How I Achieved a Low Intervention Birth
Written By: Leah Zemany
I have always been interested in pregnancy and birth. I distinctly remember sitting in
church with my parents and there being a pregnant woman near us and I wanted nothing more than to touch her swollen belly. I was probably 6 or 7 at the time. Growing up I wanted to become a Neonatologist (a doctor specializing in newborn infants) but as I grew older my life goals changed. I didn’t want to spend so much time in school and put off having a family, another female conundrum that I could get on a soapbox about at another time. However, I knew I belonged in healthcare so I decided I would become a nurse.
I was fascinated by my women’s health rotations and I absorbed as much information as I
could. I did my role transition (a 9 week length of time where you follow around a working nurse and work their schedule) in labor and delivery. By that point in time I had read a fair amount on my own about birth and labor and the “less is more” notion. I was completely disenchanted with how the hospital approached birth and delivery. Ultimately, this pushed me away from going into that field. But I never stopped being amazed by the female body and what it inherently knew how to do.
Flash forward roughly 10 years and my partner and I find out that I am pregnant! We
were both beyond elated. And from the very beginning I knew what kind of birth experience I wanted. And honestly, if I didn’t have a medical background I probably would’ve opted for a homebirth but sometimes knowing too much can be a bad thing. My first step in reaching my goal was finding a care provider. I knew I wanted a midwife from the get-go. I felt like a midwife would be more supportive of fewer interventions and work with me to reach my goal. For me, it was important to have someone who was compassionate and listened to me and what I did and didn’t want and then discussed options with me.
Then it was time for me to put in the work! I read, A LOT! I read books about natural childbirth, pregnancy books, and midwives. I pulled a lot from Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin as well as her book A Midwife’s Manifesto. For me, hearing about how so many other mothers succeeded in birthing without or with very little intervention, gave me strength in believing that I could do it too! She also relays so much information about pregnancy and the birth process itself, which I feel is important because knowledge can counter that fear of the unknown. I also started following birth friendly Instagram pages. Seeing images of mothers in the throws of labor and the birth process was helpful for me to imagine what my own experience might be.
I was especially afraid of birthing a large baby. My mother had three children and at 8 lbs., I was her smallest. Then one day I came across an image on Instagram of a mother who
birthed her 10 lbs. baby naturally and she had the most shocked and elated look on her face! I saved that image and would look at it whenever I was doubtful of my abilities. I also saved other birth affirmations on a Pinterest board, looking them over from time to time.
I continued to exercise throughout my pregnancy. I knew that being physically healthy
would allow me a better chance of achieving my goal. So I went to the gym like I normally
would but informed my instructors of my pregnancy so that exercises could be modified if
needed. Another fear I had was that my baby would be breech. As I went to OB appointments he was becoming quite comfortable in that position. I knew there were ways to get baby to turn so I did some searching and I found Spinning Babies. The exercises focus on position the baby and preparing the body for birth. I did that video religiously throughout my second and third trimester. My partner would make fun of the lady as she said “Breathe in love for your baby, breathe out love for your life”. It’s still stuck in my head over a year later!! But I do feel the video truly helped me prepare for the birth, physically and mentally.
Probably the most important thing I did to have a successful low intervention birth, was hiring a doula. I went back and forth on the idea because I was doing a lot to prepare myself and I questioned whether or not I could do it on my own. But I am so glad I did! She was so supportive of me and my partner and all our wishes. She was a voice for me when I finally did go to the hospital and she knew the right nurses who would be supportive of my choices. Working in healthcare, I know the negative attitudes nurses can have towards birth plans and I didn’t want that to overshadow my birth experience. Having her there gave me piece of mind so I could focus on birthing my baby.
No matter how we choose to bring our babies into this world, whether it’s a homebirth, a hospital birth with an epidural, or a belly birth, the point is that we as women have CHOICES in how we birth. Not only should they be choices but they should be educated and informed choices. Knowing we have choices and the strength to execute them is half the battle. The other half is making your choices known and having a support team that is fully on board with what you want and who can advocate for you when you can’t.
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