I was never really one for taking medication for anything unless I was truly suffering. You knew I was in extreme discomfort or pain if you saw me pop a Motrin once in a blue moon. So, it’s not surprising that when I was expecting my first baby, I desired nothing less than a natural, unmedicated, zero-intervention birth and would do almost anything to ensure that would happen.
Becoming a mother for the first time teaches you a lot of things, one being that sometimes you have zero control over certain circumstances. I, unfortunately, had to realize this in my third trimester when talks of the dreaded word induction became more and more prevalent. Due to the arrival of an unexpected medical issue, induction was quickly becoming a reality for me. I knew that with an induction came the possibility of a cascade of interventions that could ultimately alter my natural birth plans dramatically.
Of course, I wanted a healthy baby (and a healthy me) above all. Throughout my journey (and even to this day) it would bug me when people would say “as long as you have a healthy baby that’s all that matters.” Everyone wants a healthy baby. However, it’s not all that matters. As humans, we have feelings, and our feelings, comfortability, and a number of other factors all matter just as much! So, I was determined to try my very best to avoid any unnecessary procedures and to refrain from getting an epidural or other pain medication for as long as I could handle it.
With my background as a labor and delivery RN for several years, I had quite a bit of experience as well. I knew that Pitocin would be a great challenge in achieving my pain medication free goal, as it creates stronger contractions than natural contractions, and it doesn’t give you as much as a break in-between them. Boy was that the case for me! I lasted an entire overnight hooked up to the synthetic drip and eventually caved. I just couldn’t handle it anymore and still had a way to go. Soon I found myself with an epidural in my back, and it only worked on one side!
After becoming fully dilated and pushing my heart out for several hours, my birth ended up being completely opposite to the way I had intended it to be. I even ended up needing a cesarean section. Of course, there was some disappointment, but I had to learn to eventually let it go. I couldn’t control the situation or the circumstances of my son’s journey into this world. We were both safe and healthy, but my dream for a natural birth continued into my second pregnancy.
Once again, you never know what crazy journey pregnancy and labor can throw your way! With my second baby, I held onto my dream of a natural birth and thankfully I got it. The circumstances for my daughter’s journey earthside were the complete opposite of that of my son’s. I never needed to be induced and ended up going into labor on my own, when my body and my baby were ready. I felt all the feelings I desired all of those years prior, and the small pain I felt was worth every minute. It was incredible to feel the difference in the strength of the contractions and how your body gives you breaks so you can regroup and gather the strength to prepare for the next one. Her birth was quick and easy. No interventions, medications, or complications whatsoever.
Now that I had a natural birth under my belt my next dream was to have a homebirth for my remaining two children. There was never a doubt in my mind that I was capable of birthing my children safely in my home. Within the next five years, my final two babies were born fast and furious in my bathtub in the comfort of our own home. The room was filled with good energy, beautiful candles, dim lighting, and soft music was playing in the background, and I was surrounded by those who love me and supported me in every way.
Natural birth may not be for everyone, and there’s absolutely a time and a place for medical interventions, medication, and cesareans and I’ll always support those who whose to go any or all of those routes when giving birth. I suppose all of my experiences come down to one thing: it’s important to empower women in labor. Whatever their goals are, if they even have any, should be respected. The journey is certainly about leaving everyone healthy and safe, but its okay to admit you have preferences, and during this beautiful, scary, exciting process we call birth it's important to remember that their feelings — our feelings — matter too.