I was hesitant to write this post because the manner in which you wish to bring your child into this world is such a personal decision. Sometimes when I share with people that we chose natural childbirth (meaning a drug-free delivery), I am concerned that I have put people on the defensive because that is not the route they chose to take. When in reality, I feel like ALL women who go through childbirth have accomplished something incredible…whether through a c-section, with the help of an epidural, naturally, or whatever. This is just our story…
I decided that I wanted to “go natural” for a lot of reasons. First, after some research, I found that natural childbirth resulted in lowering the chance of medical intervention. This was something that was important to us. I also wanted my body to be fully aware and my mind coherent during the whole process (I know, crazy, right?). I know that our bodies were created to do this feat, so I really wanted to feel it happening. I wanted to feel Kate (my little girl) work with me as the contractions helped her along the way.
Another reason was just the sheer challenge of it all. I grew up playing sports and am very competitive. I think in a way I looked at childbirth as an athletic challenge…one that I trained for for 10 months. Knowing that I had to be in good physical shape for the actual birth really motivated me to work out and go to yoga class regularly. My Obgyn said once that preparing for childbirth is like training for a marathon. I really took that to heart.
We also chose to go natural because it really stressed teamwork and the husband’s involvement. We used the “Bradley Method,” which is a “husband-coached” childbirth method. Bruce, my husband, was truly my epidural. If he wasn’t there pressing on my back and helping me in and out of a warm bath and counting down my contractions and reminding me to breathe and sneaking me Gatorade and crackers, I NEVER would have made it through.
Bruce and I participated in 12 week training. We attended Bradley classes once a week. The key to succeeding in natural childbirth is knowledge and training and these classes provided just that. We learned about everything… the whole child birthing process, the stages of labor, techniques to working through contractions, watching videos of births, pregnancy nutrition, etc. The saying knowledge is power absolutely applies to this experience! For instance, I was better equipped to endure the contractions because I understood them.
After all of the training and learning, the day/night finally came. My contractions woke me up around 2 a.m. I labored at home until around 6 a.m. When we arrived at the hospital, I was already 6 cm dilated…yay! We were fortunate that my labor was very textbook, meaning that I progressed pretty steadily and there were no complications. I spent A LOT of time in the tub because the warm water helped my muscles relax and also did a lot of bending over the bed so my husband could press as hard as he could on my lower back. All of the breathing I had been doing in Yoga also REALLY applied here. Yes, the contractions were intense. But, up until about 7-8 cm I was thinking, “this is really tough but I can handle it.”
Then I hit what they call “transition” and that is when…well, at the risk of scaring anyone off that might be considering natural childbirth, let’s just say it was very intense. During those contractions (which started to be one on top of the other), Bruce literally pressed as hard as he could on my back to create counter pressure and counted out loud the time that had past so I knew how much longer I had to endure. Most importantly, I had to remind myself that instead of fighting the contractions, I must let them happen and ride them out. I had to let my baby make her way.
The beauty of labor is that your contractions only last so long and then nature gives you a break. Yes in the end, my breaks were VERY short, but that was a small portion of my overall experience. All in all, just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, my body and baby gave me a break. Then we went at it again.
My water didn’t break until I was basically fully dilated. We had learned in our classes that you want your “bag of waters” to stay intact as long as possible because it actually serves as a cushion for your baby, thus taking a bit of the edge off your contractions. So we were fortunate to have held onto it that long. Shortly after the water breaking I was ready to push. Again, because I was fully feeling everything that was going on, I was literally able to feel Kate moving forward in my birth canal. I know that sounds a little graphic but the point is, I was constantly getting feedback, literally…I was getting rewarded by feeling her advance, which in turn motivated me to keep going!
After just about an hour of pushing, Kate greeted us with a big healthy cry, one that was music to our ears! We didn’t know if Kate was going to be a girl or boy, so that made it all the more exciting! After the delivery, it was amazing how quickly I went back to feeling like myself. I didn’t have to wait a while for anything to leave my system and it was nice to be able to walk around with our new baby. To say that I felt like I just won an Olympic race and Kate was my gold medal would be an understatement!
I also have to thank Dr. Schneider from the Bradford Clinic and the nurses at Presby. Schneider was our ideal OB…he checked in periodically but really just let us do our thing. He and the staff were very supportive and appreciative of what we were trying to do from the beginning.
We will absolutely attempt natural childbirth again when the time comes for a second. I am so grateful for our experience. I am so grateful that I can remember it so vividly. I am so grateful for how it added to the strength of our marriage. Most importantly though, I am so grateful for that beautiful little baby that they laid on my chest.
