Considering Medication Safety
There are caregivers that assure their clients that medications are totally safe in this day and age! Why then must forms be signed? Why can the medication only be administered in the hospital? Once you have received the medication, why are you hovered over with questions about how you are feeling? Why must you be monitored and receive an IV from there on out?
The truth is that no medications given during labor have yet been deemed safe. Listed on the forms you sign are a lengthy number of side effects, most of which don’t often happen, but which can occur—and have occurred—to women and babies that were given this medication. And while you or your baby may only have a small chance of being the one, in that one in 500 or that one in 1,000, who has a particular risk happen to you, there is a very good chance that if you have a medicated birth you will need vacuum extraction or forceps assistance for your birth (probably complete with episiotomy), or a cesarean (with the further inherent risks and side effects of each of these) or other more common problems such as a sleepy, disoriented baby when born.
Ask yourself whether the trade-offs are actually worth it. Is it possible that some children might be able to sidestep special education classes or
The truth is that no
during labor have
prevalent unexplained problems that are rapidly growing in our modern day children by protecting them from drugs during their births?
Is an Unmedicated Birth Possible for You?
You might wonder, if for example you are afraid of merely going to the dentist, whether you could give birth without medication. Rest assured that the sensations of childbirth are not the same as having a wisdom tooth removed. The sensations of labor and birth are something that can be worked with and which do not need to cause suffering.
The popular belief is that having no drugs is equal to having pain and having drugs is equal to not having any pain. Neither is true. Dig a little deeper. Sensations we feel every day are essential to staying healthy. We know to eat when we feel a certain sensation in our stomach. Hunger is a signal to nourish our bodies. Awareness of it helps to prevent starvation. We know to put sunglasses on when our eyes tell us that it is too bright—thus preventing injury to our eyes. We know to put on a warm sweater when our skin receptors tell us that it is chilly. This helps to keep our bodies from getting too cold. Some might call hunger pangs “painful” but if a new medication came out to eliminate them would it be wise to take it to eliminate the discomfort? The sensations of our body are our daily guides for taking care for it. Sensations from our bodies tell us what we need to do in labor as well, such as what position to be in to best help rotate a baby into place. Not being able to feel what your body is telling you to do can cause problems.
Before signing up for an epidural it might only be fair to yourself to give your body a chance to experience labor before devaluing your abilities. Many hypnobirthing families have found that when using the deep relaxation taught in their childbirth classes, that a woman can experience the sensations, but at the same time comprehend them the way she chooses—in a way she can mentally select before labor begins; erasing what she has previously been “programmed” by society to believe labor feels like. These hypnobirthing families learn that if the body is working in the way it was meant to, without the birthing muscles being tense from
stress, that a woman does not normally experience pain. In fact, every muscle in the body functions by contracting and releasing. None of the other muscles hurt while functioning as they were meant to. If a muscle is malnourished or dehydrated or injured you may experience discomfort. But do your legs hurt just from walking, your heart when pumping, your eyes when moving? Why would the uterus hurt? It usually doesn’t as the cervix opens during menstruation or as it contracts
What will the
sensations of your
like as you
experience what it
is like to give birth
to a new life?
birthing your baby in your o w n way
The uterus stretches from the size of a pear to be large enough to hold the baby. The uterus was made to do this task, just as it was made to open when the time is right, just as the pelvis and birth passage were made to open to amazing proportions. Must it be painful? Must a woman suffer? Many, many women throughout time have given birth easily and comfortably.
Not the story you’ve heard all these years? Read on about some things your body has to offer you. True, in modern society it may be more difficult to give birth comfortably for a variety of reasons, all unrelated to the wondrous way your body was made. Therefore we offer things that other women have found very helpful below and in chapter 13.
One thing about labor’s design is the periods of rest between each surge, moments that allow for resting and re-grouping. Just as it helps to remember in life that you only have to deal with one day at a time, it’s helpful to know that you only need to take one contraction and deal with that one contraction at a time. Also women are given, when labor is allowed to progress as it will, wonderful endorphins (natural pain relievers, your body’s natural pain medication). However catecholamines, which are stress hormones, counteract endorphins. So the more your needs are taken care of, the more comfortable you are.
Reducing things in the birthing environment that will cause fear, and receiving encouragement and reassurance from your support team, can be very helpful for reducing or eliminating discomfort in labor. Choices you make before labor starts will have a lot to do with how comfortable your birth will be.
Some people in our society may wonder if it is “civilized” to give birth naturally. When picturing a woman in labor, some people think of the classic sitcom scene where an angry mother-to-be is screaming at everyone, especially her husband. Some women, fearing that they may turn into this, may desire an epidural just to avoid it—and with good reason! But before devaluing your ability to give birth without medication altogether, read some real birth stories about real people who have
given birth naturally. The Internet is one place where people gather.
You may be surprised how many people have loved their natural birth experiences and are eager to share them with the world! How do their true stories compare with the fictional, made-for-TV births we have grown up with?
When a woman’s needs are truly being met by her birth team, she generally doesn’t become angry toward any of them. Certainly labor companions are wise not to take anything a woman says in labor personally, but on the other hand, professional doulas seldom experience anything like the sitcom scenes. When her assistants listen and are attentive, a laboring woman usually remains positive and even cheerful in her relations with all those that are there to help.
birth easily and
In general, if a woman can make her place of birthing a more private, intimate place where she won’t be afraid to let go and do what she needs to do, she is preparing for a quicker, easier, lovely birth.
(Adapted from Wise Childbearing.)