I’m ready to become a mom. My pregnancy has been a wild, sushi and brie free ride of new understanding. I never pondered the ins and outs of pregnancy until I joined the club. I’d never heard of quickening, TENS machines, toxoplasmosis or perineal massage. I also never considered giving birth any other way than spread eagle on my back in a hospital bed, numbed by an epidural and probably shouting obscenity at my husband for impregnating me in the first place. Birth would be just like in the movies, right?
Wrong. For once I started exploring my birthing options here in the UK, I realized yet again that what I view as the “the norm” is very relative. Yes, in the United States, epidurals are nearly synonymous to pain relief for birth – probably why I’d always associated them as given. Yet all of a sudden, through no more fancy means than the NHS and Babycentre.co.uk websites, I learned about upright birthing and natural forms of pain relief like TENS machines, relaxation breathing, pelvic rocking and the less intrusive entonox.
Something shifted within me and I decided that I want to be a Birthing Warrior, and to attempt a natural birth. This decision has been met with scepticism by my American friends in particular. “No epidural?” they ask with a face like their chewing on leather. “Why would you want to subject yourself to contractions when pain relief is so readily available?”
I’m not a preacher, and I’m no expert, but from the research I’ve done I’ve learned that epidurals don’t necessarily make for a euphoric birth experience. More often than not, they leave women immobile from the waist down, catheterized and with greater chance of needing delivery interventions. I’m also not a glutton for pain and suffering, but if any pain in this world is a good, primal pain, then birth has got to be it.
So I booked into pregnancy yoga and have been preparing myself to ride those labour waves. They are coming, and coming soon. Maybe once it all kicks off I’ll sing a different tune, but for now I’m going for my natural birth, in fact a home birth. That decision has set chins wagging on both sides of the pond, particularly as this is my first baby. Again I’m not trying to court controversy but instead have a natural and relaxed birth experience, which for me, after more research, seems possible at home in the care of NHS community midwives.
Ultimately, all I want to do is bring our baby safely into the world, however and wherever she arrives. I can’t promise the home birth will come off (thus why it’s not part of my resolution!), but I’m grateful that my eyes were opened to this option and proud that I’m giving it a go.
Tanja blogs at Random Postings From A Pregnant American in London.
Photo credit: bies