the delivery room knowing they’re going to have a fight on their hands.

    Anyway, sorry to have disagreed with you on your blog…but this is exactly where my husband and I are at right now – a big crossroads between knowing what we want in birth, and knowing we can’t get that without a fight at a hospital, and knowing we don’t want a fight at that time in our lives! If there were trained midwives located within an hour of our home, it would be no question – homebirth! But, that’s not the case – looks like we’ll be fighting our way towards natural birth at the hospital, whether we want to or not.

    Perhaps the birth culture is different at the hospital you use than the one in our area, but for sure around here – telling a woman that she can just show her OB these PDFs and he’ll say “oh yes, that sounds great, no problem” is setting her up for disappointment. (by the way, I LOVE the videos too!….I found them a week or so ago through another link – great info, just…..nearly impossible to achieve unless you have agreeable doctors)

    Thanks for sharing the links though! The more women who know about their options, the better.

    • Nicole ~ Where are you located? Admittedly, I’ve only given birth in Arizona, but the five births have been in three separate hospitals, so I’m sure they all had their own separate policies and strengths and weaknesses, and I did have to be firm, but other than the episiotomy given to me for my meconium baby, nothing was ever done to me that I did not consent for/refuse.

      If you have choices in hospitals, call around and ask which L&D ward would agree to a hep lock. You have the right to refuse ANY treatment, and you don’t have to agree to an IV. Or, find a different OB. With my last pregnancy, I switched OBs when I was 30 weeks. It was a big pain, but so worth it. If you know of a midwife or two, ask them who they refer to. That’s what I did. Or, if you have friends who have birthed naturally, ask them what doc they used. Or, if you don’t have a choice in hospitals, go on a tour, and ask about how they handle the birth plans of women who birth naturally. If you can, find a way to involve a nurse or two in conversation and get more “inside” tips. A bloggy friend of mine (local, but we haven’t met up IRL!) was a L&D nurse, and whenever there was a naturally birthing mother, the other nurses turned the woman over to her to be her patient. It wouldn’t surprise me if most hospitals had unofficial practices that are similar.

      Another thought is that most family practice doctors — not OB specialists — are typically equipped to deliver babies. You don’t HAVE to have an OB. You may try to find a family practice doctor who has privileges at the hospital where you’ll be birthing, and who would love to deliver your baby.

      How far away are the midwives from you? If she is 1.5 hours or so, and is willing to make the drive, if, perhaps, you pay the extra gas money, and if YOU’RE willing to make the drive for your prenatal checkups, if she operates out of a clinic, then it sounds like a homebirth would be the best choice for you. Chances are really, really slim that you’ll have LESS than 1.5 hrs notice to give her. I mean, I birth fast, but with my fastest, from the onset of hard contractions to the baby arriving was still 2-3 hours. The uncertainty of having your midwife 1.5 hrs away may be a better tradeoff than being fearful about what a hospital can try to do to you.

      And, as far as “fight” goes — I wouldn’t call it that. When I needed to, I was FIRM, but polite. I did my best to let the nurses do what they needed to do, but not cross the lines I had set up for myself. It sounds like your husband and you are of one mind with this, so he will be of GREAT help. He can go to bat for you. Also, go into the hospital as late as possible. Even if you have an IV in, they can NOT pit you w/o your permission. They can NOT give you narcotics in the IV, let alone an epidural, w/o your permission. They’re not supposed to cut you w/o permission, but that, I do admit, does happen. Just be abundantly clear w/ your doc that you do not consent to one beforehand. Not when you’re in labor — beforehand. Make it CLEAR. Most doctors are afraid of lawsuits, and not that I’m suggesting you go that route, but if you say, “I DO NOT CONSENT to _____” they can’t do it.

      And, even if you think you’ll be disappointed, DO show the pdfs to the doctor. Ask him firmly to watch the videos. That way, he’s at least clear about what you want, even if you think he won’t give it to you.

      Long story short, do all you can beforehand to pave the path for yourself, so that you’ll be able to have a natural birth, if you must have it in a hospital.

  10. I’ve been thinking about this all morning, and I need to add a follow-up comment here:

    I agree that it IS possible to have a intervention free, natural, unmedicated childbirth in a hospital setting. However, I think it is unrealistic to expect that experience to be a calm, peaceful one due to the fact that in order to achieve that type of birth in a hospital, you will have to directly go against either doctor or hospital policy.

    But yes, it is possible.

    • Again, at least in my experience (and in the experiences of many of the above commenters, located in far-flung locations across the U.S.), it is possible to have a peaceful hospital birth. It really, really is.

      If this is your first baby (and it sounds like it is), this might not apply to you… but since I do not have family who are the “caregiver” type, who can swoop in and help at a moment’s notice, etc., I did not want to birth at home where I knew that I would also need to be hostess to the assorted people who would come and be there for labor and/or afterwards. THAT stresses me out way more than a hospital birth. I didn’t want to be thinking, “Is there enough food for everyone? Is my guest bathroom clean enough? Are my other children behaving well?” That sort of tension in my home, when I’m trying to birth… well, THAT sounds hellish to me.

