I'll admit it...I'm a "birth junkie." I didn't even make up that term; there are many others like me!
Birth junkies love reading birth stories, especially those about natural childbirth. We're passionate about safe, meaningful birth. We believe that women's bodies are made to give birth, and that we can usually do it without a lot of medical interventions. (However, I join most other birth junkies in being very, very thankful to live in a time when one of the reasons birth is so safe, is because C-Sections and other interventions are available when they are necessary!)
Just because I believe most births can happen without lots of interventions, doesn't mean I think they must. I didn't want an unmedicated childbirth the first time around. Had I been forced into one, it could have been very scary for me. I believe women should be allowed to make choices about their births, as long as those choices are safe. But I've ended up with strong ideas about what the right choices are for me, and I love to share those thoughts with others!
I've had two very different--and very positive--birth experiences. Chickie's birth was an induction on her due date. I had an epidural, which I loved, and, after a short labor, gave birth in the hospital bed. I stayed there two days, and we all went home.
Zoodle's birth was in a birthing tub at a local birthing center. Again, it was a short labor--short and intense (i.e., painful!), without an epidural. I stayed there less than seven hours, and then we took our boy home.
I am blessed--I was prepared for natural childbirth (well, as prepared as one can be!) and absolutely loved the experience. But I'm not just passionate about having a med-free birth. One of the things that made Zoodle's birth so awesome was where it took place.
Hospitals are great places to be if you're sick or in need of medical attention! And I was treated very well at the hospital when I gave birth to Chickie!
But once I was committed to natural childbirth, I realized I wouldn't need the medical capabilities of a hospital. The birthing center (with certified midwives) offered a safe place to birth--where they could resuscitate a baby, stitch up a mama, give IV antibiotics, etc. (Thankfully, none of those was necessary in my case!) But because a birthing center is not a hospital, the available medical interventions aren't the focus. They're tucked away, to be used if needed.
So instead of being in a hospital bed, with monitors all around, I was in a room that looked and felt like a five-star hotel room; or like a guest room offered by an affluent, gracious host. Atmosphere affects relaxation! (And that relaxation isn't just important during labor--it's important afterward too, when the new family is bonding!)
The room where Zoodle was born has since been redecorated and is even prettier....
(I prefer not to link to the birthing center's website since it would give away my location, but feel free to email me if you're interested in this center.)
More important than the lovely atmosphere, however, is this fact: When a woman desiring to give birth naturally is assisted by a midwife in a birthing center or at home, the woman generally doesn't have to fight for what she wants.
When I was pregnant with Zoodle and we took Bradley birthing classes, one thing we talked about was how to defend your birth plan. Sometimes natural birth plans just don't line up with hospital protocol! But you know what? Defending my choices is one of the last things I'd want to do during an incredibly intense natural labor! Yes, I could have asked my husband and doula to advocate for me--but instead, they were able to use their energy supporting me, instead of fighting for me! The caregivers had the same priorities and desires for my birth that I had!
This particular pregnancy experience is so different than my others were, since this time I'm a gestational carrier. I'm sharing the pregnancy with my best friend. And Ann (the baby's mother) and I have been so thrilled with how we've been treated by the midwives at the birthing center! They "get it." They understand that I'm the patient, and Ann is the mother. They are committed to helping us achieve a birth experience that will be meaningful and beautiful for both of us.
One of the most important things that I learned from my wonderful, medicated birth (with Chickie) is that birth is more than just a means to an end. Birth is when we meet our children for the first time. Birth confirms that our bodies have done something amazing. (This includes medicated births and C-Sections!)
Birth is beautiful.
And when I realized that, I gradually realized something else: I wanted to fully experience birth--the joy and even the pain--and I wanted to do it in a place where I felt comfortable and honored. That place, for me, is a birthing center.