Natural birth in an unnatural city
A couple from my husband’s school first talked to me about the Bradley method. This method makes natural birth its mission. I listened with interest and I knew a lot of it fit well with my general views but was wary so as not to be “taken-in” by it. Then my husband brought home the book “Husband-coached childbirth” from the library and as I feared, we’ve both bought into it almost entirely. The Bradley method preaches natural birth in every way imaginable – a vaginal birth sans painkillers, minimal monitoring equipment and hook-ups, the husband/partner more important than the doctors themselves, the baby in your arms the second it’s born, and preferably leaving the hospital a few hours after birth. Of these I feel varying degrees of passion for each of the missions. It’s not hard to want natural – at least for me. We live a fairly natural life eating food with few or no preservatives, are not big fans of drugs in general. Moreover I do buy into the theory that when the perpetuation of an entire species depends upon this, procreation need not be that mechanized. Below are my priorities for the birth:
- I’d like to avoid a c-section. This is of utmost importance to me. Sujatha wrote here about the growing percentage. Of these in urban areas, a minority are ‘emergency” c-sections – most are preferred either by doctor or patient or both. I live in NYC, one of the most urban, commercialized cities in the world. My hospital Cornell Medical while world renowned for dealing with complications has a very high scheduled c-sec rate. This scares the crap out of me. But I’d like to stand my ground.
- No epidural: Make no mistake, I am a wimp. I don’t have any crazy threshold for pain and I milk every bruise for what it’s worth. A cat scratch on my knee and I’ll limp for days. But I’d like to try to go without. Studies show that the spinal epidural can be found in the baby’s blood 3 mins after being administered to the mother. Epidurals can slow down labour and be counter-productive. They prevent your body from giving you the necessary codes like when to push so that you are more a puppet in the doctor’s hands rather than understanding your body’s cues. There are other studies that show slower lactation, breast-feeding etc. Of course the Bradley method will select the studies it thinks fit to promote its mission but regardless of the studies, I’d like to try.
- I’d like to labour as long as needed: I don’t want to be induced. I don’t understand induction entirely. Although I know that rate of induction is related to c-section rates. I don’t need my birth to be quick and convenient. If the bus comes the minute I arrive at the bus-stop, I am happy for the convenience. The birth of my child is allowed to be inconvenient.
- I’d like the child in our arms immediately: My child doesn’t need to cleaned/ bathed before I hold it. God knows I’ll be dealing with all sorts of gross stuff after, why not right away.
- I want information: I don’t want to be an obedient patient. I want to understand what is being done to me and why. Most importantly I want a clear understanding of what is medically necessary versus a nice-to-have. I want to know what’s an emergency and what’s not. None of the points 1-4 are as important as the health and safety of my baby so instead of fighting me I’d like the docs and nurses to explain things to me and be collaborative. My birthing experience is not more important that my child itself.
Want to know what happened to the friend who turned me on to the Bradley method? She said her delivery was a “horrific nightmare”. She yelled “Fuck you” at her doula. She screeched with pain since she had a posterior baby. She threw up in her hair and demanded an epidural the second she got to the hospital.
I get it. We can decide these things and want these things but the experience is not entirely in my control. I am ready to be flexible, open and sensible. If I am unable to be, my husband will take the lead. But I also plan to rigorously practice the positions and pain management techniques taught at the Bradley class. I plan to take the precautions and act the way I should for the next few months leading up to the birth. I don’t do things haphazardly and I will dedicate myself to the method but I will not be disappointed if things don’t go the way I hope.
What do you think? Have you heard of the Bradley method/ know anyone who’s tried it? How much of this resonates with you? How much is hogwash? Also do you specifically know anyone in NYC and experiences they might have had?
I’m all ears. And thank you.