Heya! So my wife is 8.5 months pregnant with our first child.
While she isn't exactly "Paleo", she does eat all the food I cook, and she sticks to organic food and lotions/treatments/ideologies.
Last night we happened across a documentary by Ricki Lake called "The Business Of Being Born," in which they detailed how so many doctors and hospitals are neglecting women's preferences in regards to their birthplans, instead opting for C-Sections, saying it might be "best for the baby." The documentary showed many live Home Births which were overseen by a Midwife.
We live in Finland where, luckily, we have access to a Midwife at the hospital, rather than strictly relying on an OB/GYN.
Does anyone have any experiences with Midwifery and Home Birth? It seems like a more "paleo" option to that of a hospital birth. Does anyone have any experiences (good or bad) with hospital births?
Both of my babies were born at home surrounded by people I felt totally comfortable with, candles burning, and relaxing music playing. My husband cut both of their cords. These were deep and powerful experiences for me, and I grew so much within myself while opening up to let my babies into the world. My town has a birth center, and some people love it, while some opt for home birth after using it, feeling it was just a hospital. I actually have a very good friend who has five children, all born at home, the last two with no midwives present (planned unassisted). I watched her children at my home one of those times and brought them over when she called...what a beautiful scene it was to walk into their home; mother, father, healthy new baby...it was so peaceful, but so weirdly ordinary, normal seeming, right. I helped them clean up, and they just went on with their lives! I'm glad the hospital is an option for birthing...certainly some mothers and babies wouldn't survive without that option, but I'd love to see us moving towards an acceptance of birth as a natural phenomenon that all women are designed to do...it's terribly sad to me that most women seem scared of birth, and don't get to experience birth as a right of passage.
My husband and I watched the same documentary and planned a home birth with our first child, but things did not end up as planned. What I learned from this experience is that you can not have any expectations when it comes to birth, good or bad. I was in labor for 60 hours and our midwife was amazing. I found that the midwifes give so much better care than the doctors at the hospital. She knew everything about me and knew the size and position of the baby. She even let me stay at home longer than most would have, because the baby was doing well and there were no complications. In the end I had to have a c-section, this is what I was trying to avoid. All in all the c-section was not that bad. I think about If I lived in a paleolithic time where there were no hospitals or c-sections I may have not survived the birth and my baby may not have survived either. I think there needs to be a balance between modern medicine and holistic medicine. My second child was a c-section as well and the doctor was horrible. I wish I could have had my midwife again, but we cold not afford it with the 2nd one. If your wife is healthy with no complications then go for the home birth. or at least labor at home as long as possible and have a midwife with you at the hospital. My husband had a really hard time with the fact that I had to go to the hospital and have a c-section. He nearly lost it, from the lack of sleep and stress. He felt that he had failed me somehow. My advice is just be there for your wife and go with the flow. If she needs drugs for the pain be there for her and don't judge her. I also highly recommend Hypnobirthing.http://www.hypnobirthing.com/ This helped me get through the 60 hours of labor with no pain medication.
I've had two successful home births (no hospital births to compare them too though). Having my first child at home was probably the first "paleo" thing I had done at the time. I worked with the same midwife both times, a woman I really liked and trusted.
It seems that usually a midwife will spend a lot of time doing prenatal care (one hour appointments are the norm), emphasizing nutrition and keeping an eye on anything that may cause issues for the birth. Like Lisa said, it's not that doctors/hospitals are rendered unnecessary when you are planning a home birth; a good midwife will catch potential problems early and be able to say "we need to go to the hospital now", rather than it just being the default.
That being said, my second birth was just amazing. (My first was pretty amazing, but very long and I ended up losing a lot of blood and became anemic-I wasn't eating as well during my first pregnancy). I labored a lot all by myself, my husband asleep on the bed and my midwife asleep on the couch (I requested they both sleep). When it came time to push the baby out, I squatted down on the floor "froggy style" and she came out very quickly. The room was dark and quiet and it was just me, my husband, my midwife and then, the baby!
I feel like I got to experience some of the best and worst of both worlds. Which honestly was the best continuing education experience I could have ever hoped for (I worked as a postpartum doula for years without having to navigate that whole system for myself).
We planned a home birth, but had a backup with a birth plan and arranged to have our midwives go with us to the hospital if need be. I had a little over a week of "false labor" (which I have to say didn't feel any different from "real labor") from about 11pm until sunup every night until one morning my water broke and the contractions continued into the day.
After a week of practice, and drawing on my Hypnobirth and Calm Birth study, I have to say I was pretty good at navigating those contractions, and my endorphin response was superb. Being able to lounge in the labor tub in my bedroom was so amazing, and where I actually made the most progress. If I had started in the hospital I doubt I could have achieved that level of relaxation. I also loved that if I got hungry or thirsty I had complete control over my intake at home. I could've smuggled something into the hospital, but there was something comforting about perusing the pantry and staring into the fridge when I was up in the middle of the night. I could also crank up the dance music when the endorphins were making me giddy, and dance around the living room without worrying about disturbing anyone else. I have to say, the home birth part of it (except for the crazy vomiting and diarrhea from the castor oil) was fun.
