A midwife and "Birthing From Within" mentor, I am passionate about informed decision making and helping moms and partners birth in awareness. My blog chronicles my journey from cesarean to vaginal birth after cesarean and my quest for information to help families have EMPOWERING births.
Last week I received an email from a mom that attended my prenatal yoga class, her baby boy had arrived, born without drugs, just a lot of breathing and pushing.
To tell the truth I had been waiting for this email. His mom and I spent a lot of time together preparing for the birth. The mom practiced yoga and breathing exercises faithfully throughout her pregnancy, often watched with half amusement, half apprehension, by her two children. She had had an epidural for her first two pregnancies (though they didn't do much good she had exclaimed!) and was about fifty fifty split on whether or not she would have a third epidural. I was very curious on how things would turn out.
"It's a boy!" she wrote. "No drugs, just lots of breathing and pushing. All the yoga and exercises made a huge difference, but I think the one thing that you said a few times more in passing was how much birth actually hurts. It somehow made it better knowing it was supposed to hurt. (I realize that may sound dumb, but I think it gets glossed over a lot)."
Her email got me thinking. I remember the one thing that really surprised me with my first birth was the pain. It was over the top, and encouraged me to go to the hospital sooner rather than later. And later, the prospect of being saved from the pain certainly crossed my mind as a benefit to the cesarean. Growing up my mom always talked about labor as something that was pretty easy. The story went something along the lines of we were out to dinner, it was our wedding anniversary, we had some champagne, we went home, your dad made tea, we went to the hospital and you were born shortly afterwards. It all sounded so easy and pain-free. One moment my mom was drinking champagne, the next moment she was pushing me out, nothing to it, right? When I wasn't easily able to manage my pain, it was scary.
And many of us have friends who talk up pain-free birth. Something along the lines of "Get the epidural! I went to sleep and the next thing you know, I was ten centimeters!" Sadly few of us grow up with the message, child birth hurts like heck, but that is ok. The euphoria, the "I can do ANYTHING since I just did that" feeling after the birth makes going through the pain worth it. When you know the pain is normal, and you've prepared your body and mind to handle it, it isn't so scary and you realize that you too can birth a baby with "a lot of breathing and pushing" (and MOVING) and without the drugs. So do I tell my almost six year old that childbirth hurts like heck? You bet I do!!!!