Modified from a post originally appearing on Mismikado Down the Sidewalk
"Aren't you scared of the pain? Don't you want to have the option of drugs?"
As a mother: Labor is painful. Labor can feel like hell. But billions of women have done it before me and pain is only temporary. The pain cannot kill me. So all the benefits that have lead me to this decision far outweigh the fear of pain. Running 26.2 miles is painful but we don't tell people they shouldn't do it. So why should we tell women they shouldn't do something that is completely natural and apart of life?
As your doula: Every woman needs to birth in the way that is best for her. If you are truly afraid of pain then having the option of pain medication can be just the right amount of relief you need to get through childbirth peacefully. But know all the risks and side effects before making that decision. In my first labor, I decided to accept a combination of Tylenol with Codeine and Vistaril. I was warned that it would not remove the pain but would help me sleep between contractions and that it did. But that also threw off my brain's natural ability to cope through labor. Unmedicated labor gives you breaks between contractions to catch your breath, regroup your energy reserves, and prepare your mind for the next wave of pain. When you are sleeping during those breaks, you don't have any frame of reference for how far apart your contractions really are and they start to feel like they are right on top of each other with never-ending pain when in fact you have whole minutes of complete calm between them. Had I understood that better the first time around, I would have never put myself through that mental turmoil and let my mind and body carry me through the pain.
"What if something goes wrong?"
As a mother: We aren't ignorant enough to assume life always goes as planned. Right now I have low-risk normal pregnancy. I see my midwife every 4 weeks and will see her more often the closer to my due date I get. If at any point things change, so will the plan. If my baby is breech going into week 38, we have a plan to transfer to the leading hospital in the nation for delivering breech babies vaginally. If something goes wrong during labor, I'll get rushed the 5 miles down to the hospital for an emergency cesarean.
As your doula: No matter what your initial birth plan might be something will inevitably go off course. That's the magic of birth and that's why I also encourage my clients to say they have "birth preferences" and not a "plan". When you surround yourself with a solid birth team who you trust and supports your choices, then you are prepared to face whatever situations might come up and will be supported through any outcome.
"Why not do the midwife thing for your second child after you already know what to expect?"
As a mother: It's true that most the moms I know used a midwife after their first child, but my Mom didn't and she had no regrets. Plus the mothers I know who've done both, most often say the midwife route was their favorite. So why go through the other way when I know this is what I want to do now. It would be like going to college to be an engineer when I know I really plan to be a chef.
As your doula: When you have found the care provider that connects with you and your birth vision, no one can question that. After all, it is your birth and you are choosing what is best for you, your pregnancy, and your family.
Have you encountered any objections to your birth choices?