I have a confession. Oh, I might buy organic apples and breastfeed past a year and worry about lead paint on the toys made in China. I might despise epidurals – I actually really hated mine, for baby #4. For all intents and purposes, I had “natural” childbirths -but that’s because you don’t know about my skeletons.
I was induced with pitocin for my last two labors. By my own consent. And I would do it again
I’m not sure how or when pit got a bad name, or who decided that any kind of medical intervention at all would sully the pure and natural event of childbirth. I don’t know who gets to make the rules that says a 40 hour labor sans anesthetics is natural but wanting relief from hours of intense, bone-exhausting pain is somehow not natural.
And I don’t know why I never mentioned it. Ok, I do. Because I didn’t want to get sympathetic and disappointed looks from the Natural Birth Police. I didn’t want to be judged by other women. I didn’t want someone to tell me that somehow, my births were less than perfect for me. Less than their births. Not as good as other births. Somehow diminished by availing myself of modern technology.
Let me tell you something. I went to the hospital with a good man at my side. The love of my life, my husband and I welcomed a healthy baby into the world and I was healthy and lucid enough to capture those moments and store them in my heart. And that is a successful, natural childbirth.
And my babies grew fat and thrived and cried and pooped and did all of the things babies do and no one would ever know that their mother, who just pretends to be a crunchy granola momma, exposed them to Pit before their birth. And that is the result of a successful, healthy childbirth.
Would it help if I shared my reasons for voluntarily choosing pitocin as a pre-birth intervention? I wasn’t coerced. In fact, I chose it while at my obstetrician’s office, in both cases, and then checked myself into the hospital.
I’m not sure I should share the details, because the point is every woman needs to do what is right for her, and her baby, during birth. I am the expert on me. And I do not need some kind of exemption for facts, some kind of excuse that other mothers might say, “Well, of course it is all right for her, she had a good reason but all those other mothers…” Those other mothers might have just as valid reasons.
Well, I suppose I will share. With Mr X, born in 2007, I had gestational diabetes (as I almost always do.) I had been going in for non-stress tests just to check on the baby, as my pregnancy progressed. A couple of weeks before his due date, the little guy was sleeping during the NST so the doctor decided to take a quick peek, since he was so snug they couldn’t get enough variable heart readings (baby’s heart rate should naturally rise and fall with activity, just like people outside the womb. If the heart rate doesn’t change, it could mean there’s a problem.)
Well, the quick peek revealed that my amniotic fluid had almost doubled in less than two weeks time. That definitely could mean there was a problem. And so my doc and I had a chat about interventions and inductions and watching and waiting.
And I chose – chose- induction. It turns out that Mr X had polyuria (he peed a lot. A crazy amount of a lot. And, he had high blood pressure.) Watching and waiting probably would have been okay, no big deal. For my part, I was glad to have him in my arms, healthy and strong.
With Baby A, it was slightly different. I was a mere two days from my due date, which is the longest I’ve ever been pregnant. I always go early. I was almost despairing, as very pregnant women do, that the baby would never come. I had felt nary a contraction.
My routine prenatal check at that point involved a cervix check, and I was 5 cm dilated. This freaked me out, because in all seven of my previous births, I dilate from 6 to 10 fast. Like in under half an hour. And I lived 40 minutes from the hospital, and that’s after we got someone to come over and sit with the kids.
I decided that going to the hospital – even though my contractions were very few and very far between- was the best bet. As a fluke, my husband had attended the appointment with me. Usually he was at work, but since he was off early that day we had gotten a baby sitter so we could have one last date before the baby arrived.
We still went on the date. I had dinner at Chili’s and stopped at Target for a few things for the hospital before checking in. And once there, of course there was no activity though I was at 5 ½ cm. So, in with the pit, onward with the contractions, my water broke at 7 cm and within 15 minutes of that we had Baby A. (That’s also my pattern. Water breaks and here’s baby! Miss E was even born in the veil and my water never broke with her.)
So what’s my point? There’s no shame in induction. There’s no shame in an epidural or a C-section or anything a woman chooses – or doesn’t choose – during childbirth. Well, there might be a little bit of shame if Mama chooses a martini during labor, although – who could blame her? Yes, doctors sometimes rush to perform cesareans. Yes, any intervention could lead to others. But interventions also can be helpful and good.
But before we judge other women, and rank on our Natural Birthometer Scale,we should always keep this in mind: a successful birth is one that ends with a healthy mother and a healthy baby.