Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Labor of Love- A Natural Childbirth Story


This article is a part of the October 2013 Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don't Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month's topic is Natural Birth Choices, which is something I am always happy to discuss. I'm sharing my personal journey to a natural birth. Please be sure to check out all of the participants' posts through the links at the bottom of this page.

Labor of Love

Ever since I can remember I was terrified of child birth. My older sister and I would joke that we wouldn't have kids until we could grow then in test tubes. The idea of labor and what it entailed seemed like something I couldn't possibly bear. To this day, my sister has committed to not having children because she is far too squeamish. She passes out at the thought of blood, so maybe it's for the best.

As I got older, and becoming a mom became what felt like a biological need, I started to read up on childbirth more. I know I've mentioned this before, but I am a researcher. I immersed myself in books, medical journals, blogs, and birth stories to find out everything I could about birthing a human. That's where my choice for a natural childbirth began.

Labor of Love- A Natural Birth Story

While watching an episode of A Baby Story, I saw a woman get an epidural. The needle was intimidating, to say the least. I googled "epidural" and found out the all the details the show didn't cover. Surprisingly, what scared me the most was that it isn't just a shot. There is essentially an IV in your back (and I despise IVs). You are also required to have a catheter and be confined to a bed. None of these things sounded like something I wanted during my labor. Still, the thought of a natural childbirth sounded painful and scary too.

I began to look into alternative pain management options, but in the United States there are very few options that don't have an impact on the baby. I didn't want to affect his health, so the alternatives were off the table. I had always felt I had a high tolerance for pain, but childbirth is said to be like nothing you could ever imagine. I knew just going into labor hoping to avoid meds was a weak strategy. So, my extensive research continued into natural childbirth.

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way
Amazon affiliate link

My research led me to The Bradley Method, {affiliate link} or husband coached childbirth, as it is sometimes called. I found the book incredibly empowering. It really made me feel that I could do this. The most beneficial part to me was the break down of each stage of labor. I read it through and through multiple times. I wanted it ingrained in my mind so that I would have no doubt as to which stage I was in when the real deal happened. It proved to be invaluable to my labor.

Despite all my research and planning, things didn't go quite as I had planned with my pregnancy and labor. I've already shared my full birth story in Punchy McShort Fingers, but here is the short version (well as short as a detailed birth story can be). I was induced just days before my due date and was given an IV of Pitocin to get things going. The moment the medicine entered my body I felt different. I had a cloudy feeling I can only describe as medicine-head. I instantly began sobbing and startled my nurse. She didn't understand what was wrong and I couldn't really explain it. It was just the beginning of my labor and it was already all wrong compared to the one I had envisioned. Pitocin is known for making contractions more intense, and I was terrified it would be too much for me to handle without an epidural.

Even though I had a rough start, I stuck with the pieces of my birth plan that were still in tact. I made my wishes clear and practiced staying relaxed and focused on my body. I actually welcomed the contractions because I hadn't felt a single one during my pregnancy. I closed my eyes, took deep breaths, and slowly rocked back and forth to get me through tough contractions. I had overcome my fear of the Pitocin, now that I knew what to expect with each tightening of my uterus. I was thrilled to learn my IV was shut off just 4 hours into my labor because my body had taken over. Things were started to get back on my path.

As labor progressed, I had looked for new ways to manage my discomfort. I stood up, walked around, and leaned on the edge of the hospital bed. I always kept the stages of labor from my Bradley Method book in the back of my mind. I was waiting for the moment I wanted to give up, because that meant I was nearing the transition. That meant I was nearing the end! I had made a promise to myself that I wouldn't actually voice any desire to have an epidural. I knew if I said those words out loud The Captain would let me give in. He didn't want to see me in pain. I only thought of getting one once, but that only excited me. The transition was coming, so there was no need.

