At the park, Sunday an acquaintance asks me if I’m going to go the C-section route, be induced or just wait for labor to begin (epidural implied in choice C). When I tell him I’m hoping to do a natural birth he looks a bit skeptical – we’re in Columbus, Georgia, after all, and that hadn’t even made his list of probable options.
The truth is I like to be in control, and although most of the time I am distinctly aware that I’m failing in this endeavor, I feel like my best chance of controlling my labor actually lies in a natural delivery. Sure, it means losing the control of the scheduling conveniences of induced labor or the pain management intended in an epidural, but I like the idea of feeling my own body do the work of giving birth, of trying to use just my mind and body, unassisted, to control the pain and the pressure -- and of having the best chance of pushing out an alert little one who’s a tad more likely to start nursing successfully right on arrival.
With Will, despite some excellent Bradley Method natural childbirth classes, I didn’t feel in control for much of my lightning-fast labor (Go to http://www.bradleybirth.com/ for more on the Bradley Method philosophy. For those of you near Columbus, classes are offered through Doctor’s Hospital. Go to http://www.onebabyplace.net/). I was on all fours on the hospital bed, stuck there until my midwife arrived, and quite certain that my butt was about to explode. Relaxation techniques seemed way beyond the point. I think I did plenty of yelling and not much of the deep breathing I’d been learning about.
So now, I’m getting competitive with myself, viewing this next birth as a sort of challenge: Can I restrain the fearful, frozen part of me that believed in an impending explosion and find just a bit more serenity somewhere within me this time? Can I take a few more deep breaths and remember that my body is working, not simply causing me extreme pain. (There are model Bradley moms who say they experienced no pain, just hard work, in labor. That now seems laughable; but could I come maybe just a smidgen closer to their more centered almost spiritual experience of giving birth?)
This time I am calmed by the idea that even if I can’t find the deep breaths, and it seems like this baby is about to bust out of me like a truck racing downhill with no brakes, at least I will know from my firsthand experience that our bodies generally don’t explode, even if they’re stretched to the near-breaking point.
I am also calmed by trying to find other ways to control my birth experience. I know that a baby-delivered “sunny side up,” or posterior, is more likely to make the back labor and the extreme pelvic pressure feel all the more excruciating, so each day I’m spending some time down on all fours, swaying my hips around as I read a book or watch some TV, doing pelvic rocks, climbing stairs at the playground and park (we live in a one-story house) and crawling around as I help Will clean up his toys. I sit backwards in my chair as I type this so that my legs slope down from me and my back is arched, not reclining. All of these tactics for getting your baby in anterior position – or “optimum fetal position” are endorsed in a wonderful book called “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” by Henci Goer as well as on Web sites like http://www.homebirth.org.uk/. Sometimes I feel a little nutty crawling around in my house, and sometimes I feel like a sort of earth woman, hunkered down, preparing my body for the biggest feat of its life.