Not long after my husband and I got married, we had a pregnancy scare. Not that it was a “scare” because we always wanted to have kids.
But I was scared.
I was freaked out, in fact. I wanted to have a kid, but I didn’t want to give birth. After I saw that minus sign on the pregnancy test and felt that sweet relief, I knew it was time to educate myself on birth and how to have a good one.
It was time to prepare for labor.
I knew that there had to be some positive experiences out there. But the culture I grew up in had so ingrained in me that birth was scary, painful, and dangerous even. And, there were stories to back this up.People love to share their birth “horror stories” it seems. I grew up hearing them. My own mother, bless her heart, almost died having me!
If birth was so terrifying and painful, then perhaps an epidural or medication of some sort was necessary. A medicated birth was needed to cut the pain, right?
A coworker at the time was pregnant and I remember talking to her about her upcoming birth. She had chosen to give birth in the hospital and I said “oh it’s a good thing you’ll have the epidural.”
“Actually,” she said, “I’m not going to get an epidural.”
I gave her the “you’re crazy!” Look. Who on earth wouldn’t get an epidural? Do people even do that? On purpose?!
As I started researching and learning about birth, I started questioning my misconceptions.
If birth is painful, then why do all other animals in nature give birth painlessly and easily?
If birth was supposed to be dangerous, then how is it that women were giving birth for centuries without medication or intervention?
I started to read birth stories, and discovered that there are many positive experiences and even some pain-free ones!
Even without an epidural!
Maybe my misconceptions were making me afraid of the unknown.
Maybe birth was natural.
Maybe there was nothing to fear.
Maybe birth wasn’t meant to be scary.
Maybe it wasn’t meant to be painful.
In my research, I found that epidurals can slow down labor. I didn’t realize that before. My mother had 30+ hour labors that ended in csections, so I wanted to avoid that at all cost. I wondered if her having an epidural slowed labor down enough that she wouldn’t dilate.
Also, I discovered that epidurals hinder the release of oxytocin during birth. It doesn’t eliminate oxytocin, but I heard that you don’t feel as much euphoria at delivery.
You don’t feel the birth high.
I want to stress that a natural birth may not be for everyone. Sometimes, there may be a good reason to have an epidural. There is no shame in that. And, you can still have a positive birth experience no matter what type of birth you have—even a csection!
I’m convinced that every birth is beautiful in its own way. Because it ends in life! A natural birth may not be for you, but I hope you enjoy reading why I chose one.
After a long struggle and much reading and research about birth and epidurals, I eventually decided that a natural, med-free birth was for me. Here’s why…
*disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and the info in this post is my own opinion and advice based on my own experience. You’ll want to check with your doctor or midwife if you have questions.
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1) I wanted to feel pushing
I have heard some women who had epidurals say that they could feel the pushing. However, I have heard others say that they couldn’t.
I wanted to feel the pushing. If there was a chance that I wouldn’t, then I didn’t want the epidural.
What would it be like to feel your baby’s head coming through the birth canal? I wanted to know! I thought that every millimeter that the baby moved would be another moment to bond with him internally before he was no longer in my belly.
Another reason that I wanted to feel pushing is because… I’m a control freak. I hate being told what to do. If I couldn’t feel pushing and a doctor was yelling at me telling me when to push, I knew I’d end up knocking him out.
I had read that in natural births, the pushing contractions will move the baby out. You just get to work with your body, breathe, push when you feel the power, and the baby will come out.
This has been my experience with two natural births, and I am so thankful that I went with my gut which was saying that I wanted to feel the pushing.
2) I didn’t want the effects of an epidural
The truth is that epidurals can slow down labor. That is why doctors won’t give epidurals until you have dilated a certain amount. They don’t want the epidural to stop labor.
Because my mother had two marathon labors, I wanted to do everything I could to keep labor progressing quickly in case I also had a long labor. I’m glad I did. My first labor was 30 hours and I believe that an epidural would have slowed things down.
Instead, we threw a dance party! And I dilated 5cm in less than two hours! Because epidurals slow things down, I wanted to do everything I could to speed things up so that I wasn’t too exhausted to push near the end.
In addition to slowing labor, epidurals can also hinder breastfeeding. I had heard that epidurals can make the baby lethargic which can make it hard to breastfeed.
While I’m sure that is not always the case and there are many factors at play in breastfeeding, I wanted to do everything I could to ensure breastfeeding success with my first baby.
I had such an easy time breastfeeding my first baby that an epidural probably wouldn’t have caused any harm. It’s hard to say. But, either way, I didn’t get it and I don’t regret it.
I had some selfish reasons for not wanting an epidural as well. The thought of having a needle stuck into my spine to inject fluid makes me cringe. And, I really don’t like the thought of having a catheter which is necessary with the epidural because you can’t feel your lower region. None of that sounds very fun to me. I’d rather feel the pain.
3) I wanted to use natural pain relieving methods instead
I knew going into labor that I was well equipped to handle the intensity of contractions. Because I had taken the time to prepare myself with coping techniques, I felt confident that I didn’t need pain meds.
There were so many tips and tricks that I used to cope with contractions. I had my husband and a doula for support, I used movement to work with my body, and I utilized a birth tub and shower to name a few.
For my second birth, I also had homeopathic pain relieving remedies on hand and essential oils to help with contractions and found that those worked for me.
Above all, I knew that the oxytocin released during labor is a natural pain reliever. So, I trusted my body and the birth process and found that I didn’t need the epidural.
Related: 5 Secrets to Avoid Pain in Labor
I say all this to explain why I chose a natural birth. However, natural birth may not be for everyone. And, there are times when an epidural may be needed.
There is no shame in getting an epidural! And there certainly is no shame in choosing not to have a med-free birth. Sometimes intervention is needed and I’m glad that we have doctors for those times.
After reading this, don’t feel bad if you still want an epidural.
You own your birth.
The goal isn’t to have a natural, pain-free labor. Rather, it’s to have a positive and empowering birth story. No matter what that may look like for you.
You might be wondering about my coworker who didn’t want the epidural. Well, she did indeed have a natural hospital birth experience. Without an epidural! Her birth story was so inspiring for me and made me start considering a natural, non-medicated birth for myself.
There are so many positive, inspiring (and even some pain-free) natural birth stories. If you’re like me and all you’ve heard are negative and scary stories, throw them out and replace them with the good stuff.
You too can have a positive birth experience!
Did you choose to have a natural birth without drugs or an epidural? What were your reasons?