If you’re ready to make plans to give birth naturally or are even considering creating a natural birth plan I believe the most important thing to do is be as informed as possible. For me this means hearing natural birth stories from other moms.
Whether you intend to have a natural birth at home, are weighing the ultimate decision of natural birth vs. c section or are just scared of the pain in childbirth, this post can hopefully illuminate the reality that is often hidden when we talk about labor and delivery.
The Rise in Popularity of Natural Childbirth
Over the course of the past 100 years the ability to deliver a healthy baby without risk of maternal death has improved dramatically. This miracle is made possible both by advancements in technology and medical care as well as the available pain management techniques (the Bradley method, Lamaze, hypnobirthing etc).
As you will soon read: the below collection of natural childbirth stories are actually in some cases, C-section stories, Epidural stories, and also some successful natural childbirth stories.
Because we won’t know what we don’t know about our body’s ability to deliver a baby naturally until we’re fully in labor, I wanted to showcase what to expect when you’re planning for a delivery (spoiler alert - expect the unexpected).
Natural Childbirth Stories
I spoke to a wide range of moms who shared with me their stories of childbirth.
In all the cases below, the moms intended to give birth naturally.
Some were successful in having a natural childbirth.
Some opted for an epidural.
And some ended up in an emergency C section.
In the end, every story ends in a positive birth story with a first meeting of mother and child.
However, this post is meant to highlight the unexpected in the very human journey of labor and delivery and hopefully prepare you for the reality that even the best laid plans and positive intentions can end differently.
For the New Mom About to Deliver
If you’re a new mom considering a natural childbirth, there was one overwhelming theme that came through from all of the stories I collected:
Prepare for the unexpected.
As a first time mom, there’s a lot that you cannot know about your body’s ability to give birth or about the circumstances of your baby until, unfortunately, you’re all the way into labor.
A few things that may impede your ability to pass baby through the birth canal include a heart shaped cervix, or a cord wrapped around baby’s neck.
A baby who is sunny side up (facing down but turned the “wrong” way) was a common theme for many moms who shared their stories with me.
Some of this you could potentially learn in advance through doppler and ultrasound, but other times, as in the case of some of the moms below, you won’t know till you’re on hour 20 of labor and five hours into pushing.
Don’t Be Scared of a Natural Childbirth
These stories aren’t meant to scare you.
I come from the school of “The more you know” the better you can prepare.
As a DGAF Mom my whole thing is choosing the fucks I want to give in my entire life and that definitely came into play when I was in labor and choosing the kind of birth I wanted to have.
I knew two things.
1) I would love to have an unmedicated natural childbirth.
2) If there was any risk to me or my baby if I continued into labor and that wasn’t happening I was very willing to abort.
If I was just in a lot of pain, I could deal with it.
If I was just miserable and pooping all over a delivery table, I could, surprisingly, also deal with that.
If I was going to die, or worse, if my baby was going to die if they didn’t get him out, then C SECTION ALL THE WAY MOTHER FUCKERS!
Having a Positive Mindset to Prepare for Unmedicated Birth
A lot of what you’ll read on the internet about choosing a natural childbirth will insist that you cannot be distracted by negativity.
I think this can be dangerous in a way because positive thinking that ignores risks and dangers to you or your baby could be life threatening.
You can be positive and also informed and educated.
Which is why I’ve collected the below stories of childbirth.
Consider them your birth-time-stories.
The Romance of a Natural Birth
In the past 40 years or so having an unmedicated birth has become increasingly popular.
Rikki Lake produced a breathtaking documentary called “The Business of Being Born” in 2008 which rightfully brought attention to the cascade of medical interventions that can accelerate a mother’s need for an emergency C-section.
This article takes a deeper look at the cascade of medical interventions that can slow down labor, cause stress to mother and baby, and can escalate the need for further medical interventions.
Here’s what the cycle looks like:
Mom checks into the hospital and is immediately laid to rest on a bed, which slows contracts, which slows the fetal heart rate.
Pitocin is administered to speed up contractions, which creates intense pain that for some first time moms is far greater than “normal” contractions, and an epidural is requested.