But, after laboring and not sleeping or being able to lie down for 36 more hours my labor spontaneously stopped. When 2 doses of Castor Oil, nipple stimulation, walking around the neighborhood, and dancing didn't restart things, my midwives mentioned that this would actually be a medically appropriate time to go to the hospital and get some pitocin (being Group B strep positive and needing IV antibiotics every 4 hours after the water broke also put us on more of a clock to get the baby out). It actually still took them 2 hours and a taco run to convince me that we really did need to go to the hospital (supposedly, the most low key hospital transfer my doula had ever encountered). After having that yummy taco lunch, I also stepped back into our bedroom where I had been doing most of the laboring, to pack a hospital bag, and felt compelled to exclaim, "this place is all out of energy!" I'm still not sure what exactly I meant by that, but it didn't feel like a birth was going to be happening in that room any time soon, and the hospital seemed like as good of a place as any at that moment.
The continuum of care with our midwives was great because I didn't have to abandon the team who had been working with me for the entire pregnancy. It was also such a reassuring thing to be able to run interventions by my midwives before having to commit to anything I didn't understand fully. My favorite moment was when the ultrasound tech said, "The baby might be too big for you to push out." (which they apparently say to everyone) and one of my midwives leaned down and whispered, "Bullshit!" in my ear. That right there was worth the extra fee to have them transfer with us.
The midwives were also great at convincing me to accept several interventions that I would have fought if they weren't there to reassure me that it really was the right option for the situation. I had no interest in getting an epidural because I was managing the pain just fine, but when my blood pressure started to rise and was not responding quickly enough to the magnesium drip, they suggested it as a way to lower my blood pressure and prevent an emergency c-section. It worked, and the added benefit was I managed to get a nap after being awake for 3 days, and had a lot more strength to bring to the pushing stage than I think I would have had otherwise.
My other favorite thing with having the midwives with me at the hospital, was that they actually knew how to position me and coach me to deliver a "sunny side up" baby with minimal stress and injury. Even with the epidural they got me up into a squat with squared heels, and gave me a sheet tied to something to hold onto. When I got to the pushing phase, the actual attending OB leaned down and said, "Yeah, we're probably looking at 4 hours of pushing here." and then disappeared. With my midwives help and having trained with an Epi-No it barely took 20 minutes, and they actually made me stop because they aren't allowed to do the actual delivery, and we had to track down the OB, which took another 15 minutes. For the real delivery it would have been nice to have been back at home instead of in that room with the bright lights, but I felt like I somehow managed to still get most of what I was looking for in my home birth experience in the hospital. Plus I got to teach the attending OB students some new birth positions, and explain to them what an Epi-No was and how it worked.
As far as after the birth, that is where I really wish I would have been at home. I was very happy we were at a progressive teaching hospital where they practice rooming in, so breastfeeding was easier to start than it might've been, they had pain medicine for the after pains, and there was an endless supply of tapioca pudding, but other than that it would've been nicer at home. They kept me for close to 3 days for observation, and checked on me every 2 hours and the baby every 2 hours, but the checkups were staggered, so it seemed like there was a conspiracy to keep me from getting any sleep while we were there. For the 6 days around the birth I think I got maybe 8 hours of sleep total. I got some visits and high fives from the medical students who attended the birth, which was awesome, but never had a chance to talk with the OB directly (I think we might've bruised her ego by bringing our own birth professionals who knew more than she did. They did some re-education about proper anesthetic and suturing techniques with the student who took care of the one small tear I had).
Should we be lucky enough to have more children, I'll definitely plan for a home birth again.
My daughter had her second child at home with a midwife in attendance. It was a beautiful experience. No meds for her at all. It all went without a hitch. First child was born in a hospital with a midwife in attendance. Also no meds at all. The first child was about 11 hours of labor the second a little less. I think both midwives were excellent.
I mostly works with moms who choose home birth. If you have taken the time to thoroughly educate yourself about birth physiology and feel confident, it's a wonderful option.
Most of the moms I work with have midwives and a few choose to birth with only their partner present. It's really up to the mom & what she is comfortable doing.
I don't know anything about birth in Finnish hospitals, so I cannot comment. My experience being a doula in a Scottish hospital was horrendous, but they were certainly not a mama-friendly hospital.
Good to tour the hospital beforehand.
Here are some resources (geared to an American audience, so may not be pertinent to you):
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley (talks about the risks & benefit of common US hospital interventions.)
I don't have any experience, but I am one of those weird kids who researches everything for no reason, so here are some (hopefully) helpful links. They don't pertain to home-birthing per se, but I think the information is relevant in any birth setting, especially if you want to be the most natural and safe:
A study about the effects different birthing positions have on the mother and infant: http://www.jaoa.org/content/106/4/199.full (Squatting, or "nonsupine", seems to be the best one.)
