The last few weeks, and the past week especially, I've had a lot going on in my mind with regards to my labor and delivery. I finally have some time to post about it here, and now that things seem to be resolving, I can think about it more clearly. I am also 31 weeks today and will post some info about that.
Regarding my intended labor and delivery wishes, I am going to attempt a VBAC - Vaginal Birth After C-section. No longer is it the case that once you've had a c-section you always have to get another c-section. That is old information, a carry-over from the days when incisions were made vertically across the muscle. Unfortunately, even though it's been known in the medical world for a while that it's far safer and better to try for a VBAC than a repeat c-section, doctors don't seem to be making their patients are of this, and hospitals and OB practices are still pushing for repeat c-sections instead. The rate of c-sections is higher than ever...insane. And unfortunately, there are so many woman out there that just accept what their doctors say or just assume that things haven't changed. So many don't ask questions or look into things.
Anyway, I did my research and it's SO much better to go for the VBAC. I also plan to labor as naturally as possible. The epidural just comes with too many negatives that I am not happy with, and there is no reason to be afraid of labor just because there is intensity and pain involved. It's a natural pain, one that has been a part of life since the beginning, and so I welcome it, welcome the entire experience (yes, I am still a little scared, but it's mainly today's American society that has brought in so much fear).
Part of laboring naturally means finding natural methods to manage the pain and intensity...and there are LOTS of methods out there. (check out THIS site: http://www.birthingnaturally.net/birth/index.html) When employed, especially with the help of a doula (look it up on Wikipedia), it can have almost the same effect as an epidural...and the great thing is that it is natural, so there are no nasty side-effects. Some of these methods employ different positions, some employ touch or sound, some mobility, some water, etc. So it's important to have as much freedom and mobility as possible during labor, to be able to bring to bear any of these methods whenever they might be best used (sitting in a tub, standing in a shower, walking the halls, sitting on a birthing ball, swaying hips, etc).
Hence my frustration when I found out that my OB practice, while open to VBACs and supportive of them, required me to be on constant fetal monitoring. Which means being tied to a machine with only an 8-foot cord at most. So no walking the halls, no getting in the shower, and maybe even a limit to the types of positions I could get in. Especially when they mention that if they can't get the monitor to stay on well and get a good reading on the fetal heartbeat, they might have to ask me to lay in the bed, not moving much. Definitely not where I want to be...laying in bed, maybe on your back, is the last place you want to be in labor...it slows it down and makes it harder to deal with. I looked online to see why it was necessary to have the continuous monitoring, and found out that it isn't. That VBAC is not considered high-risk and that continuous fetal monitoring shows no added benefit when compared to periodic monitoring and is only shown to increase the chance of a repeat c-section (due to slowing labor down, and possible false readings). That more and more hospitals and practices are starting to adapt to these findings and not require continuous monitoring, etc.
Unfortunately, talking to my OB and even showing them the information that I had found, they said it was strict policy to keep VBAC mothers on constant monitoring. And of course they mention the possibilities of maternal and fetal death, etc. Which scares me, of course, as I am a paranoid person at times. And one of the OBs was also talking about scheduling a "just in case c-section" at 39 weeks...in the event that when I was checked out, I wasn't progressing enough for them to feel I would go into labor on my own before I was a week past my due-date, and so it would be better to get a c-section early as opposed to getting one anyway a week past my due-date. I wasn't happy with that, because unless they could PROVE I wouldn't go into labor on my own (which they couldn't), or there was some issue with the baby that required an quick c-section, there was no way I was going to opt for an early c-section. And having an appointment scheduled just seemed like it would make it easier and more convenient for the doctors to convince me it was best to make use of it in an "iffy" situation.
So now I have been worried about being forced into a c-section too soon, and also that I would be so limited during my labor that things might not progress as fast as they could, and I would get too frustrated and worried about having a repeat of my last labor experience...and would lose my nerve and let fear take over...and eventually give in to the epidural and end up in a c-section again. So I decided to look into the services of a doula, to help me manage the pain as naturally as possible, to give me the best chance. And I considered trying to find an OB practice that was not so set in their ways and was more up on current research.
Long story short, I found an awesome doula who is so supportive and easy to talk to, and who had lots of good advice and made me feel that I will have a great labor...and she even recommended an OB practice that she loves working with that are more willing to work with VBAC mothers in their search for as natural a labor as possible. So...it looks like I will be switching OBs as well as the hospital I am delivering at. It's a little crazy and scary...changing at so late in my pregnancy, and going with a hospital that is potentially a 30 minute drive as opposed to only 5 minutes away...and worrying about what if I happen to fall in that really small percentage chance of a uterine rupture and I AM endangering myself and the baby by NOT being continuously monitored (even though supposedly there is no added benefit to catching the issues even in the case of VBAC)... But I think it's the best choice. That the benefits outweigh the risks. That it will give me the most positive labor experience, and joy. And let's just hope that the labor fates see fit to give me a quick, safe, relatively easy labor (4-5 hours would be nice).