I remember when I was younger telling people, “I hope I can just schedule a C-section, they can cut the baby out of me while I’m knocked out.” I had such an intense fear of childbirth. I’m sure everyone does to a certain extent. But I would think about labor, get pale, sweaty, and nauseous. Just like I do with needles. I had a fear of physical pain and wanted to do whatever I could to escape it.
So, seven months into marriage we get pregnant without trying 😀
and honestly, I cried when I found out. I wasn’t wanting to be a mom yet & I had just lost my mom to cancer the month before!!! It felt overwhelming to have to deal with overcoming my biggest fear of physical pain while recovering overcoming the biggest fear of emotional pain. All within the first year of marriage. If it weren’t for Michael and Jesus, I would have completely fell apart.
So here we are, fresh out of ministry school, pregnant, super broke with no plans of how to be successful in life. It felt like the worst timing ever and I dreaded having to overcome this fear and give birth.
This was right in the beginning of my health journey. I began learning about the health benefits of a natural birth. I watched a documentary, yes it was biased like most documentaries, but very educational and something I think every pregnant should watch called The Business of Being Born. It showed the benefits of a natural birth & inspired me to want one regardless of the intense pain. Something I never, EVER thought I would want.
There’s NO shame in not having a natural birth. Everyone’s story is unique. Sometimes it’s totally necessary to have a medicated birth or c-section & it saves lives! But this is my story & I personally wanted to overcome my fear of pain, and try my best to have a natural birth. (see list of benefits below)
First off, I was 12 days late. It was ROUGH. They pressured me to get induced after 7 days but I had just researched that the average first baby is 8 days late!!! I learned your due date is not very accurate and is just an estimate. So I decided to wait as long as I could for her to come when she was ready. And she finally came on her own with no induction.
I went into labor Friday at 9pm. Contractions were already close together. About a minute or two apart by 1am. According to the books I should have been far along! I get to Mission Hospital and come to find I’m only 4 cm. I was definitely discouraged. I labored until morning and only dilated 1.5 more cm. The most difficult thing for me was that I kept thinking I was almost done, and I had awhile more to go.
Labor really is a mental game. Expect a marathon and you will do alright. I am so thankful I had a birth coach. I think most women think the nurses, doctors or husband will help them. But most of the time, no nurses or doctors are very present at all, and husbands do not know what they are doing haha! My mother in law was my birth coach, my husband just copied everything she did, and it made all the difference.
I had a lot of painful back labor. She wasn’t in the best position. They broke my water but I still wasn’t progressing much. Then late morning, my contractions stopped for an hour! I really tried to wait it out because I didn’t want Pitocin. Pitocin causes contractions but makes them longer and way more intense. This can cause stress for the baby and is very painful for the mother when not getting an epidural. I really wanted a fully natural, unmedicated birth, but at this point I really had no choice but to get Pitocin. Looking back, if I had a midwife, she probably would have changed my positions during the labor and I may have not been in this situation of my contractions stopping. But what can you do at that point!
They administered the Pitocin drip, and once the contractions started to kick in they were way more intense and plateaued at the peak of pain. If I didn’t focus mentally I would start to panic when one was coming. It sent me into transition fairly quickly though. I was finally in transition (7cm) and I threw up on my pillow from the pain. Oh glamorous labor 😀 At this point, the pain felt unbearable and I was crying, “I can’t do it anymore.” But everyone always says this when there is light at the end of the tunnel. The thoughts running through my head were: “This is the worst thing ever, I’m never doing this ever again.” (Luckily you really do forget the pain!)
I had urges to push but they wouldn’t let me yet. The most frustrating thing ever! I was crying “can I push yet please” over and over. It was so difficult to try to relax, not tense up, and let my body do the work. Everything in me wanted to tense up. Pushing felt relieving because you actually got to work with your body. I was finally able to push after 18 hours. I pushed as hard as I could. Fifteen minutes in her head was almost out. The cord was wrapped around her neck and her heart rate was decelerating. I was unaware of how scary this was at the time, thank God. They told me a very quick episiotomy was necessary. Before labor, I was very against an episiotomy and very scared to tear, but I didn’t care at this point and wanted her out. They numbed me, did the episiotomy and quickly vacuumed her out and before I knew it I had a baby on my chest! It was the biggest feeling of relief to be done with labor.
To be honest, I didn’t have this magical “oh my gosh my baby is here I am so in love” moment. It honestly felt like this random stranger was on me sucking on my boob! I was really just happy to be done giving birth. It took me awhile to really process what happened. I was also being stitched for an hour and half while having skin to skin and my first hour with her. I had a 4th degree episiotomy/tear. In other words, as bad as it can get! (Giving birth to the placenta was really uneventful because it just fell out of me. That’s one plus to having a 4th degree episiotomy.) I had so much adrenaline from the natural birth that the needles from the long stitching process didn’t bother me (usually needles make me want to pass out). The nurses kept saying how bad they felt for me but I didn’t really know any different.
[FYI this paragraph is TMI!] I went to the bathroom after everything was done and it looked like a bloody war scene. I thought this was from the episiotomy and stitching haha but it was the normal uterus lining shedding. Imagine 9 months of your period all coming out. That’s something I was not aware of. You practically have to wear diapers for a couple of weeks after. This may feel TMI, but after you give birth nothing really phases you. I thought I would care about being naked in front of people during labor but I definitely had more important things to worry about haha.