As the urge to push came on strong, the nurse called my Doctor. I was surprised to see her walk in, because her shift was over. I was expecting the on call Doctor, but my OBGYN wanted to see if I was going to make it naturally. I felt so strong for making it this far, like I could do anything now. Even someone who delivers babies all the time was excited by my labor. She encouraged me and cheered me on. After an hour or so of serious hard work pushing, my baby was here! 

Labor of Love- A Natural Birth Story
The first time we met

I had done it. I had my son with absolutely no pain medication, and it really wasn't bad. I remember only reaching a pain level of 6 or 7 out of 10. I also never seemed to feel the "ring of fire" everyone talks about. I think I was full of adrenaline or endorphins knowing all my hard work was coming to fruition. It was wonderful to hold my alert newborn in my arms. It was also rewarding in every sense of the word. I was a superstar, and the hospital made me feel that way. I was visited by nurses coming in to see "the one who had no epidural" for the next two days. It was nice to be recognized.

I still, to this day (nearly two years later), sometimes miss labor. I enjoyed it. It wasn't a painful experience to be feared, like I had thought for so many years. It was a well earned accomplishment with the sweetest reward in the end. A true labor of love.

Bloggers, visit GrowingSlower to sign up to be a part of next month's carnival. 


  1. Victoria @ Green Idea ReviewsOctober 1, 2013 at 6:16 AM

    I used the Bradley Method too! My husband and I ended up taking the full 12 week course, and the things we learned were invaluable. I was able to face labor unafraid and my husband supported me through the whole thing without feeling overwhelmed. My son's birth was an amazing experience!

  2. My husband and I took Bradley classes too! Sadly our birth did not go the way we envisioned...thanks to hospital scare tactics. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  3. You go girl! You had an epidural-free birth that was induced using pitocin! That's almost unheard of. You're a rock star for sure.

  4. Oh my goodness I love your story! I felt exactly the same way that you did, wanting to feel more pain and the feeling that when it felt too hard to handle, that it was exciting, because it meant he was really close to being here! I also miss my labor, it was nothing but a positive experience for me and I felt so high on the whole experience, so empowered and proud of my body and mind. Thanks for sharing your story and for overcoming your fears and the rough start to your birth process to follow through on your plan as best you could. You are amazing!

  5. So beautiful! And, I love that you shared that you sometimes miss labor. I do, too! I know many people would think I was crazy, but it was just such an amazing experience for me, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It changed me in profound ways, and I often long to experience it again. :)

  6. Glad to know I'm not the only one who has labor fever. It was an amazing experience.

  7. It truly is empowering to give birth. I wish more woman new what power they had! Thanks for reading my story.

  8. Thanks Kristel! It wasn't as tough as everyone made it sound. Or, maybe I'm just that stubborn and wanted to prove I could do it.

  9. Sorry to hear things didn't go as you had hoped. It's so wrong to prey on a vulnerable mother in that way. Thank you for stopping by.

  10. We didn't have an affordable classes near us, so we just went with the book. I think my husband would have felt more involved if we attended the classes, but it still worked out. I learned that I needed to be "in the zone" and needed very little husband assistance.

  11. Wow! I am a big fan of TheBradley Method :) and always recommend Susan McCutcheon's book whether or not a mama and/or couple enrolls in a class. Thank you for sharing your birth story. I love being pregnant...because I know that I get to labor. I also totally get where you are coming from. Sounds like you did an amazing job of tuning in to your body and working with your baby for a beautiful birth.

  12. What an amazing story! I am a big fan of TheBradley Method :) and always recommend Susan McCutcheon's book whether or not a mama and/or couple enrolls in a class. Thank you for sharing your birth story. I love being pregnant...because I know that I get to labor. I also totally get where you are coming from. Sounds like you did an amazing job of tuning in to your body and working with your baby for a beautiful birth.

  13. Thanks. Tuning into my body was absolutely key! Pregnancy is an amazing thing, despite it not always feeling amazing. I think the same goes with labor. Once you realize how unbelievable your body is for growing and now birthing a human, you want to experience it all over again.


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