In the days leading up to my delivery, I became obsessed with reading other people’s birth stories on their blogs. I guess it was my weird way toward labor initiation, as if their stories would somehow help me better prepare for my own? Yeah, doesn’t make sense to me know either. (By the way, if you want to read the world’s most drawn-out and anticipated birth story, check out All Bower Power’s story).
Well, here’s my own shortened version. I don’t want to go into too many details (I don’t want to completely birth-and-tell), but I thought I would at least share with you what worked for me.
I still can’t believe that I delivered an almost-9 lb baby naturally. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to have a natural delivery. I spent hours reading Ina May Gaskin’s midwifery books, researching techniques, practicing Lamaze breathing. I listened to every word our birthing instructor told us about giving birth naturally. I even made notecards for my husband explaining why I wanted a natural birth and suggestions for what to say to me if I started asking for an epidural. Typical anal retentive pregnancy planning. But there was always this thought in the back of my mind that said maybe I wouldn’t be able to do it afterall. Maybe the pain would be too much for me to handle.
But the funny thing is, when it came to the actual labor, there really wasn’t a thought in my mind about getting an epidural. Seriously, it never crossed my mind. OK, at one point, towards the end, I did have a thought of, “OK, this pain will go away if I ask for drugs…but then again, I’m so far along that I know they’ll just say no anyways, so what’s the point?” I am quite proud of myself, and rather flabbergasted at the same time.
After the fact, I did realize that there were some elements to my labor and delivery that made it much easier for me to give birth naturally, which I’d like to share with you:
1) Used a midwife, that fully supported my decision to give birth naturally. At no point did anyone offer me drugs to make the pain go away (well, I think my mom did at one point, but that’s because she’s my mom and hated to see me in pain).]
2) Had my mom and mother-in-law (and of course my husband) there the whole time. My midwife even admitted that their presence made her job a whole lot easier, since they were able to massage, comfort, stroke, hold my hand, etc. the whole time. I was worried that I wouldn’t want them in the room and would have to somehow graciously kick them out, but I never had that thought. I wanted them to stay the whole time.
3) Used a birthing tub. Now, at the hospital where I delivered, they don’t allow the actual birth to be in the tub, but there is one labor room with a large jacuzzi tub for women to use. I wanted that tub. Even mid-contractions, I wanted, nay, needed, craved, that tub, and it was the first thing I told the nurse when we arrived at the hospital. Luckily for me, it was open. There is NO WAY I could have done a natural birth without that tub. Ladies, if you’re preggers or will be soon, trust me, try the tub. Try a shower. Try anything with water. It cut my contractions in half, and when it came time to start pushing, I did NOT want to get out of that tub.
4) I had a normal and healthy pregnancy and delivery. This is key. Honestly, I consider myself very lucky that I didn’t have any problems in pregnancy, my labor progressed fairly smoothly and only lasted a total of 15 hours, I didn’t have back labor, and I was able to deliver naturally. This really isn’t the case for a lot of women. So I although I highly, highly recommend trying a natural birth, I know this isn’t always an option. Yes, I believe that the medical profession gives way too many C-sections and is quick to try anything BUT a natural birth, but I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty or like they didn’t have a good birth because it wasn’t natural. Complications happen. Life happens. Epidurals, yup, they happen too, often with just cause.
The pluses of a natural birth? My recovery has been fairly quick, breastfeeding and latching on has been a breeze, my milk has been coming in like no tomorrow, little Frankie came out all wide-eyed and awake (not drugged and woozy)….now, I can’t 100% contribute all of these things to a natural birth, but I know that studies have shown that these are the positive aspects of going natural.
A couple of days ago, we had our two-week visit with our midwife, just to check up on us and the baby, and she told me I had a beautiful, wonderful birth, and that I seemed very serene and calm the whole time. That one comment made all the pain disappear from my memory. It was a beautiful birth.