It’s been over a month since I gave birth so, it’s time to share about the actual big decision we made when it comes to giving birth to Minerva, our daughter. I’d like to first of all clarify that what I’m about to share is a very personal process and decision that doesn’t imply ‘is the right or correct way’ to do things or ‘how it should be.’ I respect each woman’s and couple’s choice of how they give birth, and as such I’ll share the story of how we got to choose ours, which we were really glad and satisfied to do after all.
From the 5th month or so we started looking at ‘where to give birth’ and few names of hospitals came up, I went to visit one and even if it was an entire hospital just for giving birth, something didn’t quite sit right with me. I had initially considered that I would be having possibly the usual C-section like most of the women in my family and that would be it. However, as I was in the spot looking at the rooms and the list of instruments and stuff that’s used for the ‘birthing package,’ I got calmly freaked out, I couldn’t really fathom myself being at a hospital giving birth, though I thought I had to ‘suck it up’ because ‘there was no other way’ apparently.
Well, I kept having such hospital in mind, trying not to think too much about it in the subsequent weeks, but then a few things came to my awareness as I started investigating more about the birthing process that led me to become aware of alternative ways to give birth and by this I mean both in and out of hospitals, beginning with the idea of having a natural birth, which I had sincerely not considered before seriously enough because of the idea of how painful it would be.
One day my cousin – who is now pregnant by the way, lol – told me about the documentary ‘The business of being born’ and that opened up my eyes to what actually goes on with doctors and hospitals in terms of how they essentially benefit from sending a perfectly healthy woman to get a C-section by making up all kinds of stories that lead the mothers-to-be into a path of apparent ‘no other way around other than C-section’ or ‘no-other-way-around but to get an episiotomy’ and a bunch of other so called ‘problems’ that are in fact rare in nature that could make a birthing process difficult.
Around that same time, we had a chat with my friend who is a neonatal care specialist and she made us aware of all the things we would have to be aware of that are routinely done to newborns in hospitals… there were quite a few things that we got to understand could disrupt the bonding and feeding initial processes that are so relevant to do in the moment right after the baby is born, along with other shots and intervention that I had seen in the hospital’s TVs when my nephews and niece were born, which by the way horrified me and I couldn’t understand how everyone would be so joyful at seeing the newborn being treated like a piece of meat about to be sold while I was shocked and almost cried of seeing how they were being handled by the doctors. I didn’t want this for me nor for our child at all, but this is ‘how things are’ apparently.
I also got to chat to my friend Anna and she expressed how she would have liked to have a woman accompanying her birthing process – a doula to be precise- and that got me pondering how is it that I ‘really’ wanted to give birth, because I was just superficially looking at that significant point as if it wasn’t relevant enough, but it all was due to me not being informed about ‘how things go’ in fact at a hospital and the potential of having either natural or C-section there, and the relevance it has for both the mother and the baby. All of this peaked my curiosity and interest to actually try and do things differently than how I had observed people around me would do with their pregnancies and birth processes.
So, I avidly started investigating the benefits, the pros and cons of C-sections, natural birth at hospital, the procedures etc. I still couldn’t fathom me going through this at such a place, but I was ‘settling’ for it because I thought there was no other way in hospitals where I live.
Then, I stumbled upon the ‘humanized birth’ concept and some doctors trying to sell that for many thousands… well, talking to them didn’t sound like they were totally ‘humanizing’ after all when including all kinds of expenses for anesthesia even if I didn’t end up requiring it. Then I got to watch the birthing process of a yoga teacher on YouTube which really peaked my interest in finding a way to do something similar. I had been following her yoga lessons throughout pregnancy so that’s how I got to see that she gave birth at a birth center and voilà, that seemed like an awesome thing to do: giving birth in a tub, in water. Hmm that looked so nice and peaceful, away from this spooky hospital place. I thought how that would be so awesome and I did further research on it, but I only found some costly services from Mexico City, which seemed like a lot and improbable due to the preparation required for it, and I was already getting to the 7th month by the time.
