I know that China and America are worlds apart (literally) but their views on birth couldn’t be more different. In China, most births happen by C-section. The doctors there are most comfortable performing this procedure; it is faster and more predictable and so this is how births usually go in China. That’s not to say that you CAN’T have a natural birth there, but it sure isn’t encouraged!
The closer we get to Jedidiah’s arrival, the more time I’ve had to reflect on how I want him to be born. I guess I have always been sort of a “hippie” when it comes to natural things. I am really picky about foods that we eat (non GMO, organic all the way) and about the products that we use (minimal chemicals, etc), so it’s no surprise that when it comes to Jedidiah’s entry into the world, I would choose the more “natural” route (no drugs, minimal intervention, the use of aromatherapy, massage and hydrotherapy for pain relief).
The more I read and learn about midwives, the more I think that they are in an underappreciated profession. These women care deeply about the people they serve. They listen to their preferences and offer the best possible ways to have a healthy pregnancy and birth. They use simple but effective remedies to ease the pain of labor and offer the least intrusive entry into the world.
Now, I should say before I get too far in, that I know many people who have had successful hospital births and who love their Ob GYN, but I also know a fair share of people who have had horrific hospital births, being pushed and even bullied into making decisions that they didn’t really want to make, feeling like they had no other choice and leaving feeling defeated. This post is in no way to belittle the choices of others when it comes to the birth of their child, it is simply to explain our choice for the upcoming birth of our son.
Trent and I toured several birthing centers in and around San Antonio. There is one IN San Antonio, another in Stone Oak and another outside the city limits in New Braunfels. We enjoyed our visits to all three. Each of them had very nice facilities and all of the midwives we spoke with were very kind and helpful. Trent and I would like to have a water birth and all of the facilities offered this as an option and were well-versed in performing them. The more we read about water births, the more convinced we are that we want to have our baby this way. The water has been shown to relax the mother as well as reduce the pain of contractions and labor, and babies who are born in the water still get the benefits of the flora and bacteria in the mother’s birth canal. Water births increase the skin’s elasticity, thereby reducing the chances for tearing. It also increases the release of endorphins while decreasing blood pressure and reducing the release of stress-related hormones (which means that complications are less likely to arise during delivery).
There are other reasons we wanted to choose a birthing center over a hospital birth. Birthing centers are more open to letting mothers eat and drink while they are in labor, they allow women to walk around and allow gravity to assist in the labor process. They intermittently monitor the baby’s heart and don’t attach you to IV’s and machines. Because of this, women are able to give birth in many different positions. They also really encourage the spouse or partner to be a part of the birthing experience. Daddy will be able to be in the tub with me and he can catch our baby as he is born, which is another cool and exciting part that we are looking forward to. Another thing that we like about midwives is that they walk through the pregnancy with you; they get to know you and your preferences. It is much more personal.
Another thing we really wanted was delayed cord clamping. We decided not to do cord blood banking, but instead to let our baby get all of those important stem cells from the umbilical cord before it is cut. Again, this is just our own personal decision.
Another thing we really appreciate about birthing centers over hospitals is that they give us time with our baby after the birth instead of whisking him away for all their necessary testing. They allow an uninterrupted time for bonding as a family before stepping in. They do all the testing right next to us, so we can see everything they are doing (and they explain it as they go), and baby boy will never have to leave our side. There are no required overnight stays, although we are not limited to a specific time frame before leaving (we could stay the night if we so chose).
They also come to our house to check on us within 24-48 hours of leaving the center. This visit is to offer breastfeeding advice and tips as well as to make sure that the transition into home life is going smoothly. They are there to answer any questions as well. I like how personal it all is.
Anyways, after all was said and done, we chose the New Braunfels Family Birth Center as our delivery choice. Like I had mentioned before (in another post), one of my close girlfriends had her last two babies there, the last of which was a water birth. It is also the closest in proximity to our house and the easiest to get to. We felt very comfortable with the midwives there and these midwives also provide the services usually offered by a doula… double whammy! They were also willing to give me a discounted price since I was coming in so late in my pregnancy. Another thing I really appreciate is their later office hours, so that working husbands (like my own) can be there for the prenatal visits and check-ups. This way Trent doesn’t have to take extra time off of work to be there. 🙂
The day that we went for our initial visit and tour, it had already been nearly 7 weeks since we had seen a doctor (because of a lapse in insurance during our move from China to the States). The ladies there knew that I was anxious to know if everything was progressing normally and so they offered to examine me right then and there, no strings attached. “Examine” might be too harsh a word, actually. Their “exam” room, for lack of a better term, is a bedroom, decorated comfortably as if you were at home. I didn’t have to get naked and don a stupid robe lying on a cold, metal tray; rather I lied down on a comfy bed for them to check my blood pressure, uterus and the baby’s heartbeat. Everything measured well and it was a very comfortable, un-intrusive check-up. Leaving that afternoon, I felt so relieved! It was that extra step that made me even more confident in their services and we look forward to continuing to work with them! Another plus for us, is that they are Christians too, so we are coming from similar worldviews and it helps us feel more connected to them.
Now, some of you may be wondering about the cost of midwifery over hospital deliveries. In the end, when all is said and done, they cost about the same. Most insurance companies won’t cover births outside of their “in-network” hospitals, but the research is beginning to show a trend towards birthing centers and the job that midwives do is starting to get more credit and backing from medical and scientific communities. Even without the help of insurance, birthing centers offer an affordable way to give birth to your baby. They put you on a payment plan so that by the time your baby is born, you have already paid for all the necessary services. Many birthing centers also offer discounts for people whose insurance won’t cover births there (which is most of them). They are certainly an option I would encourage looking into!