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Full disclosure: This is a long post and not meant for the faint of heart. There’s details here folks. You have been warned.
Giving birth naturally is definitely a trial of determination. If you are pregnant and thinking about having a natural birth, you should definitely check out these tips for actionable steps you can take today to prepare.
I hate needles. So. Much.
One of the biggest surprises I had when I got pregnant was how often I had to get stabbed with a damn needle. It seemed like every visit they had to draw more blood or give me a new shot for something. It sucked!
So, it was an easy decision for me to choose a natural birth. I wanted zero medications at all.
Have you seen the needle they use for epidurals?? Uhm.... how about NO.
I also watched The Business of Being Born on Amazon, and totally jumped on board. I wanted a gentle water birth at home with a midwife - the whole thing.
Then, I spoke to my insurance and my husband. Turns out, insurance wouldn’t cover the home birth - no practicing midwives in my area took my insurance - and we couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket.
So, I ended up delivering in a hospital.
I did do a ton of research and made it my top priority to find a hospital that really supported unmedicated births.
I ended up choosing is an industry-leading hospital and medical team that actually staffs midwives, supports rooming-in with baby, encourages skin-to-skin, along with a ton of other items on my list.
My doctor was totally supportive of my plan from the get-go, and was very experienced with multiple awards over the length of her career. Needless to say, I was confident in my choice by the end.
My daughter was due on Dec. 25, 2016. Yep - that’s Christmas Day folks. It was pretty awesome how my whole family was watching me like a hawk the whole day in case I spontaneously went into labor. Guess who was not born on Christmas.
On the 26th, my doctor started talking to me about the possibility of induction if baby doesn’t arrive in the next 10 days. I started to worry. I did not want to induce!
So, I started trying all of the methods people suggest to encourage baby to come naturally.
Just an FYI - none of it works. There’s lots of anecdotal evidence and vaguely scientific hypotheses, but nothing has ever truly been proven to work.
I should have stayed home, slept more, gone out to movies more, and just enjoyed life a bit more.
Instead, I was traipsing around the neighborhood in the dead of winter and drinking way too much disgusting red raspberry leaf tea. The sex was fun - and the last I’d have of it for a long time - so that was worth it.
I went into labor in the early morning hours on January 2nd. I’d had Braxton-Hicks contractions for months by this point, but this was distinctly different.
I know every expectant mother Googles “what do labor contractions feel like” at least once. For me, there was a very obvious difference.
Braxton-Hicks contractions felt like my whole belly was tightening. They were weird and something I’d only ever felt while pregnant.
Labor contractions are oddly familiar. It feels like first day period cramps. Like the ones you get and you KNOW that red river is flowing so you’d better do something about it RIGHT NOW.
Obviously, I wasn’t having my period. And within a minute, the contraction was gone completely. About 5-7 minutes later, it was back. This continued like this for about an hour or so before I woke Ronald up.
He, of course, jumped out of bed and started running around like a chicken without its head. He didn’t know what to do, only that he needed to do something!
I think we are all so conditioned by tv and movies to expect birth to be some crazy-fast, highly dramatized thing. It’s not. It’s slow and long and almost boring... until it’s not.
We were waiting for the 5-1-1. Contractions 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long for 1 hour. In the meantime, we both took a nap, had a shower, and ate some breakfast.
I think we actually labored at home for about 3-4 hours before going to the hospital. The anticipation was grueling.
Triage checked me in. I apparently have a very high and long cervix, and the doctor had a very difficult time “checking” me. She actually caused me quite a lot of pain to the point that I was crying, and refused to get checked again for hours.
Obviously, they decided that I was, in fact, in labor. Unlucky for me, I had to have a stint put in for an IV “just in case” - I was not pleased.
We had to wait for a room to free up on the Labor and Delivery floor. So, we spent the next hour or so slow dancing in our Triage room.
Swaying on my feet really made the contractions very tolerable. I remember even saying once, “Honey, if this is labor, I’ve got it in the bag!” Ha!
I breathed through each contraction and grinned at him when they passed. We were both very nervous and excited.
I turned down the proffered wheelchair when they came to take us down to L&D. I remember the room being spacious with an ominous looking bed just off center in the room.
There was a huge tub for laboring in as well as a shower and a couch. Everything else was all “hospital stuff” - things with flashing lights and things that beeped.
I had time to change into my delivery gown - a gorgeous one that my friend had gotten for me - and was finally comfortable and ready to go.
