During pregnancy, I spent so much time being anxious about how much it was going to hurt to give birth. I was scared out of my mind. Could I handle the pain? How would I know when the baby was close to coming out?
I decided to do a natural birth at the hospital to avoid future complications and the possibility of an unwanted C-section surgery.
I over-prepared by poring over my copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, researching all the different stages of labor and things that will happen. I dragged my husband with me on a Saturday to a 6-hour childbirth class where they showed videos of real women in labor and giving birth. I practiced yoga positions to stretch the hips to make for easier delivery, did squats, practiced breathing.
Yes, childbirth is incredibly painful—but not as horrible as I hyped it up in my head. Also, I could bear the contractions simply because there was an ebb and flow. Sharp pain would come lasting 45 seconds, then it died away for five minutes. Pain, then rest. Pain, then rest.
The rest part is what saved me from getting an epidural. If it had been constant wrenching pain that escalated then I never would have made it. I don’t have much tolerance for pain, so heaven knows why I decided to give birth as naturally as possible, with only an IV for antibiotics and a fetal heart monitor. I felt everything.
I figured if women have done it naturally for thousands of years I could do it too. Why not?
The benefit is having a shorter labor time and being able to feel myself push, less risk to the baby in the womb and saving us hundreds of dollars in costs for anesthesia and anesthesiologist fees. The downside is that I felt sharp pain that crashed on me in waves for 5 minutes at a time.
The hardest part of labor was having the strong urge to push the baby out, but the doctor told me not to push yet because I wasn’t fully dilated. If you’re not fully dilated at 10 cm, the passageway isn’t open large enough yet for the baby’s head to come through and pushing will cause tearing or injury of the cervix.
That meant I had to wait another hour or so before they checked me again, being in pain and really, really wanting to push—but I couldn’t. Just breathe through the contractions is what they said.
This is the part where any meditation or breathing and relaxation techniques would be critical. It takes a lot of focus to ignore the pain and keep breathing and not push even though you really, really have the urge to push the baby out as hard as you can.
The delivery nurses were really wonderful. They were so positive and encouraging and kept me on track.
My husband was the one who told me to remember to breathe, constantly giving me sips of water from a water bottle at the hospital to keep me awake. Without him being by my side, I don’t think I would have been able to go through the labor and delivery naturally.
My mom and aunt arrived just in time to see the baby being born in the last five minutes. My mom had been rushing to get to the hospital after flying in from out of state, frantically trying to get here in time to be with me after her flight had been delayed.
My contractions began at 7 am on July 1, and my beautiful baby girl was born at 7:35 pm the same day.