The epidural slows down contractions again.
This cycle continues until hours and hours have gone by.
If the water has already broken, or if a baby’s heart rate is erratic, an emergency C-section is recommended (and for good reason at that point!).
As you’ll see in some of the examples below, the decision to go to the hospital early affected several of the mom’s delivery plans.
In my case, I waited too long to go to the hospital. My first was born about 50 minutes after we got to the hospital. My second about 15. Both times I was fully dilated and convinced I was going to give birth in the car.
But more on that in a bit.
I also want to repeat it as loud as I possibly can:
If you cannot deliver your baby without medical intervention for whatever reason (and even if it’s just you don’t want to feel the pain and exhaustion anymore) you are not less than a mom who can.
You are a beautiful baby delivering goddess and anyone who makes you feel otherwise is an asshole.
Let’s read some real life natural birth stories, shall we?
Rachel - from This Crafty Home - Mom of Two, One Epidural, One Natural Delivery
With my first pregnancy, I wanted to do it naturally, but it didn't go quite as planned. My water broke but I had no contractions whatsoever so I had to be started on Pitocin.
Three excruciating hours later I was dilated to an eight and the nurse kept saying are you sure you don't want an epidural? You still have to push.
Now I was scared and screaming with every contraction. I gave in and probably had my daughter 30 minutes later.
But I will say, because of the epidural I was able to laugh all the way through pushing!
My second birth was a whirlwind. I wanted to do it naturally this time as well. But when I started having contractions hard and fast at 35 weeks in the middle of the night I told my husband I wanted the epidural!
My son had other plans. By the time we got to the hospital, they didn't have enough time to give me one.
My doctor gave me an ultimatum, I can break your water now and you'll have him in fifteen minutes or we can attempt to get you an epidural.
I told her to break it and let's do this! After being in labor for a grand total of three hours I had my son. I was up and walking back and forth to the NICU (not because baby was there but just because it felt good to walk) on the other end of the building a few hours later with no issues.
Sasha - Life’s Carousel - Mom of Three - One C-Section, One VBAC with Epidural, One Natural Delivery
"I had no clue what kind of birth I wanted, so goodness knows what would have happened if I went full-term! My first child was born by emergency c-section at 35 weeks.”
For my second child I desperately did not want another c-section.
I live in Florida, where it is very difficult to have a VBAC (virginal birth after cesarean). I found a great doctor who would work with me, and he encouraged me to look at different birthing methods (an epidural can increase your chances of needing a c-section during a VBAC delivery).
I signed up to Hypno-birthing classes and loved it! I worked hard practicing the techniques.
When I finally went into labor with #2, it didn't go exactly to plan!
After 16 hours of labor (and Hypno-birthing breathing and visualisation!), I was exhausted. So I asked for an epidural.
My doctor got me to wait another hour, but still no progress.
At 17 hours I had my epidural and within 45 minutes my little girl was born! Phew!
Apparently I was tense from the labor and that was slowing progress. Once I could relax (and sleep for a few minutes), things happened quickly!
When I got pregnant with #3, I planned to do the same as I had with #2. Although I knew I had the epidural as a backup. #3 had other plans (are you sensing a pattern?)
I was in labor at home for about an hour before going to the hospital. Once I was there it was less than 45 minutes until I gave birth!
No time for drugs, an epidural or even to unpack my bag! So I did finally get my natural birth... and it stung a bit!
The biggest thing that I learned from my three very different birthing experiences is that it doesn't matter what you plan!
Baby and mother nature have their own plans.
You might desperately want a certain type of birth, and it's worth researching and preparing for that goal, But don't get too attached to the idea, because you never know when things might change!"
Mrs. B - One Weird Mamma - Mom of One, One on the way.
My biggest surprise was that it didn't hurt, took hours to convince me I was in labour because it didn't hurt. You can read Mrs. B’s insanely surprising (and it makes me so jealous to read it) birth story at One Weird Mamma.
Latasha - Mom of Two - One C-Section, One VBAC Natural Birth
My first baby, Kendan, was ten days overdue.
Looking back, I think they had my due date wrong the whole time because I knew when my last period was and his due date should have been about eight days later than it was.