      No matter where you are, I think the “calm and peaceful” part is up to you. It is possible to choose peace even in a stressful situation. In fact, it is vital that you do so when birthing. Stress leads to fear which leads to tension which leads to pain.

      So, it just depends on what your “stress” is. Know what I mean?

      I know I said this earlier, but it is very important that your husband run interference for you… When you’re early in labor, you’ll be easily able to talk with the nurses, and your doc if he comes in, but once you reach transition, you will NEED someone to advocate for you. He can do MUCH to “cocoon” you and shield you from any “fights” with nurses, docs, and hospital policies.

      And… I’m sure you know this, but labor at home as looooooonnnnnggg as possible before you come into the hospital. If you’re a long drive from the hospital, is there a park nearby the hospital? If you’re not sure about your labor, but you don’t want to risk not going, head to the park instead of the hospital, and walk around there until you’re sure. Or, do something similar.

      • We live in Indiana. This will actually be my second baby. And while I was induced by AROM, around 11:30am, baby was born around 5pm! I told the nurse I didn’t want pain meds, and didn’t even get a tylenol, so really, beyond getting my water broken, not being allowed to eat or drink (unless ice chips count!), having to have an IV, and the coached pushing, my birth was more or less “natural”. It’s just the different philosophies towards birth. I did manage to get a “natural” birth, but yet….it was hardly what I would call ideal, simply due to the fact that I felt either me or my husband had to be on the lookout for what intervention may have been next.

        For me and my stresses, it hardly makes sense to me to walk into a place that I already know has a vastly different philosophy on birth than I have. At “my” hospital, even though I am low risk, the focus is going to be on preventing an emergency from occurring – they assume that something is going to go wrong, even though the actual chance of that is very rare. For me, since I am low risk, I assume that everything is going to go fine, because I have been given no reason to assume otherwise. It’s just a different philosophy, they want to prevent unlikely things, I’m willing to assume those unlikely things are unlikely to happen, and proceed as normal. As in, I ought to be allowed to eat and drink, since it’s really highly unlikely that I’ll eventually require general anesthesia, and since I”m eating and drinking, I won’t need IV fluids until my labor does become long, or if I stop eating or start vomiting. But, in all the discussions I’ve had with my current care providers, that is just unreasonable, since “you can’t imagine how fast things can go terribly wrong”.

        Thanks for your suggestions in the first reply, I have explored some of them, but hadn’t even considered others yet. I will. I really ought to find a different care provider but at this point and after all the searching I have done, I am not sure that I will be able to find a good alternative. (prayers, please!) I actually don’t know any friends IRL who are supportive of going “natural”….which does make it difficult to find help by word of mouth, it’s just that it doesn’t seem that folks around here is very informed about the risks involved with some of the routine stuff that goes on (but how can they be when they’re outright told that epidurals cannot harm the baby in any way!! yes, my OB said that to me)

  11. I really do think that a lot of it has to do with where you live and what hospital you choose AND whether or not you hire a doula. In some hospitals I would say it’s nearly impossible to have a natural childbirth without a doula. In CA where I grew up there is a 44% c-section rate in hospitals! Natural childbirths are almost unheard of in hospitals and are not encouraged, even in a midwife hospital practice. So sad.

    However, my SIL recently moved to CO where her doctors and midwives were encouraging her to VBAC and homebirth! It’s just night-and-day different from where I am from.

    That said, I have doula-ed for couples in hospitals who have achieved natural childbirth without interventions. You just have to be aware and sometimes ready to fight for it.

    • Mmmm… maybe I’ve been more fortunate than I realized!! However, I my October birth of Fiala was in a hospital with a 96% epidural rate for vaginal births… (don’t know what the c-section rate is) And a friend of mine birthed naturally in a hospital that has a 50% c-section rate!! But, maybe it does come back down to what Nicole (the 2nd Nicole on this thread) said, about there being a difference between peaceful and natural. Maybe I’m just really good at making a stand, but not letting it stress me out, then retreating into myself for peaceful birthing.

