Saturday, June 7, 2008

Birth Stories: Christy

Jodi emailed her sister, Christy, on my behalf to get some solid answers concerning natural childbirth. Christy offered great insight in to birthing centers, pain remedies, and making it through labor and delivery! She gave me a lot to think about and I was so grateful for her kind words and touching story. Here are some highlights from the email she sent me:

on her favorite part about delivering naturally at a birthing center:
Right after Caitlin was born, they put her on my stomach and covered us with
a blanket. Caitlin didn't cry. She was already breathing fine and
she just wanted to look at us and be held. Having an alert baby
looking into my eyes was so special.

Christy and her beautiful daughter Caitlin.

on the Bradley method:
I took the Bradley class. When I signed
up for it (i just did a google search for bradley instructors & called
the closest one for her next class- about $200 and insurance may cover

After the first Bradley class meeting I felt encouraged that anybody
could have a natural birth with preparation. The classes are once a
week for a couple of months.

It was fun to be around other pregnant women who wanted natural births and
they taught us lots of relaxation exercises, and the husbands felt
very included and they seemed to be having the best time. My husband
said he looked forward to going every week, and it really increased
his confidence about being my birth partner. He didn't know anything
about childbirth beforehand and now he literally knows more about it
than 90% of other fathers.

I am really thankful for the relaxation exercises I learned in
the Bradley class because that made the difference in those first few
minutes of labor.

on Epidurals:
Potential side effects like permanent numbness
made me nervous. I wanted to avoid it because of the risks and
because I wanted the baby to be alert at birth. It seemed like really
heavy medication to give to something as small as a baby. Some women
say they still have pain even with an epidural. I also did not want a
chain reaction of more and more doctor interventions. So it seemed to
me like I needed to learn how to minimize the pain and handle the
intensity of the experience and maybe avoid an epidural.

on Pitocin:
A synthetic form of a hormone. It stimulates artificially
intense contractions; that is, stronger contractions than your body
would normally create, so it makes childbirth more painful than nature
intended and it basically forces women to get an epidural (More
product! It's like upselling for hospitals!). The artificially
strong contractions are also hard on the baby. Sometimes it makes the
woman have to get a C-section because the baby is in distress, but if
the doctors just kept their hands off and did not give Pitocin maybe
there wouldn't have been distress. I know some people who were told,
"This will help your labor," so they went along with getting Pitocin
not really knowing what it was or why they had to take it. It DOES
speed up labor, which is convenient for the hospital, since hospitals
make over one quarter of their income from childbirth, and the faster
they can turn over patients, the more $$$.

on birthing centers:
I LOVED the birth center and so did my husband. It was decorated like
a bed-and-breakfast. The rooms are private and have queen-sized beds.

The birth center treated me like a healthy person going through an
intense but natural experience, and I got to know their staff during
my prenatal appointments so I felt comfortable with them during my
labor. I felt like it made natural birth easier for me. The birth
center felt homey and comfy and I trusted it.

Insurance covered it. I had a PPO plan at the time and they would pay 80%
whether I went to a hospital or the birth center (I had to call them
to clarify all of this). Birth centers don't cost as much and I
didn't have extra services like the epidural, so the bill was about
$4500 including prenatal & postnatal care and I only paid a deductible
and my 20% share (less than $500 out of pocket).

Christy's birth center

on natural ways to deal with pain:
Making myself RELAX into each
contraction was the most important thing.

I played the "Chopin for Relaxation" piano album during
early labor.

They brought me cold grape juice, which helped a lot.

Also we had brought a mini-fan (about 4 inches across), which
we put on a nightstand pointing at me during labor and I was happy we
had it.

I brought lavender oil to the birth center and one of the
midwives put some on a cold washcloth and I wiped my face after each
contraction to cool off & smell it (it's supposed to be a natural
painkiller) and it really helped.

on the actual birth:
For me, the pushing stage (about two hours) was the hardest, because I
got tired. Again, I don't think that would have been different if I
had an epidural.

Labor was like I would imagine a marathon to be: rewarding, tough. It
was about 7 hours. I would rather go through labor again than do a
marathon, though. So maybe labor is easier than a hilly marathon.
Some childbirth books have ideas like that birth is "violent" or
"easy" and I did not relate to that.

on Christy's hospital experience:
Our nearest hospital was cold & smelled like Lysol, had no windows, and babies got
separated from their moms. The hospital tour guide, a veteran nurse,
actually touted that like a good thing- "When the baby comes out we've
got the warming rack all ready so they'll just pop him on that!"
Nothing like a welcoming hug from a WARMING RACK!

Thanks again Christy for everything! Again, any birth experience is an amazing one. No matter how babies enter our lives it is a miracle, I just think it is important to have all of the facts beforehand.

Christy also recommended for other birth stories.

© copyright homemade grits


Anonymous said...

That was great and very intersting to read. Thanks!! I would have so many questions for her. Now you have me researching. jess

Christy said...

Thank you Lesley for your sweetness & interest. I know you will rock childbirth whatever happens, whatever the best decisions for you are!

homemade grits said...

Thanks again Christy for your honesty and encouragement!