Going into my pregnancy (actually, like, WAY before I got pregnant), I knew that I wanted to give birth vaginally and as naturally as possible. For me, that meant no pain medication or epidural.
The place we chose for this experience was Natural Beginning Birth Center in North Austin. It is part of OBGYN North and conveniently located across the street from a hospital.
The nurses were thorough in explaining what to expect. I remember being asked 'why' I wanted to give birth in the birth center multiple times by the nurses. I know they just wanted to be sure that we knew what to expect.
What I loved the most was that the practice offers classes like 'Breastfeeding', 'Getting Ready' and 'Prepared Childbirth'. The longest class, 'Prepared Childbirth', lasted a month; we attended every Monday evening. We went over different types of birth, how you never truly can plan the perfect childbirth, and we even practiced breathing techniques and different positions while we 'labored'. The 'labor' was a 1 minute contraction where we either used a clothespin on a finger or ear and another time where we held ice in our hand and squeezed it. (The ice was much more effective at simulating 'labor'.)
These cards represent an exercise we did during one class. One side of the card would show one thing and the other side the opposite. For example, 'vaginal birth' and on the flip side 'c-section'. The far right column is my ideal labor & delivery. I'm happy to say that it happened exactly that way.
I think what benefitted me the most was practicing breathing. I started meditating daily at 6 months. During my meditations, I inhaled and exhaled deeply. I would visualize my baby and how I was sending her health, wellness and love while placing one hand on my heart and the other on my belly.
Along with healthy eating, weekly workouts and yoga, my labor & delivery was quite 'painless'. Not that I didn't experience discomfort, but it was quick, especially for it being my first time. My entire labor was less than 12 hours (from first contractions/water breaking to delivery), which is almost unheard of. I focused on my breath when I felt a contraction coming. I would close my eyes and just breathe.
When it came to pushing, I would take a big inhale as soon as a felt the contraction coming and use all of my force to push using that breath. She came out perfectly.
There are many benefits to birthing this way. For one, labor is not as drawn out. Being in tune with your body and what is happening allows you to know when a contraction is coming and when you feel the need to push. Having an epidural actually slows the labor. Your cervix could be opening and effacing but literally stop right where its at if you have an epidural. It's usually because of this that you may need to end up being told or asked if you want to have a c-section, suction or triceps have to be used or you have to be induced.
Baby traveling through the birth canal also preps their body for breathing. In essence, it helps squeeze them to remove the liquids they've been swimming around in. My babe started screaming/crying right away.
Does it hurt? Hell yes, it hurts. I'm not going to say it didn't, but we experience pain a lot in life. It isn't something to be afraid of. There's a baby at the end of that 'pain'. The contractions for me weren't painful. They just felt like strong cramps. Breathing through them helped me A LOT. Plus, they don't last a long time. They aren't a constant. Once you start feeling it and breathe through it, it's over before you know it.
Feeling the need to push was a surprise for me. I say this because it happened so quickly for me after arriving at the birthing center and being in the tub. I remember thinking, wait, is it actually happening already. I knew that once I felt that urge, I was even closer to having my baby, like SUPER close.
I moved from the tub to the bed. The midwife told me that I could continue to labor on my knees with my upper body propped using the exercise ball or I could lay on my side. She was reminding me of some of the positions. I was far past being able to comfortably stand and go through contractions. In my mind, I wasn't going to rest. Laying on your side is a restful way to labor. I wanted to be on my knees. Hands and knees is actually the position best for avoiding any tearing. (I ended up tearing front and back in multiple areas.) Getting in this position allowed me to push with gravity.
What hurt the most? When she was getting further in my birth canal and I knew she was crowning, ouch. It's called the 'ring of fire' for good reason. It burns. Out of the entire experience, it was the burning that hurt the most. That part also doesn't last long, thankfully.
So, are you considering natural childbirth? Do you have any fears or concerns? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts or questions about my experience. I wouldn't change a thing.
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