by Rebecca, USA
Amanda was my first child and I had a lot of negative images related to childbirth coming into my pregnancy. I had worked in a hospital and most of the births I saw were not pleasant. However, aided with a couple friend's positive natural birth stories, I played with the idea of having my baby naturally. I mentioned my desire to my OB and she recommended Bradley classes because as she said, even if you end up getting an epidural, the education in the Bradley classes is the best and you will know everything that is happening to you.
After my husband and I completed the Bradley classes, I was determined to have Amanda naturally. I kept reminding myself of my teacher who was a self-proclaimed wimp and if she could do it, she said so could I!
Well, I was induced with Cytotek** and that was actually fine, got labor going. As labor progressed (I was in the hospital for the entire process) I felt so in tune with my body and it just felt so, well, natural. Nothing ever felt out of control or really “painful” in the sense of what pain had always meant to me in the past, an injury. This pain was like my menstrual cramps, although much more intense, but I could feel everything happening and my labor was 20 hours in all so I had lots of time to adjust to the changes.
After 12 hours of labor, my contractions became very erratic and my doctor showed up and recommended pitocin. I shot my doula a look of dread b/c I felt that if I had pitocin, I couldn't go naturally. Well, she had me get up and do some side lunges because the doctor confirmed that the baby's head was not favorable for delivery, she had turned. After about 20 minutes of these exercises and moving my position to lean forward on an exercise ball, my contractions returned and I was about ready to push!
Pushing was just hard work for me, no pain, honestly. I didn't experience the ring of fire as they call it (however, I did feel that for my second child's speedy delivery). My doctor said she'd never seen a tighter perineum and I pushed for almost 4 hours before Amanda's little head popped out. She was so alert and stared back and forth between my husband and I for a long time. She started breastfeeding on her own and we delayed her bath and measurements for a couple hours so we could all bond and get breastfeeding started.
For me, practicing relaxation throughout my pregnancy so I knew how to truly relax during the contractions and having a great support system, my mother, doula, husband and OB, made Amanda's birth so healthy and beautiful for all of us. It is a great start for your baby and the most empowering experience of my life. For personal reasons, I feel safer birthing in a hospital, but if you can have your baby at home, I think it is much better because you don't have to worry about any transitions once you are in labor!
My second child, Elissa, was born naturally as well. I was more educated this time and opted not to have an induction. Labor was on and off for one week, yes, every night I would have contractions for 3-5 hours but they would go away when I went to sleep at night.
One of the nights they were so intense, I had my doula come and my husband packed the car because we thought it was the real thing…so, you've all heard these stories, when the real thing came, I wasn't convinced. I woke about 2:30 in the morning and had contractions that were not uncomfortable really, but were pretty regular. I got up and went downstairs to see if they went away. They intensified but weren't bad, but at 5am, I woke my husband and said I think I'm in real labor this time. He got ready and my doula came over at 6:00. I labored until 6:30 when my water started leaking.
I couldn't believe it, then I knew it was time to get to the hospital because with Amanda, my water broke just before I started pushing and so I assumed we were closer than any of us thought. We got to the hospital and I was pretty uncomfortable by now. The doctor said I was 8 cm dilated, but I knew it would be no time before I had this baby. After just an hour at the hospital, Elissa was born after about 4 pushes, yes, this pushing was painful! No doubt about it. But I had no time to worry about that because she was out and in my arms so fast!
I felt great, was walking around immediately and my recovery was so fast. Since I hardly pushed, I didn't go through the 6 week recovery I had with my first daughter. I was running within 4 weeks with no pain at all. I share my story because I read at least a hundred others before I had my first baby which gave me the courage to try.
**editor's note: Cytotek is used to induce labor in some hospitals, however, it is not meant for that purpose and therefore used “off-label.” Studies have shown that Cytotek increases the risk of uterine rupture.
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