considering making the switch...

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waitingimpatiently614's picture
Joined: 02/17/09
Posts: 386
considering making the switch...

from doctor to midwife and from epidural to natural birth!

(warning! this post is long!! sorry for that. but I wanted to tell my birth story for DS1 so you all would understand my mixed feelings about having a natural birth.)

I have an appointment scheduled to consult with a CNM next week. I am 13 weeks pregnant with #2, and already have a doctor, but lately have been thinking more and more about my desire to experience natural childbirth. DH is a doctor and feels strongly about me giving birth in a hospital where they can intervene if needed for me or the baby. So, I'm okay with that, but really don't want a repeat of my delivery of DS1.

I wanted a natural childbirth with him, too, and had been practicing hypnobirthing techniques. I went into labor around 9pm with contractions 5 min apart. By midnight they were 3 min. apart. Labored alone in our living room all night long (told DH to go to bed...I thought one of us should get some sleep!) and finally decided around 7am that the contractions were getting longer and stronger and we should go to the hospital. Big mistake. I was only 3cm dilated, but they admitted me, and that's when everything went downhill. They insisted on continuous monitoring, and the monitor kept slipping every time I was up walking around (pacing and rhythmic breathing were getting me through the contractions...they weren't even that painful, but laying in bed felt like torture!), so the nurse kept coming in and telling me I had to lie down. I had to get an IV (why? I don't want that again, if I can avoid it.). I complied and dealt with the contractions lying down for a couple hours and reached 5cm. But, eventually, laying down meant that my labor stalled out (or that's what I blame it on anyway). I was 5cm for 2 more hours, contractions still coming frequently, but not accomplishing anything. So, they say they want to break my water for me, but it will be painful and make the contractions much more painful, so I should get an epidural. And I consented. I still don't know why I was so passive through all this. It's like once I got to the hospital, I just wanted to be a "good patient" and follow all their rules, and my desires for the birth went out the window. I wasn't even having trouble tolerating the contractions! Why was I getting an epidural? The epi was horrible. The doc did it wrong the first time and it was hurting like hell, shooting pain up and down my back, worse than any labor. I asked the nurse, "is it supposed to hurt so much?" and she got this panicked look and told the doctor I could feel the epi, and he needed to try again (I guess once it's in place, you're not supposed to be able to feel it). So he did, and they broke my water and things definitely picked up. I basically went from 6 to 10 in a couple hours. The epi wasn't really blocking the contractions...I could still feel it all, but I was trapped on my back in bed! Used my hypnobirthing scripts a lot during transition. I remember I had tears streaming down my face, but I was otherwise calm. Contractions were coming right on top of each other with no breaks at all, and baby wasn't tolerating it well. So they insisted on an internal monitor (another contraption coming out of my body). Somehow, I knew in my gut that baby was okay, and they were freaking out for nothing. I just had a feeling that we were in this together (baby and me) and we were both going to be okay. I told DH they needed to check me again (even though they had just checked maybe 30 min before and I was 8cm), and sure enough when they checked I was complete and they let me push on the next contraction. But baby's heart rate dropped and didn't recover well during the first push, so they said they wanted him out stat. Dr. even mentioned c/s, and I just remember shaking my head vigorously. Again, I knew baby was okay, and he was right there! He was so low and almost out. I felt like no one was listening to me, and the Dr. was addressing everything to my DH instead. I said "I want to push," and they agreed to let me try one more push but they were gonna cut an episiotomy and use vacuum extraction. So one more push with those interventions, and baby was out. He was pink and healthy and screaming, and I remember thinking "I knew he was okay!" I felt defeated that I hadn't really gotten to push him out after laboring for 20 hours. Of course, I was so thankful that he had arrived and was healthy and beautiful. But the whole experience was the "spiral of interventions" you hear about and somewhat disappointing.

I'm delivering at a different hospital this time that has a reputation for being "natural birth friendly" and has a large CNM practice based in the hospital (which is the clinic I'm visiting next week). So, I'm hoping I can do things differently this time, stick to my plan, and stand up for myself as needed. But I'm also scared. Even though I feel confident that I can tolerate the contractions, since I almost did that last time anyway, I am more afraid of the pushing phase. I was totally numb in my lady parts last time (they injected some crazy strong drug into my epi right before they cut me and used the vacuum because I had told them I wasn't numb, and it worked). So, I am afraid of what the baby emerging will feel like, and whether I will have the strength to push out a baby, since I didn't get to do that last time. Doubts keep creeping in, and I start to think maybe I should just get the epi again.

