Your Focus WILL Change
When I first discovered the choice of birthing at home, skipping the midwife step, and doing everything all on my own… the whole concept of unassisted birth consumed my waking thoughts. This change in the path from hospital to home was life-altering. I wanted to know everything. I researched pregnancy and birth complications every day. (Even though this was my second pregnancy) Knowledge was power, and I wanted to be prepared for anything. Interestingly enough it was easy to find women’s stories of their first unassisted birth. Or at least, their journey to unassisted birth and the birth story. But I found it much harder to find stories and insight of “veteran” unassisted birthers. Why?
Why were there so few women who told stories of what they learned from each consecutive unassisted birth? Yes, I came across posts when women stated that they had 4 unassisted births, and were pregnant with their 5th. Just the facts ma’am, just the facts. Nothing more! Why not?
It’s a numbers thing
There *are* women out there giving birth without asking for medical “help.” There are communities of women sharing the journey on Facebook, BabyCenter, or yahoo… But the fact of the matter is, less than 3% of women birth outside the hospital. (I don’t know the true statistic, but this is a generous number, I think the real number is closer to 1%) Of the women birthing at home, only 1 or 2% choose to do it without a midwife. That means around 1 out of 10,000 women has an unassisted birth, and of those how many choose to have 3 or 4 or more births? Probably there just aren’t many of us out here! When you add on the older children, schooling, and life, no wonder we don’t write many blog posts about our experiences! We’re busy!
My focus has changed from “what is unassisted birth like” to “what is important to me THIS pregnancy, and with THIS birth.”
Can I answer this question?
I have had two unassisted births, and my husband and I are hoping to have more children, so my heart is still very much interested in the topic of birth. As of this post, I am not expecting a baby, but I hope to be in the near-ish future if my fertility will ever come back (?!?!). I’m still nursing my almost-one-year-old and she’s been a more effective birth control than we really want right now. Funny, right?
So what IS a second unassisted birth like?
How is it different from a first experience? Once you’ve had one you pretty much know what to expect, right?
Ha! Well, let me first start with one of my least favorite statements… “Every birth is different.” I’ve heard that so many times, but find it is true for my experiences to date.
My first birth was a hospital birth, labor was long, my water didn’t break on its own, the baby was a little crooked and it took a while for him to descend… but I experienced “fetal ejection reflex” and hardly even pushed, and he came right out.
For my second birth was my first unassisted birth. My water didn’t break on its own (I scratched the water bag and poked it until it finally burst into the pool!), IMMEDIATELY after my water broke my body started pushing hard, but I found I had to push with all my might also! Baby came out in less than 15 minutes. The sensation of pushing and bones shifting out of the way was NOT pleasant, but I did not tear at all.
Then with my third birth, second unassisted, my water broke at night before labor started. Contractions immediately were 2 minutes apart, painful, but only 20 seconds long. Labor progressed normally in every way except baby did not descend into the birth canal. Amazingly, even though my water was broken, she stayed high until VERY late. We considered transferring because if the baby is stuck on the bone and cannot descend… what are you going to do? Eventually baby was able to move and come down, and pushing was hard and long. Every push was demanded by my body, and I had to join in. No fetal ejection reflex without helping this time… But she came out eventually!
That’s one answer…
What is MORE interesting about the three births has less to do with how the baby came out, and more to do with my journey as a mom.
During that first pregnancy, I made it my mission to learn about “interventions” how to avoid them, and how to give myself the best chance of a vaginal delivery. (I also focused on researching vaccines and making decisions for our family before the baby arrived.) My attention was consumed with learning what I could do to avoid induction or c-section.
When my second pregnancy came around I no longer worried about “avoiding induction” and my focus shifted to “what are the possible complications, and how do I know if they’re happening?” because I was planning on an unassisted birth this time, and wanted to be sure I’d recognize the *true* signs of a problem. Added to that was “how to birth a breech baby?” because my baby didn’t turn until after her due date. Sadly, all that research never mattered. She was born head first. At least I felt prepared if she hadn’t flipped!
That third pregnancy I researched the heck out of twins because I got big FAST. But that turned out not to be the case… And I felt later on that I *should* have been researching pregnancy nutrition or meal planning. But I was too. dang. tired. That third pregnancy I really was nutritionally depleted and wasn’t doing well. After her birth, my husband and I started to focus on “what is health” and got a functional doctor to work with. We found out we had many deficiencies, and we’ve been working hard to overcome them through food and supplements.
Our next pregnancy?
I don’t yet know what my “focus” will be, but I’m sure something will float to the top. Perhaps I’ll delve into pregnancy nutrition instead of just general healthy eating (as I’m learning about now). Perhaps my focus and attention will go somewhere else? But I’m excited already to discover what that focus will be.
What will *your* second or third unassisted birth be like?
I don’t know how it will be different from earlier experiences, but I can encourage you — Each pregnancy gives you a new chance to grow and change and learn something new. Whatever your focus was in your first birth, you most likely came to a place of peace with what you learned. You don’t need to repeat the course. Find a new path and enjoy it! Did you focus on pain relief options the first time, but this time you want to avoid tearing? Great! Were you care-free-and-ate-everything the first time, but this time you hope not to gain 75 pounds? Excellent! Enjoy learning what is good nutrition for building a baby. Were you focused on keeping food down and just surviving nausea the last time but this time you are navigating extended family relationships? That’s completely valid. Are you wondering how your older children will adapt to the baby? Trying to avoid gestational diabetes? Wonder if you can pull of an orgasmic birth experience?
Whatever you focused on before, you are free to change your focus during this pregnancy and birth. Looking back after the birth, you will most likely enjoy comparing the two experiences. It’s extremely unlikely they will be the same except a vague resemblance here and there.
Enjoy every step. Choose your path. Learn. Grow. The journey will be part of your child’s story and will be just as special and unique as they are.