10 Childbirth Norms Parents Can Refuse

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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.

No luck.

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.

More?

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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About Katie Kimball

An at-home mom who is passionate about food, her two kids, the good green Earth and her faith, Katie Kimball blogs about all that and more at Kitchen Stewardship.

Comments

  1. This is something I have wondered about as an Australian with a sister-in-law in the US. I think that some of your prenatal things are less common in other countries. At least for my 2 pregnancies in Australia, there were no extra ultrasounds or talk of stripping of membranes. And internal exams only began after I started having contractions.
    I was offered genetic testing for
    Downs Syndrome (which is standard), although I refused. Prenatal vitamins were recommended.
    However, many of the things you mention for after birth are standard in Australia, it seems that the approach during pregnancy is a bit less interventionist.
    Catherine´s latest post: 10 ways to make April memorable

  2. Just to clear up any misconceptions — ultrasounds do not involve any radiation whatsoever. The image is created by soundwaves bouncing off of objects of different densities. This is why ultrasounds are safe in pregnancy, but we do our best to avoid any imaging studies in pregnancy that do involve radiation (x-rays and CT scans, for example). That’s not to say that you need to have multiple ultrasounds during your pregnancy, necessarily, but I just didn’t want anyone to feel any undue anxiety about having even one ultrasound in pregnancy. They are perfectly safe for mama and baby!

    • Tracey,
      Thank you! I knew something felt off when I wrote that and probably should have googled it quickly! You’re right; I still just seek less intervention instead of more. Sorry about the scary word! :) Katie

      • Maybe that should be clarified in the post above. Not everyone reads all of the comments and spreading rumors about how ultrasounds falsely expose mom and baby to radiation seems wrong to me.

      • I actually liked the extra ultrasounds; it was neat to see my baby in different stages of development!

    • Exactly. Physicist here. Radiation is term that means one of two things: subatomic particles or electromagnetic waves. An ultrasound machine uses neither. CAT scans and X-rays use radiation; that may be where you got the idea that ultrasounds do as well.

      And yes, I agree with Kara, you need to correct your post.
      Rachel´s latest post: I want to go to IKEA

      • Katie Kimball says:

        Rachel and Kara,
        The correction is coming- only editors can access the posts once published, but I’ve sent a retraction. Thanks for your help! :) Katie

      • I refused the ultrasounds for several reasons. The biggest being that there never seemed to be truly conclusive evidence that that intervention caused ABSOLUTELY no harm. I mean, everyone thought that ddt and roundup ready was great for a long time. :o) Actually, I live in an area that STILL thinks it’s great.

        The AMA used to recommend AGAINST using ultrasound for unneeded exposure.
        Unneeded being things like…..
        1. Confirm the sex of the baby.
        2. Assess gestational age (how many weeks old the baby is).
        3. Assess fetal size and growth.
        4. Confirm multiple pregnancy.
        5. Determine fetal presentation (the position of the baby in the womb)

        Sounded to me like there wasn’t a whole lot of reasons that I needed to use it.:o) So, just because radiation isn’t involved doesn’t mean it’s perfectly safe. It seems that I remember some studies that showed how the sound waves caused heating within the cells. Heating that supposedly doesn’t cause long term effects.
        My thoughts on that are, “How do we know?”. There is no way to measure every single thing about a child who is exposed to them in the womb and watch them grow into an adult and then take the exact same child back and see how they grow into an adult if they aren’t exposed to it.

      • Amy Durham says:

        It’s not radiation, but there may be cause for concern:
        http://www.kindredcommunity.com/articles/ultrasound-scans-cause-for-concern/p/1279

        I get ONE ultrasound to check over the baby and make sure everything is okay, and thats all I will allow. And all my insurance will pay for anyway!

    • Michelle says:

      I think we need to be careful of saying that ultrasounds are perfectly safe. Without a large control group to compare against (since they have become so routine), it will be hard to ever determine if ultrasounds have any effect on the baby. Most health organizations only recommend ultrasound when clinically necessary- in other words, skip the 3D/4D ultrasounds that are provided for entertainment purposes and not ordered by a doctor. Personally I’ve chosen to have ultrasounds during both my pregnancies (though I’m choosing to have less the second time around then the first), but everything we do to our bodies has a potential effect (positive and negative). I think it would be more accurate to say that there are no known side effects :)

  3. Oh what a great post… I thought I would I would be the easiest mum and just go with the flow and do whatever needed to be done until I realized that the very first step in the medical path is just the start of a long long road of potential disasters. The best decision we made was to not even visit a doctor but to have a midwife instead. She visited us and checked blood pressure and so on but there was no unnecessary intervention and no pressure or threatening of “impending child abuse” because we did not want a scan at every single appointment. What it that about… obviously if there was an indication of a problem we would pursue what was necessary but most routine prenatal care seems to be about avoiding extremely rare problems… one in ten billion children might have a problem so we will just drug them all… All this intervention makes parents worry unnecessarily and pharmaceutical companies wealthier… All this extra information has not improved the health and care of infants or their mothers… in fact statistically infant mortality rates in highly interventive first world countries are higher now than ever. Frankly I wanted my babies to be born into a peaceful environment where I didn’t have to fight every step of the way to avoid routine treatments for no other reason than that they were “routine”… we chose to have our babies at home, which isn’t for everyone I know, but it did mean I didn’t have to fight over every decision and we could just enjoy our pregnancy, our birth and our babies.

  4. great post. super informative to this wimpy mama. i’ve had two darlings and two epidurals. i would love to go the natural route. i do think its better for the baby and mommy. thanks for all the info!!

  5. When our second baby was born, he was 4980 grams, which apparently was above a certain level. It caused the hospital crew to worry about his blood sugar, before he even had a chance to try drinking anything. They wanted to give him some milk (with a cup, they added) to make sure his bloog sugar didn’t drop. I refused, and was told: ok, than you’ll both have to stay 24 hours. Ok, I said (later on it turned out I had to stay anyway). We started breastfeeding, they looked at his blood sugar and it turned out to be fine. He had to be tested multiple times during those first 24 hours, but at least he wasn’t forced to drink anything artificial.

  6. I was dead set on not having an epidural with my newest little blessing, #6. When the pain became quite unbearable and I was still stuck at only 4 cm dilated I decided to pray about changing my mind and getting an epidural. It was funny, because after praying, I still didn’t want to get the epidural, but felt I should anyway. I ended up getting it, and am so thankful! My baby was HUGE and ended up getting stuck in my pelvic bone. If I had felt the uncontrollable urge to push, as I have with other pregnancies, things could have been much worse. As it was, I ended up with an almost 4th degree tear, a double episiotomy (lateral) and my son broke his collar bone. I know this doesn’t happen often, but I’m thankful that I was open to change when it happened to me.

    • Katie Kimball says:

      Alex,
      A good and important example of flexibility for all of us! Sometimes, modern medicine saves lives, and there are good reasons for that. It’s all about finding the balance and being wise. Thank you for the reminder! :) Katie

  7. This is a great post! Thanks for sharing.

    This is my third pregnancy and there is a lot I do differently since my last pregnancy (implemented long before I got pregnant). We’ve cut out canned food and anything that may be BPA-containing. I cook almost entirely from scratch. We have a Multi-pur filter but live in Germany where fluoride and chlorine are not added anyway.

    Because we live in Germany, while I do buy mostly organic meat and sometimes from the local farms, I do not have to worry about hormones (ie, when we eat out) b/c the practice is illegal in Germany. I do, sometimes, worry about antibiotics – but, we don’t eat out often enough for me to worry too much.

    My last daughter was born in the water drug-free. This time, we’re planning a homebirth. I have been seeing an OB until I can start up with my midwife (she took a couple months off – as she does every year) later this month. She’ll be making home visits. I’m due in October and starting in May, I hope to never walk into a clinic or hospital again.

