As any reader of this blog knows, I am a huge fan of natural childbirth but even more than that, I am a fan of giving moms the birth experience they want. I think there is something to be said for the feeling a woman gets when she conquers the challenge of an unmedicated birth. It’s much like the “high” athletes get when they complete an extreme physical challenge. Sometimes, however, athletes enjoy a nice drive through the scenery instead of a bike or a run.
Anna was pregnant with her third baby and desired an unmedicated childbirth. Her two previous children had been born without the assistance of medications and she had done very well and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Anna came into the hospital in labor late on a summer evening. She was handling the contractions very well and breathing through them. We had discussed her plans many times in the office and had reviewed relaxation and breathing techniques. I arrived at the hospital to see her shortly after she was admitted. I walked into the room and very confidently she said “I have changed my mind, I want to have an epidural.” She acknowledged that she was doing very well but just simply did not want to feel the pain of childbirth this time. Her husband was present and he was very supportive. We, of course, honored her wishes and called anesthesia and they promptly came and placed an epidural and Anna got some much needed rest.
While Anna rested I went and assisted with a c-section on another patient. When I was finished I came back to check on Anna. She was still very comfortable but feeling some pelvic pressure so we checked her and her baby was ready to come. Anna asked for a mirror so she could watch the baby’s birth. We positioned the mirror and she watched as the baby eased out into the world. The full head of black hair, the cute little ears, the adorable button nose-they all slipped out easily as I sat there with my hands folded in my lap. Then the shoulders began to gently slide out so I placed my hands on the baby’s head, as the shoulders slid out I encouraged Anna to reach for her baby. She reached down and lifted the baby the rest of the way out of her body and up to her chest. The baby began to cry vigorously and tears ran down mommy and daddy’s face as well. A beautiful, healthy baby girl.
Many times mothers that originally planned an unmedicated birth and then change their mind feel guilty and they often apologize to me. I try to reassure them that they do not need to apologize to me at all-it is their body, their birth experience, not mine. Anna had no guilt. When the birth was over she told me that she was very happy with her decision. She enjoyed watching the birth and participating and based on her past experience she didn’t believe she could have done that with the pain she would have been feeling.
This was truly a successful birth in terms of giving the mother the experience she wanted-even though there was a change of plans…and giving moms the experience they want is what it is all about!