How I Ensured Natural Childbirth for Myself, My Husband, and our Baby in Mexico

When I was pregnant with our baby, I learned that if you want to have a natural childbirth, you need to find a doctor who is COMMITTED to natural childbirth.  Before I give you tons of heartfelt advice, I want to remind you that I am not a doctor and not a midwife. The advice I share was gathered from the resources I found during the one time I was pregnant. The good news is that I delivered my son naturally and that the experience is a joyful memory for my husband an me.

I also want to say right up front, that my experiences in Mexico cannot be compared to those that I might have had in the US. I’ve only been pregnant once and I was nowhere near the US during this experience. Despite being quite “American” in lots of ways, I know nothing about pregnancy and delivery in the US.

What I learned in Mexico is that a lot of women who say they want a natural childbirth experience end up with caesarean deliveries. The more I learned about the situation, the more I came to view childbearing as a feminist issue. It appears that when childbirth is guided by women, with men in active support roles, births tended to be bonding, positive experiences for family units. On the other hand, when the birth process is in the hands of doctors, it becomes a medical procedure and women’s physical strength and emotional experience is negated.

It’s too bad we aren’t in Europe. There are some places in Europe where the labour and delivery wards are designed to make women and their partners comfortable and to assist in a relaxed, natural delivery. They have cushions of different sizes, areas for stretching and hanging, accessible warm water showers, and dedicated staff. There are even beautiful water delivery options! Alas, that is not for us, but we can still have great labour experiences, if we take charge of our own options and surround ourselves with caring, knowledgeable people.

To find a doctor who is committed to natural childbirth, ask people about their doctors and delivery experiences. You have to compare stories. There were some doctors in our town who were well thought of, but most of the women that I talked to about their deliveries had caesareans…. Ask doctors what percentage of their deliveries are natural. WHO says that 20% of deliveries should end in caesarean. If the doctor says 80% of his/her deliveries are caesareans, you have not yet found your doctor.

In our town, La Lega de La Leche was a good source of information on local doctors and their tendencies, but there isn’t a group in every town. Another good source of information was our pre-natal class. We attended free trial sessions of two different classes to see which one we preferred. The one we chose really stood out to us. The instructor included the partners (mostly fathers, but other “coaches” were also made completely welcome. The instructor’s objective was to give the mother full support during labour and delivery), rather than focusing only on the women – she even had a special form for fathers to complete while registering.

By learning the stages of labour and pre-labour you and your partner are better prepared to set yourselves up for success and have a natural delivery – even with a caesarean liking doctor. This class also included a small percentage of partners who chose home delivery. We were not considering delivering our baby at home, but that showed that it was a community of people who were dedicated to natural childbirth.

A strong indication of a doctor’s commitment to natural childbirth is if they charge the same no matter what kind of birth it is. The doctor I most preferred in our town was known to be committed to natural childbirth and she had only one fee – no matter which way the delivery occurred. Doctors who charge more for a caesarean are more likely to deliver that way. It’s a racket, really. They show you two prices, one for natural childbirth and one for caesarean. They tell you that there is “no reason” you shouldn’t have a natural delivery. You like the lower cost of the natural delivery, so you feel like you are getting a deal. What you don’t know is that by delivering caesarean, not only do they earn more money the process is more under their control. They don’t have to wait around for natural processes to unfold. They don’t have to put in the hours of helping you relax, walk around, sit in a hot shower, etc, etc.

On the flip side, just by not doing these things, they make it more likely that you won’t be able to deliver naturally. (This is really a key point that first-time moms rarely take into consideration – and doctors bank on it – literally.) Before we had our son, we heard lots of stories from other moms and I observed that even when parents were clear with their doctors that they “wanted” a natural childbirth there would always be “something” and they’d end up with a caesarean (and convinced that they needed it, so don’t let that be an indicator for you).

I think it’s important to mention that at first our pre-natal class appeared to be overly expensive given our earnings and our usual spending habits in Mexico. I asked my husband to attend the free trial visit to the class before I would even tell him how much it would cost! In the end, we both thought it was worth every peso. I was shocked when my husband – who normally won’t even spring for pollo rostizado if we can make scrambled eggs at home, said so to his family and friends. It was lovely to hear him telling his BROTHER all about the stages of labour and how to help his wife during delivery. Both of us strongly advise first time parents to take a pre-natal class together (called clase psicoprofilactico in Spanish) – and the more committed to couples and to natural childbirth the better. This class got us started on the path of parenthood as a united pair. Friends and family commented on how we were unusually relaxed as newbie parents. Not to mention that we had a dream delivery with our son, that is a sacred memory to both of us.

Here is the kind of story you are looking for when you are researching doctors. One of my friends delivered her baby before I did and she chose the same doctor I preferred. She told me that during transition (that’s when it hurts the most and most women end up getting an epidural, even if they didn’t “plan” one in their original birth plan) she asked for an epidural and the doctor told her, she would not give one because the baby would be born before it could even take effect. In the moment, my friend felt angry. After delivery she said she wanted to give the doctor a big kiss and hug for saying, “no.” She and her baby were both more alert and ready to begin nursing than they would have been if she had gotten an epidural – not to mention that an epidural would have greatly slowed the process down, reduced my friend’s experience of the actual delivery, and introduced unnecessary risk. She had her next two babies with this same doctor.

Maybe you can turn this into a question for doctors you are “interviewing.” Something like, is there ever a point during labour that you would refuse a mother pain relief?

