Wednesday, June 10, 2009

home birth, whaaat?

I guess I had always thought it would be nice to have a homebirth, but didn't think that people still did that, and assumed that there weren't any options for that in Anchorage. Then last year while I was working at ANTHC I attended a lunch time brown bag presentation at the hospital by this women from Holland (now living in California) talking about natural birthing and birth memory-- how the way a person is birthed can affect them the rest of their life, both if it's a peaceful or traumatic birth. She showed videos of babies birthed with pain relieving drugs, how sleepy they were, and of babies birthed without-- bouncing up mom's chest on it's own to latch on...extreme examples, but such a cool video clip! She talked about the casacade of hormones that intricately work with each other to birth the baby, and how medical interventions (induction, epidurals) shuts that natural process off, and can more likely lead to needing to get the baby out via cesarean. It's just so cool how our bodies are perfectly made to make and birth babies. It's more recently, because of the heavy influence of the male dominated industrial medical model, that women have learned to distrust their bodies. I mean thank goodness hospitals, obstetricians, and all that expensive technology are there when we really do need them, I'm grateful for that, but most healthy pregnancies don't need all that. In healthy low-risk pregnancies, not interfering with these natural process can allow birth to be much quicker, easier and less traumatic. Anyway, she was there promoting 3 points to the hospital 1. for baby to immediately go to mom's bare chest after birth, skin to skin contact, 2. not to clamp the cord until is stops pulsating, 3. and I don't really remember the third point but it must have been not to be so eager to doll out pitocin and/or epidurals if not necessary. I already knew I would have natural births like my mama did, but now wanted even more not to have to do it in a hospital. I was so intrigued I attended her evening lecture at UAA also and learned about the whole homebirth midwife community here, and was super excited to know that when it came time I would have that option.
So then the that time came, and we started exploring those options more. We checked out the two birth centers here, which were very nice and comfortable, had big birthing jacuzzis and really nice midwives. But then thinking about it more, not having to go anywhere but stay in my own comfortable home and having the full attention of my midwife the whole time appealed to me the most. I wasn't scared about anything going wrong. I was somehow confident that if I took care of myself throughout the pregnancy to prevent any complications, and if I was blessed with a healthy pregnancy, we'd be fine doing it at home. All midwives carry the same emergency equipment that ambulances do for bleeding mama's or non-responsive babies, etc. and they can usually tell in plenty of time if something is going to go wrong and they need to get to the hospital. Once EJ realized this, he became comfortable with the idea and trusted and supported me, and now after learning so much fully wants the same as I do.
So we starting meeting direct entry midwives for a homebirth, and felt most comfortable with Chinmayo so went with her. At the beginning I was also tandemly seeing a nurse midwife at the Native hospital just to make sure everything was okay, get my labs done there, and so that they'd have records of my pregnancy in case I end up having to go to the hospital. Joan is very supportive of natural birthing and excited about my decision to do it at home.
So our visits with Chinmayo are each an hour long. We go over to her very comfortable apartment and sit at the table with tea and a snack talking for a while first. She's all about educating, making sure I know everything going on and making the most informed decisions I can, which I really like. Then I do my own pee dip and read the strip - hydrated enough, any leukocytes, proteins, glucose, blood, etc. in the pee, and weigh myself. Then we go into the "exam room" where I lay down on the big comfy massage table covered with a soft blanket and lots of pillows for her to measure the fundus, listen to baby, take my blood pressure and all that. She has a big lending library so has given me a bunch of books to read and DVDs to watch. It's really nice. I've always been interested in natural medicine so I've also really enjoyed learning about all these natural remedies and preventative regimens.
I also always thought it'd be nice to have the baby in water, it just seems like a more gradual and less scary transition into the world. A while ago we asked Chinmayo what we needed to get to do this at home, and she said a blow up kiddie pool would do just fine. So I found one at Toys R Us for $12 and that's that, haha so technical huh. We also have a big plasitc sheet for the bed and another for wherever I end up giving birth if it's not in the water...we'll see what my body wants to do.
Like I had mentioned before, she gave us the birth kit box to bring home already with all that stuff. I also have a list of a few things to get, so am gathering those now. Next week she'll do a home visit for our appointment, just to make sure she knows how to get to our house. Exciting, can't wait for the big day!

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