Google+ Authentic Parenting: 5th Healthy Birth Blog Carnival: Avoid Giving Birth On Your Back And Follow Your Body's Urges To Push

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

5th Healthy Birth Blog Carnival: Avoid Giving Birth On Your Back And Follow Your Body's Urges To Push

Long before I gave birth, before I got pregnant, and even before I met my husband, I knew I was not going to birth on my back. No. Way. In the same way I knew I was going to breastfeed and I was not going to birth in a hospital. I had always been fascinated with birth and had read up about it, even in my early teens.
Yet, due to the course my life had taken, I did end up birthing in a hospital. I thought it was a small  concession to make our lives a little easier. Moreover, when we got the tour of the maternity ward and delivery rooms, the midwife assured us that you could choose your birthing position and that aids to birth in a position other than lying down were provided (like a birthing chair). So I felt confident my birthing in the hospital would not stand in the way of my wish for a natural birth.

Alas, faith (read: the medical system) had decided otherwise, and I ended up having an induction because I had gestational diabetes (company policy euh.. I mean standard procedure). Labour went fairly well and I enjoyed a nice bath that helped a lot to get through the contractions. I started feeling pressure and had to get out of the bath (the hospital didn't do waterbirths). As I walked towards the birthing bed, she slipped straight down and I had to push. I was standing all alone in the middle of the room (the midwives had scattered and my husband was MIA), and I panicked. I cried out it hurt and they should come help me and I distinctly remember the midwife yelling not to push and me replying there was no way in hell not to push.
When the contraction subsided, they led me to the birthing bed, positioned me on my back and had my legs in the stirrups before I knew what happened.Everything was kind of a blur, but I remember wondering where everybody came from, because all of a sudden, there were three midwifes, two OB's and my husband miraculously reappeared.
I had not the strength to fight the position I was in and my husband was shaking like a leaf in a thunderstorm.

I found it strange they kept reminding me to push (as if I could do anything but push) and felt like they had to add HOW I should push (like there was any other way). In retrospect, this is probably because most women do get an epidural and do need some guidance. I was getting more guidance than an airline pilot at take off and was urged not to scream. Nothing about that second stage felt natural to me and instead of completely allowing the emotions to overflow me once my dear daughter was born, I was anxious.

So I have decided to have the next one at home. (Read my article 'Why Homebirth')

My tips for having the second stage the way you like it:

  • Be informed: on the available positions, on how you would want the room to be etc. (If you want to find out which positions you can adopt during second stage, have a look at this.)
  • Write up a birthplan and hand it to all people involved in your birth, even if that's not a custom where you are, stick it on the door of the delivery room if you are giving birth in a hospital.
  • Inform everyone of your wishes before you are in labour, and if possible, again at the 'moment supreme'.
  • Make sure your birth partner is drilled at being the guard dog for your birth plan, so you don't have to worry about that.
  • Try out different positions while you are in labour to find out what suits you best (you might have had an idea before, which turns out completely counter intuitive)
  • Maybe the most important tip I can give you: Follow your instincts 
This post is written for submission to the 5th Healthy Birth Blog Carnival, hosted by Amy Romano on Science And Sensibility.



  1. I'm sorry that happened to you :( My sister had a birth plan & a midwife and thought she was going to have a successful/natural birth. Little did she know that her midwife had been indoctrinated by the medical establishment.
    ~Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

  2. that's so sad... you'd think with a midwife and a decent birth plan, you'd be out of the loop. It scares me, I understand more and more how women aspire an UC

  3. I had my four babies at home with a wonderful midwife but if you are at a hospital my best advice is: hire a doula. She is experienced in being the liaison between a mother and the hospital staff, and at expressing your stated wishes and working to make sure they are carried out. Your partner is not so experience, and is so emotionally caught up in what is happening to YOU that he may have difficulty communicating with the staff. Also, if he is not very experienced with what a birth looks like, he may be easily intimidated by the fright of something happening to you, and agree to medical intervention because of a scare from the staff.

  4. Sadly, having a homebirth is no guarantee that your birth will be allowed to progress naturally. I had my first at home, and it was the same deal with the pushing. There's a lot of obstetrics that's wormed it's way into midwifery, unfortunately.

  5. I know it's been a long time since you posted, but I can totally sympathize.

    Other readers who come across this post may be interested to know how my husband and I encourage the hospital to carry out my wishes. Our last two births have been with midwives in a hospital setting. Long before the baby is born, we write up a set of medical directives (no pain meds, immediate nursing, delayed cord clamping, no circ, etc.). The document states that civil and criminal action will be take if these are violated without my consent. We both sign this document and have it notarized. We have the midwife place a copy in my file, and we submit another upon admission to the hospital.

    This might sound unnecessarily strong, but it seems to have worked well with our previous two births. Many of the common interventions are done as a CYA for the hospital to avoid lawsuits. The directives remind them that someone might find them liable for the results of *too many* interventions as well.

    Alternatively, you can try what I did with my third: have a two-hour labor, check in fully dilated, and deliver within 15 minutes. Then they don't have time for interventions. ;)

  6. I love that the linked position thing keeps reminding you to do what feels right. With my last, she was turned the wrong way and I was so tired... The nurse kept telling me to change positions and I just... wouldn't. The new nurse (after shift change) heard mention of back labor, something she hadn't known was happening. She insisted I get up on all fours. She helped get me set with a tower of pillows to support my upper half (IV in my wrist meant I couldn't do hands / knees). As soon as I got into this position, we could HEAR the SWOOSH of Sasha turning! Oh how I wish I had changed positions sooner! We knew better, but labor had come on so late in the day we were just too tired to think straight.

    @ Mandi - That is an amazingly original idea! I haven't had too much trouble with avoiding drugs in the hospital, but I'm going to consider this approach for my next anyway. I am also seriously considering a doula. I just found out there are some available in my area at discounts or that will barter!

  7. For my husband, having a home birth was not an option. However, we hired a doula and I feel I got the best of both worlds. I delivered 20 min after arriving at the hospital, no IV's, and in the position that allowed me to feel our son pushing. In the end, I was grateful to be in the hospital b/c the cord was wrapped around his neck twice & he was in obvious distress. I would highly recommend hiring a doula if a home birth is not an emotional or medical option for you. Had I not had the doula there, it would have a much different experience and possible C-section.


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