“But….why?” That’s the answer I get when I tell people I chose to have two babies without an epidural. We live in an amazing medical world that allows women to not feel a thing when they push a human from their lady parts. So why would I choose to feel every ounce of excruciating pain? I wanted a drug free labor and delivery. Here’s why:
Because SO Many People Told Me I Couldn’t
This might be my number one reason. I don’t like when people tell me I can’t do something. When I was pregnant with my first and thinking about birthing options, there were so many men and women who told me I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain. I found that really annoying, and honestly? Super rude. Who is anyone to tell me what I could or couldn’t handle?
After both my kids were born, I was up on my feet within 30 minutes. Now, mind you, I was wobbly and needed assistance taking that first lovely trip to the bathroom. (If you are a first time mom-to-be, have someone warn you about this!) But I could do it.
You know what costs a lot of money? An epidural and the doctor that administers it. You know what doesn’t cost as much money? One 600 mg Ibuprofen and an ice pack to help with the pain after my baby was born. I’m always looking for a good deal.
Conquering Fear and Letting Go
It’s a crazy thing to sit for months and know that one day you will face one of the most physical, mental, and emotional challenges of your life. There were days when I sat and wondered how bad it could really hurt. (A lot. A lot is the answer.) I started going to pre-natal yoga and learned how to breathe through the pain. Seriously, this was the number one thing that got me through both deliveries. I learned to LET GO. You can’t control the pain from contractions. Fighting it won’t help. I had to learn to let it take over and know that the pain would stop, relief would come, and I would catch my breath. I am a control freak. This was a great lesson in letting go. The first of many in parenthood.
James was born after eight hours of labor—four of which were active and intense. Anna was born after about three hours and one push. Maybe it’s in my genes to have fast labors, but some research claims that getting an epidural will slow down labor—especially when it comes time to push. I have never in my life felt such an intense urge to GET THE JOB DONE. Then, when it came time to push? I didn’t need a doctor to look at a chart and tell me I was 10 cm dilated. I screamed for one—telling them that I was pushing whether they were ready or not.
When I was in labor with Anna, the doctor checked and told me I was almost to nine—and she would be back in about 30 minutes to check again. I told her I wouldn’t make it that long. She was walking out the door as my next contraction hit. I told her the baby was coming. She glanced back, saw that the baby was crowning, and called for a team to help catch. Anna was born moments later.
You Do You
I am not here to shame anyone for how their baby was born. I don’t think I am a stronger person than someone who delivered their child a different way. Birth is birth is birth. If you get to the hospital and immediately request an epidural, that’s great. If your child was born via C-section, that is amazing. Seriously, moms lay down on a table and get cut open to have their child delivered safely. Incredible. I wanted a drug free labor, and I got one. Twice. I delivered a 9+ pound child—from my body—without the assistance of drugs. Being proud of that doesn’t mean I am putting down anyone else’s labor.
Make your own choice. There are a lot of options out there. Do your research, and figure out what works best for you. And know that it might not go as planned, so educate yourself about possible scenarios. Find a team that supports you, and use your voice to advocate for yourself and your child.
“A woman in birth is at once her most powerful and most vulnerable. But any woman who has birthed unhindered understands that we are stronger than we know.”
“We have a secret in our culture. Not that labor is painful but that women are strong.”