1.) WHY?!?!? (Shock.)
2.) Good luck with that. (Sarcasm.)
3.) Good for you. (Pat on the back.)
And after actually enduring said plan and coming out on the other side, I’ve found it to be somewhat of a divider. A hot-button issue. A target for judgements, defenses, and sancti-mommy preaching. Yet I didn’t do it for the bragging rights, or to say my way was better than yours. I didn’t even do it for the safety and health of my child, to be quite honest. And one of the clearest thoughts I remember having in the middle of my labor was this: “I will never judge someone for getting an epidural.”
But I had very specific reasons for why I went unmedicated, and I’ll 100% do it again:
1. Pain medication makes me very, very, very sick
I’ve had to endure several post-surgery recoups sans-medication because there isn’t a single pain medication on the face of this earth that doesn’t make me either vomit or go into a comatose state. I can’t even take so much as a Benadryl without feeling loopy and unhinged. This was the biggest factor in my decision. I know, without a question of a doubt, that I’d be the one vomiting off the side of my hospital bed, the room spinning around me. Any kind of substance — from alcohol to morphine — is a wild card in my body, so it just wasn’t worth the chance. And that’s why just the thought of a C-section sent me into a momentary panic.
2. Sheer curiosity
What is this mysterious pain that all other pain gets compared to? How bad could it possibly be for an entire human race to survive from it? At least for my first one, I wanted to experience the experience of childbirth — plain and simple. I remember thinking: “If all of these other women can do it, so can I. They’re not any stronger or better!” I just needed to know what it was like.
3. Sheer competition
…with myself. I’m dead serious about this one. Back when I was maybe 11 or 12, I developed a pain management breathing technique to handle the intestinal difficulties I’ve been plagued with since forever. This was waaayyy before I knew anything about Lamaze or yoga, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that breathing was the answer. I’d lay in my bed, stuffed animals and Barbies strewn about, and control the pain through my breaths and my mind. Fast-forward 10 years, and I was practicing new meditative techniques in yoga classes.
I had spent the better part of a lifetime honing these pain management and meditative exercises. You better believe I wanted to test them out at the Olympics of Painful Experiences. To put myself to the ultimate test, just to see how much I can really handle.
Is that a sick reason? Perhaps. But there it is.
4. I really wanted a water birth
My local birthing center has a state-of-the-art, sterilized, filtered, heavenly birthing tub in its own private room. And after everything I read about water births — how it naturally eases pain and gives babies a calmer introduction to the world — I was convinced.
Thankfully I was able to use the birthing tub, and I have nothing but wonderful, positive things to say about it. I wouldn’t have taken back that experience for all the drugs in the world. (Especially because those drugs would make me hurl, but you get the idea.)
Looking back, it wasn’t a foreign pain. Contractions aren’t unimaginable — just take a severe menstrual cramp or severe bout of constipation and crank up the intensity. But the difference with a contraction — the difference that works in our favor — is that the waves of pain come and go in a predictable pattern, which makes it much more manageable than a consistent dull uterus pain. Was it difficult? Absolutely. It’s challenging in so many more ways than just the contractions. But I proved to myself what my body is capable of, and I’ve never felt more pride and self-awareness in my entire life.
Of course I know nothing about back labor, I know nothing about C-Sections, and I’m only speaking from one experience. But I do know that if you really want to have an unmedicated labor — no matter what your reasons are — that it can be done. And if you don’t care to be in that much pain and/or you don’t handle pain all that well, then do what you think is right for your body.
Listen to your body. Do what you feel is right.
And for the love of God, stop judging other people for their reasons. We’re all just trying to get through an admittedly challenging, laborious, experience with a healthy baby and little to no vomiting. That’s just universal.