My childbirth

Expecting a baby, one always wonders how things are going to go. Quite normal… In Scandinavian countries, the staff of obstetrics is very focused on the birth being “simple” and “natural”: they try to involve general medicine as little as possible and keep the birth as natural as possible. Here is my very own experience.

First and foremost, there is no pre-birth classes organised by the maternity hospital. The only thing they offer you as a “preview” to your birth is a tour of the hospital and its two different wards. If your pregnancy is without any complication, then you will end up at the Stork ward on your D-day: the “natural-birth” ward. If your pregnancy shows signs of problems, you will then end up at the medicalized ward. Only a hallway separates both wards, so if your childbirth should suddenly become complicated, they would just have to roll your bed across the hallway to the medical ward. Easy!

The one and only ultrasound you will be allowed to have in Norway (with a state practitioner) is week 18. You may have an early ultrasound week 11 if your pregnancy is classified as “complicated”. And during the nine months of your expecting the baby, you’re followed by your general practitioner, not by an obstetrician. That is to say, if your pregnancy is without problems.

My water broke at 9.30 p.m., no contractions. I called the hospital and they told to wait until the contractions were strong enough and close enough to call them again. It might take a couple of days… Nothing to worry about, really… Actually, the first contractions started quite soon and I spent the night on my bed doing breathing as I had learnt at the yoga class (ujjay breathing: http://www.federationyoga.qc.ca/page-respiration-complete.html).

At 7 o’clock in the morning, I called the hospital again and they agreed to have me come over as the contractions were quite strong and close. They gave me a bedroom in which there was a low bed (regular hotel bed, for two), a cd-player, a walker and a bathroom with a bathtub. Every now and then, the midwife would come in and check the baby’s heart with a pocket monitor. After some hours, she offered me to take a bath and relax. It helped me relax, but the pain wasn’t relieved. After the bath, she suggested I walk with the walker, in order for gravity to help the baby come out. But it was too painful for me as the baby would be pressing down too much and it wasn’t time for pushing yet. In the end, a little bit before the baby’s appearance, I got up on the bed and bended over a beanbag. Another midwife came in and offered me acupuncture to help relax between the contractions. She planted a needle on the top of my head (and maybe somewhere else, but I was too tired to remember…). It was about 2 p.m. the same day. Acupuncture helped almost instantly: I was practically sleeping between the contractions. During the whole labour, I kept breathing as I had learnt doing yoga. It’s a great exercise to learn how to surrender to the pain, accept it and thus make your body deal with it in a better way.

Finally, it was time to push. The midwife suggested I should kneel at the foot of the bed, with my elbows on the bed, which I did. And some minutes later the baby was here. They put him on my back (I was still kneeling) for several minutes; they wiped the floor. Then the daddy cut the ombilical cord and they weighed and measured the baby without washing him. They put him on my chest, but he didn’t find my breast on his own and had to be led to it a couple of hours later. Afterwards, the acupuncturist came back and planted some needles in my feet to help the coming out of the placenta. No problem there! 

So you see, it’s perfectly ok to give birth without any medical support and the pain is really bearable! But please, let’s not chain women giving birth to computers anymore! And let’s not have them laying down on their back with their legs up in the air, it’s so anti-gravity! It just doesn’t make any sense… Woman, stand up for yourself: you’re entitled to refuse giving birth the way the hospital dictates you to! It’s your body! I recommend writing a little list of how you wish the birth to be going, as on the D-day, there are so many things happening, it’s difficult to make oneself heard. A little list can help you remember and the staff of the hospital be more careful to your wishes.

To finish with the subject: breastfeeding. I stayed three days at the hospital. The midwives helped me learn how to breastfeed. But frankly, after three days, you’re no smarter and it’s hard to go home and do everything on your own. So, thanks to all the good friends / family who have breastfed before you, they will be able to advise you. Don’t forget help-to-breastfeeding associations as well, where pros will be able to give you valuable help.

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