In this age of super medical technology the human animal does not often get born or die in the simple, time-honored way. More often than not those important rituals are stripped of their dignity by an impersonal medical professionalism. The private, mystical event is transformed by the presence of strangers and a highly artificial environment into a pre-processed and strictly calculated “outcome”. Current childbirth techniques minimize the participation of the mother, and depersonalize the infant.
When our first child was born I studied the La Maze “natural” childbirth technique. I attended lectures and classes, read books, saw films, and prepared myself (ironically) to “let nature take its course.” I was fortunate to find a doctor and a hospital sympathetic to this form of prepared childbirth, to the extent of allowing the father to observe the birth in the delivery room.
Two years later, however, upon the birth of the second child I was of the mind that I would like to experiment further with my own version of “natural” childbirth techniques: not to be bound to Dr. La Maze’s or any body else’s method, and to eliminate the hospital entirely.
At first I was apprehensive to consider a home delivery. What if something extraordinary should happen? Would it be fair to the baby to be deprived of the latest lifesaving techniques? The alternative, however, went against my grain even more. I asked myself, “Why shouldn’t giving birth to a child be a simple natural event, well within my own range of competence and control?” “Is that arrogance?” I think secretly I felt that if a baby was not strong enough to survive his own birth, perhaps he really didn’t want to live after all, and should be permitted to bow out gracefully, rather than be “saved” for a life that he was ill-disposed to carry out. I realize that this is not the accepted, “civilized” attitude prevalent in our culture.
After some hesitation and soul searching, testing the strength of my convictions, I located an advisor who was willing to deliver the baby in our home. This was a man with thirty years’ experience. After several visits with him I was confident that I had made the proper choice for me. The doctor was unorthodox in the medical sense, some would probably say “old-fashioned” but he understood and believed in what he called the “natural ways”. This appealed to me..
My friends had varied reactions: some were afraid for me; some felt sorry for me; same admired my “courage” and some thought me careless or foolish. Moat women I discussed my plans with favored the idea but felt that it was too risky. But I felt safer and more at ease about having a baby at home than driving my car 20 miles on the free way.
The actual birth was in fact reassuringly uneventful. The greatest inconvenience I experienced was fatigue as a result of staying up all night during labor, which began about 11,30 p.m. Birth took place at 6130 a.m. the following morning.
I practiced my own version of all of the various breathing and relaxation techniques that I have studied, no strict-“method” was employed because I wanted to really be alone with myself, to concentrate upon my task, without distractions, and to be free to “experiment”. By that, I mean simply to feel and sense what needed to be done in the way of preparation, as an animal does.
I found that certain ways of sitting were comfortable and others were not. Most comfortable for me was the upright semi-lotus position. In this way, gravity was utilized most effectively. In relaxing it was important to feel the feeling of each contraction — to appreciate it as much as possible while it was happening, and then to let go as fully as possible between contractions.
During the last half-hour of labor I found the La Maze technique extremely helpful in that it imposes a rigid structure of (breathing) activity which helps to organize that intense and difficult time — to make the last “chaotic” period pass more quickly.
In brief, I found home delivery an absolutely satisfying experience one that I would certainly recommend for anyone interested in reclaiming part of the privilege of motherhood. Probably the most satisfying experience of all would be delivering the baby one self in my opinion this is much to be preferred over the current vogues “Wake me up when it’s over, and be sure to let me know if it’s a boy or a girl”Childbirth Reconsidered