Monday, November 28, 2011

Au Naturale.

I've asked this question several times on my blog, several times on Facebook, several times to people I know, several times to people I do not know ... you get the idea. The possibility of doing childbirth with no meds (what I will refer to as "natural", even though I'm not sure if that is the appropriate term) has been lingering in my mind for a few months now and I think I've decided that I want to do it.

I would say I want to "try" it, but I'm afraid going in with a "try" attitude won't cut it. I think I need to be resolute. And I am.

I think.

I have no huge agenda. I have no bias. This decision is one that is simply based on experience. Behold: I was dilated to a 7 with Cub, feeling great, and was totally sure I could go all the way without an epidural. I initially thought for sure I would get one, but because the pain was manageable, I was okay without. Then the doctor told me that Cub (who was sunny side up) had not flipped over and that maybe I should consider that epidural. So, I did. And Cub slowly flipped while I pushed, which resulted in a four-hour pushing marathon. Whee! I'm glad I had that epidural (or whatever was left of it by the time he was actually born).

Then there is the birth of sweet Naomi. I chose to be induced because I was Strep B positive and had been dilated for two weeks (I was a three the week of my induction). It was "easy" in the sense that we simply packed up, went to the hospital at the scheduled time, enjoyed a sleepover in the hospital, and by 1:00 the next day (after only five glorious minutes of pushing), there she was! Easy!

Both of the experiences were precious and perfect because they resulted in the birth of our children. I do not regret any decision and would not change a thing.


If I had to compare the two experiences physically, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my experience with Cub was the better physical experience (the labor, not the pushing). I knew what my body was doing and I was able to respond, with lots of help from my husband, and it was incredible. Don't get me wrong--any birth decision is a highly sensitive, completely personal choice and women have the right to choose what they want to do, including induction. I'm just saying that in my own, personal experience, going into labor naturally was the better experience for me. I think, too, that women have different pain tolerances--just because I "made it" to a 7 with Cub doesn't necessarily mean I handled pain better--maybe what I felt was the equivalent of what some women feel at a 3. It isn't fair to compare experiences. I don't believe that because you want to have a baby naturally that you are trying to prove anything. I'm not. I think the parenting that follows childbirth is enormously more important, with more to prove. Being a good Mom is a challenge all its own. I would not be doing this to prove anything, except that I can do it. Does that make sense?

Now. There are so many variables. Lydia is still breech and if she remains so as her due date draws nearer, it will present all kinds of different issues. I am completely open to whatever needs to be done. Only if she has flipped and everything is normal, will I do natural childbirth.

I have a friend who has graciously offered to be my doula. I'm beginning my research and my reading. My husband is having a harder time because he hates to see me in pain, but he supports the decision and has agreed to be in the trenches with me. I will give birth at my hospital, with my doctor (or whoever is on call).

So, that's it, friends. Those are the thoughts running through my head.

Now, I would love to hear the opinions of my readers. If you planned and experienced natural childbirth, what did you think? I want to clarify, too, that by "planned and experienced natural childbirth" I mean that you went into it with a plan and followed through. If you accidentally had the baby naturally because there wasn't enough time to get the epidural, I can imagine that would be completely horrible, since you had no time to prepare for the experience! You can definitely share that, too, if you'd like, but I would think that going into it with a plan would be a different experience than having it happen on accident. But, maybe I'm wrong!

I am imagining lots of pain, lots of begging for my epidural, possibly some naughty words, and, well, a healthy baby. That's the end goal.

Have a lovely day.


  1. Go natural!! Or try at least :) I agree that it all depends on how things go. If the labor is progressing at a fairly quick speed and your little gal is doing well and everything is "normal" I think natural is the way to go. I only have one birth experience to speak from, but I would highly recommend it. I was in labor for about 8 hours and pushed for 2 of those hours. I did everything naturally, but I really, really wanted to do everything naturally unless some unforseen complications came up. I guess I wanted to have a natural birth, because I felt like the way God created the whole birth process to work was the best and if at all possible that is what I wanted. And to be honest the thought of a huge needle going into my back freaked me out much more than labor. It also really helped me to remember that my mother and many, many other women before us have given birth naturally and I felt like if they could do it I certainly could too. When it was all said and done it was for sure painful, but isn't every birth experience?? And I was just glad that I really persevered and stuck to my own personal conviction if that makes any sense?? Anywho....this is getting long and you don't know me :) In conclusion, make a decision for yourself and be resolute! And then get your husband and doula to help you stick to your guns in the moment.

  2. I'm not one of those women that screams "go natural" because honestly I wouldn't do it myself. Having said that, my son was born via emergency c-section at 35 weeks so I didn't ever experience labor. I say do what you want you feel is best for you. If you want to do it without meds then go for it. I think you have an open mind about the whole thing so no matter what it'll be great.

