I have sat down to write this multiple times, but the conversation of natural birth feels very rare where I live in Alabama. I always hesitate to tell people because of the response I get. First it is a silent stare, then I can see the wheels turning and they questions start. There is always confusion and no way I can explain all of my reasoning in a few words. I decided to put it all in one place. My thoughts, my opinions, and well, my passion for educating myself on the subject.
Before I go any further, I will say this, and it is the only "advice" I will give... do your research and know why you are choosing what you are choosing. Because, yes, it is all a choice. If you do a home birth, you are choosing that. If you do a standard hospital birth, your are choosing that. If you do a natural birth in a hospital, you are choosing that. Most people do more research on big purchases than they do on their birth. I just truly recommend that you know what you want and why you want it. Look at the pros and cons. Look at the statistics. Look at the results and side effects. Know how birth works. Read books. Talk to people educated on birth. Know your options, then make the choice that is right for you.
Okay, moving on. I have always been fascinated by birth. I grew up watching A Baby Story, Teen Mom, and several other shows on the subject. From what I knew of birth, I thought your water breaks and gushes everywhere, you rush to the hospital, you wait, they give you meds through an IV, you will be in pain, they give you and epidural, they yell at you to push your baby out. Or they would rush you in to a C-Section. It hurts. It is chaotic. It is scary. I was scared of birth. For years.
Still fascinated by birth, I love hearing birth stories. And a very different one really changed my entire perspective. My friend was telling me about the birth of her daughter. Her story was calm. No panic, no yelling, no fear. She delivered at a birth center, and her story was magic. So much so, I later asked her to tell me again. She said, "If you are intrigued, you should watch The Business of Being Born." And I did, several times. It shattered my entire perspective in the best way. And my entire mindset changed. My interest in natural birth has been growing for the past couple years. It was a casual interest, but in my heart I knew this was the route I would take when the time came. I began to tuck away articles and book titles for later. When I got pregnant, I began to do research, and more research, and more research. It did not take long to know exactly what I wanted to do. Natural birth felt so right for me. If feels extremely safe and comfortable. I have no fears about it. And I am fully positive about my choices.
Now living in Alabama has it's own set of problems when it comes to brith. According to the CDC, the cesarian rate in the United States is 32.8 percent of all deliveries (in 2012). In Alabama, it's 36.5 percent. The World Health Organization recommends a c-section rate of no more than 15 percent.Until May of 2017, births assisted with a midwife were illegal in Alabama. They are now legal, but there is still red tape holding it back from actually happening anytime soon. Until then, that means no home births, no birth centers, etc. I do need to preface this by saying, I am beyond thankful for hospitals, OBGYNs, medical interventions, C-Sections, etc. All of those things are often needed. Those things have proven to be life saving for a lot of mothers and babies. But I also think there is an overuse of interventions that can cause problems in and of themselves. So... natural birth in Alabama, it has been tricky. At this point I have done so much research. After having my mind made up that a natural birth was the right choice for me, I wanted to know how a "normal" hospital birth compared birth assisted by a midwife (at home or a birth center.)
So was it worth it? Absolutely, I would do a natural brith again. Assuming I am still a good candidate for a home birth, I would choose that next time. From my birth experience, I learned that rest through labor is important and to follow your body. As I have mentioned frequently, research is so important, regardless of the kind of birth you are having. There are incredible resources out there so educate yourself, educate your birth partner, and feel confident of your choices. I looked forward to my birth. I did not dread it nor did I fear it. I trust my body and I trust my baby. I trust that God carefully designed every special detail of birth when he created the universe and intricately planned it. What an amazing and special gift. It was still a beautiful experience welcoming our daughter. You can read our full birth story here.