It’s something soldiers often suffer after being in combat situations: frightening flashbacks and panic attacks due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). So when Meeka Centimano experienced similar symptoms after a pretty ordinary birth experience—an 11-hour labor in the hospital before delivering a healthy baby girl vaginally—she didn’t understand why.
My prenatal yoga class was filled with bright, educated ladies in possession of the lunatic belief that they could create and fulfill natural “birth plans.” One woman anticipated a jungle-themed delivery, complete with bird song recordings. Rather than feeling inspired, I found myself turned off.
Now that I’ve spent two weeks spouting tips for a natural birth, let’s give epidurals some equal play. Around 61 percent of you will get an epidural at some point in your labor, so let’s answer a few nitty-gritty questions. But first, let’s start with some common complaints women have about their epidural experiences:
I’m big on being prepared. I like to read the directions and I always listen to the flight attendant when they give their safety talks. So, when I was pregnant with my son, I knew I wanted to be ready to go on a moment’s notice as my due date approached.
No matter what type of birth you’re planning (and hoping) for, you shouldn’t rule out the possibility of a Cesarean section. While the C-section delivery rate recently declined for the first time in 14 years—from 32.9 percent in 2009 to 32.8 percent in 2010—the number of women delivering via C-section in the United states is still approaching 1 in 3, and about 61 percent of those are first-time surgeries, mainly C-sections performed when problems arise during labor.
When Induction Didn't Deliver
“Even though my birth didn’t go as expected, I was still involved in the decision-making.” Sara D’Amico, Williamson, N.Y.
When I ended up having a Cesarean section with my first child, Dylan, 10 years ago, I wasn't that surprised. Disappointed and nervous, yes, but not surprised. Not only was I aware of the fairly high C-section rate in this country even then, but I also realized that some babies just have to be delivered with, as they say, surgical intervention. And when I found out I was pregnant with twins last year, I knew that because of my medical history, I was destined for another C-section. This time around, I was completely OK with it: I knew what to expect, so I wasn't nearly as nervous.
When it comes to natural childbirth, knowledge really is power. If you're hoping to avoid interventions such as induction, episiotomy, or C-section, it’s important to be informed and to ask questions.
You can increase your odds of having a natural delivery, starting here:
It's Only Natural
Want a drug-free delivery? Here are 5 ways to increase your chances.
Home births constitute about one percent of all deliveries in the US and a much higher percent in other parts of the world. That’s about 40,000 American babies born at home and doesn’t include mothers who planned on having a homebirth, but for one reason or another, ended up transferring to a hospital.
Reader emails from around the world, like the one copied below, provide an opportunity to contrast our experiences with pregnancy here in the United States with those of women from other cultures and parts of the world. This reader asked that I not use her name. She has lived in the US one year. The subject line read: Urgent advice needed.
If a loved one can’t be there when you deliver your baby, consider using Skype or FaceTime so he or she can share in your birth experience. To make sure the process goes smoothly, keep these apps and their features in mind:
Skype: You can download Skype to an iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, PC, Mac, Android or Kindle Fire HD. Both parties will need a mobile device or computer with an internal camera or a web camera hooked up for video to work both ways on Skype.