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Dr. Schneider is without a doubt the BEST OB/GYN in town. Supportive, genious, conservative and funny! In this type of situation, everything you need!
Thanks for sharing your story!!! It was so inspiring..OH, and wasnt Kate in Hollister’s music class last year?
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I’m 39 weeks pregnant and waiting to start my first natural labor and delivery any day! (My 3 year old was born with every intervention there is, so I want to avoid all that this time.) Reading your encouraging story is just want I needed this morning!
What a beautiful story and thanks for sharing!
Yes, we were in Hollister’s class! Tell him Kate says hey! And thanks so much everyone for the comments and good luck to Mrs. 39 weeks! You can do it!
Yes, we were in Hollister’s class! Tell him Kate says hey! And thanks so much everyone for the comments and good luck to 39 weeks! You can do it! Anne W
What a great story. I am active on Charlottemommies.com and to be honest, most posters regarding natural childbirth on that forum, make you feel like if you do anything other than what they chose, you are just plain wrong. You have such a great attitude about it, one I wish I encountered more often. Your experience sounded wonderful!!
Thank you for sharing this story! I have had 3 babies – the first two delivered with no meds and the 3rd with an epidural (long story). I have to say that my unmedicated births were the most amazing experiences of my life. They were hard, no doubt about it, but I felt so much more present than when I had the epidural – which made it feel like an out of body experience. We did not do the Bradley method – but attended natural childbirth classes and I too found that my Yoga classes were helpful. We also had a doula present at the birth and she and my husband worked as a team to help me along on the “marathon” of birth! I hope that your post encourages others to at least consider natural childbirth! Congratulations!
You go girl!! I had 3 with out any meds … it is a great gift to yourself and the baby!!!
Gift to yourself? I think not!! Drugs for me please!
great job! i love natural birth stories. i had two really incredible natural births (one at home!) and i’m always reluctant to share because moms with other birth experiences seem to interpret it as bragging. but it is a real accomplishment to set a goal of natural birth, then to plan, prepare, train and achieve it!
Thanks for your story. Birth is an amazing story no matter what way you go. I too, did natural childbirth and it was possible in part to my doula. For those that haven’t used a doula, a doula is there during your entire labor to help you through the process in the way you would like. My doula was intrumental in creating the happy and positive environment we wanted. She talked to the nurses and helped convey my ideal birth and was there to give me suggestions to manage pain. The best part was she was my coach and my husband got to experience the whole birth as a dad and husband, just loving me. I highly recommend the use of a doula and you can find doulas in the area at http://www.charlottedoulas.org
I used drugs every time, although I almost had to go natural with the second one (thanks to that speedy anesthesiologist who arrived just in time). I give kudos to any woman who can go without!
Women should not underestimate themselves! Our bodies are designed to do this … we do not need to be delivered from pregnancy/birth. This is an event we are very much a part of and when it happens without medication, it greatly reduces the chances of heading down a path that may require more interventions.The best advice is to surround yourself with a supportive team – doctor, midwife, husband, doula, hospital, etc. You do not need people around you who will undermine your desire to experience the most empowering occurrence in your life.Certainly there are cases where medical intervention is necessary. But do your homework and make this as natural a process as possible if at all possible. Don’t shortchange yourself – you won’t regret it!
Awesome story! Made me tear up! So happy you shared your rewarding and beautiful birth. Isn’t it amazing how much more aware you are of life after such an experience?
I’m really glad that I stumbled across this thanks to Goggle Reader. I have had 2 daughters, but both were induced on their due dates and I chose an epidural both times. I was young and scared and didn’t know if I could handle the pain so I did it “the easy way.” But, now that I’ve been through it twice I feel unfulfilled in my labor/delivery experience. I have NO idea what it’s like to go into labor, I have no idea what it’s like to feel my child progress and move down my body. The nurses took my children right away and I didn’t get to nurse the one I breastfed until hours later. I don’t plan to be pregnant again any time soon, but it’s been weighing on my heart since my last child to try it different next time. Still, I’m scared because I have NO pain tolerance! But I’d rather work hard and try than to just give in. So, thanks for posting your story and encouraging others to keep at it. Where did you go to classes to learn about the Bradly Method?
Anne! I love this story…I can’t believe I have seen you every week for over a year and I never fully understood Kate’s birth story! Aston came in a similar way but we didn’t follow Bradley. I never am able to articulate my experience as well as you just have…really made me emotional…thanks for sharing.