      ~sigh~

      No matter what, it just doesn’t seem like birth should have to be like this. :(

  12. Hey, I have to say that I agree with all of the things that you said in your post… BUT… at the same time, I am so glad for the medication type stuff. I was set on an all natural hospital birth, which is actually much more easily done here (in Ontario, Canada) with a midwife, then in the States. I was very adamant about no induction and no pain meds, but things sometimes change. When I gave birth last October, my water broke at about 8 or 9 in the morning on the 21st, and 25 hours later, I was still only at 2 cm and my contractions were still 3-5 minutes apart and I could still talk through them. But, the contractions were painful enough that by the time I got to the hospital, I hadn’t slept in over 26 hours. I was BEYOND exhausted and dehydrated because I had puked up anything I had tried to eat and drink. Needless to say, I was grateful for IV fluids for hydration, to the oxytocin which caused my contractions to finally become strong enough for me to progress, for the antibiotics which were necessary because my water had broken so long ago, and for the epidural, which allowed me to sleep for about 3 hours before I pushed. I was really lucky though, because the epidural mostly wore off before I started to push, so I could feel it when I had to push. And I had been really adamant about not pushing on my back, but I had to with the epidural in. They reclined my bed to about 45 degrees, my mother held one leg up and my husband the other (he nearly fainted a few times, but he was really really good) and it was not actually that bad. I had requested from my midwife that she not give me any episiotomy, and she honoured my request. I still tore and needed 8 non-continuous stitches (Ilona weighed 8lbs 10oz), but from everything I’ve read, tears heal faster than episiotomies. I think that’s true, because I had hardly any pain afterwards when I went to the washroom. I was also really lucky, because in the hospital, even if you are under the care of a midwife, if you get an epidural, you are technically now under the care of the doctor on call that day and they can take over your birth if they want to. But, Ilona was born on a really busy day, so the doctor didn’t care and let my midwife do it. :)

    So my birthing plan was not followed at all, but I was pretty happy with the end result anyway. :P I am grateful for modern medicine because it was there when it was really necessary for it to be there. I just hope that next time I can skip the epidural and the antibiotics amd the oxytocin, and hopefully the IV. :) And I am grateful that I live in a place where I don’t have to fight my desire for natural birth every part of the way. I loved my midwife. She was totally respectful of every decision I made.

  13. The only thing that annoyed me was the student midwife telling me to get angry at the baby to help me push harder… haha… I asked her in between contractions and pushes, “Why should I get angry, that’s not going to help me!” And I still get a little annoyed when I think about it. :)

    • glutenfree4goofs

      Haha, I’m still mad (8yrs later) about the anesthesiologist who told me not to move a muscle, not even to breathe and then while I was still as a mouse asked me a question! How was I supposed to TALK without moving a muscle?

  14. haha… I was also annoyed because they told me to stop yelling while I pushed. I couldn’t help it. Maybe I WAS mad… I yell when I’m mad. :D

    That’s pretty funny about the anesthesiologist! I did not like the epidural procedure… It was kind of scary to think of 4 inches of catheter going into my spinal fluid. Yuck.

  15. This is a great blog. As a mom of 4, with one on the way, I am researching all I can about a natural birth at a hospital. My first was the typical hospital/epidural/intervention birth. The second was induced, with all the interventions. The third was breech, so a c-section. The 4th was a VBAC homebirth, by far the BEST!!! :-D This one has to be in the hospital, due to insurance, etc but I want it to be as natural as possible, since having a homebirth I know I can do it. Thanks for the great resources, insight and thanks to everyone else’s comments as well.

    • Thank you, Brenda! Do make sure you check out the links on the right-hand column of the blog. I have come to learn that how closely a doctor and/or hospital follows the wishes of the patient really depends on the state where you live. Some, like Arizona, where I’m at, typically “let” a woman birth as she chooses. Other hospitals are not so helpful. Many hospitals won’t even ALLOW you to have a VBAC, even though you’ve successfully birthed one already. Many doctors are not supportive of VBACs, either. So… do your homework! Know your rights, know in advance what you may be up against — hospital policy, etc. Find a doctor who will in DEED (not just in word) support you in your VBAC efforts. (Click on the Birth Survey link on the right to help find a doc, if you need one.)

      Also, depending on deductibles and coverage, you may find it is comparably priced to birth (again) at home with a midwife. My fifth birth, on Oct 2006, cost us $800 with insurance, which, in retrospect, made the $1100-ish fee for a midwife seem cheap.

      We have no plans for a 6th, but if I do become pregnant, I will be birthing Baby #6 at home. :) Even though all my hospital births were mostly great, I find myself really longing for the ideal birth where I don’t have to advocate for myself, and do things against the wishes of nurses or even doctors…

  16. Wow! I’ve never seen these videos before! And as the author of “Natural Hospital Birth” I am embarrassed to admit that. I am constantly searching the web for natural birth info. Thank you so much for this post. I will be sending lots of women this way!

  17. Reblogged this on The birthmuse's Blog and commented:
    Check out these videos! I had no idea they were out there! I haven’t looked at the pdfs, but I’m excited to download them and take a look.

  18. Thank you for this! I agree that the birth camps have become more polarized, although that seems true of *everything* these days….

    With my first baby I did end up with a medically necessary induction (AROM + Pitocin), but my birth was otherwise unmedicated and uncomplicated. I’m due with my second in early April and intend to return to the same hospital – it’s “Baby Friendly” and supportive of natural births. No one EVER once suggested an epidural to me with my first birth and my OB was completely on board with my entire birth plan. I think it helped a lot to have a doula there… this time we are having a Hypnobabies birth in the hospital, can’t wait to see what the docs and nurses think of that! :)

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