  3. i have birth to my daughter without pain meds. it was something i wanted to do and felt strongly about. so i read a TON, researched and prepared. (i highly recommend reading up on the bradley method. it is awesome!) since i only have one baby i have nothing to compare it to...but, for me, it was easy. not nearly as awful as i expected. the last hour was pretty intense and painful but the other 22 hours weren't that bad at all!

    i think it's super important to have your husband on board. i could not have done it without his help. and it was crucial that he and the nurses not encourage me to get pain meds...because i think in the moment it would be easy to buckle under the pressure.

    i think you could totally do it! i honestly believe it's not as hard as we make it out to be. and afterwards...the adrenaline rush and the surge of hormones was amazing. i didn't sleep for DAYS because of the "high".

  4. I'm just commenting for the first time. My sister in law Katie recommended your blog. You should our other sister in laws blog. She had an all natural child birth. It's the first post she did.

  5. I've had two very different natural labors. #1: had pitocin, labored only in bed, started labor at 5cm, had water broken, labored for 6 hours, pushed for about 1 hour, extreme tearing, difficult recovery, delivered with an OB. #2 not hooked up to anything, just under 3 hours from start to finish (at hospital for 1.5 hours), got to hospital at 7 cm, jacuzzi tub for labor, under ten minutes of pushing, delivered with a midwife, minimal tearing, easy recovery.

    Here's what I think helps:
    a hospital or birthing center that supports natural childbirth
    a midwife- they are more present during the labor and more communicative with helping you through pushing etc...
    not being hooked up to things-get a hep lock only!
    a tub of warm water- this is very soothing during labor and i progressed quickly in the tub
    focus-you have to be very focused to make it through to the end. my second delivery was so fast that i had trouble keeping calm and focused and found it to be more painful during the delivery
    i've also heard a lot about hypnobirthing, which is something i plan to read up on when i become pregnant again

    what you don't want to do:
    have your water broken
    have pitocin
    have an unsupportive ob-i liked my ob up until my delivery. she arrived at the last minute, told me to push as hard as i could, and didn't even explain the extent of the tearing i had.
    be undecided in your plan-if you are at all riding the fence about getting an epidural, you will.

    To sum it up...
    I think pain-wise I had an easier time with my first delivery. I have heard from a few midwives that fast deliveries are often the most painful because they take what some people do over a 24 hour period and cram it into a couple hours. I did like the freedom I had with my second one and really loved my midwife. Even though my second delivery was more intense, it was a much easier recovery. I was standing up out of bed an hour later watching my daughter get her check up and first bath. I also got to pull her out and onto my chest. It was unplanned, but was awesome. My midwife had me reach down and pull her up onto me and I loved that. Also, both my babies were really calm when they were first born. They were very still and looked me in the eyes.

    I will say that I sometimes think I might want an epidural for the next one, but I know it probably won't happen. :)

    There is something so empowering about natural childbirth. It is a very intense, raw, and wonderful experience all wrapped up in one.

    Best wishes to you whatever you decide!

  6. I had my first one with an epidural, second one completely natural. Each one has their benefits.

    On the natural route...Hypnobirthing is a great resource I used for both deliveries but I self taught with HypnoBabies (relaxation CD's) for my second delivery... I did NOT follow it to a "T", however, I felt it played a HUGE role in helping me actually practice relaxation.

    As you well know, one can NEVER plan what will go on in that delivery room. You just don't know. best wishes for you all and I'll be praying for you as your little bundle arrives soon.
    God bless-

  7. I've been having a very similar thought process these days! I went into my delivery with Riggins thinking that I would try for a natural delivery but trust my gut. After laboring at home for 3 hours, I arrived at the hospital at a 7, feeling great (much like you with Cub), but had an overwhelming gut feeling that I should get the epidural. He too was sunny-side up and stuck under my pubic bone, with the cord wrapped around his neck; needless to say the doc had to do some maneuvering to get him out, and ended up using a bit of suction at the end, so I was very thankful that I trusted my gut and went with that epidural!

    But all in all, it was a 9 hour labor with a first baby, and I was still feeling really good at a 7. It makes me think that I could do it this time around, knowing that it will be hard, but it probably won't last all that long.

    I guess I'm at the point now where I just need to DECIDE, because I think you and several other commenters are right: if you're on the fence, you're going to go epidural! I have lots of friends who swear by going natural and they have all had wonderful experiences, with the exception of one whose labor was just difficult for a multitude of reasons other than going natural.

  8. Hey Katie- I feel like we have had the conversation, but only in reverse as I asked you about birth before I had my little one! :) Because of the situation in the UK, I went natural, with no pain medicine. It was 'easier' than I thought. I say 'easy' with caution, becasue if I am honest birthing a child is not really easy! But the pain was managable. It really was.

    I research a TON. Bradley method, British midwifery methods, and while I do not recommend all aspects (or even believe in them) I did read a Hypnobirthing book. I recommend reading up on breathing techniques. I found that to be the most crucial. Having controlled and steady breathing through out the process.

