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A friend's decision

Posted: November 7, 2013 2:03 p.m.
Updated: November 8, 2013 5:00 a.m.

One of my best friends from college told me this week that she is planning to deliver her baby, due around March, naturally. 

The first thing that came to mind is one my favorite movies of all time, “The Backup Plan,” starring Jennifer Lopez. Then I responded via text message: “Oh, Jesus. What made you decide that?”

While I was waiting on a reply, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing as the “home birth” scene from the movie replayed in my head. Lopez, who gets pregnant with twins via a sperm donor in the movie, is invited to participate in the natural, home birth of one of the women in her single mother’s support group. Upon greeting the woman who is due, Lopez and her new boyfriend have their first glimpse at some over-the-top contractions. As you can imagine, what happens next is just pure hilariousness. Up-and-coming actress Melissa McCarthy, who plays the support group facilitator, has a drum and sings this little song to create what can only be described as a weird primal, pregnancy séance. The movie then cuts to the woman giving birth in a small birthing pool. Long story short, the scene is full of crazy antics and one-liners. Lopez’s character is obviously horrified by the delivery and eventually faints in the pool, just after her friend has given birth -- gross, I know. 

The whole scene is extreme, but that’s what I think of whenever someone talks about a natural birth, even though I know it’s a complete exaggeration. I’m sure midwives and doulas across the country hate that movie and the many other movies that inaccurately portray natural childbirth. One could probably say that even some reality TV shows where childbirth is a theme can also give people a false sense of what childbirth is like.

I’m not all the way surprised that this particular friend is choosing a natural birth, as she has a degree in nutrition and her mother’s a nurse, so I know she’s done her research. But I’m still pretty surprised. My expecting friend said she thinks women too often feel pressured into getting some sort of assistance before delivering. After doing some research on various blogs and parenting magazines, to my surprise, I read a lot of comments from women who have had multiple children, multiple ways, that said when they finally did experience drug-free child birth they regretted not doing it with their other children. Some mentioned how “empowering” it is and noted that their recovery time was much shorter than when they used drugs for previous pregnancies.

From a two-hour search on the Internet, it seems that some pregnancy drugs can not only affect mothers, but the babies as well, in addition to mother-child bonding, even though I’m sure that’s debatable. There is so much information out there (and just as much debate) on what is the right way for routine pregnancy, which is typical. There were just as many women on those blogs and magazine websites who said they didn’t feel that their birthing experience was any less than that of a woman who had delivered drug-free, however.

 At this point, I think I’d still have to go with the drugs, but research on which one is better for each individual mother seems as critical as trying to find a reputable doctor. Personally, I have a pretty low pain tolerance: I tear up when I stub a toe. Whenever I’ve previously thought about delivering a baby, my next thought is usually “as long as the drugs are ready and waiting.” Despite my long-stint at Earth Fare and interacting with so many drug-free mammas and mothers who were very open about using herbs and the likes to abort pregnancies, the only way I would have considered a drug-free birth before writing this column is if I was unable to get to the hospital in time. I surely won’t do a home birth; my friend is going to deliver naturally in a hospital, which is a wise idea just in case there are any unexpected complications. Catching up on both sides of the debate by doing a little research, however, has opened my mind to exploring the idea and benefits of a drug-free birth.


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