If you've actually taken the time to read this, thank you! I would value any advice or encouragement you ladies can offer! Smile

ourfirstblessing's picture
Joined: 01/07/07
Posts: 1094

I am going to jump right in and say DO IT. i was fortunate with my first two to have a very 'hands off' supportive of what i wanted doctor. She no longer delivers so i went with two local mw's. If you are concerned at all the mw's (i am sure) work with an ob that they consult with if anything goes a little beyond them. Do more research and even watch some NCB's (you can find some one you tube). it's amazing how different labor is when you are able to be UP and moving around and dealing with the ctx how YOU want to and not stuck in a bed. GL, at the very least meet with and interview the MW. share you first labor experience and do some soul searching and be specific with what you want to be different. If you go to a 5 w/o interventions there's nothing to suggest you wouldn't have completed the whole thing. trust yourself and be confident that this is your body and your decisions :)!

MrsMangoBabe's picture
Joined: 04/09/07
Posts: 2276

Some things about your first birth reminded me a lot of my own first--I was only 2 cm when I went to the hospital after being up all night with contractions. I had a natural birth with my second and things went so much smoother! Your body knows what it is doing because it has done it before!

I think the CNMs and the new hospital will be a good choice for you--they will most likely have intermittent monitoring as standard procedure unless there is good reason to monitor continuously and will most likely support you in not having an IV.

Also, if hypnosis appeals to you, I highly recommend Hypnobabies. I used their homestudy course for my natural birth and I like it so much that I became an instructor! I read the Hypnobirthing book and listened some to the CD that came with it with my first, and I was really happy with how much more I got out of Hypnobabies. It really helped me release my fears about pushing (since I hadn't done that without an epidural either) and it helped me stay calm and focused during the birth.

krazykat's picture
Joined: 08/11/07
Posts: 1143

I just wanted to add that you did NOTHING wrong. Going into labor and having a baby is like no other experience in our lives, and it is important to have a very strong support network. I strongly suggest a doula!! If you have a doula, they will come to your home and labor with you and can give you a good idea of when it would be time to head to the hospital. They are there completely for YOU and will also work very hard to support your DH as well. They don't replace DH, but advocate for the two of you and provide emotional, physical, and informational support throughout your entire labor.

You CAN do it, and while it is scary, a lot of that is probably coming from your negative experience with the hospital and doctor all around.

I also would suggest that your read Birthing From Within to help heal some of that trauma. And go with your gut feeling as far as the CNM practice. Some of them are wonderful, WONDERFUL midwives and then some can be just as medicalized as most OBs.

GL!! I hope it is an easy decision for you!

Joined: 11/29/06
Posts: 1316

Do it! You know you can handle labour. There is no reason why you can't have baby #2 naturally!

I had a similar birth to yours. I wanted a homebirth but ended up transferring after 25 hours, then my son was born (after 28 hours of labour) with the help of an epidural, pitocin, vacuum and an episiotomy. NONE of which I wanted.

I, too, am nervous about another baby and the pushing phase, but part of me is excited too. I know it's gonna hurt like hell, but I missed out on feeling it with my first and part of me feels like i missed out on a part of my birth experience because of it.

Instead of the continuous fetal monitoring can they come in every few minutes to check with a doppler? That's what my midwife did at home. It's easier for the staff to have a fetal monitor strapped to you, but I think you can refuse it?

Joined: 09/29/09
Posts: 1346

Wow! After what you went through the first time I would be making the switch too!!! I'm sure your DH is a great doctor, but I think it makes it a little harder when your support system is so comfortable with interventions.

I think I'm a "middle of the road" type when it comes to birth. Our CNM's are all wonderful. I went to the hospital at 5cm dilated. I walked around for hours and hours and they would just check me periodically. I was like you... the contractions weren't bad as long as I took them standing up. I did end up getting an epidural at the end. I had a 12 hour labor and got the epi after 11 hours. I got scared because they were so painful and I had no idea how much longer the labor would take. It's nice to have the option available to you, but having a team of midwives and nurses who don't want to cut you, vacuum your baby out, monitor you, etc etc etc makes a HUGE difference!!! And you don't feel like you are fighting with your provider for what you want.

