The Beautiful Pain Of Natural Birth: Is It really worth it?

Elsie was my second birthing experience, but my first unmedicated experience. When I gave birth to Imry I did get the epidural, because I was younger and scared of what the pain would be like when I felt it. I have a very high pain tolerance and for Imry the nurse had to inform me that I was having contractions while I was mid conversation. I seriously did not feel anything! So that’s where I got the idea that I wanted to have a natural birth for my next child. In addition after receiving epidural with her I took a nap on my side and wound up only numb on onside of my body. I’ve learned that most people who go the medicated route the first time generally don’t try to go unmedicated as I did. "Hey, I’m always up for a challenge" thought my crazy tail self! So let’s get into my story of natural birth…

After my final prenatal doctor’s appointment I was filled with sadness because I hadn't made any progression dilating in the past 3 weeks, and my due date was only 7 days away! My god was I ready to not be pregnant anymore. Any one who has kids knows what I mean! Those final days, weeks even, are for the BIRDS!! So I was really upset that my baby girl was looking like she was going to come late. Lo and behold, two days later at 5 am I got up to go to the bathroom, normal pregnancy routine. Then wildly I took my underwear off (I was uncomfortable y’all) and climbed back in the bed. I tell you no lie 30 minutes later while I’m trying to go back to sleep I feel a wetness on my thigh, and I’m thinking dang I just went to bathroom. So then I get up and DRIP…

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At that point I put my hand between my legs and waddled my 9 month 3 week 2 day pregnant self to the toilet. I get there and then more liquid comes out! This time it was more of a gush though and I call to Jonathan, “Bae, bae! Wake up I think my water just broke.” He says, “You sure you not just peeing?” More fluid comes out and I say, “Did you hear that I didn’t do that! That happened on its own.” Now I have his attention and he gets up and comes to see. FYI we are weird you guys and always into each others weird and gross moments. Then I show him again, “Look, this is me peeing... okay look again I didn’t do that! Yay, oh my god, my water broke!” At this point I’m over the moon excited and so is he. I waited an hour before I went to the hospital though, because my plan was to have a natural birth and I read you should labor at home for a bit. In that time I picked up around the house to make sure everything was clean, got Imry ready to go by her grandparents, and gathered our things to head over to the hospital. In the midst of picking up I forgot that my doctor said to put on a pad after my water breaks. I didn’t understand why she said that before, but as I was loading the dishwasher up…GUSH! My water was still breaking!

I had to run upstairs, hands between legs again, and change. Fast forward, now my water has been broken (breaking... because it was definitely still happening) for an hour and we have arrived at the hospital. I’m very thankful that we were at the point of this Covid life that I was able to have two people with me in the delivery room. So I checked into the hospital with my two birthing partners, Jonathan and my mom. As I was checking in they were telling me someone had to check if I was in labor before they gave me a room, and I’m just thinking ma’am my water broke this is happening. They had my entourage wait in the waiting room while they ensure that I am in fact in labor, and to their surprise I really was in labor! Crazy people, is what I thought, because I told you this already. Anyway, they had me change into the infamous hospital gown, connected me to the heart monitors, and laid a bed pad onto the bed, because my water was still breaking…yay! That “yay” was definitely sarcasm guys, because at this point I’m over the continuous water leak. My entourage has finally made it into the room and we are ready to get the ball rolling.

If you are unfamiliar about the process of a cervix dilating here is a picture that gives you an idea of the size of the cervix opening.
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

It was about 7:30 am at this point. I’m laying in the bed and they check my cervix. I’m only 4 centimeters. I asked can I get a birthing ball and the nurse told me we are going to hold off until I dilate a little more before taking that step. Let me give you a little background on what my birthing plan was. I wanted a non-medicated delivery. I wanted to not have an IV or be connected to all those monitors. I wanted to use a birthing ball (like the large exercise bouncy balls). I wanted to deliver with the lights dim since the baby is used to darkness on the inside. I wanted to listen to my good ole’ R&B music to calm me through contractions. Lastly, I did not want to deliver the baby laying on my back to lower my chances of an episiotomy (vaginal tear that gets stitched up after delivery). Okay, now that you know lets get into good stuff.

