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Readers offer stark contrasts on drug-free birth


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In the end, like every other pregnant woman, I just want to deliver a healthy baby. But unlike my first experience, when I simply asked for pain medication and shut my eyes, this time I'm aiming for a drug-free delivery.

Since I outlined this goal in a recent column, I have spent hours poring over readers' birth experiences, which were good and bad, terrible and triumphant. You have endured 44 hours of labor, vomiting with every contraction. You have managed to deliver healthy bundles of joy, while nearly bleeding to death, saved by the very medical intervention I intensely hope to avoid.

And you have found out that you were stronger than you thought, that nothing ever goes precisely as planned and that every cell in your body was designed to give birth. Your job was to get your mind out of the way.

They were nuggets of wisdom every mother should hear. Here are a few of my favorites:

ON LETTING GO

"Fear is the most important issue to address, as fear will impede all the natural pharmacological hormones that our body will produce in response to labor. When the time comes, let go of thoughts of pleasing others or embarrassing yourself, dance around the room, light candles, sing, moan, do whatever comes to you. I promise, you will be transported."

-Mary Faron, 51, Lombard, Ill., mother of one

ON THE BIG PICTURE

"(Birth) is kind of like raising children. There are so many ways to discipline our kids, but every parent and every child is different. We listen to the experts, take pieces and incorporate them into our own situations. Not everybody runs triathlons; some want to but can't; others have no desire. Each to his own."

-Dr. Bryan Kruskol, 35, Hoffman Estates, Ill., father of three and an obstetrician-gynecologist

ON VISUALIZING CONTRACTIONS

"Think of each contraction as having three parts ... a build-up phase, the actual working contraction and the decline phase. It's even better if you can allow yourself to relax between contractions. Each passing contraction brings you closer to seeing that little one that you've already come to know."

-Anita Black, 49, Algonquin, Ill., mother of two On pain Remember: "It is productive, and it ends."

-Theresa Hart, 48, Mt. Prospect, Ill., mother of two

ON PROPS

"The fitness ball is great for opening up the hip area. Make sure that the ball is properly inflated and simply draw ovals with your butt. Also use the ball for child's pose to stretch out the back. If you have back labor, cat/cow seems to work to get the baby to shift off of the area. Sadly, meditation and relaxation techniques work for relaxing you in between contractions but not during them. (Just breathe, baby, breathe!)"

-Bonnie Krause, 41, Arlington Heights, Ill., mother of four

ON PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS

"You might want to be careful patting yourself on the back. You could break an arm! Who cares what heroic effort you are aiming for? A lot of women have grand ideas of how things will go, and they don't. You, my dear, should just spit this one out at the finish line. You get what you're dealt, and they all aren't in your special books. Take it from one who has been there, done that: You can pop `em out in 45 minutes or be hanging from the ceiling after 26 hours. Get real!"

-Sue Rosenthal, Navarino Township, Wis., mother of seven

Finally, several readers illustrated the main point of my original column when they equated childbirth with surgery. "We don't ask men to undergo a vasectomy without anesthesia, do we?" several readers wrote.

We don't. But unless you're undergoing a Caesarean section, childbirth is not a surgical procedure and, unfortunately, we've been conditioned to think it is. The truth is, we are more than equipped to handle it.

"Our bodies were designed to give birth!" wrote Nicole Zirnheld Aldridge, 33, of Louisville, who is pregnant with her third child. "You need to own your birth, which means different things to different people. If you want a natural birth, educate yourself, hire a doula and assemble the most supportive birth team you can find. Relaxation is the key to having a natural birth."

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E-mail Julie at jdeardorff@tribune.com and visit her blog at chicagotribune.com/julie. Send health news to rwerland@tribune.com.

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(c) 2006, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.

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