Once everything settled in, she slept on my chest all night, and that’s when I fell in love. That’s when I felt connected and bonded to her. But to be real, the birth and recovery didn’t feel worth it to me right away. Labor was just so intense and recovery wasn’t fun. And being a new mom was difficult. But as time went on, and now that she’s three years old, my love for her is so deep, and labor is so worth it. I would give birth a million times again to have her. Becoming a mom had led me to understanding God’s love for us in a whole new, immense deep way.
The doctor after the labor said, I think I need to go to your church because of the peace you had during that labor. This was encouraging to me because I felt I didn’t do as well as I hoped. Mostly because it was way harder and more painful than I was expecting! Overcoming my fear and giving birth without pain medication was THE MOST empowering thing in the world. And that feeling came in handy before becoming a mom because if I can do that, I can do anything!
We have been told a lie our whole lives that we should fear labor, that we are not capable without drugs and medical intervention. That’s definitely what I believed. I believed I wasn’t capable without numbing the pain. But women’s bodies are MADE to give birth to children.
You are strong. You are able. You were made for this.
Of course, always be open minded and know that some things are out of your control and may not go as planned. Mine definitely didn’t go as planned. I was very grateful I didn’t need a c-section and could have a vaginal birth without an epidural. But I really didn’t want pitocin, an episiotomy or for her to be vacuumed out. But if it means a healthy baby then it’s a must! (see her conehead in picture from being vacuumed out!)
I am glad I learned about the natural labor benefits beforehand because it encouraged me to fight for it. Do not disqualify yourself from having a natural birth because of fear or lack of confidence in yourself.
Benefits of Natural Labor:
- Labor is often shorter. Epidurals can interfere with body’s natural way of laboring and slow down contractions. It’s also difficult to not feel contractions or the body’s queues of when to push, leading to a longer time of pushing.
- Epidurals can often increase use of medical interventions. Epidurals can cause prolong labors which can lead to Pitocin drip to speed up the labor or vacuum or forceps to move fetus through canal.
- Breastfeeding can come easier. Babies born through natural childbirth can be more alert and show more interest in breastfeeding once delivered. The babies can be affected by the epidural pain medication and interfere their innate suckling behavior that normally comes after birth.
- More endorphins are released. An euphoric feeling comes after a natural, unmedicated birth which relieves pain and calms the mother.
- Greater connection to the experience. When drugs are not used during labor, women are very alert and fully conscious. Pain medications can dull the woman’s senses which can lead to a physical detachment from the birthing process.
- In vaginal birth, the baby receives beneficial bacteria. As your baby passes through the birth canal, it ingests bacteria that contributes to its gut health and microbiome.
- Recovery time for the mother is faster. Less intervention and drugs lead to a quicker recovery.
- It’s cheaper! Less intervention = less money spent
Advice for New Mothers:
- Be prepared for a marathon. Labor is long, especially your first one. My biggest struggle was thinking I was almost done, and being far from it. It discouraged me mentally. Mentally prepare yourself for a long, difficult process. Then imagine it being harder than that :p
- It’s all mental. Labor is 90% mental, 10% physical. It’s important to not have fear, relax your body, prepare for the long haul, and stay on top of the contractions.
- Get a doula or birth coach. This is VERY important. Your husband will most likely be overwhelmed and not sure what to do to help. The doctors and nurses will not be there 90% of the time. You will need someone who knows how to coach you mentally and physically. You will need that emotional support. You will also need an advocate if you are at a hospital and wanting a natural birth. The doula can help stand up for what you wanted in your birth plan.
- Let your body do the work. One of the hardest things to do in labor is to not tensing your body. Contractions naturally push the baby down, but since they are painful your body naturally wants to tense up. This actually is fighting against the process your body is trying to make and stopping the baby from progressing down the canal. It feels counterintuitive but you have to try with everything in you to relax, not tense up, and let your body do the work. This is why it feels good to push, because you finally feel like you get to work with your body rather than fighting against it.
- Educate yourself beforehand. I think it’s important to know what you are getting into and what to expect. This will help you mentally prepare.
- Remind yourself the labor may not go as planned and that’s okay. We all have a birth plan or have in mind what labor will be like. But like most things in life, things don’t always go as planned. Have grace on yourself, go with the flow if needed. Remember, the goal is to get that baby out and have everyone healthy regardless of how it happens 🙂
- When pushing, don’t push with your face. You could pop an eye vessel! And it won’t get you very far. It’s very important to focus the pushing and strength in your lower body, not your upper body. It’s harder than it sounds but will make your pushing time go way down!
IF you want to know my opinion about vaccines & shots during and after pregnancy. These are purely my opinion. Always do your own research!
- Flu shot when pregnant: I don’t recommend getting this. I believe it’s unnecessary and could do more harm than good.
- Hep B and TDap when pregnant: I do not recommend getting these as well. There are many harmful things inside vaccines these days. This is my personal opinion based off my own research, always do your own research. I suggest researching from sources that aren’t receiving profit from vaccinations 😀
- Hep B once baby is born: I do not recommend this either. My pediatrician, who was more conservative with vaccines, said this one is not necessary and is outdated.
- Vitamin K shot. This one is pretty neutral. I do’nt think its necessary really, but I haven’t heard of it doing much harm. I have heard needles can be somewhat traumatic for babies who just got out of the womb so that is why I opted out of it.
- Eye goop. This is the only one I got for Evelyn. This one is also pretty neutral. I don’t think it’s super necessary, but also can’t harm. It’s to prevent any infections they could get in their eye from passing through the vaginal cavity. My pediatrician said it’s harmless and can be beneficial so that is why I got it.
My opinion on vaccines from after delivery is another topic of conversation and something you can always message or email me about!