I have spent many moments of my pregnancy wondering WHY! I have asked myself, friends, family, colleagues and a bajillion books about every component of this new endeavor that we have been on for the last 40 weeks. Most of you moms and dads know what I’m talking about, Pampers or Huggies, breastmilk or formula, episiotomy or no episiotomy, is the heartburn because he/she has so much hair or is it hormones?? You need a life-line just to complete your Baby Registry, much less have a healthy pregnancy!
Well I hope I don’t dance around too much as I try to put my thoughts into words, but I’m going to put my best foot forward (Just keep in mind I can blame any confusion on the hormones!). We have had so many questions….and lets be honest, doubts…..about the choices that we have made surrounding our pregnancy, labor/delivery and newborn care. These questions have led me to believe two things 1) People (including strangers) feel very comfortable talking to a pregnant woman 2) There are a dozen choices for every decision that involves pregnancy, labor/delivery and newborn care. Well, the first thing just needed to be said 🙂
So, about these decisions and choices. I think we would all agree that a choice is a decision that has to be made when given two or more possibilities. The first component of a choice would be to recognize that you have two or more possibilities, and then of course the second component would be to make a decision, choosing which possibility you would like to pursue. CHOICE is the CORE of everything that follows in this blog. No matter my choice or your choice, we all have one! Evident in any given news cast, our freedoms allow us all to have a choice. It is simply our responsibility to recognize our possibilities, and then act responsibly based on our morals, experience, knowledge, etc by making the correct choice for us at that time and place. Sometimes we strike gold and sometimes we have regrets, but we always end up on the other side of the choice. With all of that said, I would love the opportunity to elaborate on some of the choices that we chose for our family.
Probably the most popular topic by far, what is a midwife and why are you using one? As Wikipedia explains, Midwives are autonomous practitioners who are specialists in low-risk pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. They generally strive to help women to have a healthy pregnancy and natural birth experience. Midwives are trained to recognize and deal with deviations from the normal. Obstetricians, in contrast, are specialists in illness related to childbearing and in surgery. The two professions can be complementary, but often are at odds because obstetricians are taught to “actively manage” labor, while midwives are taught not to intervene unless necessary. Not only do midwives give the option for a natural birth, they offer lower maternity care cost, reduced mortality and morbidity related to cesarean and other interventions, lower intervention rates, and fewer recovery complications.
The definition of natural childbirth varies. Some define “natural” as a vaginal birth vs. cesarian. My definition is the process as I feel God designed it, free of drugs, inductions and interventions of any kind. There are a LOT of factors that determine if a woman is a candidate for a natural childbirth, and of course there can be complications that arise along the journey. In the event of a high-risk pregnancy or some unforseen obstacle, we are all very thankful for those said drugs and interventions!! I’m not sure what percentage of pregnancies are in fact low-risk, but I think it is safe to assume that it is the majority by far. Some women elect to have a cesarian, again everyone has a choice. On the other hand, there is also a large population of women who WANT a natural birth AND are low-risk who are led down the road of interventions based on recommendations from their obstetrician or the nurse/doctor on call when they are admitted. This article in Consumer Reports, among many others from various resources, elaborates a little more:
Our reasons for choosing a midwife-assisted birth at a birth center are numerous! The decision began in 2009 (obviously well before Mattie was a thought in our head) while I practiced as an intern at Lifetime Family Wellness Center in Hurst, TX under Dr. Jim Bob Haggerton (a genius and revolutionist in my eyes). This chiropractic center was adjacent to a birth center. Almost all of the women at the birth center received chiropractic care throughout their pregnancy and often during labor. Exposed to this dynamic, I began to learn a lot more about midwifery and birthing centers. I was most strongly drawn to their labor philosophy! I like the way our midwife explains it, “I think of it as a job similar to a lifeguard. I make sure everything’s going as safely and smoothly as possible.” They recently had an article published in the Shreveport Times about the alternative to a hospital birth:
Other than philosophy, which I can’t say enough about, here are some other reasons we chose a birth center:
- INFORMED consent – At the hospital you sign an informed consent for several “things” that MAY arrise during your stay in labor and delivery. Has anyone ever asked what exactly it is that you are signing!!!?? I won’t elaborate because you can do your own investigating, but I will say at the birth center we have a very supportive team that helps us to understand what each test is done for and what is involved. At any time we can decline the service, test, intervention, etc or we can accept something that we have previously declined. There is a line for each individual “thing” that may come up so that you can make an informed choice for each one separately. It’s not a “sure you can do whatever you ‘need’ to do to me based on your best judgement” form.
