Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Childbirth and its controversies

Most cloth diapering moms are in the wave of home birth and anti pain medication. Well, I'm not one of them.

Just as I don't do cloth diapers for environmental reasons, I think it's great that you can have your baby at home, but it's just not for every mom and not for every occasion. C-sections are awful, painful and well, a total nightmare, but in my case, they were just unavoidable. Maybe that's why (or due to my family history) I never considered the posibility of delivering my babies at home.

Both stories are very similar. The difference being, one had 20 hours of labor, the other didn't have labor at all. Still, I believe I did the best I could under the circumstances. Let me explain.

For some unknown reason, pregnancy is set to be a 40 week endavour in which you should never reach that magic number. I don't understand why. If you do some research, you would find that the magical number is actually 42, and even that number could be surpassed.

So what does 40 mean then? the answer is in the question, it's a mean, an average between 38 and 42, which is what more than 90% of normal pregnancies last.

But when you are big as a planet and have MD parents putting pressure on you, 38 becomes already a too late ordeal. When those parents live abroad and have to make accommodations to come and help, a 4 week span is just way too long. Targeting it to be there just when the baby wants to come out becomes practically impossible.

In any case, with my first child, I was so exhausted by that magical 38 number I almost induced it. But then, my parents arrived 4 days later, and I had just stopped working. The result was that I, for once, rested and spent most of the day laying down. Not having to stay standing made the rest of the pregnancy tolerable, so I decided to wait until the baby wanted to come out.

It wasn't easy, the stress given by my parents can drive anybody insane. According to their medical knowledge, a baby is just ready at 38 weeks and if such baby is not engaged, there's no point and a lot of risk in waiting, which results in an outrageously high rate of C-sections in the private health sector in Mexico. I picked the hospital with the lowest C-sec rate in the city and a totally pro natural approach, I did not want my belly opened, I did not want to have to recover, I did not want the post-op pain, I couldn't afford it, they were going back to Mexico and I had a baby and a husband to take care of, who was going to take care of me?

So the baby decided to come at 41 weeks. For my parents that was super late and tardy, for statistics, it's just normal. I had a peaceful labor while at home, took a long shower, laying down in the couch, making Sudokkus and timing the contractions. By 6 AM, everybody was ready to leave and I was getting the 3 in less than 10 minutes mark, so we left, no big deal. Arriving at an early hour allows you to not make any lines and be admitted immediately.

According to the resident, I had dilated 4 cm and was in good shape. Well, he forgot to mention the beautiful detail that the baby was not engaged. 4 hours later, just after I had gotten the epidural, the next resident in turn checked again. Same 4 cm and still no engaging, oh yeah, she forgot that part too! They tried a little bit of oxitocin, the baby didn't like it and I ended up with oxygen and the oxytocin taken out in an hour. Still 5 or 6 cm (ok, we have progress) but NO ENGAGING!! and they wouldn't tell. All those hours I was lying in bed, half asleep, believing my body was doing progress and the contractions were working, they were not. It was close to 7 PM when I was informed the head was all the way up, not even attempting to come down, and at this rate, it never would. The baby was suffering, the oxygen was scarce and the residents were a bunch of idiots. At that moment, the OBGYN programmed the C-section. It still took about an hour to get me to the ER with all the preparations and such (it was not considered an emergency one).

30 minutes after entering the OR, I heard my baby screaming loud and well. He was a beautiful 8 pounder in perfect shape, just with a little bit of meconium. Then the nightmare began, they take your husband and baby away and stay closing you up for an eternity, in pain and desperate. They are controling you and you cannot even move.

After that, they brought the baby to nurse when I had 2 doctors and 2 nurses on top of me, there was no space for them to pass me the baby, so my mom (very invasively) took the baby and stomped a bottle of formula on him. That was the most horrific moment ever. I missed my baby's first feeding.