In my case, the first doctor we went with was highly recommended by a friend, so I was convinced that he was just the greatest gynaecologist in the world. Luckily for us, he chose to blatantly lie to us so that he could begin to steer us toward a caesarean. If he had been less bold, he might have kept us as clients. As it turns out, we had already started our prenatal class and when I told the teacher what my doctor had told us, she told me to get a second opinion. When I got the second opinion, his lie was exposed and we never went to see him again.

The short of it is that I had asked my doctor about a condition I thought I might have. He used that little bit of fear that I had to tell me that I needed a caesarean. He even had my husband look at my cervix through a special instrument so he could “see” how much I needed a caesarean. When I got the second opinion I was told that my cervix was completely normal and healthy looking. This other doctor probably knew that to any regular guy, like my husband, a normal cervix looks terrible. He literally banked on freaking my husband out. This is so unethical it makes my stomach ache! It is also not that uncommon. In a different context, I heard our prenatal class instructor say that doctors commonly manipulate the fathers into pushing for the caesareans by scaring them about the “consequences” of not getting one. This is why it is so important that each expectant mother have a birth coach that attends the classes with her and can support her during labour.

You might also ask around and see if there are any professionally trained midwives or doulas in your town. Una “partera” can mean a lot of things in Mexico, so do your research well, but there is potential there for a lovely delivery experience. Even if you talk to a midwife or doula, but don’t choose to deliver with her, she will likely know which doctors in town are committed to childbirth, which ones ‘ride the fence’ and which ones have earned the nickname “Dr. C-Section.”

Once you find the right person, it will be lovely.

I’m so very glad I delivered in Mexico because our family had a beautiful natural birth and my husband was involved in every stage. He was my hero all of the way through, providing pain relief with acupressure, coaching, encouraging, and caring for me. He will never forget seeing his son born. Also, Mexico is a wonderful place to have little children.

8 comments

  1. Fabiola Mora Dec 30

    Hey! Fantastic i love your story… Im a Mexican living in Florida, i will give birth in Mexico i found an awesome group of doctors and doulas who realize this natural techniques in the best hospitals in Guadalajara Jalisco, corre la voz… The page is http://www.parto-natural.com.mx/index.html

    I think it is a Natural process and as i get more and more involved in this, my frustration about the abuses from doctors makes me furious!! rrrrrrrrrrrr. there should be a laws protecting us against unnecesary cesarean precedures!! thanks for telling your story…Good Bless

  2. Julia Taylor Dec 30

    Fabiola,

    I’m so pleased to get your comment and the link to the birth center in Guadalajara. I was wondering where the other women who feel the same way are….

    Many congratulations on your upcoming delivery and I wish for you that it be a beautiful experience for you, your child, and the father, if he is with you.

    Kindest Regards,
    Julia C Taylor

    PS. I’m sure you already have, but make sure you learn about nursing before you try it on your own. That is another area of which far too many mothers find that they can’t and they end up having to give formula! Don’t get me started on the formula mega-industry. rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

    Anyway, the two most helpful things for me were that a mother of a newborn gave permission for me to watch as a lactation expert taught her to nurse her newborn and that my husband learned the basics of nursing, too, and was able to help me position or baby for the first day until I learned how.

  3. Fabiola Mora Jan 12

    Thanks Julia! Yes i think i have two big ones to provide enough milk hehe… My husband is with me and we are working together for the big day! I also get mad about the baby food industry full of chemicals that deteriorate our family’s taste for real food! likie Gerber…and all of those…it’s easy but it’s just like fast food for babies…I think!

    Thanks for your reply!

  4. Julia Taylor Jan 12

    Fabiola,

    Right on!

    Julia

  5. Meredith Mar 22

    Julia,
    I had my son with the team at Plenitud (same as in the link from Fabiola) and can not say enough wonderful things about the experience. If I were ever to give birth again, I don’t care where in the world I may be living, I would come back to Guadalajara and Plenitud. The state of obstetrics in Mexico is shameful and saddening, but it is nice to know there are options.

  6. Julia Taylor Mar 22

    Meredith, Thank you for your valuable comment!

    Congratulations on a lovely birth experience.

    Kindest Regards, Julia C Taylor

  7. Lily Diaz-Hanna Aug 17

    I am due Oct. 12th and am looking for a midwife, Dula, and Dr. who is committed to natural birth and who practice water births. I would also, like a lotus birth, which means I would like for the baby to detach naturally from his own umbilical cord and placenta to ensure my baby gets all of his necessary stem cells and blood to mature properly and healthy. I am currently in Chico, CA and the father is living in Punta de Mita and he would love to be present for his sons birth. Unfortunately, he can not come to the US in time. If you have any info. that could help me in the Nayarit area in Puerto Vallarta or near Punta de Mita, San Pancho, and Chacala where we own a home I would greatly appreciate it. I completely believe in what your doing your story is truly inspiring and empowering. Thank you. Lily Diaz-Hanna

  8. Julia Taylor Aug 17

    Lily,

    Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your son. Thank you for reading my blog post. I don’t know anyone in that area. I suggest that you contact La Lega de La Leche — any one in Mexico and just start asking. Someone will know someone. I personally know that the La Lega group in Cuernavaca is excellent. Try the international web page and start calling: http://www.llli.org/mexico.html

    I trust you speak Spanish…. The Cuernavaca folks are mostly bilingual, but I don’t know if that is true for other groups.

    I wish for you a joyful, safe, birth with your whole family together.

    Kindest Regards, Julia C Taylor

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