    We also do not do any genetic testing. We do allow ultrasounds and, unlike some friends, I don’t worry about them too much. The OB’s here keep the sound off – which is a nice change from the US. Planning a homebirth, in a foreign country, I do want to make sure there all looks good before we go ahead with the homebirth – therefore, ultrasounds is something I don’t worry about too much.

    We do cloth diaper and will feed our child the Baby-led weaning way. We’ll continue to baby-wear, co-sleep (for several months anyway), and breastfeeding into toddlerhood.

    This is my last pregnancy and I’m trying to embrace every second of this final journey into pregnancy and childbirth!

  8. Wait- No cloth diapers? ;) Just kidding and giving you a hard time. We did them with both our boys and plan to keep it up.

    Great post, though, Katie! How exciting that your ultrasound is today!
    Aimee @ Simple Bites´s latest post: Healthy Fats Make Healthy Children

    • LOL, I’m not going to lie, I was surprised by the no cloth thing too, but it actually just reminded me that even the people I see as the giants of natural living are still taking this thing one baby step at a time too. Thanks for being so honest : )
      Sarah G´s latest post: Caleb- 9 Months

  9. Hi, I always enjoy your e-mails but there are several very important inaccuracies here that need to be cleared up.

    1. As mentioned above, ultrasounds do not involve radiation. They do involve soundwaves, which may affect the babies ear canal. I only opted for the 20 week one as well, as there is some research out there that too many can be detrimental.

    2. Stripping the membranes is NOT the same as breaking the bag of waters. From childbirth.org: “Stripping the membranes is where a health care provider will separate your bag of water from the cervix, it is not intended to break your water…” I had my membranes stripped by my ultra-crunchy, totally awesome midwife since I was 10 days post-dates. My bag of waters did not break until I was 9 cm. I gave birth 33 hours later. I was so grateful that she stripped me because my baby was well over 9 lbs and if she had not done it, I may have been facing a c-section.

    3. I know that you are only stating what you would do, but please be very careful about giving advice about taking the Strep B antibiotic. The infection does not just make babies “sick”. I have a friend who had a stillbirth that was caused by Strep B. I don’t have to say how difficult that was to deal with. I also have had friends who have had the Strep B drip during labor and had great nursing relationships with their newborns.

    I do appreciate your newsletters, but when it comes to things like these, please do more research. Thanks!

    • Dawn, you sound like you really know your stuff!

    • Along those lines: “After a heart to heart with our pediatrician, a sensible woman whom I just love, we decided that the low percentage chance that the virus passed to the baby multiplied by the minuscule chance that it would make her sick wasn’t worth the risk.”

      Viral infections aren’t treated with antibiotics. You mean, “… chance that the bacterial infection passed to the baby…”
      Rachel´s latest post: I want to go to IKEA

    • we refused most interventions katie lists here, but i also testing positive for group b strep, got the antibiotics, and enjoyed a fantastic start to breastfeeding.
      suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter}´s latest post: the grey that bleeds

    • I think #2 is an important point to make. I have a friend whose midwife did the same thing for her, and I discussed that option with my doctor when I had to be induced because of serious pregnancy complications. For situations where an induction is looming but not immediately necessary (e.g., the baby is almost 2 weeks overdue), stripping the membranes can be a good way to try and jump-start labor without resorting to Pitocin or the invasiveness of breaking the bag of waters.
      Kathryn´s latest post: The Penderwick Sisters- Of fairy tales- family- and friends

  10. It’s s so important for women to know that they can refuse these things, as well as knowing why things are offered (“standard procedure” vs. a real necessity). I refused doctors and hospitals and went with a homebirth. I refused any ultrasound, and had my midwives use a wooden fetoscope instead of a the doppler to check the HB during prenatals. Refused vit K, and would have refused the Hep B vac and eye ointment had it been offered (I was living in Sweden in the time and they do not do these things). The most significant thing for me was to refuse feeling crazy when I offered the breast 8,495,293 times a day because I thought it would do the trick. It did, and got us off to such a wonderful breastfeeding relationship that’s going strong @ 15 mos.
    Kateisfun´s latest post: Elijah- My Love

  11. What a great post! We were fortunate enough to be able to use a midwife for a homebirth so we didn’t have to say no much at all, but I still learned about all of the things you listed just in the case of a hospital transfer or if I was 3 weeks overdue or something like that. I think it is so crazy that something that is so beautiful and natural has become such a medical procedure. I love this post! Thanks for sharing!
    Chalise @Memphis Misfit Mama´s latest post: Why Im not Babywise An Intro

  12. I had an awesome, natural hospital birth (which I blogged about here:http://joyonthejourney.blogspot.com/2010/10/calebs-birth-june-25-2010.html if anyone is interested) but I definitely have things I would do differently the next time.

    Skipping the eye goop is on the top of my list as well as the late-pregnancy internals. I considered skipping them this last time, but I must admit, the curiosity to know what my body was doing got the best of me. Now that I’ve been through it once maybe I’ll have an easier time waiting.

    Great food for thought!
    Sarah G´s latest post: Caleb- 9 Months

  13. I definitely think women need to weigh the pros and cons of antibiotics for Strep B with their doctors. My sister died of strep B when she was 3 days old.

    Another intervention I refuse- Rhogam. My blood type is Rh negative, and standard procedure is to give rhogam during pregnancy, and then again after the baby is born if the baby is Rh positive. This could prevent complications in future pregnancies due to blood incompatibility. But my husband is ALSO Rh negative, which means we can never have a Rh positive baby. So even though it’s SOP I refuse, because there is no risk.

    • Yeah, I’d refuse that, too. The reason it’s standard is that doctors are never 100% sure who the father is. But *you* can be 100% sure who the father is.
      Rachel´s latest post: I want to go to IKEA

    • My hubby is rh+ so unfortunately I had to get the Rhogam shot with all 4 of my children. My mother is an only child because they didn’t have Rhogam back then. I am grateful I had the opportunity to have more than one child because of Rhogam.

      Speaking of refusing medical advice, my doctor thought I was completely crazy because I wouldn’t allow her to test for HIV during my last pregnancy. I realize we aren’t the norm, but my husband and I have only ever been with each other and have never participated in any risky behaviors that would put us at risk. I was a bit offended that she kept insisting I have it anyway.
      Jen @ Miss Organic’s Kitchen´s latest post: My New Vitamix 5200 – I Am Seriously in Love!

      • Hi I wanted to correct something you said, you said two rh- parents cannot have an rh+ baby. That is not the case my husband and I are both RH- and one child came out 0- well my youngest came out o+. Then the nurse said that wasn’t possible and basically said my husband wasn’t the father. We went ahead a did a free dna test the hospital offered since I was so angry at even being accused by the nurse of adultery. Guess what the baby is ours and she is o+. They said this is a very rare occurance but does happen due to some kind of recessive gene or something I didn’t quite understand. In the end I spent 8 weeks with this horrible cloud of suspision from my family and my husbands family. (my husband believed me). Once I got the results I felt like I had finally been vindicated. So please don’t say its not possible I feel bad for any mother who has to go through what I went through because of this false information. Its really rare but it happens.

  14. In most places, the silver nitrate eye drops have been replaced with erythromycin ointment or cream (“eye goop”). We declined this because of no risk factors, but just wanted to specify that most people won’t see eye drops anymore.

    Also, I second the comment above that stripping the membranes is not intended to break the waters. My midwife told me it is very effective to start labor…but ONLY if your body is already primed and ready to go. I had mine stripped at 40 weeks and had my son 12 hours later. My water did not break until I was 8 cm.

