I had my heart set on a homebirth for so many reasons, including previous birth traumas, disdain for intrusive medical interventions, privacy/modesty concerns, and outright spiritual need. I hired the midwives and began my preparations (mostly mental at that point). Around 20 weeks I had an ultrasound and a consult scheduled with the back-up OB because I had risk factors (fairly ridiculous ones) that he needed to sign off on so that the midwives could legally attend my homebirth. He strung me along for over 3 months before deciding that he would not, in fact, be granting me permission to have the midwives attend my birth at home. His main concern was for my history of birth and neonatal “complications” (every single one of which was relatively common, unpredictable and thus unpreventable, and did not necessitate a hospital to deal with – at least not for the birthing part).
After the initial possibility of this happening was brought to my attention at that 20 week consult, I began researching Unassisted Childbirth (UC). I remembered seeing the documentary, “Freebirthing”, about this fringe movement. At the time I thought “these people are nuts!”, like I’m sure many people did, but when I actually started digging into the research, I was awed to discover that people choose UC for the exact reasons I wanted a homebirth in the first place. The thought of such an empowering, magical experience as UC made complete sense to me, and I needed to do it. I decided that I didn’t want anyone but my husband and children there; not even friends or other family. It was to be a private, deeply sacred event.
I did more research about birth than ever before. I read about 5 books about natural childbirth, some of them midwifery textbooks. I read them over and over. I had to focus not only on the emotional aspect of birthing without any professional attendants around for support, but also the functional aspects of safe, responsible birthing. I read birth stories and watched birth videos on the internet of other successful UCs. I read stories of unsuccessful UCs that resulted in hospital transfers. These women were smart; they were prepared enough to recognize when something wasn’t right, and when the point came that they could not handle it alone. That is what hospitals and OBs are for. The “real” emergencies. It blew my mind to learn how very unnecessary so many routine medical interventions are, and how often hospital staff overreact to things that occur during birth that are simply a variation of normal. It was amazing how much I learned about natural birth, including every single “complication” I had ever had, and how most of it was really no big deal as far as “normal” birthing goes. It was fascinating and empowering. I knew I could do it. It was a long journey that required a lot of deep consideration and bravery, but when the time came that I made up my mind, I knew I could do it. I trusted my body and my mind to get us through this safely, regardless of whether I actually got to UC or not. I was certainly not willing to sacrifice health and safety for the UC experience, which is why I had to be so prepared; so I would know how to deal with anything that arose and recognize when to throw in the towel and call in the professionals if things went bad.
I gathered the appropriate supplies. I purchased a birth pool, a Doppler, a stethoscope, a blood pressure monitor, a pulse-oximeter, chux pads, gauze, gloves, alcohol, umbilical scissors and clamps, hemostats, various herbal tinctures for augmenting contractions and helping stop hemorrhage and shock. I learned all about how to deal with a surprise breech, shoulder dystocia, hemorrhage, and shock. I learned neonatal resuscitation and instructed my husband on it. We talked and talked about things, over and over for a total of 4 months. I made sure he knew how to support me during transition, when I typically lost emotional control and had panicked in previous births. I mentally prepared myself for the pain of crowning, because I’d felt it 3 times before, so I knew exactly how much it would hurt. I was determined to swallow my fear of the pain and be the primitive birthing goddess that Mother Nature intended.
***Tomorrow I will tell you how things turned out, so stay tuned!***