I went to the doctor because they thought I was overdue, I remember that they said “Let me examine you,” but it was super painful. Turns out and they stripped my membranes without telling me which was really upsetting.
It was my first baby and I didn’t know what was happening or why it hurt.
I was crying it was so painful and I have a high pain threshold!
My water broke a couple days later, which is when I went into labor and delivery at the hospital. Then they gave me pitocin to speed up labor but I only dilated to 5.5cm and failed to progress any further after over 20 hours of effort.
I had plans to have a natural birth but because of the escalation of interventions (stripped membranes, pitocin to speed up contractions, and slow progress ) he ended up being c-section.
I was bitter!
I definitely felt that the interventions played a factor in his delivery in a C-section. Oh and he was nine pounds when he was born!
Fast forward to my second baby, Courtney, and this time I wanted a VBAC but also had my C-Section scheduled for early January.
But since all was well, that is I’d had no complications, and because it had been almost six years since my first c-section the doctor was okay with me trying for a V-BAC.
They tried to strip my membranes again on Christmas Eve because I was already 4.5cm dilated but I didn’t want to go to L&D and miss Christmas with my oldest.
When the doctor asked me to “examine me” I clamped my legs so fast like “nope!” I told them, “I’ll come back if I go into labor-labor.”
After that I went home and I had a little chat with my baby, Courtney, and I said, “Listen, you stay put until after Christmas, but come before the end of year so I can claim you on my taxes!”
She must have heard me because she was born on 12/27, with no meds, fully in a V-BAC and in like three pushes, and I delivered her less than an hour after we arrived at the hospital.
Kristen - C-Section
My mindset going into labor and delivery was simple: I was determined to keep things in perspective and remain grateful for my pregnancy and baby. I have to preface my story with an acknowledgement to women struggling with conception, infertility, and loss.
I waited two years to get pregnant due to infertility issues so the fact that I was able to carry and birth a healthy baby was already a blessing I wasn’t sure I would ever receive.
My expectation of childbirth was that it’s going to be intense since I had seen my sister get an episiotomy when I was 18 years old and I watched her give vaginal birth to both her children.
Although it was shocking to see my sister go through the experience, I would highly recommend it.
In the end, I labored for a total of 20 hours, and pushed for four hours.
I received pitocin and an epidural to help me progress. (My daughter was stuck on my right side).
Two of my fears for labor were pooping in front of my husband and having a needle inserted into my spine and both occurred.
To my horror, I pooped in front of an audience of my husband, my mother, my two older sisters, my mother in law and my best friend who were all squished into my delivery room.
My lowest point was when they decreased the strength of my epidural to see if it would help me to centralize the baby but it only pushed me to the point of admitting complete exhaustion and allowing myself the space to cry and breakdown.
The doctor finally said the baby was sunny side up, meaning face up instead of facedown, and her heart-rate was irregular so an emergency caesarian was necessary.
My first reaction was complete relief that laboring was over and I was finally able to meet my daughter.
My beautiful baby girl was born by caesarian and I was able to hear her cry and give her a kiss before she was taken away to the NICU.
The rest of the night was a blur.
I remember my husband checking in on me in recovery, a nurse aggressively pushing on my new incision and stomach, and begging the universe to spare my baby any health issues and willingly sacrificing me to take her place.
Luckily, our daughter was cleared in an hour as I was released from recovery and we met each other in our hospital room so I could hold her and inspect every ounce of her. We were taken to a shared hospital room with another mother and by this time it was almost midnight.
My husband was able to briefly see our room and then asked to leave.
I remember laying in bed with a catheter, being heavily medicated, and completely exhausted yet alone with my helpless, newborn baby.
The best way to describe the feeling was anxiety and acceptance, like flipping a switch and knowing that everything I felt and went through was over and now what mattered was loving and caring for this amazing baby girl that I wished, dreamed, begged and bargained for which was now real and completely my responsibility.
I was thrilled to go home after four days with a diagnosis of a heart murmur (which we are still monitoring a year later) and start our life but blissfully unaware of the postpartum anxiety, OCD, and depression in store for me.