  15. While some of this is helpful, especially the artificial colorings in prenatals (yikes!), some women do not get the luxury of saying not to all drugs during childbirth. Childbirth is not a cake walk where you can easily “embrace the pain” for the duration. I personally was in labor with my daughter for 23 hours and the pain was excruciating at the end, and I planned for a natural childbirth. I sat in water with jets streaming on me, I walked, I had aroma therapy, etc. Those do not take away the intense and very painful contractions. I had an epidural at 19 hours because I could not take anymore and could not even breathe because the pain was so bad. So I think you should try to be considerate of the pain that labor can be, and respectful of those medicines that do help a lot of women who are in extreme pain. I am thankful I got them, or who knows what might have happened to my child. And the drugs had no affect, she’s an extremely intelligent child at a level at least a year above her age. :) So not all drugs and shots while pregnant or in labor will horribly damage a child either. Thanks for sharing!
    Ashley´s latest post: I Am A Vegetarian- But My Dog Isnt

    • Katie Kimball says:

      Ashley,
      No, that’s true, despite our good intentions and best laid plans, we can’t always get the perfect birth we want, for a myriad of reasons. I hope I didn’t sound judgmental toward women who choose pain relief drugs during childbirth, and I realize they don’t doom a child to an awful beginning. They’re just something I prefer to avoid, when possible.

      Thanks for the reality check! :) Katie

    • shortmuffin says:

      I have had three without drugs and people tell me that I am so tough or whatever, but I like to point out that I am lucky enough to be a fast birther. My longest labor was just over six hours.
      If, like you, I was looking down the barrel of hour twenty…not sure I would have the energy to continue and the strength for the final push without some sort of pain relief. Sounds like you gave it a real go and did great!!!
      I think the problem is that in the US all this extra “help” women are told they need is not help at all. The drug Pitocin is seen as almost mandatory. I saw the nurse adding something my IV and asked her what it was, she said Pitocin. When I told her that I didn’t want Pitocin she didn’t know if I was aloud to refuse it and had to go and talk to the doctor.
      The Pitocin causes very long and painful contractions pushing most women into so much pain soooo fast. That extra intense pain pushes the need for pain killing medications in situations where, left alone, the gradual building of the contractions may have been more tolerable. I have been there for friends with and without Pitocin and there is a huge difference. All my friends who were given Pitocin ended up needing pain intervention. Pain medications are great, but if your goal was no pain meds and you ended up needing them because of Pitocin…that blows!!!!!
      The longer contractions can also put the baby into distress. Than a mother who went into labor planning on no drugs can find herself with an emergency C-section. Than, thank God you were here so you could be saved. When in reality, most women, if left alone, would have been just fine and needed no intervention.
      I personally feel that the Pitocin that is so routine sends women down a slippery slope. I will get off my soap box now…just had to point out how modern medicine can be perpetuating.

    • I agree with Ashley. Both our children have large heads thanks to their father, while I am quite narrowly built. The first birth lasted 24 hours from first real contraction to baby arriving. I was in a birthing pool and falling asleep/passing out between contractions from exhaustion. No pain meds. At 24 hours they hoiked me out of the pool, performed an episiotomy and pulled my son out with a suction cup, which left him with huge bruises on his poor head! They said they didn’t dare wait longer. I couldn’t walk properly for weeks afterwards (partly due to overexertion post-birth too).

      With my second I intended to go painkiller-free in spite of all the above, but ended up needing an epidural. Even with that, it was still an 18 hour birth process. I don’t think I could have done it without the epidural. And I healed up quickly. Now I wonder if things would have been different if I’d had an epidural the first time round. Maybe I could have coped with my son’s three-week hospitalisation in another city much better!

      The other point to consider is also your spouse/partner – if he’s going to be with you for the birth. I mean, it’s important for you to bond with your baby, but it’s also important for the baby’s dad to bond with him/her. Our partners hate seeing us in pain and not being able to do anything, and some are very squeamish. I’m fortunate to have one who’s not put off by the sight of blood, but even so, he was thrilled when I had the epidural, although he had also supported me in not having it the first time.
      Mika´s latest post: Rob Bell any thoughts

  16. I completely agree! There are so many things that aren’t necessary and are even detrimental. I do have to point out though, stripping of the membranes has nothing to do with breaking the bag of waters. Stripping the membranes is when the doctor gently runs his or her finger between the outside of the bag of waters and the uterus to help it release because it’s attached by membranes. This can help to bring on labor because those membranes are holding the bag from progressing lower down in the pelvis. My daughter was born in the bag of waters after having my membranes stripped 3 or 4 times. Given that she was overdue, I think having my membranes stripped was a far better option than drugs.
    Heidi´s latest post: Homemade Ketchup

    • “Given that she was overdue, I think having my membranes stripped was a far better option than drugs.” – I agree! :-)

      As someone whose babies have all arrived well over 40 weeks, and whose first child was induced with pitocin, I really have appreciated finding a care provider willing to go that route rather than drugs to induce labor.
      Kara @Simple Kids´s latest post: Elements of a Child-Friendly Garden

  17. my second unmedicated birth was such a better experience than my first where i needed an epidural (and then an episiotomy because pushing was ineffective.)

    we also refused eye treatment and vitamin k. something some women may not realize is that most testing, weighing, measuring, cord cutting, and washing can ALL be delayed–and there are reasons to choose delaying the cord cutting and first bath. they apgar takes maybe 20 seconds and they can put the baby right on the mama and she can begin breastfeeding and skin-to-skin.

    that first uninterrupted hour or so with my brand new babe are something i will cherish forever.

    a BIG unnecessary intervention you didn’t mention is circumcision.
    suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter}´s latest post: the grey that bleeds

  18. Katie, you are amazing and so inspiring! :)

  19. I’m all for natural pregnancy and birth (I had a homebirth with a midwife) but I feel like there is some definite misinformation here. Genetic screenings are NOT invasive unless there is a need for further testing (which is optional). It is also impossible (and insensitive) for you to say that you would ‘never’ intervene in a pregnancy when you have never had the horrifying experience of learning that there is something very wrong with your much loved and wanted baby. There is a lot more that can go wrong than a mild case of down syndrome. Also, most people don’t realize that the purpose of the 20 week scan is to check for abnormalities, genetic or otherwise. So essentially you ARE consenting to genetic screening, and you DON’T know what you would do until you are faced with the options.

    Sorry, as someone who has been in the unfortunate situation of choosing the route I thought I would never choose, it is a huge pet peeve of mine when people say they would only see their baby as a ‘precious gift’ or whatever. We all love our babies more than anything, and sometimes the more loving choice is to spare them from pain.

    • Katie Kimball says:

      Aleina,
      While I would never judge anyone else’s painful decision, I’m hurt that you would judge mine. If I can’t speak about future decisions in a definite point of view (I “will” or “never”), then I’m not giving myself the chance I desire to have strong convictions and hold to them.

      I do know people who have birthed babies who would only live a day (trisomy 18, I believe) and other horror stories, and I honor their difficult decision. My faith guides my choices about life and death, and I must speak about absolutes or risk losing my faith. I am sorry it offends you, but truly, it is only a personal choice for me, not a personal recommendation for others.

      In the end, I believe life is not my choice to take into my own hands.

      • I’m sorry if I came off as judgmental, that was certainly not my intention. I guess the comment that you would accept your baby as a gift felt as though you were implying that I did not accept mine, and seemed out of place in what I thought would be an objective take on the options in pregnancy. I see now that it is a list of what you choose to refuse, and I do understand. I refused the genetic screening in my first pregnancy, and said ‘I would never’ many times before my ultrasound showed serious problems and my whole world changed. I know it’s not something you can possibly comprehend until you have faced it, and I didn’t mean to jump on you about it, it’s just a sensitive subject for me, obviously.

        I usually would not have said anything, I just felt compelled to speak my truth here, since you are speaking to a wide audience. I know many women who share your beliefs that have found themselves choosing to let their precious babies go. Often they end up suffering in silence, afraid to share the circumstances of their loss because they are terrified of judgment from those who believe the misconception that ending a pregnancy means you did not love or want your baby. It is not always a black and white situation.

