One Mom's Perspective: Why I Chose a Natural Childbirth After Two Births with Epidurals
A little about me: I am 35 years old and recently had my 3rd baby. I have two amazing children from my previous marriage. And 4 awesome bonus children...yes, you read that correctly! We have 7 children between the 2 of us!!!
No matter how you look at it having a baby hurts and it has to come out! If you receive an epidural and it doesn't hurt during it hurts after!! But know that you can go into this with a birth plan and as long as it’s a normal, healthy delivery you can control how your baby enters the world!
I had my first baby at 23 years old. Other than some preterm labor issues and anemia I had a fairly easy pregnancy and a perfect delivery. I was put on bed rest at 34 weeks due to preterm labor. My water broke at home at 37 weeks. I received an epidural shortly after arriving at the hospital so I never really felt real labor contractions and I only pushed for a few minutes. He was 6lbs and perfect and I was so in love! To be honest it was exactly what I hoped his birth would be and I wouldn't change a thing.
Things were very different the second time around! My second baby was a surprise, I got pregnant when Maison was 11 months old! I was still breastfeeding him so ladies make sure to get on birth control!!! You most certainly can get pregnant while breastfeeding!!! ....9 months later my little girl Kaylee was born, I was SO excited when I found out I was having a girl. She and Maison are 19 months apart. For quite some time I had 2 in diapers and a husband who was always deployed and we lived in Hawaii so I was alone A LOT! Kaylee is a sassy, feisty, beautiful 9 year old who came out swinging! Literally!! The nurses called her Rocky because her whole right side was bruised! My pregnancy with her was rough, I had the same preterm labor issues as I did with Maison but this time I also had gestational hypertension and gestational diabetes.
I was induced with Kaylee at 39 weeks because of my blood pressure. I'm not going to lie... being induced SUCKS! Induction is making your body do something that it's not ready to do. The worst part about my labor with Kaylee was the epidural. Apparently the anesthesiologist was having an "off day". He couldn't get my epidural in correctly. I lost count after his EIGHTH attempt...OMG! I was in labor for 24 hours, it was AWFUL. Luckily though I only pushed for less than a half hour. She was born 8lbs 12oz...She was HUGE for how little I am!! (5'2 and 110lbs)
They say your second childbirth is supposed to be easier but mine was ROUGH! She was a mess, I was a mess and so there are no pictures of us in the hospital or the first few days home. The first week we were home I had awful spinal headaches from the epidural...I was miserable. I was so excited to have a little girl and yet my labor experience was so horrible this time. I was devastated. I swore if I ever had another child I would NOT have an epidural and I would be in charge of my body and how my baby entered the world!
Now fast forward almost 9 years. I have 2 children, I've found the most amazing man and have 4 bonus kids. I found out I was pregnant on New Year’s Eve. We had just returned home from a road trip to NC with ALL our kids. It was unseasonable warm and we both were covered from head to toe with poison ivy! UGH! We spent NYE on the couch covered in calamine lotion and no wine because we found out that morning I was pregnant!
My youngest was 8 years old when I found out I was pregnant and with an age gap like that you feel like you are doing this all for the first time! I read every article I could find on pregnancy, labor and delivery (which is why I decided to write this). I read a ton on natural birth and decided that this was the best option for me when it came time to deliver my little girl. I ended up using a lot of what I read during my natural labor but still wasn't prepared for how bad it hurt!!
I had a very healthy pregnancy this time around, it was the first one where I didn't have any preterm labor issues! I also didn't gain as much weight as I did with the first two and no Gestational Diabetes!! The main thing I did different this time??? I ate very clean and took nutritional supplements.
I was diagnosed with gestational hypertension again and was monitored weekly the last few months of pregnancy. At my last few appointments my blood pressure was elevated and baby was measuring small so they started talking about inducing me. I DID NOT want to be induced again so I started trying to get her out on my own! Being induced would make my plan for a natural birth much harder. The induction drugs make your contractions stronger than normal and labor tends to be a lot longer. Being my third baby I was praying for a very quick labor!
I tried Evening Primrose Oil both orally and vaginally (which did absolutely nothing but make an oily mess lol) I drank gallons of Red Raspberry leaf tea and while it tasted good it didn't put me in labor either, it did make me pee A TON. I walked 2-4 miles a day and swam laps at the YMCA...still nothing. I was 1-2cm dilated but this baby was being stubborn!! On August 11th I went in for my weekly OB appointment and due to my elevated BP and baby being small (they were estimating her to be around 5lbs) they told me that I was going to be induced TODAY and needed to head to the hospital. OMG I had been trying to kick start labor but this made everything so real! We had to run home and get my hospital bag, take our 9 year old to her friend’s house and off to the hospital we went!
