10 Childbirth Norms Parents Can Refuse
To be a good parent, you’ll quickly find that you have to say “NO” an awful lot.
I was surprised to find that the fine art of NO actually starts well before the child even leaves the confines of the womb.
If you want to naturally parent your child (which of course starts even before conception), you’re going to be a bit counter-cultural and end up saying NO to doctors quite a bit.
I’m almost halfway through my third pregnancy, and I’m being reminded of the tough skin I need to develop and maintain to get through all the prenatal appointments and prepare for labor. My birth plan for the hospital is almost as important as all those Kegels!
Things I Refuse at Prenatal Appointments
Photo by Colin Dunn
1. Some prenatal vitamins
This is a new one for me with this pregnancy, although I was wary of prenatal vitamins even with my first pregnancy. Why? I had just read the list of the artificial colors a pregnant woman should avoid, which included yellow number 6. Guess where I found it, among dozens of places? The prenatal vitamins. That didn’t make sense to me!
Folic acid is of particular importance the first trimester to avoid spinal bifida, so I went a 50/50 route: one bottle of prescription prenatals (1200 mcg folic acid) and some Garden of Life “raw” vitamins made from actual foods, taking them every other day. And I ate spinach whenever I could, red meat, and liver (in capsule form mostly!). Now I’m just taking the OTC version. Check out more awesome in-depth info on natural pregnancy supplements from our editor here.
2. Genetic testing
Sometimes it’s invasive, which never seems natural, and no matter what my child was going to turn out like, I would want to accept him or her as a gift and not even be tempted to intervene in a pregnancy. This might be just a touch “green” and mostly my faith speaking, but it’s definitely something I refuse.
3. Extra internal exams
Any time something enters the vaginal tract, infection can occur. Near the end of pregnancy, an internal exam can also jump start labor, and I’d rather literally let nature run its course as much as possible.
I don’t feel like the knowledge of how things are “progressing” in there does anything but give false hope or stress me out (in labor), so I decline internal exams whenever possible.
4. Extra ultrasounds
Although ultrasounds do not use any radiation, I still feel wary of extra interventions when not necessary. I’ll go for the one standard at 20 weeks or so, but unless the doctors feel the baby is truly at risk and needs to be checked on via ultrasound, I try to avoid any additional looks.
5. Stripping membranes
At the end of a pregnancy, many doctors will “strip” the bag of waters (separate it from the cervix) to get labor potentially getting started more quickly. I wouldn’t allow this unless I was well past my due date.
Along the same lines, I don’t go for breaking the water during labor.I have friends whose children have been born with the sac intact, so it’s not like it’s necessary for the water to break for a healthy labor. Both my labors included the bag of waters breaking while already pushing.
I want baby to stay in the womb and growing as long as both of our bodies sustain that healthy relationship.
Things I Refuse at Birth
Photo by Zaldylmg
1. Antibiotics, when possible
The Strep B thing has stressed me out since day one. I knew antibiotics gave baby a rough start and increased the likelihood of yeast infections, which can make breastfeeding very, very challenging. I was nervous and hoped and prayed I was Strep B negative.
Thankfully I still avoided the yeast infection, even though I had antibiotics with my first.
With only 39 minutes in the hospital before birthing my daughter, I didn’t have time for the antibiotics. After a heart to heart with our pediatrician, a sensible woman whom I just love, we decided that the low percentage chance that the bacterial infection passed to the baby multiplied by the minuscule chance that it would make her sick wasn’t worth the risk. We would give antibiotics at the first sign of a fever, but for starters, we declined. All was well.
2. Artificial induction
Drugs just aren’t for me. Plus, pitocin-induced labor is usually twice as painful – no, thank you! I learned about natural means of inducing labor including walking, breast stimulation, and simply helping labor along through warm baths and appropriate relaxation in my quest to avoid Pitocin and breaking the bag of waters during labor.
3. Vitamin K shot
We declined this one even before I was very crunchy. The shot includes pain, of course, plus risk of artificial preservatives. Its purpose is to increase blood clotting to help avoid a rare condition of bleeding on the brain. We weren’t in a high risk group (those who used alcohol or epilepsy drugs during pregnancy), so we simply opted out. If I felt the K was necessary, I’d probably go with an oral dose. (source)
4. Eye ointment
Infants are given silver nitrate or erythromycin cream directly on their eyes immediately after birth, for one reason only: to prevent the spread of gonorrhea or chlamydia to the baby. With zero risk of either of these diseases, I was adamant about avoiding that one. As with many of these decisions, “Nothing unnecessary” quickly became my mantra.
5. All pain relief drugs
We took Bradley Birth classes and saw videos of babies after birth with drugs and after natural births. Great propaganda, maybe, but I was taken in. The natural birth babies were so much more alert and active, and I wanted to be wholly present for my newborn. It became a goal for me, like some people aim to complete a triathlon, to accomplish a fully natural birth.
I would rather embrace the pain of labor, which is completely over the second the baby is born, than wonder what consequences my choices for artificial drugs might have.
There are a lot of questions you’ll want to ask while planning your childbirth; for a good rundown on how to get started with a safe hospital birth, you can check out this guest post by a Lamaze advocate here at SO.
I’m posting on pregnancy this week at my home blog, Kitchen Stewardship, as well, including differences between the first, second and third, real food things I’ve done differently with this pregnancy and natural parenting goals I have for baby (because, um, I don’t even, um, don’t tell anyone but…I don’t even cloth diaper yet).
Please keep in mind that I’m not a professional (of any kind), and these are simply my experiences, based on research I have done over the past 5 years. Always check your own facts and discuss decisions with your health practitioner.
What have you said “No” to that most folks see as standard procedure?
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