Going All-Natural for Pregnancy & Childbirth
INTRODUCTION: This is the first in a series of blog posts about my pregnancy and birth experience with a j-pouch. Please keep in mind that I’m not a healthcare professional (read my disclaimer for details). I cannot advise you on your medical care. I only write these blog posts to share my own experience and show that you can have a successful pregnancy and childbirth with a j-pouch. Please consult your healthcare team to find out if a natural childbirth is safe for you. Then get a second or third opinion! Do your research. NEED RESOURCES? ASK ME! I’m a firm believer in women being allowed to choose how they want their pregnancy and childbirth to go. If you’re in good health, then I don’t see any reason why you cannot give birth naturally and using the healthcare team that best suits you.
Sharing is Caring
I have thought a lot about how I was going to write my birth story ever since I found out I was pregnant. I knew that I was going to share my story because I know there are so many women out there with ulcerative colitis and/or a j-pouch who would be eager to read about it. I know, because I wanted the same thing. I wanted to hear others’ experiences. I needed reassurance that I could have a successful childbirth–a successful NATURAL childbirth at that.
I first turned to Amber Tresca, my j-pouch mentor and friend who mentioned once to me in passing that she delivered both her children naturally with a j-pouch. If you have never read her blog or followed her on social media, DO IT NOW. She’s amazing and super helpful! I love her.
Inspired by Mama Ninja
I always knew that I wanted to have a natural childbirth if I ever had kids. Growing up, my mother always told me about her natural childbirth experiences (she has Crohn’s by the way). She had me, my sister (who was born at home and delivered by my dad), my brother Bryan (who died due to a heart defect) and my twin brothers, naturally. No medications. Whenever I would see childbirth being portrayed on TV, I would cringe at the dramatization and horrific pain these women went through. I told her I was never going to do that. She assured me that it really isn’t so bad and that it mostly felt like a burning sensation “down there.”
Call the Midwife!
So, when I found out I was pregnant back in early December, I decided to seek out a midwife. I got the “ok” from my general physician and ran it by my friend Shelly (who is a doctor). Shelly was all for my goal of a natural childbirth. I also contacted my surgeon to recommend an OBGYN backup just in case things went south. Unfortunately, that OBGYN’s staff was really rude and uncooperative, so I ended up having another lady as my backup even though she had NO CLUE what a j-pouch is. But whatever! I found an excellent midwife 45 minutes away from my home in Marshall, Texas.
Natural, Unmedicated Childbirth… Are You Crazy?!
You may be wondering why I chose to do a natural birth. After talking with my mom and other women who went the natural route and also doing my own research, I knew that natural was the best option for me. I list my reasons below…
First, as a woman, my body was designed to birth children. It really is a miraculous thing how our bodies work and how a child develops in the womb and then makes its entrance into the world. I am truly amazed at the miracle of childbirth.
Second, I hate hospitals. Anyone who has spent any amount of time in a hospital (i.e. IBD patients) knows how sucky a hospital atmosphere can be. My pregnancy is not a disease or health “problem.” And basing my risk factor on the fact that I have a j-pouch is really unfair. If my j-pouch was in poor condition, I would not have gone the midwife route. I didn’t want my baby to be treated like a complication. Because she’s not. Plus, I have PTSD from hospital stays and I think the stress of giving birth in a hospital would have made it so much worse.
Third, healthy women who choose a midwife to deliver their babies have a lower rate of complications and a lower c-section rate. With two surgeries under my belt, I wanted to avoid another one at all costs. If I were to birth in a hospital, they would have definitely performed a c-section on me (I was in labor for 29 hours!). And the more surgeries you have the higher your risk of complications, adhesions and scar tissue problems! Midwives see natural births more often than OBs and (in many cases) are better trained to handle a natural birth than an OB.
Natural Doesn’t Break the Bank
Fourth, birthing with a midwife is vastly cheaper than going with an OB and hospital birth. And my Health Share (insurance alternative) covered most of it! American pregnancies and childbirth today cost anywhere from $30,000 – $50,000. Care with a midwife costs $2,000 – $3,000 (give or take). The financial choice is a no-brainer (especially considering all the medical costs we IBD’ers accumulate!).
The bottom line is that I believe all women should educate themselves on the various ways in which a child can be birthed. Every woman needs to learn to think for themselves and know what options are available to them when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. When you have altered intestines, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to birth a child naturally–that is, unless you are in poor health. I would encourage all of you to talk with your healthcare professionals and find someone who will support the type of childbirth you want. I promise you in the end it will all be worth it.
Rosenthal, Elisabeth. “American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World.” New York Times, New York Times, 30 June 2013, www.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/health/american-way-of-birth-costliest-in-the-world.html?pagewanted=all.
Ramirez, Isaac. “The Midwife Movement.” East Texas Matters, East Texas Matters, 2 Nov. 2017, 10:41 PM, www.easttexasmatters.com/…/special-report-…/84991030.