    If I am honest I felt in control most of the time. I was in labour for 22 hours and probably 19 or 20 of those were pretty good. I was in and out of a birthing pool, walking around, on a birthing ball, listening to music, and concentrating really hard on my breathing. The pushing lasted a bit too long and due to some midwife 'issues' the last little bit was not great. but E was 9 and half pounds and no one expected that. Asdie from that, the birthing experience was really great.

    The only draw back I have to completely natural labour is the toll it takes on your body. As I have never had meds for birth, I am basing this comparrison only on what friends have said. But because I felt every little thing in labour, used so many muscles, was in so many different positions, my recovery was long and sore. I felt like I had given birth and run a 5 day obstacle course! I am told with meds, it is not necessarily a whole body experience. for me, naturally it was.

    It was a wonderful experience though and I am SO glad that I did it naturally for my first. As I am expecting number 2 in May, I am in the same debate myself...natural again or meds. Mel Bishop would be a good one to ask too. She has done one with full meds, one natural and one with some. (i think)

  9. With my first birth my daughter was sunnyside up the whole time and after stalling at 9cm for a while I got the epidural. Things never really progressed and I ended up having a vacuum delivery, not ideal but better than my other options.

    With my second birth this past summer, I opted for a homebirth because I didn't want to have the drug option (I was very low risks and GBS-). It was a much better experience than my first delivery. I felt that I understood everything that was happening with my body and I felt more in control that before. It was a great experience so I would say if you can handle it go au naturale. I loved the natural high I got right after delivery it was great! My recovery also went much better the second time! What ever you choose I wish you the very best birth!

    Also I love the name you have picked out, I really tried hard to convince my husband to name either of our daughters Lydia. Instead we have an Abigail and a Johannah.

  10. I had my twins vaginally, which was a wonderful answer to prayer! I was pretty worried about trying to take care of two newborns and recover from a c-section. Our hospital's policy with twins was that I would have to have an epidural in case one of the babies would need to be delivered by c-section. I am commenting because we delivered with a doula, and I cannot say enough about that experience. She just navigated my husband and I through each step of our pregnancy and labor/delivery so carefully and peacefully. She was a great support to my husband in helping him to know what questions to ask the doctor, and even negotiating with the doctor when he wanted to give me pitocin earlier than we were comfortable with. So, whatever you decide, I think the doula will be a great asset to you and your husband during your birth!

  11. I could write a novel on this subject (but will spare you). I had all 3 of my kiddos at home with the help of midwives (with the exception of son #2, who came so quickly the midwife didn't make it).
    I would agree with you that delivering completely naturally isn't something that you should say you'll "try" to do. 95% of the battle is mental. I think you have to know in your mind and your heart that that's what you're going to do (barring any unforeseen serious circumstances, of course) and don't give yourself the option of doing it any other way.
    You will want to give up at some point (just ask me about delivery #3!) but with your husband by your side, skilled midwives/doulas/health care providers supporting you, and your baby as motivation, you CAN do it.
    I no longer blog, but I do have my birth stories posted and would be happy to share them with you, if you're interested.

  12. Well, I dont have much to say, seeing I'm 17 and not ANYWHERE near having kids... But after some research I think that someday I would love to give birth naturally. I really respect you for your decision, and I hope I can follow through someday, also!

  13. Yay! My favorite topic...natural childbirth!! As a doula myself, I am a little biased though. :) I had Eli in our home (on purpose) in June 2010. It was a planned natural birth and we took Bradley childbirth classes to prepare (thank goodness for those classes). I had a long, hard, 25 hour labor and I wouldn't change one thing about it! My water broke on its own, I was able to labor at home any way I desired being surrounded by a supportive, amazing birth team and Eli was born into a warm tub of water with no meds. It was so perfect.

    I have very personal feelings about the word "try". I believe that natural birth is something you have to just go ahead and decide TO DO or NOT TO DO. It is hard and the pain is real. You really have to get into your head and mentally choose to birth this way not matter what. Women who have natural births don't necessarily have a greater tolerance for pain or are better than their medicated birthing friends. It is about a choice to do something that your body was designed to do and that women have been doing safely and successfully for hundreds of years.

    Having a doula is great because she can be encouraging and comforting through the most difficult parts. No husband wants to watch his wife in pain, but many do want to love and support her decisions. And, a doula can help husbands help their wives. He won't sit and watch you in pain, rather, he will be able to emotionally and physically support you and love you through it, knowing that you are confident in your choice to have Lydia in this way.

    Final thoughts: I definitely suggest a doula and natural childbirth classes, like Bradley. Being prepared and educated about the natural birth process (even after already given birth 2 times) may be very helpful in understanding all the questions and concerns about natural birth.

    So glad you believe in yourself enough to do it! It really is a very empowering and emotionally fulfilling choice! Best of luck no matter what you choose.

    P.S. Oh, and as for the breech positioning...I would definitely see a chiropractor that is trained in Webster Technique and check out