- Comfort – We chose EdenWay Birth Center in Marshall, TX. It is a two hour drive and well worth every trip! The environment is clean, warm, friendly and most of all designed for MOM’S comfort, not necessarily the midwife’s. This is important to us, because we want to be comfortable during the potentially long journey of labor. While laboring at the birth center, we are free to move around as we like. We can walk, get in the birth tub, sit on the birth ball, lay on the bed or dance in the kitchen while we labor. You can go to the bathroom when you need to – you can labor on the toilet if you like. Since the midwife is less “hands-on” than the hospital staff, there are not monitors, cords and machines that keep you confined to the bed in the most non-conducive labor position possible (positioning is very important to me as well – my biomechanical, chiropractor brain kicks in).
- Price – From that article that I referenced earlier, you may have noticed that home birth and birth center deliveries range from $2,500 to $4,500 around the United States, compared to an uncomplicated hospital birth, which runs $9,000 to $17,000. I’m one of those people that believe in paying the price for what you believe in; it just so happens in this case it’s cheaper than what most American families pay.
- Delayed Cord Clamping – They allow us to leave the umbilical cord attached and pulsing until the placenta is delivered and the cord’s job is done! There is a really great family on Facebook that has a ton of research on this topic – search “Leaving A Baby’s Umbilical Cord To Stop Pulsating (Delayed Cord Clamping)”
- Monitoring – Our midwife takes a very “hands off” approach. They abide by all state requirements for fetal and maternal safety, but they practice conservatively where they have the choice. For instance, they do not do continuous external fetal monitoring. Since it is not any more effective than intermittent fetal monitoring, we are thankful that we do not have the limitations that continuous monitoring mandates. In addition, they do not practice routine vaginal exams. You can choose to know or not know your progression.
- Food – They encourage you to eat and drink to sustain energy during labor. This is also hugely important to us! I really think that it is short of crazy that the typical hospital policy is fasting during labor and delivery. I understand the possibility of a cesarian dictates this, but even in the event of a cesarian, in today’s procedures they almost always do some kind of local anesthetic (not general), leaving the mom coherent and able to recognize if she is going to vomit. I definitely think that the benefits of sustained nutrients out-weigh the risk of aspirating stomach contents. If you are a statistics & research person like me, here are some more facts on eating/drinking during labor: http://pregnancy.about.com/cs/laborbasics/a/eatinginlabor.htm
- Birth Class – The birth class we attended was held at the birth center. It was conducted by the Sr. Midwife Apprentice, Jen Courtney. She did an amazing job at presenting the facts about labor, pain management, common interventions, informed consent, anatomy, positioning, etc. The coolest parts were the non-academic parts 🙂 She provided us with pastels and art paper to draw our version of the “Landscape of Labor.” We got to share our thoughts afterwards. We also had a bead ceremony…well that’s what I’m calling it…where we exchanged beads and positive thoughts for each of the expecting moms. Jen made my beads into a keychain that I treasure! The equally cool part was that it was a weekend class so Joey and I got to spend the weekend at a bed & breakfast and invest all of our thoughts and energy into the preparation of having our little girl! It was a unique bonding experience that I will never forget!