I kept asking for my doctor, but she wasn’t able to come in that day. That really sucked.
Shortly after getting in the room, things started to ramp up. For some reason, I wanted to be on my feet while laboring. So, I spent the majority of the time walking back and forth, gripping my husband’s arm for security the whole time.
Eventually, the contractions started getting strong enough that I was having a hard time walking. So, I stood - or hung more like - from R’s neck and kind of rocked back and forth. Thank god for tall men!
I wanted to get in the shower because I’d heard that it would provide some relief. The nurse wouldn’t let me saying “I’m not delivering this baby in the there!” She was a witch. But with a B instead of a W.
In birthing classes they teach you to breathe and they teach you the different stages of labor. They will say things like “oh, in this stage, contractions will be 1-2 minutes apart”.
Sure on the little monitor it looks like the contractions are a whole minute apart. In reality, they feel like they are back to back with little respite in between.
It was intense!!!
I fought them. I didn’t want to go with it. I couldn’t remember how they told me to breathe. That crap didn’t seem to help at all anyways.
Every few hours they wanted me to lie on the bed so the doctor could check my cervix and see how things were progressing. That was agony.
For some reason, lying down amplified everything tenfold. I have no clue how some women do it! I would either have lost my mind or gotten the epidural within the hour, maybe even within minutes.
As soon as I was off my back, everything went back to a tolerable range.
At the 11th hour, the doctor asked if I wanted her to break my waters. She said it would hurry things along. I totally agreed. It’s been FOREVER already! Pop that sucker. Let’s go.
First of all, nothing prepares you for the unbelievable amount of liquid that comes out. It was crazy!! I was almost embarrassed, because it felt like I had just peed myself in front of everyone... and I had zero control over the flow. Just. Omg.
Thank goodness that didn’t happen in public.
Secondly, it did speed things along. In a big way. The contractions immediately got way stronger and started coming so quickly I had difficulty telling when one ended and the next began.
I think at one point, I was on the bed on my hands and knees, watching my sweat dripping onto the pillow, and wondering why in hell I chose this for myself.
Even weirder, the stint in my wrist hurt with every contraction and somewhere in my mind that really bothered me. Like why would they put this unnatural object there just to make things worse??
The intensity was through the roof. I can’t explain it beyond that. Not specifically painful. Painful is stubbing your toe. This was primal. Most of those last two hours, I wasn’t aware of anything outside of my body.
The nurse instructed me not to push unless she told me to. Screw that. My body was done with this labor, and I was pushing.
Shortly (or was it? Time was really fluid at that point) after, I felt like I needed to go #2. Apparently, that oddly normal feeling in the middle of the chaos that is labor means that the baby is coming. Finally.
They made me get on the bed - damn them - and suddenly a half dozen people came running in the room. Everyone was disassembling the bottom half of the bed, grabbing my legs, yelling stuff at me like “push!”
It was suddenly just like in the movies. In that I got irritated at all the yelling and promptly stopped laboring long enough to tell everyone to SHUT UP.
Then, R looked at me with the most elated look I’d ever seen and said, “She’s coming!” I think he said more, but I promptly shut my eyes again and focused on pushing.
A couple moments later, Tiffy was born into the world.
She was beautiful. Not just because I’m her mother and therefore biased. She really was.
She was born pink - not all bruised and blotchy - just pink and nearly bald. She had light slate grey eyes that were wide open and alert. A tiny mouth, tiny hands, tinier toes.
R cut the umbilical cord. The nurse laid her on my chest, and I brilliantly said “Oh! Hi...” And suddenly, I was a mother.
Giving birth to her was by far and beyond the most intense experience of my life.
If it wasn’t for R supporting me mentally (reminding me to focus on baby and telling me I was doing great) and physically (literally supporting my weight and massaging my back), I would not have been able to have the birth experience I wanted.
Without interventions or medications, my baby was born wide awake and alert.
I was able to hold her right away. I was able to walk to the bathroom as soon as I wanted to. Most significantly, I was able to experience this incredible gift to be able to create a life, grow her, and then bring her into this world with my body. How empowering is that?!
I now know that I did it all wrong. Ha! It could have been so much easier! If you want to know what I’m talking about you can read my Natural Birth: Round 2.
I probably could have gone into more detail, but then I’d be writing a novel! Instead, I’ll leave the comments open below. I read them all, so please share your stories or ask any questions you might have and I’ll do my best to answer!
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