Well to short-cut the story after watching a lot of information on water births, investigating ‘who’ could do it and not finding anything, I went to my first actual prenatal yoga birth class and there I met a woman that, in our 10 minute conversation, told me about her plan to have a home birth with midwives and in water! I was like ‘what? you can actually do that here?’ and so I finally got her midwife’s contact and that changed the course of the birth story and something I am entirely grateful for, perhaps I just hadn’t done a proper search on Facebook for it, lol, but I found the right people at the right time.
Oh, I had also known of another friend from my qi gong class that was choosing to give birth at home with midwives, it sounded too ‘hippie’ to me lol, of course this is a prejudice I’d then clear up with proper information on my side, she was 3 months more advanced than me in her pregnancy, so I got to know about her – also – lengthy birthing process and it turned out it was the same midwife that assisted her 🙂 so that created more confidence in our choice. I also remembered Joana’s birth at home and I remembered her having a tub, so I kept considering that there should be a way to do that here, and perseverance played a role because I got to find the right people to accompany me and actually do the whole process that we both had by then considered would be the best way to give birth to our child.
Talking to the midwife -whose name is also by coincidence Minerva -was refreshing in the sense that she explained to us the way she does things and that’s exactly what we wanted, we were in the same ‘wavelength’ so to speak and at the time we still were going with the regular doctor who would indicate to us – as I have shared in previous blogs – how everything was going just fine and without any complications, which of course then was like a ‘green light’ to pursue doing things in a natural way.
Here it is relevant to say that this whole process of ditching the hospital idea and going for the home birth plan is entirely a personal – and as a couple – decision that doesn’t mean ‘it’s the best way’ for everyone. I’ve met women who didn’t feel at all at ease with the idea of having a child at home and went to the hospital because that’s where they would feel most at ease and safe, some others just can’t have natural births due to medical reasons or any other physical complication, even though I’ve also now gotten to know more about the medical tricks used to entice women to get C-sections and so forth, but that’s another story and something each women would have the responsibility to investigate to not be, essentially, tricked and fooled into believing they can’t give birth in a natural way, The reason for this? Easy: money.
To me, choosing to give birth this way was like a 180 degree turn again, where I went from being very vague about a birth plan and sort of brushing off the idea of having to go to a hospital to give birth and postponing looking at those – gory to me – details because I actually didn’t want to, and circumstances led me to find other ways with which I was definitely more comfortable with. And this to me was also a revelation, because… the idea of giving birth without any ‘painkiller’ is probably something I feared the most in my life, the sole idea of giving birth was one of the reasons why I didn’t want to have children to begin with. However with sufficient amount of YouTube testimonies on natural birth, several documentaries about midwives, births at home, births in water, learning about the multiple – horror – stories of obstetric violence at hospitals and women’s accounts of their terrible experience at hospitals was enough for me to realize that this would be the best way for us, and that we’d have to work a bit hard on it, since it wasn’t going to be easy, so I set myself up to have this ‘mountain-hiking’ like experience that giving birth resembles, according to Minerva, our midwife.
The most interesting part of this is how ‘uncommon’ and ‘dangerous’ and therefore feared this way of giving birth is for a lot of people. When we talked to my mother about our home birth decision and asking her if we could use their home – specifically their TV lounge – to be the space for our choice of birthing process, man, it was very difficult, she reacted a LOT and it’s all because of fears and misinformation that we’ve gotten throughout the past decades about a birth process being some sort of ‘illness’ or ‘complication’ that needs a whole medical team to do it… this is of course in the majority of cases false, however, as with everything, we have been brainwashed to think the other way around and have forgotten the thousands of years that women have given birth without the ‘clinically sanitized’ hospitals, when in fact there’s a lot of evidence on how counterproductive this can be for both mothers and children – yep perhaps not in everyone’s case, but there’s still a lot to fine tune when it comes to giving proper aid and support to a birthing mother in hospitals to prevent a lot of the mistreatment that causes emotional stress and many times even influences the infamous postpartum depression.
