Friday, January 19, 2007

Musings on Birthing Naturally

[about an hour after birth, just after first nursing...]

We have a secret in our culture
It isn’t that birth is painful…
It is that women are strong!
~Laura Stavoe Harm

The plan from day one was to give birth free from medication. I believe that labor and delivery are natural processes, and that they work best when allowed to work naturally. I had people tell me that birthing without medication was like having a root canal without medication—unnecessary and stupid. I beg to differ—there is nothing natural about a root canal—it’s a process of repairing damage, like stitches, or a broken bone. Birth, on the other hand, IS natural; Nothing is broken, nothing is damaged, it just happens to be hard work.

Having now given birth though, I have to say one thing: I am woman, hear me ROAR! I feel so empowered. Look what I made! Look what I did! I am like a tiger (belly stripes and all) and I can do anything. I am strong. I am now the epitome of real power—positive power—the power to create, to build, to give. It’s humbling that God would share something like this with me…and it’s so awesome!

There were a number of times when I would have said that labor hurt—like stubbing your toe or hitting your head on the lintel—but ‘pain’ didn’t seem like the right word. It was effort and ache and not something I’d want to do every day, but it was not extreme… The one moment to which I would ascribe pain was the actual moment that S’s head delivered: I tore slightly in three different places, and that one moment I would have to classify as painful. It felt like I was ripping—as indeed I was. But even as I felt it I knew this was it and that if I could just push for a second or two more that it would all be done and S would be out. So, yes, delivering a baby has its painful moments…but overall it’s not that bad; and it’s so worth it!

I feel sorry for those who don't believe in themselves enough to even try. They will never understand what they are missing.


Chandelle' said...

amen to that, sister! i would classify the last part of labor as pain, but the rest is just...labor! hard work! and it is SO worth it. even going 60 hours with isaiah, and having everyone in the world ask me, wouldn't i have preferred an epidural? way, i wouldn't have given up that feeling for anything. it was hard, but i relished every sensation of him coming out of my body and i think it would have been so disconcerting and just...empty-feeling, to have missed that. having willow was an entirely different experience because i had the energy to feel empowered at the end! i felt amazing and powerful and i've never heard those descriptions come from anyone who had drugs. i've never regretted for one minute the hard work and yes, occasional anguish of bringing my children into this world, any more than i would regret the hard work and anguish of bringing UP my children. it's hard work having kids and it's hard work having kids around...why would you want to cop out of it? there is no epidural for motherhood!

congrats on birthing naturally!


Elizabeth said...

While I understand and respect the preference of many women to give birth naturally, I have to speak up (respectfully) for those of us that had--and loved--the pain medication. I still gave birth to a baby, which, any way you look at it, is hard and rewarding work. And I still feel that giving birth to each of my children was the most satisfying, sweet, and spiritual moment of my life. A few responses to Chandelle: I did feel energized and empowered after having my children with the assistance of an epidural, and I did feel him come out of's just that the contractions were moments of pressure rather than moments of pain. I did labor naturally for the first 20 hours of each of my labors, until I arrived at the hospital. I didn't feel that my labor experience before the epidural was any more real or special than it was after.

I give snaps to women that birth naturally, but the analogy that works for me is that you are the ladies that choose to, say, climb Mt. Everest. A cool experience, but it's not fair to say, "you've never climbed Everest, so you don't understand that the world is beautiful." Would I have had a more spiritual, amazing experience without the epidural? It's impossible to say. However, I did have an amazing experience, and I don't think it's fair to imply that a medicated birth can't be a wonderful one, too. I did not "cop out" by choosing an epidural, nor do I believe that I should regret my decision to go through the natural and beautiful process of childbirth with a little help from my anesthesiologist. :)

brightonwoman said...

elizabeth--my real feeling isn't that it's BAD to choose medication, or that it's a cop out. However, I know women who would not even consider all the options--THAT is what makes me sad. I believe that an informed choice is a good choice--whether or not it's the same one I would make. And every situation is different...had things been other than they were, I don't know that my choices would have all been the same either. :-) As it was however, I think it was just amazingly powerful, and I can't imagine having missed that, or having it be any different.

Veritaserum said...

Well, as someone who has given birth with an epidural and without (on purpose), let me just say that an epidural is like riding in a helicopter to the top of the mountain vs. hiking up the trail. The experience is *different*. There are details you're going to notice and experience by walking up the trail than you will see and experience by riding in the helicopter.

I thought I was happy and euphoric after my epidural birth. Then I gave birth without drugs and knew what that euphoria and sense of power could be like.

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