Birthing my babies is probably one of my favorite things to talk about (as you’ll notice in D1’s birth story, as well as D2’s). I promise it’s not just because I am currently expecting; it’s just that I love to talk about how my little ones came into this world, everything from pregnancy to their birth to coming home and- ok I love to talk about my kids! And I love to hear other people’s stories as well!
I recently shared my thoughts on induction; being that I was induced with my first and not my second, I felt that I had a great experience to share. At the end of that post, I mentioned that I wanted to soon share my thoughts on medication during birth, or a “natural birth.” I don’t like using the term “natural” birth because I feel that it gives a bad impression, and I feel that in the end- however baby arrives safely in this world, as long as mom is happy and healthy, that is what matters in the end.
My reasons were so varied for wanting a medication free birth, that I’ll share those with you:
- FEAR. Yep, fear. I was 100% terrified of the idea of someone sticking anything anywhere in my spinal column. Not to mention the side effects- not being able to move, potential problems when placing the epidural, potential problems after birth. I am pretty “pro” medication (vaccinations and the like), so if the idea of a medical intervention scared me after what I had learned, I decided it was best to be avoided at all costs.
- History. My medical history has provided me with quite a lot of pain. I’ve suffered from debilitating cramps and bleeding since I was only 13 years old; they have been so bad at times that I have passed out from the pain. I figured that if I could handle that type of pain, labor and delivery would be a little easier on me.
- Family/friend experience. I spoke with many MANY women about their l&d experiences, and came up with the notion that it really isn’t that bad. My grandmothers and mother spoke with me at length about their birth stories; and I spoke with women who had experienced a birth with and without medication- the without won out every single time for them in their experiences! Not just with ease, but with recovery, and overall experience.
- Progression of labor. Since I was going in for an induction with my first, I knew that there was a chance it could end in a cesarean section- that’s just a fact. So I wanted to avoid any other unnecessary measures that may delay my labor progressing and end in a section.
- Side effects. After my first, having received a half dose of IV pain medication during my first labor, I knew I never wanted to feel that way again. Not only did it not relieve any of my pain, but it made my violently ill (which was honestly partially due to labor itself, but certainly not entirely). It made me sleepy and even more irritable. Not something you need to be while in labor!
When I laid it all out on the table to my husband (labor coach extraordinaire) and doctor, we discussed what this would mean. With my first, I wrote in my birth plan that I intended to have an intervention free labor, as far as was possible. I made it clear that I was by no means intending to have an epidural, and hopefully no other medication; however, that if I changed my mind at any point, I would absolutely request an intervention- IV medication as a first option, epidural as a second. Basically, I didn’t want to be a closed minded bullhead about the fact that labor hurts very much, and induction hurts even more. I had never experienced labor or delivery, and wasn’t about to suffer through something if it was that bad.
But guess what.. it wasn’t that bad. It hurt, sure. Would I want to do it every day? NO. But my labor with my first was short, 5 1/2 hours from the moment the pitocin was started to he was delivered. My second labor was a bit longer, about 8 hours; but since it was spontaneous, it was pretty chill and not all that intense (until the end).
What got me through each moment, each contraction when I felt I couldn’t carry on any longer- was that at the end of this all, I got to meet my baby. That was the thought the kept me going. That, and my amazing husband, who should seriously consider a career switch and coach other women through this process. He was kind, patient, encouraging. As was my doctor. That woman and the nurses in my room throughout my labor and deliveries- they were amazing.
I wanted to share some of what I think are the greatest benefits to having a medication free birth if it’s something you’re able to do:
- Being able to move during labor. I even opted for a hep lock instead of an IV for my second since I was planning to go medication free. This meant that I could walk the halls, use the restroom, turn over in my bed any way I pleased. No medication basically meant no restrictions until the end phase of labor.. no one wants to be walking around then ;)
- The high. Once my first was born, I felt incredible. I was still a bit foggy from the pain medication, but overall, I felt wonderful. With my second, I could’ve touched the moon.
- Being able to move! Once my placenta was delivered and bleeding stopped, I was able to cuddle with my little ones. And then I had to pee. It was no trouble to get comfortable in my bed or walk to the bathroom to pee, and SHOWER after delivery.
- Feeling ok- down there. This one may just be me. After D1’s labor, I was a little swollen, which I blame on the induction. But I experienced no tearing with my births, and I (at least in part) attribute this to being able to direct and control pushing 100% during delivery (and again in part to my physician being the amazing woman she is).
- An alert, but calm baby! D1 cried for about 45 minutes after he was delivered, which I accepted as the norm. But when D2 was placed on my chest, he sputtered a little and coughed, and just chilled out while he stared at me. He never cried, not even once (until he was hungry later). I was incredibly worried, until someone told me that it was totally normal for a medication free birth.
So there you have it. The reasons, at least most of the ones I can think of at the moment, on why I think you too should consider going medication free. Give it a try.. you can always change your mind ;)
Did you opt for a medication free birth? Tell me why!