When I gave birth to my children, I chose natural childbirth all three times. With my first child, I had no idea how painful it would be. I remember it being so bad at one point that I thought the birth had to be imminent after about twelve hours of labor, only to find out I was just three centimeters dilated!
When I heard Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr’s recent comments while discussing her childbirth experience, it echoed my thoughts way back in my first labor experience: I might not make it through because the pain became so heightened.
Kerr, who gave birth to her son Flynn in January without any pain medication said the delivery was excruciating, “I thought I was going to die at one point. I was looking down on myself, the pain was so intense… I kept thinking, ‘How do women do this?’ But if other women have done this, I can do it too. I was determined.”
I gotta admit I felt the same way. I have never been a wimp in the pain department and I thought that if others did it, I could do it too. I wanted to be fully present without having to feel drowsy or delusional from medication. But when the pain kicked in with no sight of even being remotely ready to push, I considered an epidural and spoke to the anesthesiologist.
It turned out to be basically out of the question because I am prone to headaches. The anesthesiologist questioned me on my headache past and informed me that an epidural could bring on more headaches or a very long headache after the birth. The last thing I wanted to do was have more or worse migraines.
Eventually my daughter was born at the 18 hour mark without pain medication. By the second and third pregnancies, I knew I wanted to experience natural childbirth again because despite the pain, it was a beautiful experience that I will never forget. I felt amazing right after giving birth, could walk, was not drowsy, had no need for any pain medication the entire time.
But I also remember going to the hospital the second and third time in labor and knowing exactly what I was in for that day. It was better in the sense that I knew exactly what to expect, but it was also worse because I knew exactly what to expect. Luckily, each subsequent pregnancy ended in a shorter labor. My second daughter was born after just five hours and my son was born in a little over 3 hours of labor.
Now, that I am finished having children, I wonder if I were to ever have another one, if I would choose natural childbirth again simply because I have heard so many fabulous accounts of labor with an epidural. I watch A Baby Story on TV and I see the mothers talking and joking while in active labor, even when pushing the babies out and I am truly amazed. By the time I reached the transition phase, I was completely unable to speak. I was grunting and screaming on and off, and squeezing the life out of my husband’s hand. I’ve also heard from other moms who said that although they were prone to headaches, the epidural didn’t worsen it.
So I don’t know what I would choose now, but then again, I will probably never be in that position again, which after having babies in diapers for over a decade seems ridiculously strange to me.
Did you opt for natural childbirth? Why or why not? Would you do it again?
Know your options: If I give birth in a hospital, do I have to get an epidural?