For this baby, I am planning/hoping for a more natural childbirth. We are still planning to deliver at our hospital in case of emergency, but I’m mentally preparing for no pain meds. Before I get into the why of wanting a natural birth, I want to emphasize that I am extremely grateful that I have a healthy baby boy at home and he was brought into this world safely. In the end, that is all that matters.
My views on childbirth have changed dramatically since I gave birth to my 10+ pound son 2 1/2 years ago. With him, I went into labor wanting the epidural. I was scared of the pain because I had never done any research on natural childbirth and because all the women in my life had gotten epidurals. It was just the way to go, I thought!
My sons labor wasn’t necessarily difficult in the grand scheme of giving birth, but it was a bit traumatic for me for a few reasons. In the days after his birth, as I thought more about the process, I became more traumatized about how it unfolded. And I know a lot of women feel this way, especially when their birth didn’t go as planned or a medical professional scared them or pressured them to do something they didn’t want to do. Birth is a highly emotional and sensitive time for a mother, so it can be wrapped up in a lot of emotions and post-traumatic stress for some mothers. Since I had my son, I have done tons of research on natural childbirth, read countless birth stories and watched a few documentaries on the topic.
I now believe that hospitals can sometimes rush into many interventions — inductions, epidurals, “emergency” C-sections, pitocin drips and more. Of course, there are actual emergency situations where these things are necessary to save mom and baby, and for that I am thankful (and it’s the reason why I’m planning to deliver in a hospital setting). But, the C-section rate in our country is sky-high at 1 out of every 3 moms now getting a C-section. That is considerably higher than other developed countries, yet our infant and maternal mortality rates are higher (although, still very low overall).
I believe that some of these interventions caused me to have a longer and more strenuous labor with my first son. I did go into labor with my first wanting an epidural. However, as soon as I got one, my body stopped laboring and doing the job it was supposed to do. Before the epidural, my body was working beautifully. My contractions were not even that “painful” — at least I was able to manage the pain. I was able to progress to 5cm without the epidural and even at 5cm I did not feel overwhelmed by the pain — I just started to worry that it would get too late to get an epidural if I waited much longer. (And for those natural birthers out there, I know I had not reached transition at 5cm, so my pain would have likely increased quite a bit once I reached transition.)
I labor naturally for 6 hours before I got my epidural. I did not deliver my son for another 15 hours after I got the epidural — that’s how much the epidural slowed me down. My water was broken for 21 hours and my doctors started to murmur the words C-section towards the end, which stressed me out very much after laboring for so long. Some women are fine getting C-sections, but I am terrified of C-sections. I would much rather have any sort of vaginal birth (medicated or not) than get a C-section (again…emergency sections are a completely different story!).
In the end, I ended up with an episiotomy because I was stuck on my back without feeling in my lower body and I could not get the strength to push my (unbeknownst to me) 10+ pound baby out. Had I been in a different laboring position, he may have moved out of the birth canal faster and with more ease.
So, this is what I’ve done to prepare so far:
- I’ve hired a doula, birth photographer and a person to encapsulate my placenta.
- I’ve been doing tons of research usually every day on the topic of natural birth.
- I read natural birth stories like it’s my job.
- I’ve been meeting with other moms who’ve given birth naturally and listening to their stories. So encouraging to hear from a ‘real’ person that it IS possible.
- I have been focusing on positive affirmations like ‘my body knows what to do’ and ‘my body was made to do this’ instead of letting the fear of the pain take over.
- I have been focusing on the natural progress I made in my last birth and reminding myself what an accomplishment that was!
- I am starting to do more squats — according to Ina May Gaskin, if you squat 300 times a day, you’ll have no problem pushing your baby out. (Pretty sure 300 is an exaggeration, but you get the idea.)
- I plan to focus more on my daily steps because I think keeping up with walking will not only keep me in shape but also be helpful towards the end when I need baby to drop and move into the correct position.
I’ll have 3 meetings with my doula before my labor. A few of my friends have used this doula, so she is highly recommended. And my birth photographer is a friend of mine, as well. I’m slightly nervous to be in such an awkward, vulnerable stage in front of so many people, but, if I remember correctly, you really lose all modesty when you’re giving birth.
If you’re interested in giving birth naturally, please consider watching the documentary The Business of Being Born (available on Netflix!) and following the Birth Without Fear blog and social media accounts.