        That said, I wish you a happy healthy pregnancy and a wonderful (natural) birth. :)

        • Katie Kimball says:

          Aleina,
          I hope I didn’t seem judgmental, either – I realized I didn’t even express my sorrow for the awful decision you had to make. I know either way, you were in pain, and I’m so sorry for that. May you find exactly the support you need to heal and be able to continue sharing your story with others so no one feels alone. Thank you for such cordial back-and-forth; I appreciate it. –Katie

          • I agree with Aleina–and I’m so sorry for your loss. It is an impossible situation to be in–to have to chose what is best for your baby before they are born. What if your baby doesn’t have skull bones or had Amniotic Band Syndrome–2 things that can cause your baby extreme pain in utero? I haven’t been in that position either but I have close friends who have. If my baby was in pain with no chance of recovering/living, I would probably make that decision also.

            I agree that invasive testing is something to say no to if you don’t have any reason, but if something shows on a ultrasound or with bloodwork, there is nothing wrong with continuing testing–even if it is just so you can educate yourself more.

    • Michelle says:

      I’m very sorry for your loss and the decision you had to make. I’ve read a lot of Trisomy 18 stories, both of parents who chose to spare their baby of any pain and those who chose to hold them as long as God allows. There was so much love put in each of these decisions, and reading the stories it’s clear that all of these babies were sent to God wrapped in their parents love. I think it’s a very personal choice.

  20. Others have already corrected the inaccuracies I noticed immediately – quite unusual for you, the big researcher! I think that it actually points out another really good idea – don’t take any one piece of information or advice as the final answer, do your research. I went into my first pregnancy super crunchy with the very best of intentions in everything. The stuff I read tended that way. As it took me until the fourth pregnancy to actually have a live birth, and by that time I was high risk and shut out of some options (though not as many as they’ll lead you to think!) I had had a lot of time to read a greater variety of stuff. Overall I aim for the same sort of choices as you, though I must take my extra risks into account. But I’m glad I have read both the crunchy and mainstream stuff. I think it has helped me to make the best decisions and to adapt more easily when my hoped for birth plan had to be pitched to save the baby. The women I know who stuck more to their crunchy plans and reading and didn’t consider other possibilities were much more crushed when things went wrong. Good luck with this pregnancy! Oh, and I just switched to cloth diapers mostly, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be at all.

    • “don’t take any one piece of information or advice as the final answer, do your research. ” Well said.

      And, wow, way to go on the cloth diaper switch!
      Kara @Simple Kids´s latest post: Elements of a Child-Friendly Garden

    • Katie Kimball says:

      Jennifer,
      Yes, I have that awful reputation, don’t I? The super researcher is a little hard to hold up – my editor has a disclaimer/reminder in her email to add to this post, that I’m not a professional in any way, and these are simply my experiences. Perhaps I should have titled the post “10 Things I Refused” to make the conversational tone clear and not set out sounding like I was teaching anyone anything. I also will correct the other inaccuracies, one of which I did doublecheck (the eye goop) and still got outdated information.

      Most of the research is simply from reading I did 6 years ago while pregnant with my first. It’s what I’ve done, and it worked for our family, so I continue to leave it in my birth plan.

      You definitely underscore my point – that everyone needs to do their own research, be informed, and have a doctor with whom they can discuss options logically.
      :) Katie

  21. Mary Kathryn says:

    I loved reading this. I am pregnant with baby number five and oh how things have changed since the first one seven years ago. Unfortunately, with baby number three I developed low platelets. Very long explanation but if you are interested you can google it. It is kind of an unknown thing at this point therefore there isn’t any means to help your platelets go up. So with child labor I have to be induced so my platelets don’t drop too low and then I can’t have an epidural (no biggie). I have been blessed to have miraculous pitocin induced natural labors and hope that baby number 5 will come out even faster!! :) I hate that I have to get the pitocin but there are some things you just can’t control- that’s why you take as much control on all the other things!! Thanks for the great post.

    • Mary,
      I’ve only met a couple of women who have had low platelets during pregnancy so it’s neat to see I’m not alone! (Not that I’d wish it on anyone.)
      My last four births have been home births and I’ve been able to successfully manage my low platelets with vitamin K (alfalfa) and tons of beet juice and liver throughout my pregnancy. My last birth (November 2010) was the first one that my midwife called “normal”, with very little bleeding afterward (compared to a lot in the past). My worst was with post-c-section (twins pregnancy before my homebirths), there were plenty of pain-relieving meds I couldn’t take. :(

      • Mary Kathryn says:

        How low do your levels get? I think my lowest was in the high 90′s. I didn’t have an extreme amount of bleeding after either and just take it as what pushes me to have natural childbirth. Nurses treat you differently when you have to go natural. I thought with the great health improvements I have made that this go around my platelets wouldn’t be bad but they are at 127 right now and I am just out of my first trimester. Oh well– and it is nice to know someone else who has it!! :)

        • Mary,
          127 isn’t too bad, right? My lowest was around 90 but most of the time during pregnancy it was around 114. What do you mean by nurses treating you differently when you have to go natural? Do you mean that they’re more sympathetic? (I hope!) I assume that like me, your platelets have been normal when not pregnant? Such a strange duck to deal with. Do you notice any external differences, like that you bruise easily? I always think that I do (when platelets are low) but then maybe I’m imagining it. :P
          Renee

          • Mary Kathryn says:

            127 isn’t bad now but that just means it will drop rapidly through the rest of the pregnancy. The two I have had with low platelets are only 15 months apart so my platelets didn’t have a chance to get higher. Then I had a miscarriage and now this pregnancy putting the last two about 2 1/2 years apart. Once again not leaving much time for the platelets to go up.

            I tried to go natural with my first child (also having been induced). The nurses didn’t give me much help or support and come to find out had my pitocin cranked up so it made the contractions unbearable. The last two I have had amazing nurses who had natural births themselves and with no choice I didn’t get thrown any epidural questions.

            I do think I bruise easier but like you said it could be in my head. The doctor says as long as my gums aren’t bleeding or I don’t bleed excessively then I shouldn’t worry too much.

      • Christine says:

        I had this with my pregnancies as well. Luckily for me they stayed above 100K until after the birth (I had medical reasons for ending up with an epidural with both my births – the first saved me a ton of pain, but the second saved me from a c-section!). But mine dipped after birth and they took away my ibuprophen. I completely understood, but next time, I’m going to demand that if they do that they write for another, stronger narcotic or something. I was in so much pain that night that i was in tears and couldn’t sleep. They had to page the doc. I think he thought I was being histrionic and wrote for a shot of morphine in the bum – I was grateful for it, but he could have just given me something oral! Next time I’ll put my foot down when they tell me my platelets are low and ask for the meds to be written for then, just in case i need them.

        • I had a platelet disorder before I got pregnant so I’ve always stayed away from ibuprofen. I didn’t know that’s what they like to give for after delivery so thank you for the heads up! Now I know to make sure they know I’ll need something different. So far my platelets have been above 100k but they’ve been below 20k before so I’m not taking chances with any drugs that could thin my blood!

  22. Thanks for a great post, Katie. It is fun to see that we are on a similar track in another area!

  23. Thanks for sharing. It was very hard to find anyone that agreed with me and I AGREE with everything you said. My midwife still even continued to try to persuade me about Vitamin K, but the research shoes it is not necessary and actually the cons for it are a higher risk for the baby than the supposed pros. If someone does choose- definitely go to a natural pharmacy and get 100% real Vit K to give orally.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  24. I have a wondeful wonderful wonderful awesome supplemental pack I can teach anyone about if they are interested. For pregnant and or non pregnant people :)

  25. Do they not make AIDS test part of the routine for pregnancy anymore? I remember with baby #2, I grew my first real mom backbone and refused it.

