Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All, Nothing, In Between

A few weeks ago a friend of mine and I were talking about a mutual friend who had her baby about 4 weeks early. My friend quipped, "It's a good thing she was planning on a hospital birth- she needed the NICU!"

I responded, "Well, she had her baby at 36 weeks! If I had gone into labor prematurely, I would have gone to the hospital too!"

To which she replied, "Really? I didn't know that."

Unassisted childbirth is not "all or nothing." I was watching myself and how I felt, and if something had felt wrong, or if something WAS wrong, we would have sought the help the medical community provides.

I monitored a few things while I was pregnant with Margaret. For example, I checked my blood pressure weekly. I usually have a pretty low BP around 96/56. During my pregnancy, my BP rose to 120/70 at one point. While that's definitely not worrisome, it was a little high for myself, so I drank more water, watched what I ate, tried to relax and exercise. The next week it was back down again. I also peed in cups and tested for protein and glucose and a few other things. I didn't do those very regularly- just when I felt like something was up. We listened to Margaret's heart beat with the fetoscope when I hadn't felt her kick in a while. At some point I stopped caring about weight gain, but I did continue to check my fundal height. Had something been wrong that I couldn't fix with diet, exercise, water or a priesthood blessing, I probably would have sought out some help. I just didn't need to, so I didn't.

I had at one point given myself an "induction date"- the date I thought I would seek help if I went past it. When I got to it, I didn't feel like it was necessary. We were still checking for her heart tones, she was head down and anterior, I had some braxton hicks contractions, and I received a priesthood blessing promising I'd be holding my baby "soon." Margaret came 9 days after my "induction date" because I felt I was still healthy (BP was fine, as were protein and glucose), she was still healthy (go little heartbeat!) and that going over is normal for first time moms. Funny thing, though... a few weeks after her birth, I found 6 oz. of castor oil in our first aid kit. Not an induction method I would like to try, but if I had known it was there... would I have? Don't know. Probably not. Diahrea doesn't sound fun. Maybe if I had gone to 44 weeks.

But yeah, if Margaret had come too early, we would have gone to a hospital. I'm crazy, but not crazy, you know? Margaret's health was very important to me and that's partly why I chose unassisted, but if I had to give up that unassisted because of her health, I would have.


  1. That's why we ended up in the hospital--if something is wrong, I'm not going to risk it. (well, that and the little part that I didn't do an unassisted pregnancy, so I wasn't feeling completely in control). UP/UCers aren't reckless! :D

  2. So true! I get the "if I had'nt been in the hospital I/my baby would have DIED." All. The.Time

    While I was set on staying home, I absolutely would have sought help if we needed help. We do live in such an all or nothing society. I hadn't really thought of that before.

  3. I tried the castor oil -- twice, when I was about 41 1/2 weeks with my first. Nothing (except it's really good as a laxative).

  4. That's a great example on how to take one's health into one's own hands! It's super important to know yourself and your body, especially in an age where family medicine is down, not everyone has the same doctor they see all the time and who knows them, and when your file can get passed around and around... and things go missing. Kudos to you!

  5. I think the guidance of the Spirit is helpful, as well as being in tune with your body. I so badly did NOT want a medicated birth, but the blessing my husband gave me said to listen to my doctors. When my son was born it was an emergency. I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't been induced, or if we hadn't been at the hospital, but having had the blessing I feel we must have been doing the right thing.

    The whole time I was pregnant I felt that I was doing fine, even though my protein levels were creeping up--and I actually was doing fine and constantly surprised the doctor that I was doing as well as I was. I think that if I hadn't been seeing a doctor that something inside of me would have told me when to seek medical help.

  6. ånd then there are other factors--like it is very likely that dd2 only needed the NICU *because* of hospital practices. She was doing fine but labored slowed tremondously at 7cm. So after an another hour I finally let them break my water (said no earlier). Then she was born in under 20 minutes, too fast with not enough prep in the birth canal, and she tore a hole in her lung trying to breathe (most likely cause). So she needed that extra time/labor slowing and the intervention took that time away from her. If we were at home with a less hurry-it-up atmosphere, she would have had the time she needed.

  7. I love reading about others who have birthed unassisted. It's something we consider since the birth of our 2nd in 2007.
    I think about it more and more everyday. The thought is peaceful in itself.

    My 1st was born in a hospital and the 2nd at home with a midwife.


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