Natural Childbirth the Second Time Around

For the last two and half weeks I’ve been wallowing in the haze of sleeplessness, too exhausted to personally share the news of our second child’s birth. As you may have already read from Rebecca’s announcement, Jovi Nilprabhassorn arrived on June 8th after nine hours of labor, loads of encouragement, and some uncontrolled screaming towards the end.

After my first child’s birth I thought I knew what to expect with the second. Wrong! From the beginning she established herself as unique with lots of small contractions for hours before labor really intensified.

Even after we arrived at the Midwifery Birth Center, I remember thinking, “This whole labor thing really isn’t that hard! Why did I think this was such a struggle last time?” Within a few hours, I remembered just how painful it could get and realized at one point that I might not make it to the other side of each contraction.

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Food as Gifts for Expectant Parents

My baby’s impending birth has me thinking of those early days with our oldest child.  Even though everyone told me about the exhaustion I would experience, my husband and I were truly humbled by the fatigue we faced in those first few weeks.

The only thing that kept us going was food, provided by friends and family who knew more than we did about having a newborn baby.  I was amazed how much I needed to eat to keep up with nursing demands and also astonished by the immense challenge of showering, getting dressed or leaving the house, let alone shopping for groceries.  Cooking seemed entirely impossible. 

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Pregnancy Craving Confessions

I had forgotten the forceful hunger that overwhelmed me with my first pregnancy until it hit me this second time.  Hunger is no longer just a rumbling in my belly, but a desire to rip food out of other people’s hands and wolf it down like a starving animal.  And then there are the cravings…

With Roscoe, my cravings were quite eco-friendly and appropriate.  I needed sushi all the time but held myself away from the raw fish varieties for safety reasons.  When my husband took me out to a Japanese restaurant for Valentine’s Day I didn’t allow him to speak to me while the sushi was melting in my mouth because it was such a sacred culinary experience.  (He was gracious enough to forgive the fact that my romantic feelings seemed to be more about the food than him at that moment.)

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Vegetarian Pregnancy, Vegetarian Baby

Is it possible to have a healthy pregnancy and baby on a vegetarian diet?  I have been a vegetarian for about twenty years and have lived to write about it on the Green Baby Guide.  Still, many people seem surprised that I’d continue living meat-free once I had a baby on the way.  Why do I do it?  Here are two reasons:

It’s cheap.  We are full-time vegetarians and rarely spend more than $150 a month on groceries for a couple and a toddler, allotting $60 to organic vegetables and the rest to whole grains, nuts, cheeses, and fruit.  A family our size would shell out $368 on the USDA’s “thrifty plan.”   Instead of relying on coupons and other cost-cutting tricks, we save by skipping the meat. 

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Letting Go of Childbirth Expectations

We attend birthing classes, read books on natural childbirth, practice our breathing, and then the big day arrives. What happens when things don’t go as planned?  When you’re whisked off to C-section after hours of labor?  Or when the pain exhausts you to the point that you need an epidural to continue?

While I had a great experience with our local midwifery clinic and would highly recommend natural childbirth, I was lucky to have several stories to reflect upon before I went into labor.  My sister-in-law, who worked as a family physician for some time, shared that women often experience a sense of failure when things don’t go as planned and they aren’t able to labor naturally. She encouraged me to make a birth plan, educate myself, and then be willing to let go of expectations if things suddenly changed.
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Selecting a Qualified Midwife in Your Area

If you’ve been keeping up with my series on using a midwife, (click here, here or here for my three previous posts) you may be getting depressed.  Yes, the Nurse Midwifery Birth Center is wonderful, quaint, friendly and covered by most mainstream insurance—but what are people supposed to do who don’t live here in Eugene, Oregon?  What if you’d like a midwife, but aren’t sure where to start looking?

Here are a few tips that I’ve gleaned from friends and family who have found their dream midwives with a bit of research.

  1. Ask friends, family and co-workers.  The best references are from people who have had a positive birth experience with a skilled midwife.
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Top Ten Reasons for Choosing a Midwife Over an MD

As you may remember from my recent posts on the perspective of midwives and choosing a midwife, I had a wonderful birth experience with the midwifery clinic here in town.  Here are my top ten favorite things about working with the Nurse Midwifery Birth Center:

  1. Personalized attention. My appointments are generally between 45 minutes to an hour and involve plenty of time for questions and information.  The midwife always presents all the options and allows my husband and me to make the final decisions.  It’s so empowering!
  2. Flexibility. It was up to us to choose whether we wanted to give birth at the clinic or the hospital. (Although pregnancies with high risk of complications have to be delivered at the hospital).  Either way, our midwife would supervise the birth and support our pregnancy.
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The Saturday Question: What was your favorite healthy snack during pregnancy?

It’s official.  I’m hungry every fifteen minutes.  It’s tough to always grab healthy foods on the go, especially with pregnancy cravings haunting me when I’m at my hungriest.  Do you have any ideas for snacks that I may not have thought of yet?  I eat lots of nuts and some cheese, but I’m still famished much of the time.  Thanks for sharing your insights!

The Unique Perspective Midwives Bring to Birth

When I meet a pregnant person I try hard not to launch into a full speech about my experience with midwives, but I have to confess that it’s happened a few times.  So why have I become suddenly evangelical about this alternative to the typical hospital birth? 

In my experience, midwives bring an entirely different perspective to the birth.  Doctors are trained for years in how to cure sick people.  On the other hand, midwives specialize in empowering women to find natural, non-invasive ways to stay as comfortable as possible during labor.

Now I’m not going to say that people should only have natural births, but in this age of scheduled C-sections it does seem like we’ve gone to some extremes.  Doctors are extremely nervous about liability and often move toward surgery or drugs far more quickly than they necessarily have to.  But with the proper education, coaching and support, many more women would be able to deliver naturally and feel like they had more options in the birthing process.

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Choosing a Midwife

With my first pregnancy I had no idea where I wanted to deliver. I just assumed I’d give birth in a hospital with a standard OBGYN. 

After our first doctor’s appointment, however, everything changed.  They whisked us in and out of the office in just ten minutes and everyone, from the receptionists to the physicians, seemed tired and overwhelmed.  The hospital tour depressed me even more.  From the generic pastel wallpaper to the cramped rooms, I knew I didn’t want to deliver there. 

Finally, I had the good fortune to find out about our local Nurse Midwifery Birth Center, a clinic housed in a vintage house with six wonderful midwives, antique furniture and a more homey atmosphere for birth.  This ended up being the room in which our son was born!

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