But exactly one year later, I reflect back on this experience and what I would have told myself as an anxiety ridden, hot mess, so naive to the whirlwind that is coming, new mom.
I would have said “You are going to have a mental breakdown (probably more than a few) but you’ll make it through and your inner strength will amaze you.”
Christina - Raising Biracial Babies -Mom of Two - Two Natural Childbirth at Home
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I knew I wanted to have an unmedicated home birth. I didn’t want interventions, (the hospitals where I live are pretty pushy with interventions) and I didn’t want tons of people I didn’t know in and out of the room during labor and delivery.
I also liked the idea of never having to leave my house and being able to recover at home too.
What helped me achieve this goal was taking a natural childbirth class, (so I knew the normal process of pregnancy, labor, and birth) and having a doula at my birth, and seeing a midwife throughout my pregnancy and having her deliver my baby.
I’m NOT good at being vulnerable and I knew I would have to let myself get extremely vulnerable during labor and delivery.
I didn’t want anyone I didn’t trust in the room with me, which was why it was important to have as few people around me as possible, while making sure those were people I trusted.
What surprised me was my ability to let go and surrender myself to the experience.
Did it hurt? Yea.
But I knew exactly what was happening that was causing that pain so I wasn’t fearful of it.
Was I scared to let people see me in my most vulnerable state? Yea.
But I knew I had to let that fear go in order to have my baby safely with people I trusted.
My suggestions for any mom who wants to try a home birth is to take a natural childbirth class. You need to be prepared so you can make informed decisions about your birth.
You should also seriously consider a doula during labor and delivery
Also consider what you want to do if things do NOT go as planned.
It’s important to have a positive mindset that you can do this and give birth at home, but it’s just as important to have another plan in place should something unexpected happen.
You should always be prepared.
My first home birth was successful so I ended up having another home birth with my second baby and I’m very happy with my birth choices!
Narine - Mom of Two - One C-Section, One Unmedicated VBAC
Having a baby is commonly known to be one of the most special and memorable moments in a woman’s life, especially the first one.
All the preparation, all the research, all the stuff! For me, I had romanticized the experience in my head that it was going to be amazing because up until then, my pregnancy was a dream. How could anything go wrong?
I guess it was too good to be true.
After 48+ hours of labor, I welcomed my healthy baby via emergency C-section.
From what I remember of my sleepless hazy state, as they rolled me into the operating room, I made peace with the outcome and bid farewell to whatever romantic idea I had hoped for my delivery experience to be.
In fact, a part of me was relieved it was over, or at least so I thought.
A few hours after the birth of my son, sepsis (e.coli) took over my body. (It's actually really difficult for me to write about it because it triggers my PTSD).
After several rounds of testing and changes in antibiotic, I like to think that my body put up a good fight, which is why I survived and refrain from thinking about what the lives of my loved ones would have been had I not have been so fortunate. Let's not go into the recovery! Needless to say, it does hinder happier memories from the birth of my son, but such is life.
When I found out that I was pregnant with my second child, I was terrified at the thought of reliving the ordeal a second time around.
Through therapy I was able to manage my PTSD and stay in a good head-space to welcome my second child. I also sought after a completely different support team.
I knew I wanted to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) I just didn't realize how difficult it was going to be for me to find an OB and hospital that was willing to let me have my birth, my way. It was incredibly disheartening to learn how so very few physicians are actually supportive of women who want a vbac and even more alarming how many women don't even know they have that option!
Fortunately, I found a wonderful doula and OB at UCLA. When my labor started, my head and my gut were both on the same page, I knew I was in good hands which played an important role in my labor and delivery.
Once I was done laboring at home aka contractions were coming in strong and fast, we were off to the hospital with my husband and doula.
When we arrived at the hospital, my contractions changed and slowed down which could have been from all the poking and prodding trying to hook me up to an IV.
My doula had warned me that it could have happened if we went to the hospital too early. Laboring at a hospital is very different from laboring in the comfort of your own home, and after much deliberation I asked for an epidural.
Although my heart feared that the epidural would turn things for the worse, my doula kept me in a good head space and encouraged me to use this time to rest because we could very well be in for another long labor. At this point we were clocking in at 24 hours.
