Giving birth in France was an experience that I will never forget. Nothing went as planned and I was constantly arguing with midwifes and doctors. I then felt stress, pressure and frustration throughout my week-long stay there afterwards. The best part was when they had me reach down and pull her up onto my chest. Yes, she was a yucky but I did not see that. All I saw was her face and wondering how in the world I was so lucky to have such a gorgeous baby.
Details about my experience giving birth in France can be found on my last post. It is a long one so I broke it up – that post is about the details and this one about my personal thoughts about the whole ordeal.
I felt that everyone was acting in the best interest of me and my baby, but they were too reliant on their usual routines. For instance, three doctors wanted to skip trying oxytocin to wheel me into surgery for a cesarean because they thought trying ocycocin would be a waste of time. All three doctors admitted that the baby was not in danger and waiting to try oxytocin would not harm the baby. Yet the first two refused to let me try oxytocin and the third was difficult. I had to compromise with her. I agreed that if she would let me try oxytocin for an hour, I would go without a fuss for a cesarean if it did not work.
Even a few days later midwives and the puéricultrice were trying to convince me to give my baby formula when my milk was dropping late. It is normal to drop late after a long labor. Maybe they thought a 24-hour labor was not long. I had to deal with the puéricultrice rolling her eyes and giving sarcastic remarks about how other mothers use formula and their children are fine. I agree, there is nothing wrong with formula. It was just that I had my heart set on nursing and I knew I could do it. I knew my baby would be fine. I knew my body was just tired and it would come. And guess what, it did!
I have learned a lot through this experience. I learned that I am stronger than I thought. I also learned that even when doctors sound confident, they are sometimes just guessing. It pays off to educate yourself about child birth and breastfeeding ahead of time, and then ask questions! Do not take their word as gold. Ask the doctor why and “what if” questions.
Things I would do the next time around:
- Find a midwife to come to my home.
- Not have an epidural.
- If going to the hospital, labor longer at home before going.
- Take a course for breathing during labor.
- Make sure the midwife(s) had training for aiding women to breastfeed.
- Discuss with my midwife or doctor what they would do if I stop dilating.
- Have my husband take lots of photos each time he visits.
- Relax and enjoy my newborn that first week!
If I cannot find a midwife to deliver from my home, then I would find a small hospital like the one in Bayeux. I did like the personal attention and the availability of midwives. I never felt alone, or that help was far away. I wish they had training on breastfeeding. Each midwife told me that Juliana was nursing fine, but I was not providing enough milk. I found out later that she was not nursing correctly by a midwife that took a course on breastfeeding. After that, Juliana quickly gained weight.
I wish I learned more about breastfeeding while I was pregnant. I thought it was natural and easy to do. I ended up downloading books to my Kindle while in the hospital so I could start asking the right questions. I wanted to know if dropping late was normal. I am thankful that I had my Kindle with me because it gave me peace with my decision to pump supplements instead of switching to formula. I found out that the more I pumped, the more milk I would produce – helping my cause.
I do not regret my decision to give birth in France. I wish things went differently and that my birth experience was less stressful. I am glad that I stood my ground and fought. But all that matters in the end is that we now have a healthy little girl.