    • Katie Kimball says:

      Renee,
      You’re right, I refused that one, too, and some other STD-only tests, that even though they were done on the same blood draw, it seemed like why do anything unnecessary? Aren’t our medical insurance bills high enough in this country? I figured even though it wasn’t “my” money directly, I didn’t want to generate wasteful spending or literal waste from extra tests. Aren’t I the little conservationist? ;) But that one didn’t fit in the “10″ from the title… :) Katie

      • Ten was probably difficult to narrow down to! Bless you for posting your journey. You’ll have 10,000 friends in the delivery room with you.. if they let you take your laptop :)

      • In some states, it’s actually state law for the HIV test. Practitioners can also refuse to take you as a patient if you don’t have it. In places where it was required I went ahead and did the HIV test because it wasn’t any more invasive- they just do it all at once with the same poke when they do the pregnancy blood work.

        But I also refuse the blood based genetic screening. Too many unknowns, too many false positives requiring invasive interventions such as amnios. And like Katie, there is no diagnosis that would cause me to terminate a pregnancy. “Fixable” issues, such as problems that can be fixed by fetal surgery, won’t come up on the blood tests.

  26. Thanks for starting this discussion, Katie. Lots to consider and think about here.

    And, and for what it is worth, I didn’t start out cloth diapering with my first either. Well, I tried and then “dropped out” like, immediately with my first ;-) It wasn’t until my 2nd born was almost 6 months old that I tried cloth again and finally made the switch. Good for you for giving it a try this time around!

    Best wishes!

  27. With my first, we had planned a homebirth with an (illegal) midwife, so I never had a strep B test. We just planned on using a Hibiclens sponge to scrub my vaginal area after I went into labor. I ended up birthing in the hospital, because a car wreck broke my water at 35 weeks, and my daughter was born the next day…and the hospital did insist on giving me antibiotics (but they also pretended I hadn’t had any prenatal care, when they knew much better–I ended up in the hospital near the state capitol building, and I had gotten in the wreck on my way home from lobbying the legislature to legalize our midwives, which was a pretty hot issue at the time). With my 2nd, I had a legal (we had moved, although the law also passed and the midwives where I used to live are now legal) midwife. Again, I refused the strep B test, used the Hibiclens sponge, and this midwife also recommeded lots of probiotics later in pregnancy. I plan to do the same with the baby I’m now carrying. Look into the strep B test–ALL women are strep B positive sometimes, and whether you are positive or not when they do that test actually has little to do with whether or not you will be positive when you go into labor. And, even if you are, the Hibiclens scrub is about as effective as the abx. But the best way to avoid intervention with this one is to refuse the test.

    • I also have read research that shows the hibiclense to be as effective as the injection. I believe the study I was looking at was for a douche, rather than the sponge – don’t quote me on that.

      The point is, do your own research. Don’t take your doctor or midwife’s word as gospel truth just because they have letters after their names!

  28. Whoa! Lots of great conversation here!

    I just wanted to pop in and recommend the prenatals I use – Rainbow Light. They are food-based and are the ONLY prenatals I have ever taken that don’t make me sick (because of the iron). Not only do they have all the stuff that pregnant/TTC mamas need, they have tons of bonus like a gentle prenatal blend of helpful herbs as well as natural digestive support. I’m not on their payroll or anything ;) I just love them!

    Thanks for a helpful and thought-provoking article, Katie!
    Megan at SortaCrunchy´s latest post: Who We Love and How We Live- A Community of Justice

  29. When my second daughter was born, I confounded the doctor by stubbornly refusing the pitocin they usually inject into the mother after the baby was born. By nursing her right away, my own hormones did their job of helping the uterus contract naturally.

    I did not refuse it after my first and third children where born due to inexperience and exhaustion.

    Has anyone else successfully refused pitocin?
    Julia´s latest post: Can We Celebrate Easter without Loads of Candy

    • Katie Kimball says:

      Julia,
      You know, I think this is one that has just “happened” when I’m not paying attention with both births. I have a faint recollection of them insisting that “it must be done” in spite of my “What??? I don’t want that!” after birth no. 2. I am definitely going to have a conversation with the doc about that one before labor for no. 3!

      Every time, you learn so much more. After no. 2, they spent forever stitching me up, and because nobody would hold my legs, I had 2 weeks of weirdness in my hips, I think from holding the awful position, shaking like Jello the whole time, in the stirrups. I’m going to be a momma bear this time! Grrrr…somebody hold my blasted legs!!! ;)
      Katie

      • “Every time, you learn so much more.” We do, don’t we? I really wish I could go back in time and talk to my first-time mama to be self sometimes …

        I know I keep saying it, but thanks for writing this article and for getting this conversation started. It is an important one to have, for a variety of reasons.
        Kara @Simple Kids´s latest post: Elements of a Child-Friendly Garden

      • Or better yet, try a different position! Doctors really don’t like it, but you are likely to have a much easier time if you’re not on your back. I ended up cranking the bed up so I was half-sitting — it’s at least better than being on your back.

        Here’s another thing to refuse — “purple” pushing to the count of ten (or whatever). If you’re going drug-free, there’s no reason not to just push as you feel the urge to. Pushing too hard and too fast is part of the reason women tear so often. I WISH I had refused to do it — it’s not like they could have “made” me, and I knew perfectly well there was no reason to!

        Pitocin, though, was something I couldn’t refuse. They just up and jabbed me in the thigh. “What’s that?” “Pitocin.” “I don’t want that!” Too late!
        Sheila´s latest post: A couple safety reminders

    • My midwife doesn’t give Pitocin unless it’s needed. In my case, it was needed because I bled so much–I didn’t see this, but I’m told my blood+fluids running off the end of the bed filled a bag about the size of a kitchen trash can! They gave me that shot, and it slowed way down very quickly. Hooray for USEFUL modern medicine!

      But I might not have had this problem if I’d been able to nurse or even hold my baby right away. My midwife had just switched hospitals (the other closed its maternity ward) and mine was his (yes, male midwife!) first birth in which the baby released meconium before emerging, so he didn’t know that this hospital’s procedure for that was so drastic: Respiratory therapists arrived and whisked my baby away without letting me see or touch him for even one second. They didn’t give him back until he was almost two hours old, even though he was crying normally within two minutes and there were really no signs of trouble! It put me into a horrible emotional tailspin that I’m sure contributed to my immediate recovery–I felt like I was falling backward into a cold, dark place, and everything became very painful although I’d needed no pain medication for the birth.

      The great thing about my midwife is that he spent a full hour in the hospital and another hour at my six-week checkup listening to me sob and rant about it and promising that he would not let this happen to another mother and baby who had so little need for intervention.
      ‘Becca´s latest post: Important Word to Teach a Toddler

  30. I agree with most of what you have written. Unfortunately, there are times in life when what I had planned for my births–didn’t compute (didn’t my little ones get the memo?). My first was one of those rare fastest births ever for a first time mom stories (labored for 4-41/2 hours, 15 minutes of pushing, no intervention or complications).

    My second was set to be a homebirth. My water broke (like my first) on a Wednesday evening and I did EVERYTHING naturally to get my body to start working with the baby. Did breast pump, which started labor, but once I was done it would stop (along with walking, herbal teas, castor oil, folley, stairs, more walking, more breast pump) and nothing worked. By this point, 3:00am on Friday morning and the midwives knew they could not legally allow it to go any longer without pitocin. Was it much worse than my first—YES!

    But, there are times when one does everything naturally and their body and baby aren’t responding. I appreciate your forthrightness in stating what you believe–regardless.

  31. Well, I’m pregnant with my 6th. I’m only semi-crunchy (probably less than that). I was COMPLETELY clueless even with my 3rd pregnancy. I DID always want to give birth naturally, though. I’ve used midwives for all but one (and that one was the WORST). My first – water broke a week early, had pitocin, back labor, couldn’t relax & open, had the epidural to get him out “in time”. Epidural was heavy; I could barely walk by myself 6 hours later. My 2nd – water broke 10 days early, walked but ended up with pitocin, delivered naturally 2 hours later. My 3rd – the Doctor baby (only did this because we had moved to SC, and there were no midwives around). I can’t even count the ways it was terrible. Let’s just say there was a broken collerbone involved. My 4th – back to a midwife, induced due to gestational diabetes and my midwife was afraid I had an “incompetant pelvis” due to the last baby’s story. Even with pitocin and back labor I did it naturally. My 5th – the first I’ve been able to go into labor with on it’s own clock. No pitocin. Fast, natural birth.