After some much needed rest, I noticed my epidural bag was going on empty and my contractions were coming in strong. It was my doulas recommendation to not get more since pushing would be near and I needed to know what was going on.
At this point I was just SO elated that my body got to this point of dilation that it was an immediate motivator. I felt like, I’ve got this... I'm almost there! I was able to have a few sweet moments with my husband before all the fun started. ( I say "fun" loosely...very loosely)
I yelled for everyone to get back into the room since I was either going to poop or have the baby (truthfully, I didn't know which it was going to be..thankfully it was my baby girl, LOL.)
There was something so cathartic about being able to pull out my daughter that I will never be able to explain, it meant EVERYTHING to me.
When my son came to visit his baby sister, I was able to greet him at the door. When my parents saw me they didn't see their daughter fighting for her life, they saw their daughter thriving.
Jessica - From Mommy Knows Tech - Mom of Two, One Hospital Natural Birth, One Birthing Center Birth
If you’re planning an unmedicated childbirth, in my experience having a supportive team is the most important part of the equation.
Things won’t go how you expect, so you want to know that everyone there in the room with you is going to support you and help you reach your goals.
With my first child, I was all geared up for a birth center birth. I had this picture in my mind of exactly how it would look—a carefree waterbirth, with the ability to labor as I wanted and move around as needed.
Then, about a month before my son’s birth, the consulting physicians for my midwives decided I should be put on blood thinners immediately post birth due to a genetic defect that very slightly increases my risk of blood clots. This was a last-minute change from their original advice of blood thinners only if I had a C-section. And because of the blood thinner prescription, they wanted me to deliver in the hospital.
I resigned myself to the change in plans and decided to make the best of it. I would still have my midwives attending the birth, and I would still be able to deliver unmedicated.
When real labor finally hit after several days of prodromal labor, I spent what felt like hours in the triage room while they tried to get my son’s heart rate to stabilize.
Every time I had a contraction, his heart rate would drop.
As a result, most of my birth plan went out the window.
I was put on continuous monitoring when I’d wanted intermittent. I wasn’t allowed to eat (and I was starving!) because my midwife didn’t want to give the medical staff any more reason to intervene.
The birthing rooms for midwifery patients were all in use so I had to deliver in a regular hospital room. And the only position where my son’s heart rate was stable was when I was flat on my back.
If you’ve done any research into childbirth, you know that’s pretty much the worst position to labor in.
But we made it work!
I had a supportive team in my husband and midwife, and when my son was born, we found out why his heart rate had given us so much trouble. He came out with his little fist by his face clutching his cord!
My son’s labor was fairly fast—about 11 hours from start to finish with only about 30 minutes of pushing. So when I became pregnant with our daughter, I expected the labor to be much shorter, as second deliveries usually are.
By this time, we had moved to another state, and I didn’t tell my new midwives about the genetic disorder since it was a negligible risk. I was determined to be in a birth center this time.
I ended up transferring care to a different birth center in my last several weeks of pregnancy because of some scary news that came out about the birth center I had been with.
After my experience with our son and coming off of the last-minute transfer, I had a lot of nervous energy and fear going into labor. I think those negative feelings slowed the process for me, and I ended up being in labor for 20 hours.
I was exhausted by the end and didn’t know how I would get through it.
But again, my husband and midwife team were indispensable. My labor and delivery was much longer and more exhausting than I expected, but I otherwise ended up with what felt like a very redeeming birth experience.
EJ - Mom of Two - One Epidural, One Natural Delivery
As a professional who works with children with special needs, my husband and I made the decision to put all of our eggs in the "natural" childbirth basket intending to deliver our baby without unnecessary medical intervention.
At 40 weeks on my birthday, my labor started.
Fast forward to the very long and grueling 40-hour mark, we decided to change course and I agreed to an epidural and eventually pitocin.
I wasn't progressing and while I didn't know it at the time, our daughter was OP or sunny side up (head down but facing the wrong direction) which created intense back pain. Towards the end of my labor, I developed a fever. I was treated with antibiotics and because meconium present, the NICU staff was at the ready.
