For as much as I love birth stories, I have never taken the time to write mine down. I’m working on it. So when Amanda asked for guest posters, on natural childbirth, I decided to take a different spin.
I thought I’d share a bit and reflect about what I’ve learned after giving birth to my five children. I’m not going to give you a step-by-step “how to” on having a natural childbirth, but more of what I’ve taken away from my experiences. And hopefully it will offer you some encouragement if you’re looking into natural birth for yourself.
When I had my first child almost ten years ago, I didn’t know anything about being a parent, let alone how to birth a child. I took the basic classes offered by our local hospital and planned to just see how things went. I didn’t really think much about the birth part, because I just didn’t know what to expect.
No one prepared me for how intense it would be. How long it would be.
With my first birth, I wanted to go drug-free. To me, that was natural. I ended up with 2 epidurals (because my first one didn’t kick in) and my daughter being born via a vacuum because I couldn’t feel a darn thing when it was time to push. And while I wasn’t wild about her being born that way, the doctor chose this method rather than a C-section, of which I’m grateful for. It certainly wasn’t how I thought it was going to go. And so after my first birth, I knew I wanted to be more in control from there on out.
I was fortunate to never had problems or complications. I had five pregnancies and five deliveries. A few hiccups throughout but nothing major. Having five experiences to look back on, I can see how God’s hand of grace was with me. After not having a clue in my first birth, I was able to have four other drug-free births, some more “natural” than others, aside from not using pain relief. I was blessed with minimal pain during labor with my second child, a super-fast labor and delivery with my third, an amazing midwife who stayed with me past her shift for my fourth baby, and a perfect and calm water-birth with my fifth baby.
So in no particular order, here are some of the basics I’ve learned along the way with having a natural childbirth.
- Not all births are the same. Everyone wants to tell you the birth stories of their children. Your births might have similar elements to theirs and to stories you read, but your story will be unique to you and your baby. Even between your own children, the births won’t be the same. Own your child’s story. Even if it wasn’t what you pictured. Even if it wasn’t as “natural” as you hoped. The way your child enters the world will be something you remember for a long, long time.
- Your due-date is approximate. I see this pattern where moms just want to be done and want their baby to come early. While I understand that anxiousness at the end to meet your baby, there’s a reason a pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. Babies come when they’re ready. Don’t let yourself be bullied into scheduling an induction if you don’t want one. Try to relax and enjoy the rest of your pregnancy.
- You are made to do this. Period. You CAN do it, naturally, the way God intended it. God created us to give birth. He created us to have the mental and physical and emotional stamina it takes to carry life and bring life into the world. Medical interventions, when necessary, can be life saving. But we were meant to do it without all that stuff.
- Have a plan, but don’t be too planned that you can’t be flexible. Know what you want in your birth and talk it over with your providers. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and you have to make adjustments. And really, that’s ok. If you can go the birth center route or a home delivery route, go for it. You’ll be more likely to have the experience you want. But you can have a natural delivery in a hospital. I’ve also read some really long birth plans from first-time moms that make me chuckle a bit. It’s good to have a plan, but if you get stuck on certain things, it’s hard in the moment to be flexible if you or your baby really need an intervention.
- Know what you want post-birth. There are many bloggers who write about the choices you have~whether to do eye drops or the vitamin k shot, or delayed cord clamping or wiping the baby down and many others. If you don’t have a plan for these things, they will just happen according to the policy of where you deliver. And so quickly that you won’t in the moment be likely to say anything if you haven’t thought about it. So these are things to research and know what you want and have it be known before the baby comes. Depending on your practice, they might really come down on you for opting out of them. So I’m not here to say one way or the other what you should do, but you will want to decide beforehand, not in the moment.
- Labor is just that, labor. It’s can be slow with long drawn out contractions, or fast and intense with not much time in between. I was fortunate that my labor progressed similarly that I knew what to expect from baby to baby when it got to the end. It’s meant to be work; it’s not meant to be a breeze. But it’s also nothing to fear. Go with your body. If you make noise, or groan, or scream (when pushing), that’s normal. Sometimes your body just makes a noise without you trying. It’s ok. Your body will do what it’s made to do. Try different things until you find something that works for you.
- Transition is hard. It just is. It’s the most intense part where you don’t want to talk to anyone and you’re uber-focused on your body. For me, I was fortunate to never be in transition for more than 15 minutes. Try to focus on the fact that your baby will be here soon. It’s easy to get panicky in this stage because it gets intense quickly. Focus on breathing and trying not to tense your body too much. But you CAN do it. Transition is the last reminder that your baby is almost here and it will be so worth it.
- Pushing hurts. It’s intense, it really is. It’s probably what I was least prepared for in my first natural birth. But after having an epidural and just not knowing how hard to push or when to push, I would rather feel the pain of pushing than not be in control. Your body just tells you to do it. And you do it. And I promise you this: you go from super intense feelings of just wanting it to be over to absolute joy in seconds. The second that baby is out, you are so flooded with relief and the pain is gone and you just want to see your baby’s face. And you can’t really remember the pain. And in the end, you will say it wasn’t that bad. Because it’s really not that bad. It’s really nothing to fear. In the moment it hurts, but in the end you can’t remember or recreate it.
- You will relive the birth over and over. No matter how calm or intense each birth I had was, I replayed it for days. Weeks even. There’s something about the experience that is so life changing that you just want to remember it. You don’t want the details to be forgotten, even if they were hard. Everything you do in birth is worth it.
- Pray for the kind of birth experience you want and expect to have it. Pray for grace if things don’t go as planned. But make God part of your birth. I prayed more about my last birth than any other birth. With my last birth in particular, I purposely made God part of the pregnancy and birth in real ways and it felt so much different. After all, He was the one who created your children and knit them together in your womb. I think He’s pretty excited to show off his handiwork.
More than anything else, know you can do it. You were born to do it! Whether your birth stories end up being “natural” or not, you were made to be a mama. And when you hold your baby for the first time, everything is worth it!
What have you learned from your birth experiences?
I’m Allison, public-educator turned homeschooling mama of five. I’m living my dream being home with my crew, walking in faith and enjoying living small in the everyday moments of life. I’m passionate about my faith, my family, real food, and intentional living. If you find yourself to be a bit out-of-the-box too, you can follow me on my blog at outoftheboxmama.com where I try to authentically write about my passions and encourage you in the journey of life that we’re all in together. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.