What Childbirth Method to Choose

Did you also hear the typical question from our moms, ‘Who will lead you through the childbirth?’ Even my own mother asked me this question. I think it’s an incorrect question, because who else will give birth to the baby but me? I have the baby in my belly. The baby has to come out of me. I am carrying the baby for 9 months, so who would give birth for me? I am the one giving birth, and therefore I want to have it under my own control as much as possible. Only I will decide what will happen with me and my baby. No one else can decide matters for me!

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CHILDBIRTH IN A MATERNITY HOSPITAL USING AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH

If you decide to give birth in a maternity hospital using an alternative approach, try to get as much information as possible from a trustworthy source, whether such a hospital offers an alternative approach to labor in all three stages. It often happens that the hospital will tell you that they have bathtubs, showers, baby scales, bean bags, chairs to sit on, and much more, but these things are usually used only during the first stage. In the second stage, you end up in a bed in a classical position. To mothers who want to give birth to their children in water, or chooses the help of gravity in a kneeling position, sitting position on a chair, bean bag, or standing next to wall bars or ropes, we recommend to first check out everything you want to know. Don’t be afraid to approach the birth attendant during your visit to the hospital and ask specific questions. Oftentimes it happens that the equipment is available but that the doctors have a different conviction than your own.

If you have found such a maternity hospital, then we congratulate you! It’s a great alternative for mothers who want to give birth the natural way and at the same time have a medical rescue team close at hand.

I also managed to find such a maternity hospital for my first childbirth. Despite the fact that it was nowhere near where I live and it took me a 1.5 hour drive to get there, it didn’t discourage me. Back then when I was deciding what approach to childbirth I was going to
choose, I took into account that I did not know what giving birth was like. I wanted to have peace during the child delivery and I didn’t want anybody to intervene, but I didn’t know whether or not I would need help since it would be my first childbirth. I agreed to visit my
gynecologist until the time of birth, so I went to regular controls with ultrasound and cardiotocography to check the baby’s heartbeat, and about one month before the birth, the gynecologist started to visit me.

The maternity hospitals focused on alternative approaches only accept mothers who have physiological examinations during the pregnancy  The baby has to show signs of life and good health based on the prenatal examinations and checkups. The hospital will accept mothers only after the 37th week of pregnancy and later because the hospital doesn’t necessarily have a neonatal unit for premature infants. When the mother’s water has broken, the water has to be completely clear without any signs of turbidity.

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My childbirth in such a hospital was great and it was unforgettable in a good sense of the word. After my husband and I was accepted, we were led into a room which would become our accommodation for the next few days. I can mention that it looked like a bedroom or
living room we could find at home, and we had our own bathroom and toilet. The approach of the medical personnel was invaluable to me. The birth attendant kept checking the baby’s heartbeat every day, she carried a small portable box with her all the time that would check the heartbeat action of the baby within seconds.The doctor was minimally checking in on me, he just did a brief internal examination to make sure that there was no infection which could potentially get to the baby’s head. My husband was in control of what and how much I was eating and drinking, and that was also checked by a midwife. If I had no desire to eat anything, they both persuaded me to eat something in order to have enough strength for the end of the labor. My husband gave me plenty of support and praise which helped me to relax, and at the end of my labor he encouraged me mentally by telling me that I could do it. Although I had no taste for food at all, I very much appreciated his work at the end of the labor, which gave me enough physical and mental strength. As soon as my daughter was born in a bathtub, the doctor placed her on my stomach, and he, together with the midwife, stepped aside. The pediatrician observed my newborn baby from a distance while my husband and I were rejoicing over our daughter. After a few minutes, the doctor asked my husband to cut the umbilical cord before they carried the baby to the infirmary unit, where both my baby and I were treated. We could both see each other. Using a gentle approach to the baby involves that the newborn is only weighed after birth while the measuring of length is done once you leave the hospital. The reason for this is the fact that the baby is slumped inside the belly of the mother all the time, and time is needed for the joints to straighten naturally. Only then is the baby measured, otherwise it would be too violent and stressful. So my daughter was only weighed right after birth, and after 4 days her length was estimated. The nurse did not wash my daughter after the general treatment, she just wiped her with a dry diaper. The reason is that the child is born with a white coating called vernix, which serves as the best protection for their skin. First after 2 days, my daughter was washed with clean water without the use of any cosmetic products.

After the treatment, all three of us went together to our room. The same day I made a statement that childbirth is not as bad as people say, and that I could give birth again if needed. I felt an immense pressure during the labor, but the pain was bearable. Maybe I managed to go through the labor so well because I had the chance to relax in between each contraction so that I lost the sense of time, and I didn’t perceive anything of my surroundings. It was as if I was sleeping.

Unfortunately, even though this maternity hospital tried to do the best for the mother and baby, not everything was 100% without violence.