After two hours of pushing and 58 hours of total labor, our perfect little girl was born alert and ready for the world. They did some preliminary tests at birth that I wasn't really aware of (I'm the kind of girl who faints when they make you walk to the bathroom after giving birth-true story).
Eight hours later, a team of doctors broke into our perfect little world and said they needed to take her to the NICU to treat her for an infection.
She spent ten days in the NICU that still haunt me to this day.
No one ever plans to go home without their baby, and having to do this devastated me. But now I know that I’m one of the lucky ones. Today, she's close to turning ten years old and she's one of the most amazing kids I know.
As is the usual, my second delivery went very differently.
After 12 hours of labor, we raced to the hospital running red lights and everything ( I don’t recommend this!).
Again, I intended to go naturally, but I felt some pressure from the nurse who said something along the lines of "this is your last chance for an epidural" and I caved.
My son was born minutes after that epidural with the nurse warning me not to push until a doctor was in the room, while I was screaming "Get a doctor NOW!"
A crew of people who looked to be in their 20’s flew into the room immediately, and my husband asked when the Dr would be arriving only to be told there were three doctors in the room.
My son arrived after 2-3 pushes and MY doctor arrived just in time to to deliver the placenta. My son came so fast, I’m pretty sure the Epidural didn’t even have time to kick in (I felt everything).
Again, meconium was present and the NICU staff whisked him away to examine him which filed me with a lot of anxiety due to my previous experience.
In this case, however, we were able to escape the hospital after a 36 hour stay. To this day, my son is a funny, smart, melt your heart daily six-year-old who remains as impatient as he was that day.
I had specific plans on how I wanted things to go to bring our children into this world, especially the first time.
Both times we had to adjust our plan.
It wasn't easy to be in the 1.5% of women who suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (extreme nausea during pregnancy- for me this meant home health with constant IVs for fluids and multiple anti nausea meds just to get through each miserable day).
In hindsight, we placed too much emphasis on how we wanted things to go.
We developed a birth plan and had contingency plans--the truth is we had very little control over what would ultimately happen and while there were very hard moments for us, I'm eternally grateful that we got two perfect little humans who fill our hearts with love every single day.
Jennifer - Natural Childbirth at Home
I see myself as one of the lucky ones who made a birth plan, and fate allowed it.
Home birthing was never really on my radar initially, but when my husband and I started to make plans to begin our own family together, the idea of it planted itself at the forefront of my pregnancy musings.
My husband and I have always felt a special connection with our home, and the notion of bringing a baby into this chaotic world here in our safe place seemed appropriate.
I was also raised Christian Scientist (no longer practicing thank you very much YAY VACCINES), and was never entirely comfortable with doctors or hospitals. And I really loved the idea that I would be directing this birth and not a room full of strangers.
Having spent most of my 20s and 30s subject to the perfunctory ob/gyn visit of a quick “swipe and wipe,” I was thrilled to discover what midwifery had to offer.
My midwife was a firm-handed Sikh woman from Brooklyn who was equally concerned with my mental state as well as my blood sugar levels.
She had strict rules- walking five miles a day (I was lucky if I did three), demanding ingestion of herbs and teas (I did most), sitz baths (a glorious tradition that I still miss to this day) and perineal massage (oh god it’s the most awful thing but it works).
All of this was suggested in an effort to keep us in the best shape possible for birthing.
And when it finally came to showtime, I was surprised to feel empowered instead of frightened. You know those movie scenes where the woman goes into labor and turns into a frenzied banshee?
Ya’ll, it doesn’t have to be like that.
Don’t get me wrong- it fucking hurt.
But natural childbirth made me feel like I was the most powerful woman in the world. I had learned to surrender and let my body take over with each animalistic surge.
I remember: Darkness. Pressure. Pain. A high. My husband holding me while I sat on the toilet and threw up. Heaviness in my pelvis.
My midwife would intervene from time to time (after asking permission first) to help open me up, widening me with almond oil, and I remember wanting to kick her in the face.
I squatted, trying to use gravity to help him get out. Legs trembling, throwing up again.
