Thursday, October 27, 2011

pros and cons of a hospital birth

we had no choice.  esther was born in a hospital.  well, we could have gone with a home birth or birth center, but it would have cost a lot more.

knowing that it wasn't my ideal, i had to trust God with giving birth in a hospital.  but i did struggle with some worries in the weeks and months leading up to the delivery, that something would happen and they would make me get an unnecessary c-section, episiotomy or epidural.

by God's grace, everything with her birth went well and i didn't have to get any kind of medical intervention (besides an unwanted IV).  i am very thankful for this fact.  and, surprisingly, there were actually some things i really did like about giving birth in the hospital.

since then, i have reflected on the pros and cons to my birth experience in the hospital.


nurse care and meals- the nurses i had were really nice (even when i got blood all over the floor... more on that below).  i didn't realize how out of it i would be after delivery, and i was so thankful to have people there to get me water, help me go to the bathroom and do everything else.  the meals weren't amazing, and they were supplemented by the actually healthy food i brought with us (for some reason hospitals just take all the salt out of food and think that makes it healthy...) and food my mom brought for us, but it was nice to have someone just bring me a meal and not have to worry about it.  i'm sure if we were at home or elsewhere that alex or my mom could have done all of this, but i was also thankful that they didn't have to (next time maybe they will!).

soonest possible diagnosis for esther- because of the standard newborn screening test done at the hospital, esther was diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism.  the soonest they can do this test is 24 hours after being born, and hers was done at almost exactly this time, right before we left the hospital.  five days later we got the results and she was put on medicine (time is critical with this diagnosis... the sooner the better the prognosis of the baby).  had we had a different type of birth, it is possible it would have been a few days later that she would have been diagnosed.  a few days probably would not have made a difference ultimately, but i am thankful that we found out as soon as we did.

no clean-up- about an hour after delivery, i got up out of bed.  it wasn't pretty.  lets just say that it looked like someone may have been murdered in our hospital room.  i cant imagine what our carpet at home would have looked like... in my defense, no one told me not to get up, and being that it was my first birth i didn't realize how much i would be bleeding... i felt bad and apologized a lot to the nurse :/

up and down bed- i dont think i could have gotten out of bed or fed esther that first day without this kind of bed (the one with the button that you push in order to sit up and lay down).  i was so weak and sore! this was probably the biggest plus about giving birth in the hospital.

stealing esther- this is also on the con list.  even though esther roomed in with us she was taken several times for medical exams that lasted a couple hours each.  i was so tired that honestly it was nice to have a little break.

stealing esther- but on the other hand, i would rather have had her in the room with us the whole time.  when i was tired, i'm sure alex would have been willing to hold her.

when to go and the car ride there- being that it was my first time giving birth, i didn't really know when we should leave the house to go to the hospital (i know that they say when your contractions are a certain length and interval, but that is so textbook.  i wanted the least amount of time at the hospital as possible, so i waited longer than that).  it was a little stressful deciding when to leave, since i didn't know if we were going too soon.  fortunately, we got the timing just about right.  however, the car ride was especially miserable, considering we left at the peak of LA traffic hour, and it ended up taking about an hour to get there, twice as long as it should have.  in a home birth situation, this would not have been an issue.

germ fest and eye goop- i am not a germophobe.  but i am an anti-biotic-phobe.  i don't like medicines and especially anti-biotics, so my main way of dealing with illness is prevention, which means avoiding germs in the first place (along with building up your immune system so that they never take over).  the whole time we were there, i felt like the hospital was a big germfest.  and considering that babies are born with almost no immune system and a sterile gut (ie no healthy bacteria to protect them from the bad ones), i wanted to protect my fragile baby from all the germs.  originally i requested that esther not get the standard procedure eye goop (an antibiotic that is used as a preventative measure against infants getting eye infections).  but my midwife strongly encouraged it, and in the end i consented, mainly because i knew that esther's chances of getting an eye infection there in the hospital were higher than at home, due to all the germs.  i dont know if i would do it again, if we give birth in the hospital again, but i do know that one plus of giving birth at home would be that it would feel and be much cleaner.

fetal monitoring- i have not seen any evidence that electric fetal monitoring is safe and effective.  often times it leads to unnecessary medical procedures when doctors and nurses overreact to slight changes in the baby's heartbeat.  monitoring the baby through other means has been shown to be more effective.  during delivery, esther's heartbeat was dropping, and they suggested that her cord may be around her neck and i was pretty concerned that they were going to make me get a c-section.  fortunately, she popped out so fast there wasn't time to even suggest this.  and her cord wasn't around her neck. (for the record, if the cord had legitimately been around her neck, i would have consented to a c-section... its just that often this risky procedure is jumped to way too quickly).

getting an iv- i requested not to have an iv during labor.  upon arrival, first thing they did was hook up an iv. >:/ they told me that i was dehydrated, even though i had been drinking water all day like it was my job (i still don't know what their proof was for saying i was dehydrated).  the iv, along with the HUGE thing of juice i drank right after delivery (like, uber big-gulp sized) caused me to have to go to the bathroom, causing the above mentioned bleeding incident.  that incident caused them to give me yet another iv (originally i was promised just one iv).  three days later, i was dealing with really uncomfortable engorgement.  what is one of the main causes of engorgement?  iv's during labor.  grrrr...

would i do a hospital birth again?  i wont say no, but probably not, for several reasons.  the biggest reason would be because next time i hope to have a water birth (i labored in the bath tub for a while with esther and found it really comfortable, so i would love to be able to try a water birth).  also because the hospital was a bit stress inducing (because of the risk of unnecessary medical procedures, the germs, etc.), and i think a different location would be more relaxing.


  1. I know you had a rough time with the fetal monitoring, but to me it was so worth it! I had such an easy labor. I was shocked. It seemed like instantly it was time to start pushing. Then our son's heart rate started dropping. We ended up having a c-section where it was discovered the cord was around his neck twice. I would have never known that anything was wrong, had it not been for the monitoring. I am thankful for it, as it allowed us to take steps to have a healthy baby boy. I am glad that your hospital experience was, for the most part, good:-) Heather

  2. I had all the same goals as you did prior to labor (natural, no pain medication, etc.). However, after 26 hours of labor, and my son still not dropping down into my pelvis, that wasn't going to be realistic anymore.

    I am thankful that I was able to have a vaginal birth (my biggest concern was avoiding a c-section), but at the advice of my midwife I ended up with an epidural and Pitocin to actually make things happen. Even though it's not what I initially bargained for, I am pleased with the way things turned out.

    I wanted to mention something about the heart monitoring system.... My son was born with the cord around his neck three times, and it did not register on the heart monitoring system. So while they can detect problems, they are not full-proof. That's just me two cents from my experience.