Get ready for some baby talk.
I finished reading Beyond the Sling some time ago and had a great discussion with my coworker (the one who lent it to me). My coworker actually did not finish the book, because she couldn’t stand Mayim’s tone. I encouraged her to give parts three and four of the book a shot because those sections were about less controversial topics, and she would probably agree with them more and be more willing to read. Although a lot of the reviews on Goodreads say that Mayim is nonjudgemental in her book, the fact is that she talks nonjudgemental, but then slices in there that her way IS really the most natural (which is to say, in her view, best for baby). I feel like this lessens the farther you get into the book. I would not recommend buying this book, but borrowing it from the library or someone who owns it.
In her book she mentioned the documentary The Business of Being Born, which is a film about natural and home births. It is produced by Ricki Lake and lucky for me Netflix had it. I had seen it up on the recommendation queue a few times but I hate films where they pick a bad guy and just stick it to them the whole time (I believe documentaries should be impartial). Last night I watched it.
Before my feelings on the movie, here’s how I felt before hand about natural birth. It was something I wanted to try because I heard an epidural can make you feel loopy and sick to the point of throwing up. That doesn’t sound very pleasant to me. Usually, you’ll want an epidural more if you get induced — when my cousin was induced (on request by her), my mom said her labor would be tougher because it is forcing your body to contract unnaturally. Why would I want to give myself more pain? I also DON’T want an episiotomy, which is where the doctor makes cuts on the vagina to ‘help the baby out’. WHY ARE YOU CUTTING ME?! Finally, I was completely NOT okay with a C-section because it is a major surgery with a long recovery time and I know I want to enjoy time with my newborn, not healing from a giant scar. Stepson was delivered by emergency C-section because he had the cord wrapped around his neck. I am not against C-sections — if an emergency warrants it. For me, I have not had major surgery outside of getting my wisdom teeth out (where I had a great doc and never needed painkillers), and did not want my next major surgery’s recovery time to coincide with me having to take care of a baby.
HOWEVER, I am crazy pathetic about pain. My period cramps knock me out. Constipation makes me wince. I nearly broke my cousin’s fingers squeezing his hand when I got my tattoo. I couldn’t imagine pushing a baby out of me and NOT getting some sort of relief. Plus I had read the book When Did I Get Like This? by Amy Wilson. In it, she describes her dream of a natural birth, but once the labor actually happened, she was so lost in the pain that she not only got an epidural but also the episiotomy (which she was against as well). She later found out the doctor only did the episiotomy because he thought the baby was coming out too slow and he wanted to speed it up so it would be over with. And I think, that will be me. I will be all into natural, and then the time will come, and I will be weak and disoriented from pain, and just go, ‘Fuck it. Do what you got to do.’
After watching the documentaries, I now see that I have choices. I can choose to have my baby at home, at a birthing center, or in the hospital. I learned that laying down actually makes more work to pushing out the baby (but is easier for the doctor), but I could also squat and get some help from gravity. I see that I can have a midwife instead of a doctor, and she can help me through my weakest moments and have a baby without any assistance at all. Did you know that midwives know how to deliver a breeched baby naturally? Did you know that the World Health Organization thinks that only 15% (at a MAX) of births should be C-sections, but the US’s is 30%? There was a lot of information from educated professionals about C-sections, inductions, and hospital births in general. The best way to get this information is to watch the documentaries yourself – the births are a little graphic, so be prepared! I don’t think it would have the same impact reading them off a computer screen; I certainly wasn’t impacted as I read about it in Mayim’s book.
I see now that I was always viewing birth a certain way because of two things: I had false knowledge that inducing was necessary, and I was letting my fear of the pain make a decision instead of what I was capable of doing. After watching numerous natural births on the documentaries, I really feel that this is something I can do, that my body was naturally designed to do without the help of drugs. Husband watched some of The Business of Being Born with me, and he does NOT want a home birth. I totally agree. I don’t know how I’m going to feel during the labor, and I would like to be near a hospital incase there is an issue with the baby. I also don’t want to force Husband into a position he doesn’t feel comfortable, where I’m bleeding and busting out a placenta on the living room floor (actually, just the thought of that gives me the creeps too).
Luckily for us, Swedish Covenant (just a few neighborhoods over) has a midwifery and birthing center. I told Husband that’s where I want to go when I get pregnant. I don’t want to have to argue with a doctor over C-sections and inducing. I don’t want to lose my say in the discussion because I’m blindsided by pain. I want someone who is going to encourage me every step of the labor process and keep me on track, understanding I want natural before anything else.