Two things happened on Sunday: I went to a labor class put on by my hospital and a very good (non-blogging) friend gave birth to her first child. And now I'm scared shitless. So make that three things.
If the point of the class was to make you feel better about the labor process, I'd give it an F. If the point was to give you a realistic portrayal of what happens when you go into a hospital unprepared for labor and unprepared to advocate for yourself, then it gets an A.
Before I go down what can be a pretty controversial road, let me make a couple of things clear:
1. I am not organic/granola/hippie in the least. I am from Alabama. I eat red meat and worship SEC football. My prenatals are from Costco. Get the picture?
2. Up until Sunday, my "birth plan" was to go to hospital, get an epidural, give birth, and leave.
I'll spare you the suspense and tell you my bottom-line:
Unless the baby's health is in jeopardy, I do not, in any circumstances, want a c-section. Unfortunately, I may have picked both the wrong hospital and the wrong doctor to accomplish this goal. Now I'm panicking.
The hospital where I plan on delivering has a c-section rate of 37% overall, 22-23% for first-time mothers. They did not hide that fact during the class and I appreciated the candor. But I wanted to know: what are the factors that contribute to such a high c-section rate?
- Getting induced
- High patient volume (1,000 patients a month, but only 27 labor and delivery rooms - practically speaking, you can't labor too long because someone else will need the room)
- Doctors who are afraid of malpractice suits
- Going to the hospital too early
- Getting an epidural <---- Bingo.
The nurses in my class made no bones about the fact that epidurals will slow down your labor. What happens when your labor stalls? You get Pitocin to speed up contractions. But if not properly administered, too much Pitocin can cause fetal distress, which then leads to the c-section.
Turns out, I am more afraid of the surgery than I am of the pain. Surprisingly, the majority of our class was on natural labor, and I can't help but think that there is a reason for that. I honestly don't know if I can do the whole process without drugs, but the nurses made it very, very clear that you need to try to hold off as long as possible because walking in and getting drugged up is an invitation to surgery. The question is, will the hospital and my doctor wait for me?
So here I am. 32.5 weeks pregnant, trying to control the uncontrollable. If I've learned anything about my body, it's that it never does what I ask it to do. I can't help but feel that I've compounded the problem. Damn it. Guess I need to have a frank discussion with the doctor.