I had my first son at the age of 20. I knew that I wanted a natural birth, but was completely uninformed of my rights and the process in general. I found out a year later that the nurses at our local hospital would do anything imaginable to get laboring mothers to get the epidural and essentially sleep through labor…
I was admitted to the hospital dilated to 4 and contracting every 2 minutes. Right away they started me on IV fluids and my contractions slowed to every 10 minutes. They did not allow me to walk, use a birthing ball, or even sit up. I was instructed to lie down so the monitors would stay on, even though I was not a high risk pregnancy. They then started me on Pitocin 30 minutes later (without explaining anything to me) to speed the process back up after the fluids slowed it down. I had a horrible time on the Pitocin, including my contractions spiking off the charts, and it inhibiting my ability to breathe to such a measure that I had to be placed on oxygen. After an hour on the Pitocin the nurses were telling me that I was stressing out my son and I wouldn’t deliver for at least another 12 hours, and that I was going to have to have a c-section (all completely fictional statements!). I was presented with the choice of epidural or C-section. During this time my doctor was delivering other babies, so we made the choice to get the unwanted epidural to avoid a cesarean birth. In the 30 minutes it took to get the epidural I dilated from 5 cm to 10 cm and the epidural kicked in as my son was moving down the birth canal. I was furious and felt as though I had been robbed of the experience I so desperately wanted.
I was determined to do it differently second time around (four years later).
My OB, the same one I used last time, had recently acquired a midwife, and I elected to see her during my pregnancy. Early on I started watching YouTube videos of natural births to familiarize myself with the process and mentally prepare. I also did research such as discovering the right to not have IV fluids as long as it was not medically necessary (to only have an IV hook up with a heparin block), the right to walk/use a birthing ball, refuse to lay on the monitor, and not cut the cord until it stopped pulsing. I talked extensively with my midwife about all if this and luckily she was in complete agreement with my desire for a natural birth. Needless to say, my experience was completely different with my second son.
In spite of a 2 lb weight difference, I didn’t tear at all with my second (my cervix ripped as well as my perineum with my first, the cervical rip was an unfortunate result if the Pitocin). I was able to get up and walk around right after birth and felt like my old self by the next morning, where as it took 8 weeks to feel back to normal after all of those chemicals were put into me during my first birth. For 3 months postpartum after my first birth I lost red and white blood cells in my urine, had a blood pressure if 80/40, horrible back pains and massive headaches, as well as low nutrients in my breast milk and “flat nipples”, an unfortunate side effect of Pitocin which caused my son to be unable to latch on in order to breast feed.
I had none of these problems with my natural birth. Yes, it hurt horribly, but not as bad as I thought. I didn’t psych myself out and was able to use breathing and focus to keep calm up until the end. My midwife let me essentially deliver my son myself, pulling him out and onto my chest myself. I can’t describe the euphoric feeling of accomplishment, pride, and wonder I felt after my natural experience, and would highly recommend at least trying it to anyone who is willing to listen. We are currently a month postpartum and a breast feeding champ!