  32. As a certified doula, I was reading your post with interest. One of the biggest things with pregnancy and making your decisions, is to be informed. Research and read. There are so many moms who simply accept the norm and standard of care and do not research themselves or understand why things were the way they were. Many young moms are still told their pelvis is too small (cephalopelvic disproportion), when actually, this only occurs in one in 250 women, which out of those women, 65% give birth vaginally later…which means they truly did not have it. It can instead be a positioning problem, laying in a bed with an epidural can cause issues as well if you are not positioned correctly.
    C-Sections, genetic testing, ultrasounds, pitocin, epidurals and all those interventions are wonderful things when used correctly and when needed. They are not without risks. One way to learn about the risks, is to simply look at the packaging on some of the drugs. Often nurses will say a drug is okay for your baby, and you look it up in Thomas Hale’s book and find it was not in a class you would find acceptable.
    Martha Artyomenko´s latest post: My day…

    • Katie Kimball says:

      Martha,
      Thank you for chiming in! I often wonder if I’d like a doula in the delivery room, but I chicken out each time. So far, I’ve been able to advocate for myself on almost every issue – like when I arrived for no. 2 and told them, “No, I do not want to go to triage, I need a room.” They didn’t believe me, but my repeated, “I need a roooooooom!” convinced them. Good thing – I gave birth in my own shirt b/c of no time to change! ;) Katie

      • LOL! I bet that convinced them! Another thing to remember, is a doula is not there really to advocate, but to support you. You have someone in your corner…and studies have shown that a female support person makes a huge difference in how you deal with things that happen in your childbirth experience, just having that. For some reason, they found differences in a male support person and a female. I am not sure why, but I think it has to do with hormones, as every time I am a doula for someone, I have cramping and other feelings start up!
        Martha Artyomenko´s latest post: My day…

  33. Another Heather says:

    The one thing of caution I would add here is there are many things you think you are sure about but that you might be wrong about. Based on my behaviour and the behaviour of my husband, I thought I was not at risk for many things. Why have eye goop when you and your Christian spouse have only ever been with each other? However, years later, I found out that he’d had numerous unprotected, one night stands with strangers. He was messed up. He risked our children’s health trying to cover up what he’d done. My children were thankfully healthy. We moved on. I have forgiven. But, we both have not forgotten and still feel guilty. I feel guilty for not getting the tests. He feels guilty for not giving me the information I needed to make an informed decision.

    • But don’t they test for those STDs during pregnancy and/or when you have a pap smear? If a woman had gonorrhea (or is it chlamydia?), wouldn’t she already know before giving birth and then be able to make an informed decision about the abx eye ointment?

      • Another Heather says:

        At least with chlamydia, many people do not have symptoms. So, if you are tested early in pregnancy and then he cheats later in the pregnancy, the baby is at risk. I realize and hope! that this is all very rare – but it happened to me. My point is not so much specific to this particular issue but just to point out that sometimes you don’t always know what you think you know and that is why medical professionals err on the side of caution.

      • Pap smear is a test for abnormal cervical cells that may indicate cancer. It has nothing to do with STDs except that one possible cause of abnormal cells (and even cancer) is the sexually transmitted Human Papilloma Virus, but the pap is not a test for that virus.

        Some gynecologists routinely test for STDs without telling you. Most do not. Some assume that if you are in a long-term relationship, you must not need STD testing, and don’t even offer it. But some states require doctors and midwives to recommend the tests during pregnancy just in case.
        ‘Becca´s latest post: Important Word to Teach a Toddler

      • Christine says:

        Yes, standard of care now is to test for both of these when they do the initial pap smear at the start of pregnancy. They just rub an extra swab around the cervix. It isn’t technically the pap, that’s the first swab. most people just don’t notice.

        But this wouldn’t protect you in the unlikely event that you were exposed during your pregnancy. Your child could still be exposed, you having contracted it while pregnant.

        And, actually, pregnancy is a high risk time for men straying. Don’t ask me why.

    • Katie Kimball says:

      heather,
      Ouch, definitely a tough spot your husband put you in, sadly. You are right, we all have to make our own decisions on that. Luckily, I’ve known my husband since we were 18 and was his first girlfriend – his painful shyness is my good evidence! ;) But praise God your children were spared any consequences and that forgiveness was shared between you; that speaks volumes to your good relationship.
      Katie

    • How sad for you!
      Martha Artyomenko´s latest post: My day…

  34. Very interesting!!! Some of these things I had heard of before, but some were new. I never heard anything about prenatal vitamins before! I’ve been taking them for what feels like forever because of breastfeeding. Very interesting!

    One thing made me sad while reading this: the eye ointment. I had it in my birth plan that I didn’t want the eye ointment used on my newborn, but my birth didn’t go as planned. My little one had to be in the NICU for her first 30 mins of life and when she came back to me she had the gooey stuff all over her eyes. :( I was so disappointed that her eyesight was compromised for the first time she got to see me.

    However, I choose to be thankful that she was 100% healthy and only needed to be observed in the NICU for 30 minutes. Hopefully baby number two will have a smoother entrance (whenever THAT happens!). Thanks for teaching me something.
    Rebekah from Simply Rebekah´s latest post: Earth Mama Angel Baby Giveaway

  35. i couldn’t agree more about wanting the most natural and healthy pregnancy and birth! with our first two children, i was able to keep things very simple and have wonderful drug free births.

    however, we just had our third baby at 27 weeks after i hemorrhaged massively. if i had not had an ultrasound at 12 weeks, we would not have known what complications i had and would not have been nearly as prepared. we were prepared when i started having contractions at 18 weeks and when i started bleeding at 20 weeks we knew how to react. i wholly believe that too many interventions and tests are done now and that medicine has gone too far in many arenas. but, i am so thankful that my OB did a 12 week ultrasound and i believe that my baby’s health was very positively affected by him being so proactive.

  36. Heidi Fluegel says:

    I would have to respectfully disagree on the antibiotics for Group B Strep also… I actually tested negative in my first pregnancy. After getting induced and my waters broken 18 hours before he was born (hindsight is 20/20, right? I wouldn’t allow them to do that again! The dr threatened me to break my waters with a c-section), I had a fever of 102.9. Which meant the baby was born with a fever of 102.9. They didn’t know what he had or I had, except that it was sepsis. It was group B Strep. Had I of known that I was positive, I would most assuredly have accepted the antibiotics. Instead, my baby had to undergo 10 days of IV antibiotics, a spinal tap and 10 days of heal pricks for blood samples. He almost died. Because I have had a positive baby, I get antibiotics in labor now, regardless of how I test. I actually don’t even get the test anymore. Me getting a yeast infection is worth it if my baby doesn’t have to endure the kind of torture that my son went through. He actually had night terrors at 2 months old from what he went through. I think sometimes that people think more about what might be uncomfortable for us, instead of what is best for the baby. My son started having problems breathing 4 hours AFTER he was born. Not immediately, but much later. I am so thankful I didn’t lose him.

    • Katie Kimball says:

      Oh, how terrifying! And kind of scary, too, that the test showed negative and then you became positive – someone above mentioned that no matter what the test says, you could be either at the time of actual labor. Yowza. I have to wonder if the infection had anything to do with your water being broken for so long…not that it matters a whit now, after all you’ve been through, but believe me, I’m thankful for you that your son survived and is still brightening your life today. Thank you so much for adding an important story to this post – Katie

    • Christine says:

      I think not taking the abx for group B strep is a high risk proposition. The odds of complication are low, but if the baby does get sick, they can be very very sick and die. And they die very quickly because their immune systems can’t fight the disease.

