If you'd rather not read, watch my video on this topic here.
Who Am I To Be Speaking About This?
I've always been extremely interested in the birthing process. It's one of those side interests of mine that I've always been obsessed with. Always watching movies, following experts, getting books from the library. I'm fascinated with the pregnant female body and find so much beauty and power in it. I even considered changing my major at one point in college to become a birthing nurse! But I've always felt like it wasn't my place to have an opinion on it because I'm not a mother, doctor, or midwife. Where's my authority in it? But the last few months, I was thinking about how I could combine my intuitive work with pregnant moms. Again, I just shut out the idea because who am I to do such a thing? And last month, my good friend called me up a day before her induction to ask if I could take photos of her labor and birth. I'm so glad I was free that weekend because it was such an incredible experience.
My guides clearly wanted me to explore this more and although in the moment it seemed like a random unexpected photo shoot, it ended up being so perfectly divinely timed in my life. It confirmed a lot of my own passions and interests and moved me so much that I knew I had to do something about it. So I'm saying screw it! Just because I'm not pregnant or a doctor doesn't mean I can't help and educate others. I have my own strengths in the intuitive world and I think there's something here for me. My point? I'm passionate about this. I truly believe that we can plan to have an empowered and, dare I say, intuitive birth. I think we can take it a step further by involving reiki, shamanic work, and telepathic communication between mom and baby. I'm not sure what that looks like yet, but this is my promise to you that it will become part of my services!
If you've stumbled across this blog (probably because you were searching for some very specific keywords and found me 10 pages deep on your google search), you are probably thinking, where can we start? Education. No matter what class I teach I always start with a background. Why should we care? What needs to change? Why are we not having empowered births? And where we all have to start is educating ourselves about what's going on now so we can make improvements. So let's start with the first basic problem surrounding childbirth: Fear.
Transforming Fear Into Empowerment
I don't need to explain how the media makes birthing scary. We see movies all the time of horrible depictions of births. We hear horror stories from the news and it scares the crap of us. So much so that women have already decided ahead of time that they want epidurals, C-Sections, and induction dates. This is not normal people! The energy surrounding birth is fear, that you don't know enough and that you have zero control. Women know that their bodies are perfectly capable of doing this, but are unaware or afraid of their power. Childbirth should be empowering, incredible, and uplifting, damn it! We need to listen to and trust our bodies and ourselves. We spend more time researching our next car, camera, or makeup purchase than we do our birth options. WHY?! The shift needs to be made of letting women decide, giving them the power and control over their birth stories. Every experience in your life is yours, so why give away your power with childbirth?
Some Basic Birthing Facts
So if you've made it this far in my passionate rant without heading back to Facebook, you're going to like this next section! I've written down the most common misconceptions and forgotten facts when it comes to birthing, from the movie, The Business of Being Born. I highly recommend watching this documentary if you plan on becoming pregnant, but if you don't have the time, read my cliff notes of it below. This is universal knowledge to those that have researched alternative birthing methods, but is not widely known to those just starting their research.
A History: How Home Births Switched to Hospitals
Midwives have always been around, as long as people have actually. Before 1950, 95% of women had their babies at home. Birth gradually went into the hospital, but midwives didn't follow. Hospitals were actually much more dangerous than having your baby at home. What hospitals did to women is terrifying and could probably be made into a horror film today. Women were strapped into beds, left for days, put in straight jackets, and given drugs that made them climb walls and claw the faces of doctors. (This epidemic in hospitals was nicknamed "The Twilight Sleep"). So what did the hospitals do to gain popularity? They ran smear campaigns against midwives, showing midwives as dirty, ignorant, and uneducated. And women believed them, out of fear for their unborn children. By 1955, less than 1% of births were in the home. Jump to the 1970's and the hippy revolution. Women didn't want to have their babies in the hospital (can you blame them?) and went to midwives. Because a lot of these women were "hippies" there has been a bad connotation around home birthing ever since. If you want to have your baby in an alternative way, you are quickly judged as being too granola or subjecting your children to being "born in a barn". By 2005, hospital c-section rates rose to 1 out of 3 babies and became the most common surgery in the US. Why so many C-Sections? It's pretty simple. Doctors want to get people out of the hospital as fast as they can, they want to get home on time. So what do they do? They induce mothers to speed up the process.
If you wait too long to have your baby doctors can push you and baby faster than your body is ready. Here is an example of what one woman went through in the documentary I watched. They gave her Pitocin first to cause contractions. She got itchy from the Pitocin, so they gave her medicine for that. Her contractions became much worse (and more painful than normal because of Pitocin) so she received an epidural (which slowed
down her labor). So they gave her more Pitocin to give her more contractions, another random drug that made her very panicky, and a 2nd epidural. The baby still wasn't coming out on the doctor's watch, so they rushed her to have a C-Section. You can see how this escalated into an intervention that was probably not even needed. We can see the effects of how these drugs affect the mother, but what are they doing to the baby? They end up getting less blood and less oxygen. Maybe you can see now why I started searching for alternatives.
The Alternative to Hospitals are NOT Barns
C'mon, women aren't completely stupid. They know that rejecting modern medicine and technology would be ridiculous! Obviously, there are some people that have to be in hospitals for pre-existing medical conditions of either baby or mom. That's good, that's why we have hospitals. But most moms don't have huge risks during pregnancy. This is where birthing centers and home births can come into play. Again, you can choose whatever makes you comfortable, as long as you are educated on your options. People that have at home births or are in a birthing center have close access to a hospital and medical equipment. Midwives are usually trained nurses, sometimes x-obgyns. They come with tons of experience and medical equipment. They don't show up just with their purses and motivational posters, I promise. The most extreme alternative to hospitals are at home births. You only have to pay for your midwife and any birthing gear expenses. You might not be as close to a hospital but some people like the energy and comfort over their own home. Birthing centers are the happy medium between hospitals and your home.
Birthing Centers: These are usually half the price of staying at a hospital (um yes please!) and they accept a lot of insurance policies. They are usually less than a mile from a hospital and they have beautiful pleasing interiors with special birthing gear. Because they don't use drug inductions, they encourage movement and have workout balls, baths, showers, swedish bars, a full bed and sometimes kitchen, a tv, essential oils, and birthing chairs! Drugs often make contractions worse and laying down for hours definitely won't help. The more you can move, the less pain you'll have and the easier it is be to deliver. (Side Note: laying on a bed on your back is physiological the worst way to deliver a baby. It literally makes the pelvic opening smaller and harder for a woman to use her stomach muscles to push. There's no medical reason for this!) The best part about birthing centers is that you are on your time. They aren't going to speed up the process for you or baby, you take your time and are in control of your setting. If you want to have the baby in the tub, great! On the bed, great! Squatting and holding the swedish bars, great! Your body will be your guide if you listen.
Obviously I'm a huge fan of finding the middle ground of hospitals and at home births with the birthing centers. My favorite, and probably the one I will use, is Baby + Co. But do your research and find what works best for you. A good rule of thumb, go with someone who respects your wishes and lets you be the decision maker!