  We are in the hospital room, and I have turned on my favorite pandora station singing my lovely Mary J. Blige while I pace the room. Then, oh my, I start to feel a strong tightness in my back and it actually hurts. I say this because I never understood the feeling of a contraction due to my very high pain tolerance, and I delivered my first daughter with epidural because I was afraid of what the pain would feel like. So as the contraction pain fades I tell Jonathan and my mom, “Okay, that wasn’t so bad I can do this.” I definitely spoke too soon. After I started really feeling what labor pains were I had lost my sense of monitoring the time so I didn’t know how much time was passing now. The nurse comes back to check me and boom 5 centimeters. YES... we are making progress. She brings in the birthing ball and I climb back out of bed, and what do you know a bed pad on the birthing ball because my water was still breaking! Yay! So I sit onto the ball and begun to bounce and that was cool and I'd still sing...eh kind of hum. When the next contraction hit I froze up in pain. No bouncing, no singing/humming, just a cringe of my teeth together because the pain had gotten worse. Now hold up I didn’t expect it to get worse! Now I’m thinking what have I gotten into. The pain faded and I went back to bouncing and humming, and then it happened again, and again. These contractions were speeding up and becoming more painful while leaving me less time in between to gather my bearings. I continued to try to bounce, but now bouncing has become painful too!

The nurse came back in to check me, and then I was 7 centimeters. Yes, so much progress because all we had to do is get to 10! So I went back to the birthing ball and my god I could no longer bounce, because every time I bounced my labor pain would get worse. At this point, I dreaded the ball and called that a wrap and got back into the bed to lay in my misery. Meanwhile, Jonathan is trying to be so encouraging, but it’s all irritating. First he says, “Look at the bright side your moaning will get louder, because the pain is getting worse which means the baby is going to be here soon…” I literally looked at him and snappily said, “That does not make me feel better.” Then he took a phone call and I over heard him tell somebody that I wasn't in labor yet.

Thinking back this is hilarious, but it was where I drew the line for the foolery. I borderline yelled, “What do you mean I’m not in labor! What do you think is going on here? All this pain I better be in labor, what’s wrong with you?!” Ha! After I said that my guy exited the room. I guess I went to far, but this is why having two people is important. Mom was there for backup. So let's fast forward. The music was no longer helping so I turned it off. I had my mom making me some moist warm towels to lay on my back. First towel was a god send. Second towel, mom don’t even worry about it. I began to yell, squeeze, and push the bed railing during each contraction at that point. I wanted to cry and I told my mom I just want this baby out of me at that point and that was the worst idea I ever had to have a natural birth. What was wrong with me! I called the nurse in to check me AGAIN. She comes to check while I’m in the midst of a contraction and I’m 8 centimeters and in the most pain I had ever experienced. So from here the contractions felt nearly constant. I no longer was able to maintain any of my bearings. I was screaming, then I was silent in misery, then I started to feel exhausted and started ripping the monitors off due to my discomfort. They checked again and I was 9 centimeters. They called my doctor.

By the time she got there I was still only 9 centimeters, so she left! I was very sad that it wasn’t time so now every time I felt a contraction I started to push on my own. I was in pain and could feel so much pressure between my legs, but to every mama reading this...

DO NOT PUSH UNTIL ADVISED BY A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL!