      My girlfriend just gave birth and was GBS positive. She had a rapid birth and didn’t get her antibiotics in time for it to fully affect the baby. Her daughter had a fever, had to get IV antibiotics in the nursery for 10 days, had to have a spinal tap done to make sure she didn’t have meningitis (requiring 21 days of antibiotics). They are all healthy now, but it was sad and scary for the family, not to mention difficult for her to be away from her baby and away from her older children when she was with the baby during those 10 days. I would take the antibiotics every time with a positive Group B Strep test. The odds are low but the risks are really life and death.

    • I know I’m months late in responding to article, but I just came across it today. I also tested negative for Strep B and had a homebirth. Water broke naturally at 11:00 am on our due date and our sweet girl arrived at 11:54 pm that evening. Our midwife used the hibiclens as extra precaution per our request. Long story short, the midwives were concerned about her breathing and suspected respiratory disease syndrome and after 30 minutes we transferred to our local hospital. They ran a gaggle of tests, confirmed RDS but something was still wrong and they weren’t sure what it was. The amazing pedi on call ordered some more tests and bloodwork and our girl tested positive for GBS disease and was immediately transferred to nicu in the next town and had 10 days of antibiotics and a spinal tap as well. It seems that no matter the test result, there is still a risk of GBS since it can colonize after your routine test at 35-37 weeks.

      • Cassie,
        Wow, it’s scary how fast you can go from “what’s wrong?” to 10 days in the NICU! If you had to do it over again, would you have abx or not? Just curious as I’m about to give birth any day now!!
        Thank you!
        Katie
        Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship´s latest post: A Sweet, Sweet Summer: Unrefined Dehydrated Whole Cane Sugar (Sucanat, Rapadura, Panela and Muscovado)

        • That’s a good question and one that we are currently facing. Our second child is due in February and I would choose another homebirth in a heartbeat, but my husband (who is also my birth coach) is still shook up about the aftermath of the first birth so we’re compromising with a midwife in a hospital. I haven’t discussed GBS with her yet, but my preference would be to still use the hibiclens over IV abx. I haven’t done adequate research yet of the effectiveness of this after having a child with GBS disease or discussed this in detail with my husband yet so I very well could decide to go with the IV.

          Selfishly, I just want to have the least amount of unnessecary interventions as possible so I can labor/deliver how I choose. I know there are certain herbs/remedies you can eat/drink in those last few weeks to reduce bacteria over growth and possibly eradicate any GBS colonization so I plan on looking at those options. I also plan on making the best decision for me and my baby. In the end, if IV abx is the absolute best route for us, then I’ll do that, but not without weighing the risk/benefits and talking it over with my husband and midwife. Healthy mom, healthy baby. That’s our goal. And happy birthing to you!

          • Cassie,
            Thank you! I wish I could find it for you, but there was a lengthy discussion on my FB page a few months (?) back about ways to avoid the strep B, everything from good probiotics to garlic vaginally. People have tons of ideas! I’m sure you’ll find something to help battle the GBS. Happy birthing to you, too! :) Katie
            Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship´s latest post: Are You Wondering Yet?

  37. Re: Group B Strep -something I learned during my last pregnancy is that the CDC used to only reccommend the abx in GBS+ women when certain risk factors were present: such as signs of infection in the mother, prolonged rupture of membranes (18+ hrs, IIRC), or preterm labor. Now the protocol is to give abx to anyone who tests positive or anyone whose status is unknown. I don’t like treating everyone like a widget and not even exploring other options. When I brought up alternatives (like hibiclens) I was “threatened” that if I refused abx my baby would automatically be admitted for 72 hours, whether sick or not (and moms can only stay 48.) I was also told that I could not use hibiclens or any alternative treatments in the hospital b/c it wasn’t something that they do, nor could I bring my own. I know that a GBS infection is VERY serious, but it is not a black and white issue. There is more I could say about it, but it’s definitely one to research if it comes up in your pregnancy.

    To answer Katie’s question about what else one might choose to refuse: at the top of my list would be the Hep B vaccine within the first 24 hours. This is something that makes no sense whatsoever unless the mom is known to have Hep B. Hep B is a blood borne pathogen, typically transmitted by promiscuous sex or using dirty drug needles. So until my newborn baby starts hanging out at brothels and shooting up, s/he is not at risk of Hep B and the vaccine can be put off until MUCH later (for our family that would be many years!!)

    I think I’ve refused all the things Katie listed. I am looking forward to my next birth experience (#3 in May!) at a midwife-run birth center. :)

  38. KeAundra says:

    In full disclosure I am a NICU nurse and have been for five years. None of the hospitals I have worked at use silver nitrate, we use erythromycin ointment for their eyes. The reason why newborns/premies are all treated with erythromycin and antibiotics (if mom is GBS +) are because an infection in a brand new baby can get serious and fatal very fast. I think its great that moms can have choices to refuse certain treatments but a mom should be well informed with what she is refusing.

  39. I hear you sister! Feel the same on all points.

    I have had three pregnancies and two natural, vaginal births but the third left a lot to be desired. First two managed to avoid all pain meds during and post preg, with the exception of homeopathics post pregs.

    However, at 20 weeks in preg 3 we discovered our lovely baby had Anencephally (like spina biphida but on the head end) so our baby girl had almost no brain, an incomplete spinal cord and was incompatible with life outside the womb. We decided to medically terminate-I felt in my gut that it was the right decision-after she was born my decision was confirmed. Grace was only 6 oz and 7″ long (should have been a 1lb and 14″ long at 21 weeks) I was all water and blowing up like a balloon already.

    So I had meds to start labour and made sure to stress to all who came in to the room that I was a midwife, homebirth, no meds in my house, cloth diaper kinda girl and please don’t offer me anything unless I ask for it. They REALLY wanted me to take meds to “ease” my burden. I had been warned that the meds were pretty strong since they aren’t worried about the outcome for baby and could make me pretty “loopy”. I was upsest that this little girl, who we wanted more than ever to keep in our lives, wasn’t going to make it. Why wouldn’t I offer the same respect to my body and her spirit as I had in my 2 previous pregs? It was an experience and positive or negative I felt I needed to experience it, ALL of it. I didn’t want to be “loopy” and not remember the only moments I would have with her outside the womb.

    I remember whispering to my husband, don’t you think it’s awfully quiet in here (a full maternity ward)? Have you noticed that we haven’t met anyone walking these halls? The staff really didn’t know what to do with someone who asked questions didn’t take meds, and didn’t want to wear a gown. Sad really. But our baby girl was born on March 2nd 2011, Glad the medical world was there but sad at the approach.

    I don’t know that it’s all about saying no as much as it’s about questioning the norms.

    Suzanne

  40. I personally said no to the whole hospital thing, standard ultrasounds (never mind extras) and of course most everything on your list. Birth is especially personal so it has been interesting to read the comments here from everyone’s different perspectives.

  41. This is a fantastic post! I am so with you on these things. Hospital births or hard to get what you want. I was constantly saying no and I even had a midwife who did hospital deliveries only. Maybe that is the same as doctor…but I went about 2 weeks past the “due” date and I kept getting asked to be induced. I ended up having my membranes stripped, which I don’t think I will do again. My water ended up breaking without me being in labor yet, so I ended up going on pitocin due to the risk of infection. I was still able to do it without any pain medication though, which I was happy about. I am now pregnant with my second and if I decide to have another hospital birth I will be having a doula. When in the hardest part of birth and delivery it is very easy to be taken advantage of the state you are in. My birth plan was basically thrown out the window.

    Thanks for posting this. I think it is so important to let women know of their options and what is not necessary. Sadly a lot of the stuff done, is not.

  42. I did everything very much the same way. I used midwives instead of OBs and that made a huge difference – I didn’t have to fight about the no drugs, no extra internal checks, etc. In fact, I even asked during my last pg for an internal check before they were ready to start doing them b/c I had experienced some signs of labor and was dying to know if I had dilated at all. They refused, which part disappointed and part impressed me. They also aren’t real insistent about the prenatal vits, so I didn’t take them religiously. Or very much at all, lol.