My son arrived after 24 hours of labor and three hours of those being filled with push after push and in one final fell swoop: a tumbling of inch after inch of squalling little piglet.
He went straight to my chest and we rested together until the placenta passed, and then it, too, was packed next to me while we waited for its life blood to make its entire way to him.
Two hours later, my husband cut the final cord and the placenta was whisked to my fridge to wait for encapsulation.
My son was never out of my arms except for a quick three minutes where I was showered and put into clean clothes. We deferred all pokes and tests (except for the traditional APGAR) till a few days later, and within three hours of delivery, my house was empty save we three.
My beer making husband poured for me the milk stout that he had brewed specifically for the occasion, and with a quick toast, we became a family of three.
The DGAF Mom - (that’s me) - Mom of Two, Two Natural Deliveries in Hospital
I consider myself lucky that I was able to deliver both of my boys without any medical interventions.
My first gynecologist in the new town I lived in (who was now my doctor overseeing my pregnancy) wasn’t supportive.
When I told him I would like to have an unmedicated childbirth he said “why on earth would you want to do that?”
Within a month we switched to the doctor who would ultimately deliver both of my babies without any interventions.
For my first, on his due date I was only 1 cm dilated and my doctor was convinced it would be another week before I came back.
Luckily the next day I started having contractions but I was convinced they were Braxton Hicks. Nothing to lay me out.
Just general discomfort and they would come and go every 30 - 45 minutes.
I went and ate lunch with my husband and settled in for the afternoon waiting for them to stop.
At 8 PM they started coming faster. Around every 10 or 15 minutes.
I called my doula who said “I think it’s gonna be tonight.” She told me to eat a really good healthy and big meal to give me energy, drink a bunch of water, and if I was up for it, take a bath and have a glass of wine to relax (yep).
I did all of that.
The bath was SORT of relaxing but mostly because I was too big to fit comfortably in our small bathtub at the time.
My husband, meanwhile, had taken to busy himself with building the crib (which hadn’t been built yet) and chopping a giant watermelon to take with us to the hospital so I could eat/be rehydrated should I need it.
I was in and out of sleep with the contractions, trying to rest as much as possible.
At around 2:30 AM I heard what sounded like an internal “pop” and felt a trickle of liquid roll down my body. My water had broke.
And the contractions were now coming very vast. Every 8- 10 minutes.
I called my doctor who said that it would likely be within the next 12 hours from the sounds of it so rest as much as I could.
When I hung up the phone I told my husband “I cannot do this for another 12 hours” and I meant it.
The pain was incredibly intense.
Like the worst absolute most debilitating cramps you’ve ever had times 50.
He’s a psychotherapist and uses meditation with his clients. My doula recommended that he turn off all the lights and get into bed with me, rub my low back and help me on a guided meditation.
When I look back on my labor - this is the memory that sparks the most emotion. The memory of just the two of us before we became a family of three calmly preparing to have everything change.
At around 5:00 AM the contractions were coming hard and fast and I told Chris to call the doula and have her come over.
She was there by 6 and there was no time to “check me” because I could feel the pressure of his head pushing down.
I kept telling Chris, “We have to gooooooooooo!” between contractions. “We have to goooooooo nooooooowwww!”
When my doula arrived I was bent over the passenger seat in the garage of his car saying, again, “We. Have. To. Goooooo.” Thankfully my doula said “When momma says it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”
We called my doctor on the way to the hospital at around 6:15 AM with my doula on the phone the rest of the time helping me to breathe out through the contractions. She didn’t want me to hold my breath but I instinctively was because it hurt so bad to breath.
When we got to the hospital they wheeled me in and had a room ready for me.
I had to poop SO BADLY.
So while Chris dealt with paperwork, my doula and I sat together in the bathroom while I shit in front of her.
My brain was so embarrassed, you know, because I’m pooping in front of someone.
By my body didn’t give any fucks because there was nothing I could do and also sitting on the toilet was so comfortable for labor.
She helped me change into a gown and get me onto the table but laying on my back was excruciatingly painful.
My doctor came and checked my progress and I was fully dilated all the way to 10 cm.
