Why I Pursued an Unmedicated, Intervention-Free Birth

A note from Mama Bird: This is the first post in a series on why and how I pursued an “all-natural” or medication- and intervention-free birth. I had an amazing experience and am now passionate about birth education and choices. I believe that all kinds of births are awe-inspiring miracles and life-changing experiences. I don’t believe that one kind of birth is necessarily better than any other. But I do believe that the current American medical system does not educate women and families on all the options that are available. Please check back for new installments in this ongoing series, including our birth story. Use the subscription box to the right if you would like an email notification when new posts are published.

Inspirational Birth Quote Ina May Gaskin

Baby Bird’s Birth Part One: Why I Pursued an Unmedicated, Intervention-Free Birth

If you have read the story of Baby Bird #1’s Birth, then you may know that we had, in my opinion, a fairly typical American birth. My baby was full-term, I delivered vaginally in a hospital, labor was augmented with the medication Pitocin, and pain was managed with an epidural analgesia. I did not need a Caesarean section. It was the most intense and wonderful day to date, eclipsing my wedding, graduations and engagement.

As I shared in a contribution to The Boob Group, I believe the standard medications and interventions I received contributed to a delay in my milk coming in. Even a seemingly benign intervention as IV fluid may have contributed to excess newborn weight loss, a major stumbling block to breastfeeding. So, my commitment to exclusively breastfeeding my babies was making me reconsider my birth plan.

To be clear, I was not at all unhappy with my first birth experience. Second time around, I believed intellectually that an unmedicated, intervention-free birth was best for the baby and possibly the mother, but child birth education and preparation were not a priority. I was busy with caring for a toddler, managing morning sickness and working.

So 35 weeks of pregnancy came and went without a second thought about classes. On my hospital’s birth preferences form I marked “I would prefer not to take medication to manage pain, but would accept it for a long or painful labor.”

Then two things happened. My husband and I attended a hospital tour. (The second birth was in a different hospital from our first because we changed insurance.)  On the tour we viewed a video. Two ridiculously attractive anesthesiologists explained epidurals. The video was terrible quality. The sound did not sync with the picture and the doctors were stiff. I told my husband how much I hated the epidural the first time and how I really hoped I wouldn’t have to get one again. “Oh, you’re going to get one,” he said.

“What!?!”

“You are going to get an epidural. I know you.”

Sure my pride was hurt a little, and his conviction of the inevitability was depressing. But I mostly took it as a challenge.

Two days later I took a prenatal yoga class. I had previously taken prenatal yoga with 6 or 7 different instructors, some better than others, at 4 or 5 different studios around town. This was my first prenatal yoga “Hot Mama” class with Jolie Cash at Nature’s Whisper. Best prenatal yoga class in San Diego, hands down.

At the beginning of the class, I pulled an “affirmation” or positive saying on a card. Mine said:

“My body and my baby know exactly what to do.”

One exercise during class was a deep plié in second position, (a standing squat with legs turned out and a foot and a half apart). Jolie had us hold the position, feeling the intensity in our thighs for about a minute and then release. “This is about as long as a surge. You only have to withstand the intensity for that long and then you will have a break.”

A light bulb went off. I have been practicing the Bar Method for exercise for over three years. The entire class is comprised of intervals of intensity and then a quick break and stretch. I had been preparing for childbirth for over three years, three times a week!

Using Bar Method to prepare for unmedicated, intervention-free birth

From that point on, I knew I could do it. Women have delivered babies unmedicated for hundreds of thousands of years. They have delivered with less physical and mental preparation than what I already possessed. So, why not me?

Why not me?

THE BABY BIRDS BIRTH SERIES

Part One: Why I Pursued an Unmedicated, Intervention-Free Birth
Part Two: The Surprising Birth Story of Baby Bird #2
Part Three: The Birth of Baby Bird #2 from the Eyes of Our Doula
Part Four: How My Mama Tribe Helped My Pregnancy
Part Five: How I Used the Bar Method to Prepare for Birth