I am wrapping up Doula & Natural Birth Week with one main message that I want to send out. To all of those expecting mothers out there that want to have a natural birth but aren’t sure if you can do it: I am here to tell you that you are not alone and you absolutely can have a natural birth if that is what you want (aside from any serious complications).
Us women have been conditioned our whole lives to believe that women are weak, pregnancy should be treated as an illness or disability, and that giving birth is some curse to women and should be controlled by man and medicine. This is all wrong. We are told how unbearably painful birth is and modern medicine has been insistent upon us avoiding that pain. Because ya know, women are weak and can’t get through it. WRONG.
Giving birth has made me realize that women are the strongest of the sexes and that we were built for this! We were literally built for this. Our body knows exactly what to do. Medical professionals like to make you think that you need medication and all this medical intervention but you don’t. (Apart from actual medical complications of course.) “But how do I get through a natural birth? What do I do when the contractions hit?”
I read a book called Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan during the last weeks of my second birth. It is extremely educational on how pregnancy and birth have been treated in the past times and how it is treated now. It sheds light on how unnecessary medical intervention is so common with births in America. It also helps to teach you how to deal with labor pains in a very natural way, without medication. You basically learn how to meditate during labor and let your body do what it was made to do without any unnecessary medical intervention. This is how I was able to have an all natural birth with my second pregnancy.
minutes after delivering my first son
I really wanted a natural birth with my first pregnancy. Unfortunately, I was taken by surprise by the Pitocin-induced contractions and asked for the epidural right away. I hated that I gave up so easily. I honestly think I was mentally defeated before anything even began. I remember mentioning on facebook about how I wanted to have a natural birth and another mom messaged me saying something along the lines of “You know you don’t get some special mom award for not getting medication. Just get the medication so you can relax.” That really dug deep into my head. She was basically saying there’s no point in dealing with the pain at all, so why bother. I wish I didn’t mention anything and that she never said that to me. I wish I hadn’t built it up in my head so much and let myself come to the conclusion that I couldn’t deal with labor naturally. I was terrified and anxious going into it and at the first sign of pain I had already told myself that I couldn’t do it.
That was a very defining moment for me. Even though I wanted a natural birth, deep down I didn’t think that I was strong enough to do it. I didn’t trust my body enough and I wasn’t prepared on how to deal with labor pains outside of those weird “hee hee hoo hoo” breathing exercises.
After having gone through my first birthing experience and seeing how much the epidural took away from me, I was determined more than ever to do a natural birth with my second child. I had to prove to myself that I could do it. I had to make myself let go and trust that my body knows what it’s doing. I had to do what I felt was best for my baby and not let myself get psyched out. I couldn’t let the fear take over. So I did my research. I looked up everything I could on how to deal with labor pains. I watched videos of birthing classes online. I spoke to people who had natural births. Then, I read about hypnobirthing.
I went into labor while I was at home. I labored in the living room watching cartoons with my 3-year-old and my husband worked on music with his friend in the next room. I told myself over and over and over again “You can do this. You were built for this. Trust your body. Your ancestors before you had natural births and you can too.” I used the methods that I read about in the book. I was freakishly relaxed. I was so relaxed that my husband hadn’t even realized just how far into labor I was. I only labored for around 5 hours. I progressed so quickly that we barely made it to the hospital in time. When I got to the hospital I was checked in, the nurse checked me over, then left. Her and my doctor assumed I had at least a few hours to go. Nope. I literally went from 7 cm dilated to 10 cm in a matter of minutes. I was as relaxed as I could be while going back and forth between screaming and meditating through the pain. I totally let go and let my body do what it needed to do.
skin to skin time with my second baby hours after giving birth
Before I even knew it, I was pushing my baby out and yelling at my husband to go get someone. He yelled in the hallway and the nurse ran in just in time to literally catch my son as he flew out. (ok, he obviously didn’t “fly” out haha) He came out so fast that I had 5 (I think) stitches and his nose and forehead were bruised. The looks on the faces of the nurses and the doctor as they scrambled in formation were priceless. They just couldn’t believe it. They were shocked that I did it all by myself, with no assistance, and at the rate of speed that it happened. To put it in perspective, natural births are so rare in hospitals that my nurse had been working there for around 15 yrs and had never witnessed one before. She didn’t even know what paperwork I needed to sign and didn’t need to sign because a lot of the paperwork was about epidurals and catheters. None of which I had.
I truly believe that I progressed so “unusually” fast because I was no longer afraid. I wasn’t fighting my body and trying to avoid what was going to happen. It was purely “mind over matter”. I just sat back and said, “ok, Mother Nature, do your thing.” Afterwards, I felt on top of the world. I remember telling my husband that I wanted to stand on top of a building and just yell “I DID IT!” I finally proved to myself that I was strong enough. That women are strong.
But it goes further than that. I have a completely different perspective on life now. When I am faced with a situation that probably would have broken me before I tell myself, “You gave birth to a baby all by yourself. You were strong enough to get through that and you are strong enough to get through this, too.”
Remember when I mentioned how that one mom told me it was pointless to do a natural birth? Well, I learned that it isn’t. Aside from it being the healthier option for you and your baby, it will change you. I had a “phoenix rising from the ashes” moment. You will have a new kind of confidence that will stay with you for the rest of your life. No one can take it away from you. So when the time comes and you still want to (and are medically able to) do a natural birth, don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t get through it or like there’s no point in it. Because you can and there is.
Just to be clear, this isn’t a piece about why you need to have a natural birth. If you want medication, that’s totally fine. Your body, your decisions. Don’t ever feel ashamed about it. I just want to let all you mamas know that if you want a natural birth, but are unsure of your strength to do so, just remember:
You were built for this!
my cousin & I at my baby
shower for my first son.
Are you considering a natural birth or know someone who is? Already have kids? Did your births go like you thought they would? There is a lot to learn in hearing other mama’s birth stories. So please share yours with us and read what other mamas in the community have experienced. We can all learn from each other’s experiences.
With love always,