No, this time around, I would like to order a shorter labor, if you please. And I think I’ve established that I’m fairly easy to please on that score! But in all other respects, my first birth experience was a very positive one. If I could, I would go back to Japan to have this baby. I really would! I miss the maternity system there (which basically gives you two free doctor visits during pregnancy and then reimburses you for your hospital expenses after the delivery). I miss my midwife. I like the OB I found here in Memphis well enough, I suppose. But going to see her is just not the same as going to see Kudo-san, spending the better part of an hour with her, drinking tea and talking, and ending with a wonderful and relaxing incense massage! Truth be told, I even miss my Japanese doctor, who, although he was old and gruff, and spoke next to no English, and smoked – in his office (!), was a true champion for natural childbirth. I am beginning to appreciate in new ways, now that I am Stateside, the gift it was that, despite my lengthy labor, I did not end up with a C-section. And the thought that a second lengthy labor might lead to one here in the United States terrifies me.
The fact that I will likely not be having this baby in Memphis is of some comfort to me. There are not many “alternative birth options” here, I’ve discovered, other than homebirth. There are midwives, but midwives don’t have hospital privileges in Memphis, so if you opt to use a midwife, you have to also opt for a homebirth. I am not opposed to the idea of homebirth, but my personal preference would be to give birth in a freestanding birthing center with a CPM (Certified Professional Midwife) or a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife). I have already begun to research my options in Michigan, and I’m reassured by what I am finding. There are several birthing centers within an hour’s drive of the Detroit area, and even a group of CNM’s who practice at one of the area hospitals.
I have also been doing a lot of thinking about what I wish I had known the first time, what I wish I had done differently, and what I plan on doing differently this time around. I recently became “blog friends” (through some of my Internet research on prodromal labor) with another woman who has had labor experiences similar to mine, and she encouraged me to do some thinking and reflecting about this. And so I have, and I plan to post some of those thoughts here in the next few days. In the meantime, I would like to invite any readers who have either experienced or would choose a “natural birth,” whether at home, in a birthing center, or in a hospital, whether here in the United States or overseas somewhere, whether recently, or many years ago, to chime in with your thoughts, stories, and suggestions. I am especially interested in answers to the following questions:
- How did you arrive at your decision of how and where to birth your baby?
- What books, websites, and other sources of information did you find particularly helpful?
- Did you write a “birth plan,” and did you find it helpful?
- If you chose a hospital birth, did you hire a doula, or labor support person?
- If you chose a homebirth, did you have a backup plan? (In other words, did you receive “shadow care” from an OB or family doctor in case complications arose during delivery, requiring a hospital transfer?)
- What childbirth method did you choose? Did you take childbirth classes, and did you find them helpful?
- Would you make different decisions (i.e. choose a different birth attendant or birth locale) for any subsequent births?