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The big switch

Before having my first baby, I already rolled my eyes at the fighting and finger pointing that would go on between moms with differing viewpoints on any given subject. I remember standing in a store trying to pick out fitted crib sheets when two moms started discussing what is and isn’t allowed in baby’s crib. The difference in age obviously played a factor—as guidelines progress through advanced research on how to best protect babies from SIDS—and it just felt too hostile for my liking.

Fast forward to one baby and one on the way, and I still turn the other way when the baby bickering ensues. One of the bigger battles in the land of birth and parenting decisions is the option to have a medicated or natural birth, either at a hospital with an OB or a birthing center with a midwife (doulas are usually allowed at both!). I personally had a medicated hospital birth with a doctor I did not know (thanks to it being a holiday weekend) the first time around. My husband and I did not take birthing classes—with the exception of infant CPR—or have a birth plan in general. We rolled into the hospital, trusting my OB and the guidance she had provided up to that point, and just had a baby. It was a great first birth. Really, it was a very textbook labor and delivery, and I was grateful to not experience any complications along the way (bad tearing, C-section, use of vacuum or forceps, long recovery, etc.).

For women experiencing healthy pregnancies, natural options are available such as laboring in a tub or having a water birth (pending your facility is licensed). I honestly never thought twice about these possibilities, and when I found out about baby No. 2, I was planning on doing things pretty similarly to the first time we went through it. To me, choosing to just go with the flow was a way of “owning my own birth.” I love the philosophy behind being in control, but I think it can include whatever method you choose, not only the all-natural route.

Around 23 weeks, I read a birth story at work. The writer had a medicated hospital birth during her first pregnancy, and she did not have a good experience. Determined to do things differently the second time, she decided to look into the benefits of water birth, meditation and relaxation. I know the word relaxation doesn’t go with labor and delivery, but her words intrigued me as I further read her story. She painted a picture of a really beautiful experience—one of challenge, composure and victory. Not sure what it did to my headspace, but I found myself thinking, I want to try. (My boss also had her first baby a few weeks ago, and she chose a natural birth, too. I haven’t gotten the full details yet, but her experience seemed to be equally as amazing. She and baby are doing great!)

I’m not even sure where to start in the attempt to possibly switch it up in the final trimester. I have an appointment with my OB this Friday and plan on discussing my second thoughts regarding a hospital birth. I am fortunate enough to have as close to a friendship as possible with my doctor, and I trust her guidance in the area of my maternal health. I’ve been researching different birthing centers in my area and talking with other moms who have had both medicated and natural births. The general consensus is most moms preferred the natural route, mainly because of recovery.

Whatever I end up choosing this time, I think I will plan on trying a water birth with my next baby, if we are blessed with another child. I have a lot to learn and much to consider, but I am excited to dive into this possibility I never previously desired. I think when it comes to birth, listening to what you think is best for your body is always the way to go. It’s the first step in choosing to be the voice for your growing family, so it’s important to own it!

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