Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Preparing for Birth: Resources

My how time flies.  I knew I wouldn’t be a good blogger.  Not only am I not 27 weeks pregnant anymore, but my son is now 22 weeks old.
Something I didn’t really talk about much on here while I was pregnant were my (tentative) plans for the birth.  I say tentative because I knew that ultimately the Lord was in control.  I determined to do what I could on my end (eating well, exercising, learning about birth, finding the right caregivers, etc) and then the rest was up to Him.  I also learned very early that it’s best not to tell people that you want to have a natural birth.  Plus, I had never had a baby so I didn’t know how things were going to go. 
HOWEVER, if you have an interest in natural birth and/or you are trying to avoid an unnecessary caesarean then I feel strongly that you must be educated on birth.  A lot happens to your body leading up to and on your baby’s birthday, and if you don’t know what’s happening or how to cope then you are probably going to be freaked out and/or afraid and those are not ideal emotions on baby day.  Plus, if you don’t know what’s happening, I imagine it’s going to be hard to make those decisions such as “Should we induce?”  “Should we augment labor?” “When should I consider an epidural?”  “When should I allow fetal monitoring?”  “Should I let them break my water?”  “Should I be checked for dilation?” (YES! You can decline all of these things!).
Please note, I am not advocating a distrust of wonderful physicians, nurses, midwives, etc.  But I am advocating you to trust your body.  Yes, we are living in a fallen world.  Yes, our bodies don’t always work the way we want them to.  But, the majority of women can birth a baby without any intervention.  And I rejoice knowing that the Lord made me to be able to do that!  I trusted that if He allowed me to get pregnant and things continued to go smoothly (which they did), then He would allow me to birth the baby that He gave me (which He did).
I have much more that I could say on this subject, but the purpose of this post is to point you to resources for learning about and preparing for birth. 
First, I devoured many books and websites on the subject of birth when I was pregnant.  Here are the books that I think are must-reads before you birth:
                1.  Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg
                2.  Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth* by Ina May Gaskin
                3.  Spiritual Midwifery* by Ina May Gaskin
                4.  The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer.
*Disclaimer: I don’t agree with Ina May’s “spirituality”.  She is a straight-up hippie.  But this woman knows birth and these books were invaluable in building my confidence for birth.
Along with these books, I recommend that you read lots of natural birth stories.  Actually, both of Ina May’s books are filled with birth stories, but a couple websites to check out include: and  I also found the Homebirth and NUCB (that’s Natural Unmedicated Childbirth) boards helpful on
In addition, I would recommend watching The Business of Being Born documentary.  Be forewarned that there is footage of many natural births on there.  But that’s the point!  You need to see what it looks like.  And your husband (or labor coach) also needs to see what it looks like.  Michael conceded to watching it with me (not without protest – love him!), and he admitted later, after our birth, that it was a good thing to watch because he knew what to expect.  (Note: He didn’t finish it J.  Apparently, watching the first 6 births were enough for him to get the gist of it! Ha!)
And lastly, but MOST IMPORTANT, I would highly recommend that you take a Bradley class.  “The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth” was created by Dr. Robert Bradley, an OB/GYN in Colorado, in 1947.  Here’s a snippet from Wikipedia:  Bradley entered into obstetrics in 1947; at the time mothers were restrained in large cribs and wore protective helmets to protect their heads for hitting the sides of the crib due to the effect of the medication they were given.[3] Terming this era as "knock-em-out, drag-em-out obstetrics," when "twilight sleep" and general anesthesia were common in hospital deliveries, he decided to develop his own method. Having been raised on a farm and having witnessed many animal births as a part of farm life, Dr. Bradley believed that women, like the animals he had observed growing up, could give birth without drugs or distress. Based on observations of perspiring mammals during labor and birth, he developed a childbirth method to teach women to do the things that animal mothers do instinctively. Soon after starting to implement his new childbirth method with pregnant nurses as a trial, Dr. Bradley began to believe that the presence and support of the father during labor and birth was important to the mother's success in achieving a natural birth. He became a pioneer in including fathers in the birth process and eventually expanded his childbirth method to include extensive instruction of the father as labor coach.” 
Bradley teaches you and your husband (or other labor coach) what to do through each stage of labor.  There was never a time during my labor where either Michael or I were worried or anxious.  We had learned what birth looked like and we were prepared to see it through.  When things got tough, we knew it was a good sign, and Michael knew how to help me through it.  The main benefit of the class series for Michael was that it taught him all about birth (and some newborn care).  To be honest, I didn’t learn much that I didn’t already know in the classes because I had read so much beforehand.  But it was beneficial for me because Bradley doesn’t just give you head knowledge, it teaches you how to physically get ready for birth.  It’s a marathon and you have to be prepared!  I don’t think I would have been as diligent with my exercises/nutrition if I didn’t have the class instructor, Terri Berg, or Michael to hold me accountable.  It’s a time commitment (12 weeks), but very worth it.  Plus, it was a great time for Michael and I to hang out and spend time together before baby!
If you are in the Evansville tri-state area, I highly recommend taking a 12-week Bradley series with Terri Berg.  Her email is
Please let me know if you have any questions.  I’d love to talk to you about my experience or give you further resources.

Our Bradley class reunion after all our babies were born!


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