Our daughter got a vitamin K injection after her birth even though she could have gotten it in the form of drops into her mouth. And even though my water broke as a first sign of starting birth, I didn’t have any contractions for several hours, so the doctor decided to induce the contractions with a labor inducing pill.

According to our legislation, the baby has to be born within 24 hours after the water has broken. For Czech mothers it’s unfortunate. Swiss women have more benevolent laws; they can wait for 72 hours. Even though these two things were negative, I decided to give my
second birth in the same hospital.

BIRTH IN A HOSPITAL USING A CLASSIC APPROACH

My second pregnancy was also healthy, and the labor started normally once again. My daughter was 2 years old and I loved her so much that I was not able to leave her before she fell asleep; I didn’t want her to stress because her mom was leaving in the middle of the
night. Thanks to this, we left for the hospital too late. Contractions started after 5 minutes and we had a 100 km ride with a car ahead of us. Approximately after one hour of the ride I mentally gave up and told my husband to find the closest hospital, so we ended up in a
hospital that uses a classical approach to childbirth that I did not have high expectations for. I was too afraid to continue the ride, however, because I by this time had very strong contractions every 2 minutes and felt the birth was very near.

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The midwife started to write a form with me which she needed for my registration, instead of evaluating the time of the birth as fast as possible. She asked me questions which I had to answer. She even asked me questions while I had contractions, but I tried to relax as best as I could. My husband’s presence was tolerated by the personnel, but he wasn’t in any way involved in the events of the situation. I had a rubber belt around my belly with electrodes attached to the cardiotocograph, sensoring the heartbeat of the baby. I had an immense thirst. I asked for something to drink, but the midwife didn’t hand me any water and continued to ask me for information. I was forbidden to eat any food, and I finally had to ask my husband for water, so he returned to the car for our luggage. I was given a hospital gown to dress myself in, but I refused and stayed in my t-shirt. Even though I was shivering, I couldn’t even keep my socks on and I was constantly attached to a computer. Given the stressful approach, my contractions slowed down, and I gave birth to my son after an hour in a classical position on the bed. As soon as I saw him, I wanted them to place him on my belly, similarly as I held my daughter after her birth. I begged so much that even the pediatrician interceded on my behalf. The request went without a response, and as soon as they had cut the umbilical cord, they held him upside down by the feet even though he was showing all the signs of active breathing. They were doing so according to the old belief that the amniotic fluid had to flow out of the breathing airways. Then they carried him off somewhere to an incubator, as is the standard. After I had been treated, they finally brought in my son for breastfeeding because my husband gave a strong request for it, but I didn’t feel as strong a bond and excitement with him as I had felt during the first minutes with my daughter. After some time, they took my son back to the incubator (supposedly for him to warm up, even though I believe that the best incubator is the body of the mother). When I after two neverending hours got transferred back to the room, they brought in my son, again by request from my husband. I tried to look at my son with the same love I looked at my daughter after her birth, but I was feeling like this was just another baby which they had taken from a pile of babies in the hospital that they brought to me, saying, “This is your child, take care of him”. I felt such pity. I didn’t imagine to welcome my son into this world like this. I reported to the doctor that I wanted to leave the hospital within 24 hours and signed the discharge papers. Today I know that I can leave the hospital as soon as possible after the birth, if my health or the baby’s health is not in danger.

The nurses on their morning shift wanted to take my son away again, but I didn’t let that happen so I went with him to the infirmary unit. Part of the treatment of the newborn baby includes treatment of the belly button, but also constant washing as if my baby was a mine
worker, which I could not prevent. My sweet little boy was so covered with rashes after two intensive showers (after birth and in the morning shift) that I wanted to cry. I didn’t want them to continue hurting him, so I forbade them to manipulate my son further, but in order to avoid any problems with the personnel, I agreed to everything they told me to do myself without actually doing any of it.

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The following day I left the hospital having signed the discharge papers, and I knew that no one would ever see me there again. The fact that they hurt me is something I could get past, even though this was mentally my worst birth, but the fact the they hurt my child is something I cannot get past in my heart!

I have to admit that only after a year I was able to tell my son that I loved him and truly meant it. But he had to make me realize it (NOTE: not sure I understand that sentence. He made her realize that she loved him?). When I saw that he liked his grandparents way more than me, I realized that I didn’t care for him the same way I cared for my daughter and it hurt me very much, so I started to try to be the first lady in his heart. Today he is my sweet little boy, but I am strongly convinced that the impersonal approach to the birth and separation from my son led to the initial impersonal relationship between the two of us.

HOME BIRTH

My experience with my second birth and the fear I had concerning the potential relationship between me and my third child led me to the thought of planning a home birth. The deciding facts were clear; I didn’t want to leave my two little children even for a night (my daughter was 3,5 years old, while my son was 1,5 years old). The maternity hospital which meets my requirements was too far away. The car ride was more than unpleasant. I refused to end up in a classical hospital, and no hospital in my area met my strict requirements. The only way out of this situation, to prevent any psychological problems between me and the baby, was unambiguously to give birth at home.

