Birth Center Vs. Hospital Birth
It is entirely possible for a mom to have an unmedicated, natural birth in a hospital surrounding. I know from experience that is true because my first 3 children were all natural hospital births. Yet each one was increasingly more difficult to “hang in there” and not cave to the pressures of medication or unnecessary intervention. I basically labored at home as long as I possibly could so that I could be in my own relaxed atmosphere. I went to the hospital just in time for delivery. (My first was actually born in the car just before we got to the hospital. Whoops!) With my second, I was not at the hospital too terribly long before delivery, but I was miserable the whole time. With my third I was only there a few hours, but that was long enough to make me so miserable that I wasn't sure I wanted any more children. The longer I sat there, chained to IV's and monitors, with unfamiliar faces rushing in and out of the room, the less relaxed I became.
- I got to answer what seemed like hundreds of questions for paperwork while needing desperately to concentrate on breathing through contractions.
- I got to be poked and prodded for an IV line by a nurse who acted like she was bored out of her mind and extremely inconvenienced by having to care for yet another patient.
- When I was finally left alone, I was told I could be in whatever position I wanted – sit, walk around, etc. Really??? I have yet to figure out how I was supposed to do that while chained to all that stuff. Trying to change positions would have been a whole lot more uncomfortable than just staying put and leaving things as they were.
- When the doctor came in to check my progress, he also broke my water before I even realized what was happening.
- When it came time to push, I was basically placed into the position which was most convenient for the doctors and nurses, even though it certainly was not the most comfortable for me.
- After delivery, my baby was whisked away to be washed and weighed, and I was not allowed to move to a recovery room until my IV line was finished. It wasn't until that point I discovered that it was loading my veins with pitocin.
- Once in the recovery room, I was not allowed to leave the hospital until 48 hours from the birth. By that time I was thoroughly exhausted — not so much from having a newborn, but from having my sleep interrupted every few minutes by nurses coming in unannounced to check this or that or offer me some type of medication.
Now, all those things in and of themselves are not the worst thing that could happen, and I still managed to have natural births in spite of them. I'm sure a natural birth would be even more attainable if I had a very assertive advocate along with me to make sure everything was done according to my wishes. I could have had another natural hospital birth if I had needed to, and it wouldn't have been the end of the world, but I wanted to experience giving birth at a birth center and see for myself if there was a big difference. Here's a little about my experience:
- At every prenatal appointment, I saw the midwife who would be there for my delivery. I wouldn't have to deliver with a doctor or nurses whom I had never met before. I also met the other midwives just in case my midwife were to not be able to be there for some reason.
- Throughout the pregnancy, I was offered advice for natural treatments for common pregnancy complaints rather than medication.
- When labor began and I arrived at the birth center I didn't have to sit through a long process of complicated paperwork to be admitted. I was immediately allowed to rest or move around as I wished.
- Throughout labor, I could go wherever I wanted in the birth center. The bedroom was homey and comfortable, and I was able to relax and sleep a little.
- I did not have to be hooked up to any IV's or monitors; baby's heartbeat simply had to be checked every 30 minutes.
- My midwife had gotten to know me and what I wanted ahead of time. She was ready to help or simply leave me alone. (She knew that I just like to be left alone, and that's what she did, although she was available to support me as needed if I changed my mind.)
- When it came time to push, she encouraged me to get into whatever position felt most comfortable. After the first push, she thought that position wasn't going to be effective, and offered her suggestion as to a better position. But she didn't make me feel like I had to do it that way. (She was right, though, and I was glad for her suggestion! Baby was out in one push!)
- At the birth center, I had my first water birth. At the beginning of the pregnancy, I wasn't so sure what I thought, but I finally warmed up to the idea, and now I am glad I did! I wouldn't exactly call it wonderful, because I don't exactly enjoy the process of giving birth no matter where I am, but it definitely felt better than delivering hospital-style!
- 2 hours after the birth, I was allowed to go home if I wished, or stay and rest as long as I wanted. I stayed for about 5 hours and rested, then went home. I felt more rested after the first afternoon home than I did after an entire 2 days staying at the hospital. Sleeping in my own bed, uninterrupted by nurses barging in every time I doze off, has been absolutely wonderful!
I am thankful for the experience of using the birth center, and if we have any more children, I plan on going there again!