As my husband and I move forward with our exploration of natural childbirth, we are coming across more and more information that is helping us to decide where and with who we will have the best chances for a natural birth. For starters, we are reading several books together and are participating in a Bradley Method class where we’ll discuss such topics as: maintaining a healthy, low-risk pregnancy; good nutrition and exercise as components of a healthy, low risk pregnancy; the natural changes that occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy; the role of a childbirth coach in natural childbirth; stages of labor and birth, as well planning one’s birth; challenges/complications of childbirth, as well as preventative measures for possible challenges; techniques for coaches to help manage the stages of labor, as well as for how to handle emergency birth; and parenting skills like the care, feeding, and response to a newborn. We are fortunate in that our Bradley class will be led by a good friend who has offered to allow us to take something of an autonomous approach to our study. We will meet several times with our teacher, however, we are responsible for reading and viewing the course materials at home . . . an approach that works well for how my husband and I like to learn.
Book by book, my husband and I are discussing what we are learning. My husband, who is rooted in and trusts science and technology, brings to my awareness questions about the materials we are together processing. I am supporting his role as my childbirth coach by being well read myself, and am offering my optimism and confidence in my body’s ability to deliver our child naturally, as well as by encouraging him in his ability to be my coach for a healthy labor, birth, baby, and mother. Our study and preparation for birth is taking us on a bit of an adventure in our relationship . . . I have to say that more often than not, I am surprised that my husband, the scientist, the believer in technology, is finding more and more support and comfort in our learning: that childbirth is a natural process and is one that a healthy woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy is able to achieve.
Still, he has his concerns. One of his biggest questions thus far is whether or not something can quickly go wrong during childbirth. My answer to him so far has been, yes, absolutely; things do go wrong. However, that said, by having good prenatal care, taking good care of myself during my pregnancy (eating a healthy diet and exercising), and by educating ourselves about the stages of births, as well as learning techniques for moving through these stages, I feel confident that he and I, working with both our midwife and birth attendant, will be duly prepared for the birth of our baby. Right now it seems that the scariest aspect of approaching a birth center birth or home birth is our own ignorance; without exploring possible complications, taking preventative measures, and making a plan of action, we (the birthing couple) would be left in the dark . . . almost like students who fear an exam because they never attended class, completed assignments, or even browsed the course literature. Confidence (though not arrogance) can be gained, I believe, by learning about birth and taking responsibility for our role in our baby’s delivery. This time around, I have made it my goal to not be in the care of a practice who wants for me to let them make all the decisions: this is my body, my husband’s and my baby, and our birth. While I feel that I need to trust the experts, I want to have a good understanding of who the experts are and what their philosophies about birth mean for me and our baby.
In another 2 weeks (and I realize this is late in the game), my husband and I will meet jointly with the our midwife. At this appointment, I expect that whatever questions about homebirth or a birth center birth that my husband may have, will be answered. I am looking forward to this meeting because I trust in and believe in my midwife, and I am hoping that she will be able to give him (and both of us) comfort in knowing that she is competent in what she does and that our baby and I are in good hands.
In the meantime, as we await our first Bradley Method class and our joint meeting with our midwife, my husband and I are reading the following:
Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley, M.D.
Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way by Susan Mc Cutcheon, AAHCC
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding distributed by La Leche League International
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
and I am independently reading:
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz
Additional web resources that I have found helpful include:
Birthing Naturally‘s web articles
The Natural Family Site‘s “Natural Childbirth”
“Natural Childbirth” article at Wikipedia
“Pregnancy Nutrition” at Birthing Naturally
Again, I appreciate all the positive support that has been flowing forth, as well as book recommendations and techniques that benefited other mothers and couples who chose to birth naturally and at home.
More to come . . .