I've been doing a little research on natural childbirth, and when I was at the library last week, I checked out a couple of books on the subject. (I'm also awaiting 3 or 4 more via interlibrary loan.) The first book I'm reading is Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read. I believe it was originally written in the 1930s with some updates up to the 1970s. Obviously, a lot has changed in this arena since that time, but there are of course some things that never change.
I like the idea of what he is saying, but I have a hard time believing I could put it into practice. As we're awaiting birth #4, I often think about the previous three. If anyone mentioned natural childbirth to me during those times, I was likely to stick my fingers in my ears and close my eyes. That is a subject I intentionally stayed far away from.
Upon arriving at the hospital with all three, I was anxious to get the IVs in and the drugs started. Every time the doctor would come in, I would ask the question, "Is it time for the epidural yet?" With the first two, I was actually given morphine to help me relax and get the labor going. It worked with the first delivery, and the whole labor and delivery is quite cloudy in my mind as I was pretty out of it with such a strong drug. With the second delivery, the morphine didn't help as it was actually a false alarm and I was sent home - where I slept off the drug for several hours. When I returned a few days later for the real delivery, all I was given was stadol, so that delivery was a little more clear in my mind - probably also because it was the most traumatic of the three. Not that anything went wrong, but she was 9 lbs 1 oz, and the other two were 6 lbs 13 oz and 7 lbs 7 oz - a VERY noticeable difference! The last delivery was definitely the easiest and quickest, so I'm hoping this one will be as well. (I was also given stadol round the clock with this delivery from beginning to end, along with a useless epidural.)
The funny thing is that I'm always anxious to get the epidural, but it has never worked on me. Every time, it only works on one side, and it is almost unbearable on the side that doesn't take. I do wonder if that makes things worse as the pain is centered at one spot instead of spread out... But, another funny thing, whenever I receive an epidural, the dilation process speeds up tremendously! That got me thinking.....
Dr. Dick-Read says that relaxation is the key to having a "pain-free" birth (I know, as a man he never actually experienced labor & delivery, but he did have a lot of case studies, so even though my mind is not believing what I'm reading, I'm trying to convince myself that there may be some truth in there somewhere). It seems I'm always anxious up to the point where I receive the epidural, and even though it doesn't work properly, there is some sort of relaxation that takes place afterwards - maybe because I know that I've done all I can do in regards to pain relief so now it's time to get the baby here? It does make sense that having your muscles, face, basically your whole body tensed up would fight against this natural process and even make it worse and more painful. I just wonder if I could convince myself of that while the event is actually taking place - without the aid of drugs/epidural?
I don't know if I could "relax" on my own. I distinctly remember arriving at the hospital with #3 after my water broke and sitting in the bed shaking so badly that I needed lots of covers. It wasn't because I was cold - it was because I was scared! One chapter in the book is about relaxation and how to make yourself relax, which was kind of helpful. In fact, I dozed off while reading it and doing some of the things it was suggesting - but it isn't anywhere near time for real labor & delivery, so that was a piece of cake!
I know that it's probably one of those mind over matter things, so I'll continue to read and receive more education in this area and then make a final decision - maybe. But of course I'll watch the epidural video beforehand so I'll be qualified to get it should I need it. After all, I have been receiving the chiropractic adjustments for the past four months, so who knows? It might would work this time. On the other hand, I read where chiropractic care, on average, decreases labor & delivery time by 30% and is supposed to aid in the overall process. So that definitely adds a plus to doing a natural delivery. (I wanted to note that I believe it is certainly helping at this point in the process as I don't seem to have the usual aches and pains, i.e. backache, as before, and I really don't even feel pregnant except for the change in clothing sizes!)
This is #4 and I should be a pro at this - yeah, right - but truth is, I'm not. Not even close. In fact, I haven't been able to think much about the actual baby as I've been too worried about getting it here. This is definitely something I'm praying about and asking for wisdom on.
If anyone knows of a good book I should be reading about this subject or an experience that would offer encouragement, I would love to hear about it. Feel free to e-mail me.
On another note, this Friday they'll do a sonogram and may be able to tell if it's a boy or a girl. I'll be sure to let you know!