Please give a warm welcome to guest blogger Lauren Baden! Lauren is a SAHM and college student studying to be a microbiologist. She currently lives in northernish CA, while her husband serves in the Air Force. They move a lot, don’t get to see each other as much as they’d like, and have amazing friends who get them through everything. She has one daughter, Aline, two cats, and a very large dog! She strives to promote safe birth, whether that is at home or in a hospital.
Let me start off by saying I am not against homebirth. I am all for safe homebirth attended by an experienced medical professional, preferably a CNM. I cannot in good conscience support unattended births or births attended by direct entry or lay midwives. However, I do believe that there should be state or federal guidelines as to what constitutes a medical professional, meaning there should be standardized schooling to allow more women the ability to birth at home if that is what they desire.
I delivered my daughter on July 16th, 2011 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. I bring this up because I know there could be someone out there who says “Your doctor induced you to make more money!” This is untrue, as my doctor is a military member; therefore she got paid the same amount no matter what kind of birth I had. Homebirth was never an option for me, because I have multiple medical problems that would have made it extremely dangerous.
The primary concern for my wellbeing, along with my daughter’s, of course, was my heart conditions. I have a mitral valve prolapse with regurgitation. This in itself is not enough to be seriously threatening to my life, but it’s certainly something that needs to be monitored. My symptoms got progressively worse as my pregnancy went on, and since I am fairly asymptomatic from that, it was a cause for concern. Additionally, I have atrial fibrillation, a type of arrhythmia or, put simply, a whacky heart rhythm. This can cause a myriad of problems, and to be perfectly honest, people with AFib really should consider the risks of pregnancy with the condition. On top of all that, I was born with a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis type 1, and as with many genetic conditions there are varying degrees of severity. My family is very fortunate that, generally speaking, we have had no major problems linked to our NF1. However, one of the major concerns is that we grow benign tumors called neurofibromas on our bodies, and they can often grow on the spinal cord or even in the vaginal canal. One can see why this might cause issues during delivery. The final nail in the coffin, so to speak, was that I developed community acquired MRSA about 2 weeks before Aline’s due date. I had to be on some serious antibiotics, and they are known to cause severe jaundice in neonates. The doctors needed to be able to monitor Aline closely for that and for any signs of infection in her.
It’s tough to say what would have happened had we not had a hospital birth. I don’t know what would have happened if I went into labor naturally, as I was induced at 41 weeks. I’m aware that due dates aren’t an exact science, and normally I would have preferred to avoid an induction, but all of my doctors were strongly recommending scheduling an induction. My heart symptoms had reached an all-time high; I could barely walk up a single flight of stairs without my heart racing. After a 36 hour labor, including an MRI to check for tumors on my spine before placing an epidural, Aline’s heart rate dropping to the mid 50’s, my own heart rate skyrocketing to nearly 200, and my poor husband having his hand nearly broken.. Our precious daughter Aline arrived. Was her birth ideal? No, I didn’t really want to be induced and they had to use forceps as she was stuck behind my pelvic bone. Am I horribly traumatized and do I need lifelong therapy? Absolutely not.
I know that every woman is different, and therefore her choices and her reactions to the outcomes will be completely different. In the end, as long as mom and baby are healthy and happy, that is what matters. One might argue that the trauma of birth will make mom and baby not healthy and happy, but, to me, the argument holds no merit. Childbirth does have inherent risks, there’s no denying that. There is a reason that childbirth was the number one killer of women for countless years. Sanitation, better medical techniques, and better nutrition have all added up to make childbirth less dangerous. Birth is not to be feared, but I’m not sure it should be trusted either. Birth is to be respected, whether it’s at home, in a birth center, in a hospital, or in the middle of the woods with you surrounded by your furry friends. Birth how you want, but please… do it safely.