Why I Make “Weird” Choices Part 1: Pregnancy and Birth

I’m a weirdo. I’ll be the first to admit it. I don’t believe in sunscreen or baby food. I like to research EVERYTHING. I’m not even exaggerating. (Did you know elephants poop 50 lbs a day? Did you know Harrison Ford and Bill Clinton are good friends? Did you know a woman in Russia gave birth to 69 kids in the 1700s? I do.) It’s an addiction. And although most of the information in my head is pretty useless, I’ve used my research addiction to be the best mom I can possibly be for my by baby. I’ve gotten a lot of rude and condescending comments over the last 2 years, as well as well meaning, but not-so-helpful advice, about my choices, and I feel like it is time to address the masses on some of my “weird” choices.

Homebirth 

Even before I got pregnant, I knew I was going to have a home birth. I never really wanted a hospital birth because I had always thought that you HAD to get an epidural, and anything involving spines just freaks me out and pretty much gives me a panic attack. And the idea of my hours old baby sleeping in a room filled with other hour old babies and not being in my arms always had seemed so wrong to me, but I never knew there was an option of home birth until my best friend started apprenticing under a midwife. The comments I got when I told people I was planning a home birth were not quite what I expected…

“Is that even legal? I don’t think that’s legal…”

“There is no way that’s safe…”

“How do you have a baby at home? Does your husband just put rag in your mouth?”

“Have you really thought about this?”

Uhm. Yes. Of course I have thought about this. And do you really think I would knowingly put my baby in danger? No. Home birth has been proven to be as safe (if not safer) as a hospital birth. Midwives who attend homebirths go through rigorous training, testing, and apprenticeships to do what they do.

There are pros and cons (and risks) no matter where you choose to have your baby. For me, the pros of home birth outweighed the cons. First off, I got to have my baby AT MY HOUSE. I walked around my house in a sports bra making all sorts of noise and munching on an apple. Not something I’d feel comfortable with at a hospital plus hard to do if you are hooked up to an IV and such. Secondly, I got to have a water birth. Although some hospitals will let you labor in water, they will make you get out when it’s time to push. Being in the water is what really helped me manage the pain without meds. And most importantly, after it was all said and done, I got to crawl into my own bed with my husband and my new baby and sleep.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against hospital births. Every woman needs to make her own decision and do what is right for her. For me, I chose not to go to a hospital because of the amount of unnecessary interventions and the fact that I wanted to feel more connected with my labor and birth experience. If I wasn’t low risk, or something was wrong, I would have transferred to a hospital in a heartbeat.

I am extremely excited to plan my next home birth! I still have almost 7 months to go, but I’m already working on it. And I’m really excited for Jude to be a part of bringing his sibling into the world. Even though I know he won’t remember it, I can’t imagine having that amazing moment when you see your baby for the first time without him being a part of it.

Placenta Encapsulation. 

This is one of those really crunchy, hippie things I never thought I would do. Because it used to seriously gross me out. For those of you who don’t know, placenta encapsulation is when after the baby is born, the placenta is dehydrated, ground up, and put into pills for the mother to take. Consuming placenta is actually pretty rare in western society, but in some cultures, such as parts of China, Italy, and Hungry, it is customary for the mother to eat  her placenta. Even many types of mammals in the wild eat there placenta! But why? There isn’t a lot of official evidence or studies about consuming placenta (because honestly, who is going to fund that?), so most evidence is anecdotal. For me, researching what the placenta does during pregnancy led me to the idea that consuming placenta was logical. The placenta is an organ that connects the mother to the baby, providing nutrients, a means of waste elimination, and generating pregnancy hormones. What makes the most sense to me is re consuming your own hormones. After baby, your body is going from hormones for two, to just one. And the drop is pretty quick. This is what leads to baby blues and sometimes postpartum depression (although, yes, there are other factors). One of the hormones in placenta is prolactin, which is the hormone for milk production. Placenta also contains a ton of iron, which is amazing because you loose so much iron form birth and postpartum bleeding.

It is believed that consuming the placenta can:

  • Help to balance your hormones
  • Replenish depleted iron levels
  • Assist the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy state
  • Reduce postpartum bleeding
  • Increase milk production – this has been proven in a study
  • Make for a happier, more enjoyable postpartum period
  • Increase your energy levels

I have really bad anxiety, which got noticeably worse about 24 hrs after Jude was born. By the second day, I was having panic attacks at night. At the end of the third day, my placenta pills came, and after taking them twice, the anxiety was just GONE. And by the end of day 4, my milk had come in and I was pumping extra. After a month or so I went from taking 4 pills a day to 2, and then down to 1 at about 2 months. After 3 months, I didn’t feel like I needed it anymore. Until my period came back, which consequently made my milk drop. Remember all those benefits? Reduced bleeding, increased milk, balanced hormones…. Those are all great things during a period! So I’ve been taking my pills once a day for that as well. It has honestly been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and it has totally been worth all of the cannibalism comments I get. :)

Newborn Stuff. 

Although none of the following things are as big or dramatic as eating placenta or home birth, they are still important  decisions made about my baby’s first 24 hours of life.

  • Delayed cord clamping – In America, the cord is often clamped within one minute of the baby being born. Did you know that after a baby is born, up to 30% of the babies blood volume is still in the placenta and cord? By delaying cord clamping until the cord stops pulsing, the baby receives more iron, stem cells, and infection fighting white blood cells. Although babies who had delayed cord clamping have a higher risk of jaundice, I think it is worth it. Jude became jaundiced but it was easily treatable with a few minutes of sunlight everyday.
  • Delaying first bath – Babies are born with a coating on their skin, called vernix. It kinda looks like a gross cream cheese. Vernix has been shown to have antibacterial properties and protects babies from germs. It also has moisturizing properties. Since I had a water birth, most of Jude’s vernix came off in the pool. But the little that was left i rubbed into his skin.  We also waited almost a month to give him his first official bath because honestly, I didn’t really understand why he needed one….
  • No eye ointment – It is standard for babies at a hospital to get Erythromycin, an antibiotic ointment, placed on their lower eyelids within 24 hours of being born. This is to prevent the mother from transferring gonorrhea to her baby. But, since I am 105% positive I don’t have gonorrhea, we choose to skip this one.
  • No vitamin k shot – Vitamin k is necessary for normal blood clotting, and most babies are born deficient. This is why it is routine for babies to get a vitamin k shot at birth. However, there are less painful ways to make sure your baby gets vitamin k. We gave Jude a vitamin k drop once a week for the first month of his life.

I think that about covers the first 24 hours of Jude’s life. Part 2 will be babyhood. Circumcision. Vaccines. Breastfeeding. The works.

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