More on squatting: http://pregnancy.about.com/cs/laborbasics/a/squatting.htm
A study discouraging pushing or "bearing down" for the health and safety of mother and child: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17467590
An extensive guide on "normal" childbirth published by the World Health Organization: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/1996/WHO_FRH_MSM_96.24.pdf (It's long but very informative.)
I've been in the "is this paleo?" mindset for much longer than I've been eating paleolithically, as I always wonder about how things were done when there were no modern inventions to help out (and lying down with your feet in stirrups to get a baby out never made sense to me, hence all the research).
I was living in a crappy apartment when my son was born so I opted not to have him there, but we had an unmedicated hospital birth with a midwife and it was a WONDERFUL experience. No unnecessary testing, no separation whatsoever from my baby other than when he was weighed. They let the cord stop pulsing before they cut it, I was nursing him immediately...it was perfect. Most of my friends have had homebirths and had great experiences, although one did end up with an emergency C-section (and then four years later, a VBAC at home).
If you are going to have a hospital birth, you need to make sure you know what testing the hospital does on newborns and what vaccines they give. It might be different in Finland, but here they try to give newborns a crazy ton of unneccessary vaccinations and ointments and all sorts of ridiculous procedures. Just opt out. Opt out of the bath (unless there's meconium). Your baby isn't born dirty. Opt out of everything you can, just bond with the baby as soon as he or she comes out.
We started at a birth center and transferred to the hospital for weird contractions (contractions like I was in transition though only roughly 4cm dilated). I wish we had never gone. My baby was severely injured due to negligence and now suffers lifelong complications. She will require care for the rest of her life. We will never be birthing in a hospital again, barring a true emergency or medical reason (i.e. preeclampsia). I'm pregnant again, and we're planning a homebirth. Bad things happen anywhere, and it can't be predicted. No matter what kind of care is available, it is not a guarantee that things will turn out fine if there is a problem. Been there, done that, seen that big fat lie firsthand. Do what you're comfortable with, and if that's a hospital, then you should go there. If homebirth or a birth center feels like a better fit, do that. Just remember, no matter how many times people try the old line of "what if something happens?", a hospital is not a guarantee, and sometimes they're the ones who screw it up.
It's probably a great thing you live in Finaland Trentasaurus, they have a very good reputation for natural, midwife-led deliveries; the midwives in the UK are regularly pointing to studies done in Scandinavia to show the safety of midwife centres and home births etc, sadly not realising that the two populations and infrastructures are not necessarily comparable.
With regard to midwives, doctors and unassisted deliveries, the evidence overwhelmingly and repeatedly shows that THE key factor in terms of safety for mum and babe is a trained assistant. I believe that this is in fact the most paleo option; I personally think that that we have evolved to seek assistance in birth. If you look at other animals, they usually go off and hide to give birth, probably to protect themselves at this vulnerable moment. However, because we have evolved to stand up, leading to a narrower pelvis and more muscular, reinforced pelvic floor (to stop our guts falling out when we do stand up!), but more over because of our massive brains, we have difficulty giving birth that is - as far as I know - unique. No other animal, including apes and baboons, has a necessarily rotational delivery, i.e. there is a special way a baby's head twists in the pelvis just to allow a natural delivery. If the baby comes the wrong way up, or it's head in the wrong position, or simply has it's head bent back rather than tucked forwards, it can cause an obstruction which is potentially lethal to the baby and to the mother. (Presumably evolution values our ability to stand and think so highly that these deaths are seen as collateral damage). Other animals have no requirement for this; look at this illustration with a chimp's pelvis and baby head.
Can you see that there is loads of room for the head, whichever way it comes? Seriously, other animals give birth like a walnut falling from a bucket. Our baby's heads, on the right most, have to turn in special ways and squish down just to get through. This is why I think we have evolved to fear birth to some extent, and women naturally seek the comfort and assistance of others. For all of this stuff about empowering women to give birth alone, consider that maybe nature has given you an apprehension for a reason.
So, when people glibly tell you "oh, women are designed to give birth, think positive etc" - yes, fine, but to an extent. I'm all for minimal intervention, and don't agree with over-medicalising birth, but please be flexible. Read up, inform yourself, and don't just shut your eyes and refuse all intervention. Listen to the midwives, doctors etc. and make informed choices because you cannot know whether you were one of evolution's write-offs.
Personally? As a UK resident, knowing what our facilities are etc, I would want my wife to give birth with a midwife but in a hospital, so that emergency interventions were available immediately if necessary, at least for the first birth. If it all goes well, and the second pregnancy is uncomplicated and the woman in question is confident, than either a midwife unit or a homebirth perhaps for subsequent deliveries. And I'm a big fan of water births because of the natural pain relief.
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