Natural, medication-free labor
first birth story
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting up in my bed because if I laid down, it felt like I would stop breathing. During the second half of my first pregnancy, my baby boy was sitting super high. This restricted my diaphragm from moving up and down comfortably so it was very hard to breathe. I remember being super frustrated and very eager to have him come out.
Most of my pregnancy was uneventful. I had minor nausea, minor heartburn and major mood swings. My hormones go nuts when I’m pregnant. And even though the pregnancy was pretty smooth, I quickly discovered that I’m not going to be one of those women that loved being pregnant. I definitely don’t glow (what does that even mean?). By the third trimester, I was pretty grumpy most of the time.
Midway through my pregnancy, and after a lot of research, I decided I wanted to try to give birth to my son without any pain medications. I had to do a lot of convincing to get my husband on board. This was his story as much as it was mine and, even though it was me going through labor, I wanted him to be on board with all decisions. With a bit of research and conversation, he agreed to an un-medicated birth plan.
I was due on a Friday, and given that it was my first baby, I had no idea what to expect. Friday seemed to have come and gone uneventfully but overnight into Saturday, I felt a lot of pressure in my belly. I got up several times throughout the night to this feeling but it didn’t progress any further than that. On Saturday, we went to a local mall and walked around most of the day. Again, beside a feeling of lower belly pressure, I wasn’t feeling much. Then, around 9pm Saturday night, we were attending a service at our church when I felt what I figured must be my first contractions. They felt like an intense period cramp that came in my abdomen and went away completely within a few seconds. The fact that it kept coming and then disappearing completely was what made me feel like, “Oh, this might actually be it.” By the time we left church around 10:30pm, I was feeling these contractions around every half an hour.
We went home Saturday night and my husband talked me into trying to sleep through the contractions for as long as I’m able. At this point, I was excited and terrified and nervous and just all over the place, but I knew if I could get some rest now, I’ll be able to work harder later. Now, I’m a super heavy sleeper and I fall asleep pretty easily (I know, it’s a gift) so I was able to sleep between the contractions until around 4am. By this time, they were still about 10 minutes apart but they were getting pretty intense. I could still kinda talk through them but I called my midwife anyway to get an opinion on how long I should wait. She basically said that if I were far along enough, I’d need to sound far more uncomfortable.
I do need to mention that I have a pretty high pain tolerance. But you know what I found made the biggest difference when handling the contraction pain? Fear. The minute I was afraid, I tensed up my body and expected a lot of pain. When my husband talked me back into my zone and I was able to rise above the fear, stay calm and deal with the wave of each contraction, I was able to handle the pain a lot better. So when I called the midwife that night, I was still pretty in control of my fear. Even though she was a bit skeptical, she said she’d come to my home to check how far I’ve gotten.
When the midwife came to my house and checked me, I had reached 5.5cm. This is pretty decent progression and apparently moms in labour can be admitted to the hospital at around that point. So she suggested we head to the hospital. This was around 5 in the morning. I remember this ride to the hospital sucked. I was feeling pretty nauseous and I do not do contractions well when I’m sitting down. I found that my most comfortable (least uncomfortable) position was standing facing my husband, having my arms over his shoulders and rocking side to side.
By the time I was admitted, the contractions had gotten really intense and I was starting to get really tired. To make matters worse (much worse), my little boy had rotated to face my bellybutton instead of my spine. This is called a posterior position and results in back labor. This means that with every contraction, the back of the baby’s head presses into the base of the mama’s spine – it hurts a lot. They told me they’d break my water and this made me really scared. I knew that labor intensifies when the water breaks and I was already in a lot of pain. My midwife just kept reminding me that it needs to get more intense to get him out, whether it goes quickly or slowly. If we were to break the water, it would speed up and end sooner basically. I remember just repeating motivational sentences to myself out loud. I used verses from the Bible and powerful quotes that I love. But it did get intense yo. And the back labor was super hard. I was about 7cm when they broke my water and it wasn’t long before I was way out of my zone. I remember feeling the contraction just about to start and thinking, “No! I don’t want this! I can’t handle anymore!” – this is what I mean by being fearful and losing control of the pace of the labor.
By about 10am, I asked for an epidural. The contractions had gotten very intense and, because of the back labor, I wasn’t getting much of a break in between. I was stuck at 7.5cm and I felt like I reached my end. I had been getting an intense urge to push with each contraction and the midwives kept telling me not to. I was told to breathe out real hard every time I felt the urge. So when I asked for an epidural, everyone was very supportive of my decision and the anesthesiologist was called just before 11am.
But by chance, the anesthesiologist had just been called to an emergency C-section and wasn’t going to be available for another half hour or so. I seriously felt like I hit a brick wall. I felt trapped and terrified. But one strong voice stood out in my head. One of my midwives just kept pulling me back in the zone. She kept telling me to get into all these positions to encourage the baby to rotate back into normal anterior position but everything she did hurt like crazy. Finally, she convinced me to get on my side and moved my upper leg in a bicycle motion. I was so uncomfortable but she only did it for like 10 seconds and the baby flipped. On the next contraction, I felt an intense pressure in my lower back. They checked me and said I was fully dilated and ready to push.
At this point it was around 11:30am and I had gotten a tiny surge of energy since things seemed to finally be progressing. Pushing for the first time kinda caught me off guard. I don’t know why I thought it would feel different. At first, it seriously feels like you’re pushing with all your might and absolutely nothing is happening. Like I got an urge to push but nothing felt like it was coming out. I was pushing for maybe 20 minutes when I started to finally feel like something is actually happening. At this point, you gotta just push through the pain, and really, it sounds worse than it is cuz the baby is like one or two pushes away by then.
Finally, I pushed hard enough and it felt like he started slipping out. The head is what hurts coming out but then everything else just slides out after it. In what seemed like a flash, there he was on my chest. He was slippery and mucky and just miraculous. I know this moment is portrayed in movies as this magical, quiet moment of love but I seriously think the biggest peace for me was that labor was over. The instant he came out, the contractions stopped. The pain stopped. I laid back and breathed with a little baby boy in my arms. That’s when it happens. That’s when a mommy’s life changes forever.
I’d love to know what you experienced during your labor. Do you love how things turned out? Please comment below and tell me your birth stories.