- Family – The team at the birth center encourages you to invite who you want to attend your labor. The thing that we like about this is that WE get to decide who is in the room with us and when. I had the opportunity (thanks to an awesome mom) to watch my little sister come into this world when I was 16 years old. It was an unforgettable experience and I truely believe that moment initiated the unbreakable bond that we have today. Not to say that we want an audience for the indecent parts of labor, but the fact remains that I get to choose who is there and how involved they are.
- Husband – We LOVE the fact that Joey gets to be a part of this labor just as much as I do…well, almost as much! On one of our first prenatal visits, the Sr. Midwife Apprentice, Jen said, “we want Dad to be a part of HIS birth.” They coached us on ways for Joey to be involved and prepared us for OUR event. They described it just like that, “this is your event.” Since we first elected to work with the team at EdenWay Birth Center, they have openly encouraged us to take ownership of this journey and make it ours! Joey is considering catching Miss Mattie if the opportunity presents itself! I think that would be the coolest!
Here’s a few pictures of the birth center for those of you that have never been to one.
You CAN get adjusted when you are pregnant! In fact, research shows that not only can you have a more comfortable pregnancy, but chiropractic care throughout pregnancy consistently decreases labor time in all moms!
This site does a good job of explaining WHICH chiropractors are the best qualified to care for a pregnant woman and some of the rationale behind chiropractic care during pregnancy: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/chiropracticcare.html
For me, staying well adjusted helped in so many ways. I worked 5 days a week through my 38th week of pregnancy. I only stopped then so I could focus on getting plenty of rest, well-balanced meals and plenty of stretching in before “game day.” If you have been to a chiropractor, you may know that we can get in some crazy positions to assist the patient, especially when they are in very acute pain or the doctor:patient size ration is off. I never realized how many squats I do in a day before pregnancy…HA HA! I imagine most women can say they worked through their pregnancy, and probably some with much more physically demanding jobs than mine. My claim to fame is Idid so without any discomfort. Don’t get me wrong, the discomforts arose, but I was able to manage each one with an adjustment, soft tissue release, massage or BEST.
I don’t know that I could prove the scientific coorelation, but I also thank chiropractic care for the absence of morning sickness! I am very confident that it helped my indigestion. Especially week 30 – 36, the indigestion got really bad! I would get adjusted and try to eat every 3-4 hours and it would go away! Some may not care to know, but my bowels have stayed healthy and active throughout my entire pregnancy & again, I know this is a testament to my chiropractic care. I can’t say that I have met a single patient that walked into our office that was aware of the influence an adjustment had on the organic functions of our body! I would love to connect those dots for people!! Please know that your nervous system is the master system; the nervous sytem dictates the function of all other systems in the body! Chiropractic care can change your life no matter how complex your symptoms may be!
In addition to chiropractic care, as often as weekly, I also received a monthly massage. I have had 3 BEST (BioEnergetic Synchronization Technique) sessions during my pregnancy. What is BEST? This link can explain much better than I can: http://www.morter.com/what_is_best.php. I tried to do as much yoga and stretching as possible. It is always important to maintain flexibility and circulation!
I used NutriWest pre/post natal vitamins and minerals in addition to Innate Choice Omega Sufficiency and Innate Choice Probiotic Sufficiency. I supplemented Vitamin C as well. I used coconut oil topically on my growing belly. As far as diet, I put a strong emphasis on protein. I tried to eat some source of protein 3 – 4 times per day.
I hope you can tell, I ACTIVELY chose to participate in my pregnancy and did proactive things to help my body keep up with the daily changing demands. I know that I have not done everything perfectly or that my choices are the best for every pregnancy. I do know that these choices have led to a very HAPPY pregnancy for ME and my family! It has also been healthy. All of my measurements and bloodwork demonstrate a very “boring” pregnancy as one friend puts it….that is everything checks out fine.
As Mattie’s “guess date” approaches we get closer and closer to our very own birth story!! We are very excited and thankful that we have wonderful friends and family like you to share this journey with! Hopefully it won’t be long and I will be posting the story of how it all turned out! Looking forward to sharing the next chapter!
In Loving Service,
Drs. Joey & Taryn Lowery