My midwife decided to use Cervidil to induce me as it provided the best chance of me having the natural labor I wanted. Cervidil is a tiny little pill that is inserted vaginally behind your cervix. It ripens the cervix and induces labor. Mine was inserted at 8pm and within a half hour I started to feel mild contractions. When you have a natural labor you aren't confined to a bed on your back like you are with an epidural. You can be up walking around, bouncing on a birthing ball or in a birthing tub which allows gravity to help your body push the baby out. By 10pm the contractions were intense and boy was I bouncing on that birthing ball!
As much I researched natural labor I had no clue just how bad it would hurt!!! After about 2 hours bouncing on the ball I decided to go for a walk, after all one of the perks of natural birth is not being stuck on your back with a catheter! Walking definitely helped her move down but wow I wasn't prepared for how strong my contractions got! I never realized what the rails along the walls in hospitals were for until now! I had to stop and hold on to them with every contraction. We probably walked for an hour before I couldn't take anymore. After my walk I decided to try out the birthing tub for a bit. The hot water helped take the edge off each contraction and relaxed me a bit. While in tub my midwife kept reminding me not to fight the contractions and let my body go with it. This is SO much harder than you would think! When you feel that kind of pain your first reaction is to tense up! It takes a lot of focus and determination to get through. It definitely helped to see and feel what was happening with my body while in the tub. With some of the contractions fluid and blood would come out. I could SEE that things were progressing...when you are flat on your back and numb you have NO clue what is going on down there!
We are now 6 hours into labor and wow were my contractions strong!! I got back in the bed hoping for some rest. This is where things got very intense! Everything I read prior to labor said to go with your contractions and not to fight them, just like my midwife said.... easy right?! Lol She had to remind me of this all night!! The pain was so strong the only way I can think to describe it is your lower half being ripped from your upper body! (Sorry first time mamas no sugar coating here!) Having had an epidural with both prior births I really never felt active labor contractions. I had no idea what I was in for. You have to really be strong and have your mind set on going natural to get through it. You also need a VERY supportive coach and midwife who won't let you give up! Around 3am (so 7 hours into labor) I was ready to give up. I was done. The pain was awful and my cervix just wasn't dilating. Every contraction seemed to get stronger and I told Mike (my coach) and my midwife that I was done and wanted an epidural NOW! They both knew how badly I wanted to do this natural so they started making deals with me. Can you tell I'm a feisty Scorpio?! They would say: its 3am....let’s wait until 3:30am and then we can check you and see how dilated you are. This went on for hours.... I was SO mad at them but they held their ground and kept me strong!
One of the things that helped me get through the most was them counting down the contractions, when one would start they would tell me when I was halfway through it, when it was winding down and then it would be over. It gave me a point of reference....something tangible. The pain is so great that when they didn't do this it felt like the contraction would go on FOREVER!! A few times Mike got distracted by people calling or texting to check on me and would forget to talk me through one. I remember grabbing his shirt at one point and YELLING at him to put down the damn phone and count!!! Not my finest moment but hey, I was pushing a human out of my lady space! Lol
At around 5:30am I threw in the towel. I was 10 hours in and stuck at 6cm. I was shaking and exhausted and felt like labor was never going to end. I DEMANDED an epidural. They called the anesthesiologist and I felt defeated. I just couldn't go on any longer. I guess several moms were in labor that morning because it took him 45 minutes to get to me and then even he tried to talk me out of the epidural! Lol I was so tired and just wanted to sleep so I told him to do it. He administered the epidural around 6:30am, about 10 min after he was done I asked why it wasn’t' working?? My contractions didn't feel any lighter and now I had the urge to push! My midwife checked me and Anya was crowning!!! OMG!! I pushed for 2 minutes and 11 seconds (we have it on video) and she was FINALLY HERE!!!!
And guess what....that epidural NEVER really kicked in!!!! I felt everything and in a roundabout way got the natural birth I so desperately wanted!!
They say that when you feel like you can't go on, when you are ready to give up, that you are SO CLOSE!! And it's true! I went from 6-10cm in a matter of minutes.
My stubborn little girl was so feisty in my belly that when she came out she had the cord around her neck and a double knot in the cord!
My recovery this time was SO much quicker and easier! I was up walking around right away, it wasn't like that with my other two. A week later I barely felt like I just had a baby. Having a natural birth or choosing to receive an epidural is a very personal decision and there is no right or wrong answer. Do what your heart tells you and do NOT listen to outside opinions! It's your body and your baby!! I hope this helps some of you with your decision! Good luck mamas!!!