  43. A good resource for making decisions about labor and early parenting is “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering”. I am grieved that the author threads her religous views in everything, and there is no escaping it, but I have found the information and her guidance in the decision-making process very helpful. She specifically talks about Strep B with the “BRAN model” for making decisions: Asking “what are the Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, and what happens if I do Nothing”. Her take on strep B is basically that it is serious and studies mostly show that routine screening and antibiotics save babies ( I think it was about 2 in 1,000), but you must decide what your personal risk is and if it is worth dealing with the possible negative outcome of antibiotics. She also talks about the options in antibiotics if you choose to go that route to minimize complications even more.

    Thank you, Katie, for bringing this subject up. As a doula in training, I am passionate about supporting women in making these important decisions, offering informational as well as emotional support. I also feel that it is not talked about enough, except to trade horror stories–and especially dumping those stories on new expecting mothers. What is the point of selfishly making her listen to your complaints, stressing her out, when it will do nothing to reverse your own situation and is unlikely to be helpful? If women were more open to talking, they could process their negative feelings with supportive NON-pregnant women and start healing. And those new mothers will hear an array of stories and explore their philosophy, excpectations and flexibility.

  44. I just had my first baby a month ago. Even though I got pregnant through fertility treatments, I wanted as “natural” of a pregnancy and birth as possible. Well, I got lots of ultrasounds due to various concerns about the baby, I was induced when the pregnancy went past 42 weeks (obviously there was no due date confusion with my fertility treatments), I got antibiotics for being GBS +, several internal exams (only when I went past my due date and during labor), and we accepted the vitamin K shot. However, we refused the genetic testing, eye ointment, and Hep B vaccine. I switched from the OB to the hospital midwives during third trimester, and I hired a doula who helped me go without any pain meds, even though I was induced and had all back labor.

    I have absolutely no regrets about the birth of our baby. Was it as natural as I wanted? No. But I do believe that it was the best for me and our baby, and that’s all that matters. I still feel incredibly proud of myself for going without pain medication. Every decision that we made during pregnancy and labor was an informed one, based on personal research and conversations with my doula and midwives. I think the most important thing is to educate yourself on the risks and benefits of any procedure, and then make the decision that feels right to you, even if it doesn’t fall under the “natural birth” category.

  45. Thanks for pointing out the pitfalls of Pitocin. I developed life-threatening complications at 38 1/2 weeks and had to choose between Pitocin and a C-section. I went for the Pitocin as being the less extreme intervention, and it did indeed make for an extremely difficult labor. I believe I was able to avoid pain meds only because I had an amazing, very experienced doula to coach me and my husband through those 12 hours. I have talked to many pregnant women who are completely unaware that choosing induction will likely make their contractions much more intense–both from the drug itself and from the fact that they will have to lie in bed the entire time. They end up sabotaging their own plans for a birth without pain meds before they ever get to the hospital.
    And thanks for being frank about genetic testing. When I declined genetic testing, my OB/GYN said, “I think that’s very sensible. There’s really no reason to have it unless you would plan to terminate the pregnancy if we found something.” It was a very blunt response, but also very true (and this from a doctor who I believe is pro-choice!). Ultrasounds can be used to check for most survivable genetic conditions (e.g., Down Syndrome), so families can use that less-invasive method if they would want additional time to prepare for raising a child with a disability. Genetic testing of the more invasive kind (involving a needle inserted into the amniotic sac or umbilical cord) tests primarily for non-survivable disorders and is therefore largely a tool for deciding between abortion and an outcome like late miscarriage, stillbirth, or giving birth to a child who survives for only a few days. If your personal morals rule out abortion as an option for you, I agree that it just doesn’t make sense to expose yourself and your baby to the additional risk of infection or complications.
    Kathryn´s latest post: The Penderwick Sisters- Of fairy tales- family- and friends

    • Joellen says:

      I used to think that the more invasive genetic testing was primarily for deciding whether or not to abort…until my first daughter was diagnosed with partial ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. It’s a very rare, incurable but treatable genetic metabolic disorder. She’ll be on medication and a special diet for the rest of her life, but she’ll live. Her children will have a 50% chance of inheriting her disorder, and if not treated from birth or before, her sons will die painfully, within hours to days of birth. With immediate treatment, they would have a fighting chance. In this case, and in similar rare genetic disorders, the genetic testing makes a lot of sense. Prenatal diagnosis will make the difference between life and death for her children–and not because of abortion.

  46. Awesome! There are so many things that I wish I knew before I was pregnant the first time that are routine. I did some research the second time around and found many things that I didn’t need to have. Thanks for this article. More to think about for lord willing the next time I am preggers!

  47. Among other things, we refused giving our second a bath. She was born in the sac, and we were in the birthing tub (double water birth), so it was a bit easier to put off the nurses, but MAN did they want to scrub that baby! Looking back on my oldest’s birth, which was at a birth center with midwives, there are two things I regret- having my water broken at a 7 (because I’d had such on and off labor and I was 42 weeks and I was worried about labor stopping) and having her bathed. Even though I loved our RN and she was so gentle, it was still such a scratchy experience for her and she was so much more blotchy and red those first few days than our second.

  48. Darleen says:

    HI – All good points. I am a grandmother and had a completely natural delivery first time I was adamant about the ‘extras’ that are not really required. I also worked in a hospital as a Lab Tech, so knew what was absolutely necessary and what was not.
    I took natural vitamin pills, as I could not stomach the others and was concerned with the artificial dyes etc. Eating lots of spinach is good – if heated as otherwise won’t get the benefit. I ate a lot of steamed spinach. I exercised at prenatal classes, walked and practiced breathing. I was sure I did NOT want stirrups.
    My daughter came quickly, with my labor pains not anything significant, until I agreed to the enema and breaking of water. She was born 30 minutes later. I needed the stirrups as was shaking uncontrollably and was glad they were there.
    I had a few minor complications due to how fast she came (later fixed and nothing serious, but annoying and did require day surgery). ..
    I didn’t have pain meds and was up and walking around 30 minutes later, high on love.
    Definitely I would go that way again, with a few minor differences :)
    MY second pregnancy of twins was a whole different story – extra vitamins, no exercise, bed rest, and c-section and pain definitely did not go away immediately, and not natural.
    BUT … both pregnancies resulted in healthy wonderful babies that are healthy wonderful adults – so if cannot do the natural for one reason or other, or feel safer with the extras – don’t sweat it.

  49. My Wife is 18 weeks pregnant and she has had 3 ultrasounds so far. She had one at 4 weeks because of bleeding. one at 15 weeks for determinating my due date. and one at 18 weeks to find out the sex. so she is going to have another one at the doctors around 20 weeks. and we wanted to have a 3d one done around 30 weeks but does anyone know if that is too much or dangerous?
    James Anderson´s latest post: double buggies

    • James,
      Most of what I know about ultrasounds I learned in the comments here! It’s a very personal choice, and for me, I always choose less intervention over more. What is this 20 wk one for? I would have thought they’d do the standard measurements at the 18 week one, but perhaps that was a week early. As with all decisions, you’ll have to do some research, talk to doctors you trust, and decide upon your risk assessment. Good luck! :) Katie

  50. Why do you only take the OTC vitamins now? It seems to contradict your earlier statements.

    Love the post! I’m passing it on to my wife.
    Josiah Garber´s latest post: Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-04-03

    • Josiah,
      I think trying to keep things brief made that paragraph a bit confusing – I was wary of the prescription prenatals, which were the ones with artificial coloring, and also the ones packed so tightly that they probably don’t get assimilated very well. My choice of OTC brand is Garden of Life, one of those out there made from real, whole foods and in powder-in-a-capsule form, so they’re much more likely to be utilized by the body. I took the scrip just during first trimester for the folic acid, but only every other day. Does that make sense?

      Thanks for clarifying! :) Katie

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