We kept this plan under the radar for the most part precisely because of considering how most people would be fearing the worst by us doing it this way and possibly talking us out of this ‘crazy’ idea, so, it was our first choice anyways, but always also kept a plan B in case anything could possibly go wrong, and that’s also very relevant because there were certain conditions that ‘in the last minute’ could in fact be sufficient reasons to go to a hospital and get a C-section. I am entirely grateful that wasn’t my case, but I will detail as well in the following blog how the whole birthing process actually took place.
So with this all, the learning point is to not settle with what the majority of people do around you even if it doesn’t really ‘sit right’ within you. Once I asked my mother about how I’d like to have some ‘freedom’ in the positions to give birth. and this was way before our choice of home-birthing – and she was like ‘no way, you are doing to be in one of those beds where you put your legs up and that’s how you deliver a baby… that in itself already sounded like an unnatural ‘must do’ where my palms would start to sweat just by the thought of seeing myself in that situation with all the white bright lights and screaming my lungs out without being able to move… well that was enough motivation for me to look at doing things differently.
Secondly, to not back down with making this kind of choice even if multiple ‘worst case scenarios’ are presented to oneself by different people in an attempt to ‘do the safe thing’ according to their views, perspectives and experiences. It’s also understandable how a lot of people do this out of actually wanting the best for oneself, but, it’s also important to consider that without having proper information or education on the subject, any idea that goes out of the ‘norm’ may simply be feared because of not being the most common thing to do or having misinformation about it. In this, we learned to understand people’s fears and concerns, but we also take them from ‘where they come from’ so as to then investigate their claims and truly make sure that those fears are addressed with proper directions of ‘what one would do IF’ this or that complication takes place.
Thirdly, realizing that the thing one feeds throughout one’s life as ‘the thing I feared the most’ is probably something that one needs to actually do to then come through on the other side and say ‘hey, I made it! I’m alive’ and yes, this by no means down-sizes the actual rough process this was, but I also see how my disposition to stop just fearing and instead looking into a better way – to me- to give birth, making an informed decision and choice and preparing myself for it – not having anyone telling me ‘what’ to do – empowered me to own my decision, in a way, knowing that yes, this will probably be hard but hey it’s my absolute choice and decision, and that actually helped me to get rid of fears of ‘not being able to do it’ and instead, entirely trust the process and trust my capacity to do it, along with the indispensable help of professionals to do so of course.
As a result of this, I actually felt a lot better in the last weeks and days leading to the birthing time, because I knew I wasn’t going to a hospital, I wasn’t going to go through surgery, I wouldn’t have to worry about extra expenses and charges that these places usually do – and doctors – and instead pay a round fee for it which included the whole attention and support needed throughout the whole birth labor process. This also was a settling fact, because I’ve heard also the stories of how hospitals kind of take advantage of couples being in this ecstatic moment of giving birth to their child and any ‘extra’ expenses are just unquestioned because ‘well at least my child is here and safe’ and bam, there goes some 25% or more of the cost on top of the initial expected fees… yes, yikes, there’s a LOT that needs to be changed in the medical realm and specifically in birthing processes, but that’s just my perspective from what I’ve researched so far.
All I can say for any woman expecting a child or looking for alternative ways to give birth or just having a regular plan at the hospital is to get informed, at least on the basics of how you will be ‘handled’ and how your baby will also be handled from the moment they come out of the womb – regardless of the way you deliver – so that you are the most aware possible of how things will go. I share this because of watching many women having sour experiences after birth because of not informing themselves or being tricked ‘in the last moment’ to do something they didn’t want to initially but believing there are ‘no other ways’ so, going for it without a question. In this I might sound as if I am encouraging people to do it the natural way, to have a home birth or with midwives, and that’s how i would do it if I had to do it all over again – not that I plan to either, lol – but I am simply suggesting to own your choice and decision so that whatever the outcome is, one can be settled with it, embracing the outcomes and consequences of such choice. I guess this applies to everything really, but this is just my experience with choosing a way to give birth 🙂