I definitely think you should make the switch!! You have nothing to lose and you can always change your mind if it because to much at the last moment.

Because I got my epidural sooo late I feel like I had a natural birth. It was actually divine for post partum! It was removed right away, but the pain control lasted for hours. I got sewn up without feeling a thing. I didn't have after pains, I was up and walking around. I felt like a million bucks. Then about 12 hours later after it was totally worn off I finally felt what my body had been through. Maybe I will do the same thing this time... give me the epi AFTER the baby is out haha.

tanismom's picture
Joined: 11/07/06
Posts: 717

hey Amanda! welcome to the board and congrats on your pg!
I can totally understand your fears about pushing if you feel that you've never done it before but remember that your body did do it, and if they wouldn't have cut you, your amazingly magical vagina would have stretched beautifully wide to allow your baby through! And that's exactly what's going to happen this time around!

If you haven't already, I highly highly recommend reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, and your DH should read it too - esp the couple of stories written by drs. they might really be able to open his mind to what is possible when birth is allowed to progress without intervention. Also she has an excellently written section titled, "Forgotten Vaginal Powers" that can really help you get a sense of what your body is able to do when given the chance.

GL and hoping to hear more from you over your pregnancy!

waitingimpatiently614's picture
Joined: 02/17/09
Posts: 386

thanks for all the encouragement, ladies! i am starting to get excited about having the option to do things differently this time, and having a treatment team that is supportive of natural childbirth! i definitely want to read the books you all have recommended! they are all checked out at my local library (must be another NCB pregnant mama around the neighborhood) but i will get them once they're returned. i have LOVED reading all the birth stories on here. i'm definitely the kind of person who feels more confident the more information i have, so hearing about everyone else's experiences and reading books about the benefits of drug-free delivery is very helpful for me. and i'm looking into hypnobabies. last time i just had a hypnobirthing book, not an actual home course.

as for DH, we haven't had a big discussion about it yet. he knows i want to switch to a midwife, and he is actually supportive of that because he doesn't like how little attention i get from my OB. (it's not necessarily her fault...she's WAY overbooked and covering for two OBs who are out on maternity leave.) as for the natural childbirth, he said the other day "i know you can do it, i just don't know why you'd want to." i decided to ignore the second half of his statement and just cling to the first part...he KNOWS i can do it! Smile

thanks again, everyone, and i'll keep you updated as things progress!

tanismom's picture
Joined: 11/07/06
Posts: 717

just a funny placenta-brain moment: I was looking at your due date and wondering how you could know you are due in august... until I realized that most of the world writes the date with the month first! lol! :rolleyes:

mandi04's picture
Joined: 08/10/03
Posts: 2272

I'm a week out from my CNM attended hospital birth so I say definitely do it! My labor stalled at 4cm and they sent me home to get things moving....I checked out at 10am and was back at the hospital about 3:30pm (and delivered at 5:45pm) in active labor. They had me on the monitors for a bit when I first checked in but then let me go in the shower and after that the only time I was back on the monitors was when my CNM broke my water (about 10 minutes before the birth). I had no IV (they did have to give me a shot of pitocin after the birth but they ASKED before they gave it, that was nice). It was just a great experience. They weren't constantly checking me (even when I was in the hospital and labor stalled they didn't make me sit on the monitors or check me often), they never checked me to make sure I was complete, just let me push when my body felt like pushing (gee what a concept! Lol )....I wish all of my births were like my last one.

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

This sounds a lot like my first baby as well! I would absolutely say do it and don't look back! Even though I have an OB (I feel very comfortable with her though, as that office has been my OB office for almost 10 years, and she's very open to the kind of birth I want and so is the hospital) and I'm almost 28 weeks along I'm just now reading up on Hypnobabies and natrual birthing techniques. I had my first naturally, but it was a nightmare like yours was. I had an epi with babies #2 and 3, but because I was induced (again with the medical interventions!) and I believe the pit was making the contractions unbearable. This time around I do not want an IV, I want to be able to walk around, shower, or do anything else to alleviate the pain, no BP moniter (I don't mind a moniter on the baby, as long as it's not internal)... and things like that. Thankfully they're open to all of these type of requests. Anyway, good luck with your midwife appt! I hope it all works out for you!