-A crazy person who tried it... Me... I'm the crazy

Please don’t because that is why I was still suffering with pelvic pain 2 months postpartum. I then felt so out of it that the nurse had to put me on an IV. Moving along, next thing I knew the nurses were setting up for the finale, bringing in all the tools, towels, and other things. My doctor came back in and said "Let’s get this baby out." Best words I heard all day so say less! She came and she had them put my feet up onto the stirrups and she began to do her thing and had me push. I pushed back to back with one deep breath in between. The baby is almost out and I’m just screaming to get her out. They tell me her head is half way out that I could reach down and feel it if I wanted to. Likkkeeee I hadn't had a drop a medication so believe me I felt all I needed there was absolutely no need for me to not believe she was almost out. They told me to push again and at that moment I looked around the room and I swear it looked like a movie scene where you see the faces of the people surrounding the woman as she pushes. I push that final time and hear, “Time of birth 11:57 am.” Baby Elsie was born.


The things they don’t tell you!

I knew that I wanted to have a natural birth since the moment I found out I was pregnant. So as any normal person would I started asking everyone about their natural birthing experience (That is normal right?). I had a bunch of people telling me it was an amazing experience and then some simply saying good luck. Nobody really gave it to me like it was. I understand people not wanting to scare you out of it, but if your heart is set you should always go with your move regardless of other people's reviews. I simply ask around so I can have an idea on what to expect, rather than to base my decision of others.

1. Having a birth plan is really important, but what’s even more important is that everyone in the hospital knows it and is on board. Ask your doctors/midwives questions about anything you are unsure about. Write down the things you want as you figure out some ideas. Then act on them! I know by the time you start thinking about this life is rolling along and you're just trying to make it through the day carrying that load of a blessing, but please prioritize this. A lot of the things I wanted went out the door due to the pressure I was under and I just started to go with the flow all because I did not follow the directions given to me by my bomb a** doctor. So on the backend I had to do a lot of advocating for myself causing the nurse having to contact my doctor to get the okay (after I already discussed it with her of course) when I could have had all my ducks in a row and provided my doctor with my written wishes so she could have had staff informed. So don't be lazy!

2. Allow yourself time to labor at home. I thought waiting an hour was enough (like I said I didn’t understand what a contraction felt like) and wound up doing all of the hard work at the hospital because I went before I even started to feel pain. I can't lie it's tricky, because being at laboring would have been so much more comfortable. Yet, there's that fear of having a Teyana Taylor situation where you popping out babies in the bathroom (shout out to her okurrt!). So pay attention to your body and time those contractions to really maximize your comfort during labor. Being out of your comfort zone while your in immense pain for a long period of time is not fun.

3. Now your water breaking is supposed to be this grand moment where the water gushes out and you immediately know that the baby is coming. Well, what the movies fail to display is that the water flow doesn’t stop! It keeps on going and going and going! Then the size of the leak can also vary depending on where the sac broke from. For example, if it broke near the vaginal canal then water will flow more heavily compared to if it broke further up or in the back somewhere it would be more of a slow leak.

4. Pain management is where you should do the absolute most research if this is a journey you wish to embark on. Personally, I truly underestimated the pain I would endure so I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. Know this though! A birthing ball is not a pain reliever! A birthing ball is not a pain reliever! A birthing ball is not a pain reliever! My gosh please know that and share the information signed The Candid One. A birthing ball is helpful though, because it helps with the progression of the dilating process.

5. Delivery can be exhausting! So make sure you’re getting your rest and pack chapstick. Trust me you’ll need it. Drink a lot of water also! I know a lot of us don't like water blah blah blah. Everything you drink has water in it and water will hydrate you faster than most drinks. Drink that ishhh! It'll help you meet your little one with a fresh face compared to the one I had, because I was caught slip-ing.

Lastly, keep an open mind. Having a plan is important, but accepting that things may not go completely as planned is also something to be prepared for. So is it worth it though? Honestly, I don't know! You have to do what's best for you ultimately. Whether it's natural, medicated, or a cesarean, birth is birth, I just pray that it is a safe delivery. Giving birth is not the time to add stress to yourself, but a time to appreciate that the 10 month journey of trials and tribulations is finally about to issue you your greatest gift.

Peace, love, and pain management!

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