Pain-Free Midwife Assisted Natural Birth of My Enormous Baby [Part 1] –
When people find out my son was born weighing 10 pounds 14 ounces, the universal response is “OUCH!” This makes me laugh every time because nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve delivered four children with my son being the largest and my oldest daughter the smallest at 8 pounds 11 ounces. I found no correlation between the size of the baby and the difficulty or pain of delivery.
The birth of my son was completely without pain until the moment of crowning, and even that was a very low and manageable level of pain. My personal conclusion is that pain in childbirth is not related to the size of the baby at all but is merely determined by the level of fear and tension in your own body.
The Trauma of My First Birth
Some of you may have read about the birth of my oldest (smallest) child in Why I Had the Rest of My Kids with a Midwife. I was in labor for only three hours with my first birth, but it was the most excruciatingly painful and emotionally traumatic experience I could ever imagine. That first birth was not something I was doing. It was something medical professionals were doing to me. I was a helpless victim of whatever they threw at me. My input on what was happening to me wasn’t really welcome or respected. I was pressured/forced into several interventions that I now know were not necessary and actually put myself and my baby in more danger.
A few weeks before I delivered my first child, my mom read an article in the newspaper about the small hospital in our county bringing in a midwife to deliver babies. The information in the newspaper article discussed the way midwives see birth as a natural process instead of an illness and tend to treat birth differently than doctors.
It was easy to see that way of thinking was infinitely more in line with my own beliefs than what I was getting, but switching that late would have meant switching providers and hospitals when I was already at term in the pregnancy. I wasn’t sure how that would work. I wasn’t sure how my insurance would handle that. I wasn’t sure how to go about telling my doctor I wanted to switch. My doctor had been my doctor for several years and was perfectly fine at treating illness. I just don’t see birth in a complication-free pregnancy as something that should be treated as an illness. I was afraid switching would be rude.
Your Mom Probably Knows More Than You
I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO MY MOM!!! Instead of doing what I knew would be best for my baby and myself, I stayed with the wrong hospital and suffered a pretty miserable experience because of it. Not only was the birth really bad with my first, it caused an extremely rocky start to breastfeeding. You can read about that in 5 Substantial Ways My Hospital Birth Sabotaged Breastfeeding.
I also have some major regrets that I let my oldest come into the world that way because I know however traumatic it was to me, it was even more stressful to the baby. Many believe the stress of an infant’s birth can have a lasting impact on the child’s personality and level of anxiety in later years. I do realize there are a variety of factors – environmental influences, birth order, exposure to chemicals, genetics, and a host of other aspects – that may also play a role, but I do sometimes wonder if the calm birthing experience my other three experienced is the reason they are less anxious in general.
**Disclaimer – I am not a healthcare provider. I do not have a medical degree. Nothing I say should ever be considered medical advice. You should seek medical advice from your own medical provider. I am only relaying my own personal experiences. You should do your own research, consult dozens of reliable sources, and make your own decisions.
Seeking a Better Way to Give Birth
Almost immediately after the birth of my first, I start researching the qualifications and training of midwives. I already knew I liked the more natural philosophy. I could easily see from my first birth that one intervention leads to another intervention which leads to another intervention to treat the unwanted side effects of the previous intervention. I could see that not letting my body make the decisions put my baby at potential risk.
After a couple of years of research, I concluded that midwives are actually the most qualified individuals to deliver babies because they have way more training and experience in actually delivering babies than anyone else. Doctors only learn a tiny bit about pregnancy and childbirth in the whole scheme of their education. The focus of a doctor’s schooling is to treat illnesses, so the way they are trained and educated pressures them to see pregnancy as an illness instead of a natural process. The vast majority of pregnancies are complication-free and really don’t need to be considered an illness.
Even OB/GYN doctors spend much of their time learning about a variety of other female issues, so pregnancy and childbirth is still not covered as thoroughly as it is for someone trained as a midwife. OB/GYN’s don’t spend their entire education and their entire career only taking care of pregnancy and childbirth. A midwife’s entire focus is pregnancy and childbirth.
By the time I was ready to have another child, I knew I was finding a midwife. During that time, I also researched a variety of different birthing options, as far as the location. I had also concluded a homebirth or birthing center birth was just as safe as a hospital birth. Actually statistically, a hospital birth is the least safe of the options to both the mother and baby (at least that was the case when I was actively researching it); however, when you consider non-hospital births are more likely to be low-risk mothers, the statistics on safety are likely a wash. There’s just no way to adjust for the low risk vs. high risk factor in the existing studies on it.
The First Few Months of the Pregnancy
The midwife my mom had read about in the newspaper (the one I should have switched to for my daughter’s birth) was still practicing in the area when I found myself pregnant with another child. With my daughter, I had started prenatal check-ups at three months. With my son, I did not see a healthcare provider until after I was halfway through the pregnancy.
With my first pregnancy, we were both still in college. My husband was working the night shift at a warehouse four nights a week. We had insurance through that job. After graduating from college, my husband switched jobs. We weren’t eligible to get insurance through his new job until the fifth month of the pregnancy. The way that company’s insurance defined a pre-existing condition was “any illness the patient has been treated for in the prior 12 months.” The policy also clearly stated, “Pregnancy is treated as any other illness.” So as long as I wasn’t treated for the pregnancy before we enrolled in the health insurance plan, it would not be considered a pre-existing condition, and the insurance would cover it.
It wasn’t my first go-around with pregnancy, so I had a pretty good idea what to expect and what to keep an eye on. I was still nursing my toddler and still on a multi-vitamin for pregnant and lactating women anyway. I had actually miscarried about sixth months prior to that pregnancy at around six weeks. Since I didn’t have insurance at the time, I didn’t see anyone for the miscarriage. It was just like a slightly heavier period. I was a bit apprehensive during the early months with my son though because of that prior miscarriage, and I did have some slight spotting a few times in the first few months, so I really had to focus my faith.
An Appointment with the Midwife
By the time I had insurance again, the baby was already moving a ton. My belly was already huge. I made an appointment with the midwife. The appointments were in a small ranch-style house in Muncie which was also her free-standing birthing center. They showed us around the birthing center at the first appointment. There was this awesome jacuzzi tub, and I knew right away I wanted to deliver there in that tub. Even more amazing than the jacuzzi tub though was the playroom in the basement to occupy the older siblings during the birth. There was a ball pit built into the room. Of course, my then two-year-old daughter was very excited to see that. Unfortunately, my insurance at the time would not cover anything but a hospital birth. My midwife had admitting privileges at a couple of different hospitals then.
The hospital she suggested was the one closest to us anyway. She assured me this small, community hospital was a very relaxed birthing environment. The philosophy there was more natural than most hospitals at the time. She let me know an epidural was not even an option at this hospital because they didn’t have an anesthesiologist on hand for birth. That was fine with me because I didn’t have an epidural with my first either, so I wasn’t worried about being able to do it without one.
At that time that hospital was in the process of building a brand new facility. They had even let my midwife design the birthing rooms for the new hospital to include birthing tubs. My due date was the week they were scheduled to move patients to the new hospital building, so I might be the first pregnant lady ever who was actually hoping to go clear to the due date to deliver in one of those birthing tubs at the new hospital.
You’ll have to stay tuned to find out if I made it to my due date . . . [You can now read the next segment of my enormous son’s birth story.]
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