No one in my closest circle would support my decision. The hardest thing about giving birth at home is to face all the people who think you are a wicked gambler who wants to kill herself and her child. I did not have the strength to face all the threats and hints, or to discuss or weigh the advantages and disadvantages of giving birth at home with others. That's why I chose the strategy of not telling anything to anyone.

I told my husband that I did not want to get into a similar situation I was in with my son. At first he tried to convince me not to do it, then he was silent, and just 3 weeks before the birth he most likely understood that I was dead serious about it, so he started to support me. He had to tell his parents since they live under the same roof with us, so they were dragged into it whether they liked it or not. His mother asked me how do i picture the details concerning my to children, his father was (fortunately) silent (NOTE: I don’t understand what you mean in this sentence, rephrase?). Not until after the birth was it revealed that he absolutely didn’t agree with it, even though he himself was born at home during the war. I told my own parents and my sister my choice only after I had already given birth. I was all alone and it was up to me to arrange it, get information etc…

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Fortunately enough, I found great midwives with an absolutely professional approach. In the Pregnancy Advice Center I always received strength and courage. Thanks to them I got in touch with other mothers who also gave birth to their children at home, so I received more of the information and moral support that I needed so much.

If some of you think about bringing your child into this world in your homes, I would strongly recommend you to contact professional midwives. I was not strong enough to manage to do everything by myself, so I needed someone who would tend to me and control the process of the birth. My birth attendant had a portable device for measuring the heartbeat of the baby in my belly. The measuring didn’t take more than two minutes, so I was undisturbed and I could continue with breathing techniques and concentrate on relaxing during every contraction and in between each contraction. At the same time she cared for me and preliminarily observed the movement of the baby and process of the birth, as well as my blood pressure and pulse. I appreciated it very much when she gave me advice on how to breathe, and she also calmed me down and cheered me up. I had an immense thirst, so I was allowed to drink as much as I wanted. I wanted to give birth in the bathtub again, but while I was in the warm water, the baby “stood” still in one spot and contractions didn’t help to get her out. My midwife started to get a little worried that my daughter was being pulled back by the short umbilical cord, so she asked me to leave the bathtub. As soon as I stood up and had the first following contraction, my daughter came out thanks to the gravitational force in a kneeling position. I have to commend my daughter. She was very good. She weighed 4300 g and she managed to deal with the home birth.

A short while before the birth of my daughter, the second midwife arrived. Both of them placed my daughter on my belly and she immediately started to suck. She didn’t cry at all when she was born, she had open eyes and she also made these sounds as if she wanted to talk. My husband cut the umbilical cord after it had ‘collapsed’ (it stopped beating after my heartbeat). Then one of the midwives took and weighed my baby, treated the wound of the umbilical cord and dressed her. I didn’t want them to wash my daughter, therefore they just wiped her. I could smell her scent just as I liked to do it with my older daughter in the maternity hospital using an alternative approach.

The midwives always go to the home birth in pairs. The first one arrives as soon as the mother calls. She will evaluate the situation and determine how soon the birth will be, and will call the second midwife to assist her. They basically split the work between each other. One cares for the mother and the second one for the baby.

I am very grateful to my midviwes. If it hadn’t been for them, I would never fulfill my dream to give birth to a happy child in the peace of my home and love the baby from the first second.

On the other hand, even home birth has its challenges:

  • You have to find midwives who have experience with childbirths in hospitals and also births outside of medical facilities. They have to have a professional approach and basic equipment in order to evaluate the possible complications and they should recommend you to leave for the hospital of your choosing in case of a crisis. 
  • You have to find a pediatrician who will be willing to accept the newborn baby into their care within first 24 hours from the birth, that means the pediatrician will have to be willing to visit you and have a look at the baby even if they are not at work (the presence of pediatrician during the birth is not necessary, the midwives are able to examine and evaluate the child themselves). 
  • You need to get everything you need in the drugstore and medical store for the birth (you will get a list from your midwife).
  • You have to secure a special medical examination of the newborn infant after the birth (normally they are done in hospitals where they examine the hips, vaccinates against tuberculosis, examine the eye fundus,..) and you also have to secure the birth certificate, which is also being handed to mothers in hospitals.

Lastly, I can only add that home birth is not for everyone, same as birth in a hospital is not ideal for everyone. Those who need the assurance that they and their children will be healthy, those who need medical help in form of analgesics in order to get through the birth
mentally, or those who who need to hear the beeping sound of medical machines in order to feel calm, I would recommend to give birth in a hospital. On the other hand, those who want to have silence and peace where no one would disturb them should consider an alternative birth. Each mother has a right to decide for herself how she will deliver her baby.

You can get more information in literature and links, mentioned by me in my previous article, "Home Birth Versus Birth In a Hospital".



Author:
 FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic

Source: Clinical experience from private practice in physiotherapeutic field, FYZIOklinika

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