Question Answered below by Dr Eden Fromberg:

Does a Prior Premature Birth Mean I Can’t Have a Natural Birth?
April 20th, 2009 Posted by Eden G. Fromberg, DO, FACOOG, DABHM in Midwife Q & A ⋅ Edit

Q: My daughter was born almost 8 years ago in a hospital. I had wanted a natural-as-possible birth but in the heat of the moment I consented pain relief and a ‘walking” epidural and at the end of the short 8 hour labor I was draped like a circus tent in blue sterile paper, surrounded by a dr and nurses who looked like they were in hazmat suits, and laying flat on my back, feeling more like a medical experiment than anything else. suffice to say, I’d like something a little more relaxing next time.
The thing is, my daughter was born at 33 or 34 weeks. Nobody knew why she was born early, and the date of conception was never a certainty. She was big for being so early, 6 lbs 1 oz. But she ended up spending 4 weeks in the NICU, the first week she had help breathing and it was another 3 weeks before she was growing and eating well enough to come home. Fortunately she’s suffered no ill effects from this and is perfectly normal now.

My long winded question is….since I gave birth to a preemie for seemingly no reason (Dr said sometimes that just happens) and had a baby who needed intensive care after birth, does this preclude me from having a natural birth next time? Given my daughter’s first weeks I am probably not comfortable being home, or even out of a hospital, lest the same thing happen again. How justified are my fears? should I consider a birthing center? On a side note…what are the odds I will have a relatively fast labor as my first was?

From Stephanie

A: Subsequent births can truly vary from previous births. Particularly in a situation such as the one you describe in which you experienced an unexplained preterm labor and birth, there is no reason to expect the same situation to unfold with your next birth. Even in a planned home or birth center birth, for example, if you go into preterm labor, you would simply go to the hospital in order to have neonatal care readily available. In this sort of situation, there would be no difference whether the plan was a home or birth center birth so long as you are comfortable with the obstetrical backup arrangement in place if you need to go to the hospital for preterm or other reasons. Even so, if you feel afraid of birthing outside of the hospital that is something you can either explore and transform, or you may simply feel more comfortable birthing in the hospital and maybe that is what
needs to be acknowledged. Either way, your previous birth experience would not seem to preclude any future options so proceed with an open mind, asking questions and reevaluating your choices and feelings as the answers arise. I recommend the upcoming “Better Birth” by Denise Spatafora, coming out any minute, as it addresses practical techniques that will help in exploring emotions that may have arisen from past experience and help you in navigating your path.
Eden G. Fromberg, DO, FACOOG, DABHM
430 West Broadway #2A
New York, NY 10012
fax (212)941-5977

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