Natural Childbirth in a Hospital

Sharon Maehl tells how she gave birth in a hospital and chose to utilize only natural methods of childbirth.

| May/June 1971

Having a baby today in the "establishment" manner can be a spirit-crushing and money-consuming experience, and a growing number of couples are seeking out more natural methods of delivering their children. Not everyone is ready to insist on birthing their baby at home, however, and — for the couple who can't find a doctor who will do home deliveries or the folks who are downright leery of non-hospital births — there is an easy, inexpensive and much more human middle ground: a well-planned hospital stay of only a few hours. I've done it twice myself and recommend it.

You can start making this idea work for you early in pregnancy by learning — at home or in the classes given by a local preparation for childbirth group — the exercises and breathing techniques of one of the natural delivery methods. The Lamaze method has worked well for me twice and I recommend the book, Six Practical Lessons for an Easier Childbirth by Elizabeth Bing. This excellent guide is often used as a text in formal classes. Next, you'll have the task of locating a doctor and a hospital.

Finding the Right Hospital

With very few exceptions, doctors seem to consider a pregnant woman incapable of making decisions about herself and her baby. Why should she when she's paying them to do it? Furthermore, most obstetricians — in addition to being insanely expensive — have been trained to think of childbirth as a medical problem best treated with drugs, and they routinely fail to inform expectant mothers of the facts about these drugs. For example:

[1] All drugs used in childbirth have produced undesirable side-effects, some merely unpleasant (such as a headache of a few hours duration) and some as serious as death of both the mother and her baby.

[2] This is not a justifiable risk. Only if the safety and comfort of the mother is in jeopardy should any drug be used in the course of a normal labor and delivery.

[3] The cost of the drugs adds a great deal to the hospital bill. My own conclusion (and some doctors agree) is that any medication should be reserved for the relatively infrequent (4 to 6 percent) medical complications of childbirth.

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