Friday, January 7, 2011

A Little Light Reading?

The closer and closer I get to Owen's estimated due date (31 days to go, in case anyone was wondering) I have more and more little freak outs about whether or not I know enough yet, or if I'm prepared enough. Am I really READY for this?

So that made me rush to the library.... ok maybe not rush, because, really, I waited till I was about 33 weeks along before I went research crazy..... but anyway I wet to the library and browsed over every pregnancy, birthing, and parenting book I could find.

For every woman who is pregnant, has babies or small kids, or is thinking about getting pregnant and is wondering if she is or will "do the whole mom-thing the RIGHT way", I strongly encourage you to read Confessions of a Slacker Mom by Muffy Mead-Ferro. It's a quick, funny, honest read about a mom who worried at first but then realized the importance of less is more, the fact that you can't (and probably shouldn't) protect your kids from everything, and that there is no perfect, fail-safe parenting method. And that's ok! Really! I seriously enjoyed this book, and not just because Muffy is delightfully snarky the whole way through. This book helped me relax and stop worrying whether or not I was going to be a "good" mom. Parenting is about so much more than always knowing what to do, what to say, being perfect, having all the answers, being the perfect role model, etc. It also reminded me that how much I hate piles of STUFF sitting around that I, we, no one really NEEDS. I actually logged on to my baby registry and deleted about 23 items that I neither have the room or the need for. Less really is more. Especially when you live in a tiny two bedroom apartment like I do where the nursery is also the craft room and the husband's office. Seriously, read this book.

I think what I'm most nervous about overall is the actual birth. Well, maybe not so much the birth, but rather that I'll get to the hospital and all my intentions of having as little medical intervention as possible will go out the window as doctors and nurses swoop in and insist that IVs, monitors, drugs, and who knows what else are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! This freaks me out more than anything.

I do not want an epidural. I do not want an IV. The possibility of an episiotomy scares me to no end. I do not want forceps or that crazy vacuum thing used to extract my child.

I realize that some people may be reading this and thinking that I'm out of my mind for not wanting any drugs or interventions during my labor. That kind of all-natural, drug-free stuff is for hippies, right? Uhm, no. And I don't feel this strongly about it simply because I hate needles (which by the way I do). Most of the reason I want as few interventions as possible is because every drug they pump into me not only effects me and my ability to labor normally (which is bad enough) but it will also effect Owen and his immune system, his vitals, his ability to breastfeed as soon as possible after birth, our mother-child connection.... drugs mess with so many things! I mean, think about it - doctors are so strict about what medications you can and cant take while your pregnant because everything you take in, your baby takes in. But then, they want to give you an epidural, pitocin, and IV, demerol and any number of other "necessary" drugs during your labor? Why is it suddenly ok? Just because you're in labor doesn't mean drugs suddenly, magically don't effect your child anymore.

I was already nervous about going into the hospital and being bombarded by medical staff wanting me to give into birthing "standards" of medically assisted labor before I started educating myself. But since I've started reading more about natural birth and what labor should be as opposed to what the medical community has turned it into, I'm even more sure I want to avoid medical assistance unless there's some sort of emergency.

Two books that I've found extremely helpful already even though I haven't finished reading them yet are Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein and Homebirth in the Hospital by Stacy Marie Kerr, MD.

Your Best Birth is great because it honestly analyzes all the possible options for how and where to give birth. Medical assistance in the hospital, scheduled c-section, unmedicated but doctor assisted in the hospital, midwife assisted in the hospital, midwife assisted homebirth, etc, etc! It's really nice having it all there in one book so that you can compare and contrast all the different options. The whole point of the book is to inform women of their choices and to remind them that it is, in fact, their choice! As a pregnant woman, it should your choice how and where you labor and give birth. If you want drugs, there are plenty of medical professionals out there who'll hook you up before you can say "please". If you want a drug free birth, that's your right and your choice should be respected and supported!

Homebirth in the Hospital  is similar to Your Best Birth in that it wants the mother to be as informed as possible about her options, but they strongly encourage unmedicated, natural childbirth conducted in a hospital just in case there is an emergency and medical assistance is needed.

A number of my friends over the past few years have mentioned The Bradley Method of childbirth and it's always sounded really interesting to me but I couldn't find the book for a while. Thankfully, a sweet friend of mine got it from the library for me (I couldn't check it out over inter-library loan because I'm not a resident of that town, phooey) and I've only read a few chapters in the day that I've had it but I really love what I've learned so far from reading, skimming, and friends telling me about it.

Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon starts out by comparing and contrasting the Bradley Method to the widely known, or at least heard of, techniques of Lamaze and explains that they are nothing alike and that the training of Lamaze can actually interfere with natural labor. The Bradley Method itself focuses on relaxation and natural breathing to reduce stress and remain calm during contractions. The Bradley Method is also referred to as Husband-Coached Childbirth and emphasizes the importance of the husband's (or birthing partner, in the case of no husband) role in labor and delivery. Laboring mothers have enough to focus on while they prepare to help their child enter the world, the husband's role is to be the calming, supportive, constant figure that mommy needs. Hubby is there to reassure wifey that she's doing a great job, rub her sore back, support her or hold her during contractions, fend off pushy nurses who might want to stick mommy with a needle during a weak moment, and remind mommy that she's almost done and she'll soon get to see and hold that sweet baby. This is a great read for the husband so that he'll feel confident and prepared to support wifey when the time comes!

I love, love, love this book so far. but

Ok, I know I've already written a small novella here ... but I have just 2 more, promise!

Everybody and their mom has heard of What To Expect When You're Expecting but I'll still say a quick little blurb about it. It's a great overview of everything from trying to conceive, to looking for a doctor, to eating right, exercise, sex during pregnancy, health concerns, low/high risk pregnancy and how to deal, miscarriages, bed rest, etc, etc, etc. There's a ton of info in this book, some you'll love, some you'll find wonderfully helpful, some things you've never heard of or thought about, and maybe a few things you might read and decide to ignore. It's a great read for first time moms who might feel completely lost or who have a ton of questions. A very helpful table of contents and glossary make it easy to look up specific concerns in the midst of an abundance of info.

Now for one of my favorite books so far. My wonderful mother-in-law got me The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding published by La Leche League International for my birthday and I can't get enough of it. I never knew just how beneficial breast milk is for a baby. I mean, obviously its perfect for them. They received all the nutrients they needed from mommy while they were still in the womb so it makes sense that the milk mommy produces would be the perfect food for newly born baby, specifically formulated to their exact needs! But really, there are so so many specific benefits that babies derive from mother's milk that they wouldn't get otherwise. Immune system fortification, IQ development, improved intestinal function, etc etc! One thing I love about this book is that it emphasizes the fact that breastfeeding isn't just about supplying food for your child. It's an amazing mother-child bonding experience involving skin-to-skin contact, eye contact - such a special connection that you can't and won't get from formula feeding.

This wonderful book not only points out the mind-bogglingly awesome qualities of breast milk but also helps mothers who struggle at breastfeeding. They have answers, advice, and even support numbers to call for mothers struggling with latching problems, painful nursing, low milk production, and countless other questions and concerns. They even have advice for mothers who couldn't or didn't know how to nurse their first child but want to try again with their second!
In my personal opinion, every single pregnant and nursing mother should read this book!

Ok, as promised, I'm finally done with what may end up being my longest blog post ever. I just really wanted to share all of these great books with all of my mommy friends out there as well as anyone else wanting to educate themselves about pregnancy, birth, and nursing.


  1. God bless your birthing experience, Brittany! It's great that you have researched so much and know what you want. I hope that things don't go unexpectedly, like your baby taking his sweet time (haha!), but if they do, that you will still have the experience your heart desires. The nurse I had was VERY encouraging about my attempt to give birth naturally. She had five kids of her own and had two of them with no drugs at all. The hospital even let me use a huge bouncy medicine ball to add comfort. I let the mental aspect of not knowing how long labor would last, how much more intense the pain would get, the effect of pitocin b/c of the induction, our baby maybe being huge because he was so late, etc. get to my mental state, so I--only I--asked for the epidural. I am actually really thankful things happened the way they did because the cord was around Bridger's shoulder and it all worked to keep him safe. SO--all that to say, I think you can definitely have the birth YOU want and that God will watch over you and Owen and the things you can't control. I was advised to ask for a nurse who was comfortable with natural birth when I checked in--that's how we got her. Maybe your hospital can accommodate you in that way. The epidural and other drugs for the emergency C-section had no effect on the breastfeeding bond with Bridger, and I don't know if they had any effect at all. But I totally agree about not wanting that unnatural crud in your new perfect baby. Breastfeeding is AWESOME! That book sounds really neat, and I am glad you already have the support from Nancy. It is REALLY REALLY HARD to get used to the physical discomfort and sleep deprivation, but it truly gets better and better and even more wonderful. It is such special time with your baby, and it's nice to "have to" get away to be alone with him. Make sure you have Lansinoh or something; it was one of my best friends the first few weeks. I know Stefanie probably has already told you a lot of these things. Sorry I just wrote the longest comment ever to your longest post. Haha! Love you!

  2. Also, nursing is a really special time for you, Husband, and Baby during the first few weeks. Husbands are definitely the extra hands and emotional support that God gives new mothers. :)

  3. And you will be marvelous at birthing. You will be one of the world's best mothers because you care so much about the heart of issues. Sorry for all the comments--babies keep eating their mommies' brains. :)