When I found out I was pregnant I began to read all I could about labor and birth. My heart’s desire was for a totally natural birth experience. And I wanted to make sure my birth experience would help (rather than hinder) breastfeeding. I was alarmed, however, at the incredibly high C-section rate in America (which was about 33%). I realized quickly that selecting the right doctor was very important. I wanted a doctor who was experienced with natural childbirth – not just a vaginal delivery. Many Obgyn’s have never truly experienced a natural birth. I wanted to make sure that if there was a problem and I needed intervention I wouldn’t look back and wonder if that intervention was really necessary. The more research I did, the more I wanted to consider home birth as an option; however, my husband was definitely not ready for this. We compromised with a midwife that would deliver in a hospital. We also took a Bradley Class and hired a doula. The doula made me feel more comfortable because I knew that hospitals have rules and regulations and can really pressure you if your birth isn’t progressing as fast as they think it should. The Bradley class was good, but the best part was that my husband came to understand why I wanted a natural birth and how that was healthier for both mom and baby.
Well, let’s fast forward to the birth . . . four days before my due date I had mild contractions throughout the day. That evening I started having intense contractions that began to come very quickly (this was about 10 p.m.). We began to write them down and time really seemed to stand still. (It’s amazing how clearly you can think but I remember being unable to really communicate my thoughts.) We called our doula that was going to come out to our house and labor with us before heading to the hospital. However, when she talked to me on the phone she said we needed to go straight to the hospital. I’ll admit, I was scared to get to the hospital too earlier. My goal was to arrive when I was about 9 cm, push out the baby, and then head back home. So, when I arrived and they told me I was only dilated 2 cm, my heart just sank inside. It was about 1:30 a.m.
The midwifery unit that we wanted to deliver with only delivered between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. so in my mind I was thinking that I just had to make it until 6 a.m. I had prayed about a natural birth so long and I thought the only way I would have it was with a midwife. I asked for a birth ball and labored on it for a little while. Then my water broke. I’ve heard of some women’s water just leaking out but mine was a gush. Shortly thereafter I remember saying that I had pushed through a contraction. Our doula went to get the nurse to check me. Reluctantly she did and to her amazement I was at 10 cm. The hospital was scrambling because they didn’t even have me in a room and her head was about to crown. I had a total of 5 pushing contractions and Lydia was born. She was born at 3:10 a.m. so it was with a doctor and not a midwife. However, it all happened so fast they didn’t have time to intervene and it was the natural birth I had hoped.
Being in a hospital, they still had rules and regulations to follow and since she had passed meconium at the very end they took her for oral suctioning immediately following delivery before being laid on me in skin-to-skin contact. Other than this, it was exactly how I’d dreamed.
Having a natural birth was absolutely amazing. Yes, the contractions were painful however, it is not more than I could bear. In between contractions I felt fine. I could feel the urge to push and had the freedom to push as my body wanted to and in any position that I wanted. I tore only a little (2 stitches) and I was running again 10 days after she was born. Lydia was born alert and awake. She nursed in skin-to-skin contact and got colostrum and then we cuddled together for a couple of hours. It is one of the most special memories of my life.
My advice if you are considering a natural childbirth is this: purpose that in your heart beforehand. If you take a “wait and see” approach, you’ll more than likely end up with pain meds. . . which can be a slippery slope to other interventions. Know why you want what you do and be prepared with a birth plan. Choose your doctor wisely; this cannot be emphasized enough. Finally, don’t worry during labor and enjoy the experience. Birth can be exhilarating but it doesn’t always go as planned (as with my twins’ birth)…and that is okay too. Do everything you can to prepare, and then don’t worry about the rest!