Free Birth Versus The Booked Cesarean Birth0
When it comes to birthing babies there are multiple ways to go about having a healthy term baby and a positive birth experience. The more you explore the various options that are available, the more you become in charge of your own birth experience. I believe that there is no single right answer for how to have a baby; I also don’t believe that hospital birth is the only way to experience childbirth. Some people might think that a staunch labor and delivery nurse might be opposed to anything except regimented, over-policed hospital births. The truth is, I am a natural birth loving type of gal who happened to find a good fit as a hospital employed labor and delivery nurse. I believe that hospital birth is not perfect but it does provide a great option for high-risk, and at-risk mamas to be, along with low risk mothers who prepare for the ‘what if’ situations.
Among the many ways to have give birth is the natural idea of free birth, also called unassisted childbirth. People who choose free birth take total control over their pregnancy and their birth experience. They become their own primary caregivers and do all their own prenatal care. There are no inductions for post dates, no vaginal exams to assess progress and no policies or guidelines to dictate how birth unfolds. These women have a firm belief that their body can handle pregnancy and labor naturally, resulting in a positive experience free of intervention. Laura Shanley of Bornfree! says, “the woman giving birth is the true expert on her own body“.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the women who choose to have an elective Cesarean birth with complete care by an OBGYN under medical guidelines. These mum-to-be’s are given total control in choosing the situation in which their child is born into but give the ultimate control to health care professionals who will monitor and deliver their baby. These women won’t go past their due dates and they won’t have to experience labor. Some women choose this birthing experience due to fear over the unknown; whether that is the pain of childbirth or vaginal trauma related to having a natural delivery or just the uncertainty around when birth happens. Maternal anxiety related to childbirth is an important thing to recognize but I am not sure that a booked Cesarean section is the only option for these mamas.
Despite wanting to be open minded, I find myself judgemental towards women who choose either of these two birth experiences. Even though they are at complete ends of the childbirth experience spectrum, and both have very different meanings for each women, I can’t help but feel they are not ideal for safe and healthy birth. I feel like free birthers are potentially jeopardizing the health of their soon to be newborn and their own maternal health just to experience complete control over their birth. As we know, the body does not always work the exact way that we envision or want it to. Knowing that the number one cause of maternal deaths is childbirth reassures my questioning behind the safety of free birth. I am confident that some people will have exceptional out of the world experiences with free birth but I will always still wonder about the ‘what ifs’. What if something does go wrong? What if the body does not function perfectly or ideally?
I understand that birth is a natural process and I also get it that hospital birth is regulated with a stopwatch and policies that will potentially interfere with the entire unraveling of a birth. Hospital birth does provide a safety net for women and their families but it is also far from perfect in any sense. The unexpected will still happen and we can not control every single situation.
For my own birth experience, hospital birth was the only way to go. I was a high risk person with a pre existing medical condition and subsequent elevated blood pressure; back in the day there would be a very good chance that I would not have had a healthy newborn or a safe birth based on these factors alone. Without human medical intervention I would be dead by now, and without medical professionals monitoring my growing pregnancy, there would have not have been a positive birth experience. It is because of regulation and research based evidence that as a type 1 diabetic I had a healthy vaginal birth. While I take full credit for birthing my son, I also give credit to ‘the system’ for providing me with the support to do so.
For some women, a pre-booked Cesarean section gives them peace of mind that things will be okay. There will not be any extra stressors on their pregnancy, no pain of contractions and no experience of ‘the ring of fire’. There will be no uncertainties that labor can bring forth and for them this is the best decision for their ideal birth. A pre-booked C-section gives them a pretty decent guarantee that their baby will come out pink and wriggly without any stresses of long labors effecting the baby. At the same time, these women are completely reliant on the medical system and whatever openings there are available in the operating rooms. They put themselves through the risk of major surgery, and the long surgical recovery, for a birth option that works best for them.
While these two options are polar opposites, they are still valid ways to go about having a baby. Even though I would not choose either of these two options for my own birth experience, I know that the women who do choose them have usually given thought and judgement into making their decision. When it all comes down to it, it is great that we can make these various decisions regarding what happens.
So, my question for you is: what birth option would you or did you choose?