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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Backflash, pre-parenthood days and picking a natural labor doc

I'm writing a brief story, for another publication, on how to find a doctor who is pro natural childbirth. I thought I should share my story of switching doctors mid-pregnancy, since that is what spurred me on to write this list for my readers.

I wrote this sometime after Annika was born in 2008.

It was January when I began giving some thought to a natural childbirth. I was due in May and it took me about a month to fully commit to the idea.

By the time I decided to discuss it with my doctor, I had already taken many steps toward embracing natural childbirth.

While at work, I had spent more time reading on-line about natural childbirth than I spent working.

I borrowed a copy of Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method, read it, and had called to request a chance to audit a local class.

I had written my birth plan.

I had begun convincing Toyin that this was a good idea. (He needed lots of convincing.)

And then, I decided to discuss it with my doctor.

It had never occurred to me that she would not be supportive.

How naïve I was.

She laughed at me!

She didn’t even try to hide her amusement.

“Well, okay, you can do that,” she said gleefully smirking. “But you wouldn’t get a root canal without any pain medication would you?”

She clearly thought I was insane.

After she read my birth plan she told me that she thought I would be more comfortable at the birthing center.

I got no respect from this woman. She practically kicked me out of her office after insisting that a copy of my birth plan be put in my chart.

As I slunk out of her office, I imagined that while I had waited in the examination room, she had passed my birth plan around to her staff and they were all laughing at me.

Even so, on my walk of shame out of her office, I felt good about my decision to have a natural birth. This was not the doctor for me, but I knew that there had to be a doctor out there who would be supportive.

Maybe I was being foolish, but I wanted the best of both worlds. I wanted to do it my way, but with an emergency crew waiting in the wings just in case anything went wrong.

I did not want a midwife, I wanted a doctor, who had an MD behind her name.

I am a firm believer in modern technology and medicine.

I had already considered the birthing center and had decided that I would be more comfortable in a hospital.

I have nothing against the birthing center or midwives. In fact, I’ve heard great things about them and think it sounds wonderful, as long as everything goes right.

But even if I had wanted to use the birthing center, I couldn’t.

I had high blood pressure while I was pregnant and considered high risk, which made me an ineligible candidate for the birthing center.

Even without that consideration, I wanted to be surrounded by every possible machine that could make a difference just in case my baby had any problems. It was simply my own preference.

I was definitely birthing in a hospital.

Before I decided to completely cut myself loose from that doctor I just so happened to make a visit to Round Rock Medical Center, the hospital where I would birth if I stayed with her.

One morning at work, I had one of those new mommy panics where I thought the baby wasn’t moving enough and called my doctor’s office who told me I should get to a hospital immediately.

Once there she was fine, jumping around like a firecracker, but since I was there anyway I asked for a quick tour.

After a few minutes with the nurse, I knew that this was definitely not where I wanted to birth.

As she showed me the labor room, we began chatting. She had read my birth plan and told me that “quite frankly,” she thought it was a bit “wacky.”

She also told me that while many women who came through their hospital did natural birth, that for the most part, the doctors there were strictly “by the book” and followed the policy of “cya.”

“Cover your ass,” she explained in response to my confused look.

Did I want a doctor who was going to force me into a rigid “by the book” labor, forcing interventions on me at the first hint of inconvenience or potential problems? Or did I want a doctor who was going to do what was best for me and my child?

On my way back to work, I called up Rhonda, my soon-to-be hypnobirthing instructor and left her a message asking her if she knew any doctors who would be supportive.

She recommended Dr. Christina Sebestyen, who I did use and I loved her, although she did not actually attend Annika's birth. During my labor she checked on me numerous times, but told me she'd been at the hospital for three days and she was exhausted. I labored for several more hours after she had gone home. It didn't matter. I had a fantastic nurse who I will always be grateful to for being so supportive.

The fact is, if I knew then what I know now, things would be MUCH different. Since Annika's birth I have met a large and supportive community of women who are pro natural labor. Hearing stories about home births and the birth center have made me wish I knew them all along.

Overall, Annika's birth went very well, considering it was my first time and I was actually pretty uneducated, even though I thought I had done lots of research. I got lucky. More to come later.

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