I had to stay 3 days in the hospital and due to my mother's pressure, I gave in and allowed them to take the baby to the nursery at night. The pain was unbearable, I couldn't walk, was in Percocet around the clock and had control on absolutely nothing.

But, aside from that, the hospital treated me well, the nurses were the best ones I've seen and I made it home safe and sound. The baby latched immediately and I didn't have a single problem nursing him. I actually did it for 2 1/2 years.

And the recovery  not a problem. It was fast and easy, I stopped taking pain killers one week after the birth,  and was walking normally within 2 weeks. Due to the nursing, I recovered my weight in less than a month.

Was it ideal? hell no! but he decided his birthday and I wasn't rushed into a programmed induction or c-section. He decided when to come, when he was ready. I have the healthiest boy on the planet. He's never been sick.

C-sections exist for many reasons. I'm one of them. Before they were performed, the maternity death rate was considerably higher. I don't think they should be performed just as an option, I don't think the OBGYNs should perform them just to save time and not be hassled. I missed a lot, instead of being put in his mother's arms, he was taken away and examined. They got my baby under their control. But, they are neccesary, and the recovery is much faster than 30 years ago.

That very same year, 2 of my friends also gave birth in different parts of the globe. One of them went to a non medicated birth center, adjacent to a hospital and was seen through the whole pregnancy by a midwife. She ended up with preeclampsia, going to another hospital in an advanced labor stage, driven by her husband because that one was full and didn't even have ambulances available. She spent 5 days in the hospital, full of medications to lower her blood pressure and out of milk.

The other one chose a midwife to have a home delivery. I don't know all the details, but after 24 hours of getting stocked and not making progress, she finally gave in, took a cab and went to a hospital to have an emergency c-section. After those anguishing moments of surgery, she had a beautiful girl and had no problem nursing.

Seems like having chosen a hospital that was a birthing center and pro natural births but with an OR in the same floor was the best choice and my story, the least horrific of the 3.

My second child was similar with the waiting, but he never came. Due to the first c-section, they had a policy of programming an intervention at 41 weeks if no labor occurs, so I was operated again. The tension with my parents was even higher. They couldn't understand why I didn't choose to have it sooner, what was the point of waiting? the baby was MORE THAN READY.

And then my mom went on to say that I was born 10 days early and weighted 6.6 pounds. That I was ready then and waiting was risky because there couldn't be "any labor involved". That was the thinking 30 years ago with a prior c-section. And I went on and told her that I wouldn't eat enough milk, she ended up with mastitis, stopped nursing at 10 days and I was allergic to every single thing they tried feeding me with, ending up with horrible soy formula that didn't do a thing, gaining 1 pound in 6 months and mysteriously becoming hypothyroid at 1 year, likely due to the soy.

Is that what you call more than ready? Had I been ready, I would have eaten more and been saved of all the hassled that implied not having been breastfed. My second baby is as huge, happy and healthy as the first, this time I didn't allow doctors to touch me after I had nursed and asked for co-sleeping despite my mother's objections, but the recovery was much harder. Second c-sections come with contractions. It wasn't fun and it took nearly a month. But I'm fully recovered.

So, which option is better? the one you pick. C-secs aren't as horrible as home birthers try to paint them. If that's the worst I had with my babies, then I can say I'm doing pretty darn good.

1 comment:

  1. I had two babies in less than a year. Both delivered in a hospital , by midwives. They where the best, especially since I was high risk. I wasn't supposed to get upset, which the Doctor did every time I had to see him, at least I only saw him once a month. I was unable to breastfeed.
    I treated them as twins. I did everything at the same time, they where both broke of the bottle
    and diapers when one was one, and the other two with no problems.
    Just a note, don't give your baby soda, or cereal in their bottles.! I hate seeing a fat toddler with black teeth.
    And you shouldn't start to feed you're baby until they are at least five months old. It causes obesity when they are older. Never reward them with food,unless you want them to battle with their weight for the rest of their lives. M