I went to a baby shower today, and it’s the mom’s first baby, and she only has brothers, so she hasn’t really been around pregnancy and babies too much — in fact, she said she’d only been to one baby shower before. She’s the wife of one of my former schoolmates, so I don’t know her very well, but she’s not lived around here very long, so I mostly went because I was afraid there wouldn’t be very many people there. (I was wrong, because a lot of the husband’s family and close friends came, so that was good.)
Anyway, she’s planning a hospital birth with an epidural, and I didn’t try to dissuade her or anything — we didn’t really have much time to talk like that, and I didn’t want to make her feel defensive — she asked me if I’d ever had an epidural, and I said, “Oh, no, I had both my babies at home!” and her eyes got big and she said she’d be scared to do that, and I agreed that she shouldn’t have a home birth if that is the case. I certainly don’t want women to try to give birth where they’re not comfortable, whether that’s at home or at the hospital. I think I’ll give her sister-in-law (who goes to my church) some books tomorrow to pass along in case she’s interested. I don’t know how much this woman knows about birth, nor where she got the information she did get. I’m expecting it’s pretty mainstream information — all the 90% of women who have epidurals telling her that she needs to get one as soon as she can, and there’s no downside to it (yeah, right — not usually, but sometimes it can have tremendous downsides!).
Listening to some of the women tell bits of their birth stories (and knowing the kind of birth one of her sisters-in-law had — induction two weeks early because the doctor was going on vacation — so bad that she refused to have any more babies), I don’t think I could even counteract all those stories in just a few short weeks, and I’m not sure I want to. The husband is already trying to beg off of being there, doesn’t want to see his wife in pain, etc., so I don’t want to suggest to her that she forego the epidural which will be about the only pain relief that she would get at this hospital (even without an epidural, she’d be required to stay in bed once admitted and be on continuous EFM, yada yada yada). If she seemed at all open to the idea, I would have encouraged it, but she didn’t even ask me any questions like “how did you manage??” when I told her I gave birth at home.
But, as I was leaving, I did mention Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy, and I’m very glad I did. She had gotten several breastfeeding-related articles at the shower, so I knew she was at least planning on trying to breastfeed, but I had inferred that she probably didn’t know too much about the whole breastfeeding thing, and was just going to try it and hope for the best. I was correct in my assumption. When I mentioned the book title (which I couldn’t hand her because I had already loaned it out — that mother said she was soooo glad I had given it to her because it helped a lot, especially since the baby ended up in the NICU for nearly two weeks after the birth, fed with a stomach tube and/or IV, etc.), the expectant mother’s face lit up. It was a mixture of “is that really possible??” and “THAT’S what I want!” Then she told about a friend of hers (the only one she mentioned, so maybe the only one of her close friends who had had a baby before) who had given up breastfeeding after just a few weeks because it hurt so bad — cracked and bleeding nipples and all that. So, I’m sure she’s rather expecting that to be her lot — after all, why shouldn’t she have the same problems her friend had? But I told her about the book, where to get it, and strongly urged her to do so. I think she will get it, because I think she really wants to breastfeed her baby… she just isn’t sure if she can do it and is afraid she can’t. But if I can help one mother avoid the pain of incorrect positioning (especially if it is so bad that it leads her to totally give up nursing her infant), then I will be very happy. This book can do it, I am convinced.