All the nurses were shocked at how calm I was and kept telling me this. I remember one of them was trying to get an IV in me because I had tested positive for group b strep and they needed to get an antibiotic through me to hopefully protect the baby (something i’d discussed with my doctor that he wasn’t, ultimately, worried if my baby didn’t get a full dose of antibiotics).
Anyway, she was asking me to hold my arm very straight and i was having contractions every minute or so and it was a minor miracle that she was able to get an IV in there at all.
My doctor asked if I wanted to push and I had no idea if I did or didn’t so i started to.
And I pooped some more. Yay!
Chris finally came back into the room and was holding my left hand and my doula was holding my right helping me by guiding me how to contract my neck and body and push.
I think it was three pushes: 1) his head crowned. 2) His head came out. 3) His whole body came out.
I instantly felt so much relief and a flood of emotions.
The main nurse still could not believe that I was able to do it without an epidural. She kept announcing it to everyone that came in. In retrospect I did love this feeling that I had done something few other people do. It was incredibly empowering.
My husband said “look at how big his hands are!!” and they were huge (they still are). I loved my recovery after my first.
I had to get stitched up because he came out so fast he tore my vagina a bit.
The stitches were minor though and I was grateful that I could walk to my room in the hospital and hold my baby without a need for intense pain meds beyond Ibuprofen.
When it came time to have my second baby I knew I wanted the same experience. My recovery was relatively easy from what I’d heard from friends who had C-sections and even epidurals.
At about 4 AM four days before he was due, I woke up having contractions. When I started to time them, they were coming much faster than they did with my first born at about 8 - 10 minutes apart.
I woke up my husband at around 4:30 and said I’m pretty sure we’re having a baby today.
We dropped off our oldest at daycare and I cried giving him a hug (through contractions that were coming every 5 to 6 minutes) as it would be our last time together as a family of three.
My doula met us at our house at around 8:30 AM and over the course of the next hour I progressed from a three/four to a seven/eight.
And this is gonna sound crazy, but I could FEEEEEEL My cervix opening this time.
This time, my body knew exactly what to do and it was doing it. The pain was so much more intense this time because it was happening so much faster. I was grateful he had decided to come after a mostly full night’s sleep because I needed that rest.
By 10:15 I was ready to go to the hospital yelling at my husband and my doula again, “We have to gooooo nowwwww” I couldn’t even walk to the car this time, which I took as a very bad sign.
In the car, I was convinced I was going to give birth to him at a stop light. We were in the middle of some morning traffic.
I called my doctor and told him I felt like he was coming out and he said “don’t let him!”
When we got to the hospital my doctor had just arrived and pushed a wheelchair out to greet us and take us up to L&D and then the rest happened so incredibly fast.
Thankfully my doctor had called ahead saying I was very progressed, and because of this, they had an entire staff on hand in a room ready for me.
Two nurses stripped my clothes while one was trying to get an IV in me (same thing as before, GBS).
The IV wasn’t going to happen at all.
They let me climb onto the bed and they didn’t even have time to get the stirrups out because my baby boy was coming out hard and fast!
I literally used my doctors shoulders for leverage and was on my side (I couldn’t even turn onto my back to push. He came out in one big push and the same overwhelming relief came over me, along with an intense feeling of calm.
My husband, on the other hand, was terrified. Because Sam was born so quickly, I tore in a much more sensitive part than I had with my first and there was far more blood coming out than it had before.
He shudders to this day thinking about it… “so much blood.” He was terrified that I was dying. And within moments had calculated what his life would be as a single dad of two… one of which was a newborn baby.
Thankfully the immense bleeding was just because of the tear and once my doctor got the bleeding under control and stitched me up I was good to go and it was my husband’s turn to feel the immense relief.
As with my first, my recovery was relatively easy.
I was rolled to my room though because of where the stitches were, but I had done this before. And I was a much more confident mom.
I’m grateful that my body and my babies were able to work together to allow for this kind of birth to happen. The more I speak to other moms the more I realize this isn’t possible for so many of them, even though it’s what they most wish for and desire.
Have a birth story you’d like to share? Comment below!