The two most common reactions I get when I share that I had an all natural birth with my daughter are, “Why would you choose NOT to have pain medicine?” and “That’s cool, but I could never do that.” As her birthday draws near, I’m reflecting on the choices I made surrounding her birth and the beautiful experience it was. I’ve only birthed two children, but because of the choices I made each time I’ve experienced both a very clinical, controlled, medicated birth and an all natural, no medication, no intervention birth. Spoiler alert: the all natural birth was by far my favorite for many reasons. Because of these experiences, today I’m sharing what all natural birth was like for me and why I preferred it to the medicated version. No two births are alike, and you have the right to choose what is best for your body and your baby. I’m just a mom sharing my experiences.
What Induction and Medicated Birth Was Like for Me: My son’s birth was a forced induction that turned in to a c-section and was very traumatic. My OB said I needed an induction because my baby was at least 10 pounds. The pitocin contractions were so painful that I quickly gave in and asked for the epidural I didn’t want. My son was turned sunny side up and got stuck. Because I couldn’t feel my legs or move, I couldn’t get in to a better position so he could move down. After 12 hours of labor and 2 1/2 hours of pushing, my OB said we had to have a c-section. My epidural failed during the c-section, and I could feel the surgeon’s knife. The anesthesiologist quickly put me under and for a few seconds my sweet husband thought I’d died. I don’t remember much after that for several hours. I remember nothing but pain for the first 2 weeks. It was horrible, traumatic, and I knew I wanted something different the next time around. Induction and c-section are amazing, life saving procedures that have their place, but I believe when they can be avoided the outcome is better for everyone.
Why I Chose Natural Childbirth: After my son’s traumatic birth I eventually started to research VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and natural childbirth. I read Ina May Gaskin’s book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and it changed my life. I watched The Business of Being Born documentaries. I read birth stories and joined my local ICAN chapter. I learned that induction increases your chance of c-section by 70%. While I liked my OB, I felt that she should have mentioned this before scheduling the induction. I asked her about VBAC, and she said that while I was a good candidate, she wasn’t comfortable with VBAC. I found a doctor in my area who is known as a supporter of natural labor and VBAC. That changed everything. She told me I had a really good chance at a VBAC and she would help me get there. She encouraged me to look in to hiring a doula. She helped me regain confidence that my body was made to birth my babies. Through research and conversations with my doctor and doula, I came to the conclusion that an all natural labor and birth was my best shot at a VBAC. You can read more about why I chose a VBAC here.
What Natural Childbirth Was Like for Me: It was hard and wonderful and messy and magical and spiritual. I loved it, even though it was the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. I am so glad I made the choice to let my body do what it is made for. It helped to heal my heart and feel the full power of my body. Did it hurt? Of course. But the pain wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle, and the contractions were far easier to endure than the forced pitocin ones from my induction. With the help of my doula and my husband I worked through them. After the birth, I was able to be present and fully functional. I could breastfeed my daughter, get up and walk around, and felt amazing. The rush was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I felt so amazing. I only needed ibuprofen as a pain reliever. I remember every minute of my daughter’s first weeks of life, a stark contrast to the painful drug hazed weeks following my son’s birth. We even went for a hike as a family when she was a week old. You can read the full natural VBAC birth story here.
What I Want You to Know: You can birth your baby without drugs or intervention. You can make healthy and informed choices for your own birth. You have the right to a health care provider who supports your choices. If you need a c-section for medical reasons, look in to the gentle cesarean movement. Don’t make birth choices based on what others tell you or what your friends do. Think and pray about what you want your birth to be like and do your best to make it happen. The first time around I felt like birth was something traumatic that happened TO me. The second time I felt like birth was something I accomplished with the help of God and my medical team. That is a HUGE difference.
Learn from My Mistakes: Research your choices. If your doctor is forcing you in to choices you don’t want, leave. Find a doctor that is known for their natural birth support and has a low c-section rate. If your hospital has a high c-section rate, get the heck out of there. Had I known the hospital I birthed my son in had a 45% c-section rate, I never would’ve chosen it. Hire a doula. My cheap husband will tell you it is the best money we’ve ever spent. Make your own birth choices. Be empowered, not afraid. Read Ina May Gaskin’s wisdom and follow Birth Without Fear on social media. Birth is a wonderful, powerful experience your body was made for. As Ina May says, “Your body is not a lemon.”
If you would like to know more about my VBAC journey, read my Trying for a VBAC series here.
Be sure to check out the Every Parent’s Guide to Natural Parenting and Earth Month Blog Hop at ALLterNATIVElearning for the best green living tips and information to help you celebrate Earth Month.
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Hello fellow Ina May Gaskin reader – although I’m based in the UK I am so glad someone recommended her book. Our stories are so similar & I’m thrilled to be part of the Earth Month Blog Hop too! 🙂
Ina May is so inspiring!
I was induced with my son (three years ago now!). I managed to get through it drug free (minus the pitocen of course!), but it was INTENSE! I started active labor around noon and he was born at 4:30! I remember thinking, “they said there was supposed to be breaks between contractions! where’s the breaks?!” lol With baby number two’s due date approaching in only 4 1/2 weeks I am hoping and praying to not have to be induced again! I would really like to experience “normal” labor.
Right?! The pitocin is SO intense. Hopefully labor will start on its own this time. Praying everything goes well for you and your new little one.