Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Different Kind of Birth: Still Deciding

Obviously, not deciding if I will give birth, but how I will give birth. If you missed my last post on the subject, I shared that I was considering going the natural route this time. Well, I still haven't made a decision. Actually, I'm kind of at an impasse. As always, I appreciate your comments on any and all posts I write, but please be respectful.

For the most part, I am having a hard time finding any valid research that really leads me to believe that natural birth is safer for the baby (most of it shares that natural birth is "empowering" and "cheaper" and things like that).

Every once in awhile I will see something alarming, but then I can't find much to back it up. One friendly commenter on my last post suggested I watch The Business of Being Born. Peyton and I watched the documentary about a year ago and while there were some very informative parts that I think many pregnant women might be unaware of (such as the fact that an induction increases your chance of needing a cesarean), overall I felt the movie was largely anecdotal and had a strong bias. For instance, the film makers claim that an epidural alone raises the chance of cesarean, something that I've found mixed research on. Also, probably the documentarians' strongest claims has to do with the high mortality rates in the United States, but there are a TONS of other reasons for that, which I explored through additional research (for example: our healthcare system, our high rate of teenage births, a relatively unhealthy population of mothers). I really didn't want research that gave me a high rate of infant mortality with no concrete link to medicated births. [Although, yes, obviously the risks associated with cesareans are greater.]

I have to say, one thing that really irks me is when people take a position that probably is, in reality, a really good and valid position and then throw in a bunch of inaccurate, twisted statistics to try to sway others. For example, the recent blog controversy over circumcision comes to mind.

What I DID want was some research that told me what exactly the side effects of an epidural were and the side effects of Pitocen as well, should my doctor recommend going the induction route again. I have also been wondering about the option of using meds besides an epidural. I'm not talking about an Extra Strength Tylenol, but what about something like the Stadol I had last time before the epidural? I couldn't find anything about that and after a bunch of internet wandering and after seeing that there is a lot of trendy, shallow research out there I decided it might be best to hand over the reigns to someone who could explore the issue a little more deeply. So.....

I've put Peyton to work and he's digging into some of his old texts. I know there is an objection here as well and lest you think I'm totally naive, I realize that "Big Pharma" certainly has it's own bias. But at this point, I feel like it's worth exploring.

Note: If you have any research you'd like to share (on either side), I'd be truly excited to take a look at it.

One other thing that got me thinking recently and this is a bit of a tangent, but I wanted to address it- I was talking with a friend and she said that if she went into it because she honestly felt like it was best for the baby and then "failed" and ended up with an epidural, she would feel tremendous guilt. However, I think depending on your level of conviction, it doesn't have to be that way. For example, I thought breastfeeding was really important and I exclusively breastfeed Ann Peyton for nine months and then continued with the addition of a formula supplement for a year. Had I experienced multiple rounds of mastitis and other problems as one of my friends has, can I say for certain our journey would have been the same? No. I hope I'd have pushed through the pain, but at some point I'm sure I would have succumbed to it and given her formula. And it would have been okay. So, even if I decided a natural birth is the best birth, if for any reason (even my own lack of willpower) it doesn't happen, I will try to feel too much guilt over it.


Mary Louis Quinn said...

I almost wrote a comment on your last post about the subject, but I decided not to. I think getting into the whole "best vs. good" debate can be tricky territory. I was going to comment that there is not much research out there that having a natural childbirth is what's "best" for the mother/baby. And just to make sure I wasn't wrong, after I read that last post I really did try to find some articles that support natural childbirth as being the "best" plan for delivery. I couldn't find any. That's not to say that it doesn't have lots of pros, because it certainly does, but that doesn't necessarily make it better than having a medicated child birth. I would love to go the natural route if my body went into labor naturally. I'm not sure I could get through it, but I would love to try. And of course there are studies that address the cons to having an induction or epidural, but like with anything else in life, there are risks no matter how you bring a baby into this world. The whole time I was pregnant, I was adamant about not being induced. I was scared I would end up having to have a C-section (although I think there's only a 20% increased risk if I'm remembering correctly). However, when my doctor told me that was the route we were going, at that point I was so ready to have to the baby that I was fine with it. I ended up having a really quick labor and delivery, even with an epidural.

SO, after writing all that, I'm not really sure what my point is here. :) I think it would be a good idea to take classes that would prepare you for a natural birth even if you think it's something that you might want to do, and that way you will have all the tools in place to help you make that dream become a reality. But like you said, if it doesn't work out the way you planed, you have to be able to embrace the alternatives (induction, section, etc). Either way, at the end of it you are going to have a beautiful baby, so you can't go wrong! :)

Carrie said...

When I said I would feel guilt over getting an epidural if I went into it thinking natural was what I wanted to do, I wasn't talking about good vs. best. I meant that if I did extensive research and determined that getting an epidural would really put my baby's life at risk, but didn't go natural becasue the pain was too much, then I would feel tremendous guilt. And I do believe that that SHOULD be the case since we were talking higher mortality rates, and not just "it would probably be better for my baby to not get those drugs.". However, I don't think that getting an epidural really puts my baby's life at risk (obviously, since I've had two!), so that's why I was saying, if I ever go natural, it will be more of a challenge to myself - just to see if it's something I can do.

B said...

I'm so impressed that you do your own hard core research like that! I had the same feelings about "The Business of Being Born" -- a fascinating subject, and I'm definitely sympathetic to natural birth proponents -- but they obviously had a bias and just barely scratched the surface of these issues. Well said.