I'm a HUGE baby too. I can't hardly handle taking a sliver out still and I'm a grown woman! I had moments of doubt with natural birth but on the whole for some reason I felt pretty zen about it. I got myself into the thought process that any pain I feel is a pain I'm MEANT to feel to help get the baby out BETTER which makes it a pain unlike warning pains you'd find in broken bones. Those are to alert that something is wrong... labor pain is to alert you that a baby is coming and to help find the best positions etc to complete the journey safely and effectively.
During labor, my only true moment of weakness was during what must have been transition. I honestly don't remember being in the transition I've heard described and it was never said to me that I was... but I DO distinctly remember thinking that this is REALLY hard and I can understand using pain meds... but as soon as the phrase 'I want them' started to cross my mind, I interrupted myself with the thought that A) I'd have to transfer to the hospital so I'd still have at least 20 minutes of this to go anyway and B) it doesn't fall in line with my beliefs and I've already been laboring for hours and I'm clearly getting close to done. I just couldn't bring myself to say it out loud to anyone because as hard as it was briefly... admitting I might not be able to do it was harder. Luckily that passed quickly and pushing time started very soon after.
The hardest parts of the ENTIRE experience were first, not knowing what to expect because I'd never been pregnant before much less given birth so I had no clue what it could feel like even though I've had many descriptions and read and watched many MANY birth stories. The next thing was that I got a charlie horse during pushing. This is where my big baby pain issues comes in. I was SO distracted because of that damned charlie horse and I just couldn't extend my foot to help it go away. I'm never able to do that and this one chose to come play while my baby was a few pushes away from birth. On one hand, my body was able to take over pushing without me noticing so it helped THAT.. but on the other.. it was a charlie horse! haha... yeah.. I prefered the baby coming out over the charlie horse. The WORST thing though was the numbing shots for the couple of stitches I needed. Next time? I'm just skipping the shots if I need stitches at all. Those are AWFUL and the worst thing out of EVERYTHING from conception to today with baby. Yeah... I'm a big pain baby and those things BURN... and its just not the kind of burn I got when I had the burning 'ring of fire' deal.
I think the best thing you can do is read as many natural birth stories as you can and watch as many videos as you can. Take the time to really educate yourself on natural birth methods for managing pain as well as really educating yourself on the unnatural interventions. Just knowing what those could do to you could be enough to make you try just one more contraction or one more push... and that might be all you need to get over that hard spot and come to the other side where the baby will be joining you. The more you know and the more you can think about at the hardest spots, I think the more likely you'll be that you succeed.
For me, it wasn't an option not to. I had committed and I'm hard headed. I don't want people to know I can't do something I've said I want to and intend to do. That was enough to keep my mouth shut and keep going unless something seemed to be a true issue. If that hadn't worked, knowing the riskes certainly would have helped. After that, I also had the support system of intelligent trusting midwives and my birth partner (my mom as my husband was deployed) who could have easily helped talk me through it between contractions...
and that is the most important thing. Contractions have breaks in between. If one is especially hard, take the time between to gather yourself and focus on what else you could try to get through another. They come and they go and the baby will HAVE to come out eventually. As you work through it between contractions, you might find your level of ability gets up as you realize you already did all the others and now have new ideas to get through more.
I also liked "Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way"...their explanations of what was happening, and what the sensations were, was EXTREMELY calming to me during labor. As long as I could visualize what was happening during contractions, I felt on top of the pain. I knew what it was doing, and since my muscles were working so hard it made sense that the pressure/sensations would be extreme.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth was also very helpful...and mamas, help me out, what is that quote that's so amazing?
...Something like "The power and intensity of your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because it is you." That thought was always (is always) so comforting.
It isn't possible to predict what your experience will be, and I think it helps to go into the birth with your eyes open, knowing there is a tremendous range of possible experiences before you. Do what you can to prepare (classes, reading, educating yourself, choosing a NCB-supportive HCP, choosing birth location carefully, taking good care of yourself during pregnancy by eating appropriately and exercising regularly, hiring a doula, looking into things like waterbirth, etc.), and then allow the birth to be whatever it will be, knowing that you've done all you can to maximize your chances of a natural and peaceful birth.
I hope it goes beautifully for you. If it doesn't - it isn't your fault, nor should you feel any sense of failure. Birth is not a competition and all of our bodies and babies are different. Birth can't be summed up easily or described the same for everyone, nor does everyone feel the same way about similar experiences. Birth is like a quilt. We can all contribute our individual squares to the quilt and you can get an idea of what things might be like for you based on looking at all the squares, but none of them will be the same as yours. Yours will still be unique to you and your baby. Remember that all of your preparation is to put you in the best possible position to have the kind of birth you desire. None of it is a reflection of how good you are, or whether your body works correctly, or how strong you are.
Living in Wisconsin with my partner of 20+ years and our DD(Born 10/09/08 ). Why CI Mama? Because I love contact improvisation!
OW. THREE? I did it once, and the thought of doing it again with pitocin makes me want to curl up and cry, haha.
To the op~ a thought on the doubters and 'know-it-alls' getting into your head and your birth plans~ something I've learned over the years of being a mother (who isn't mainstream or traditional in many senses of those around me), I've found that over time the less information I offer the better. Sometimes people (friends, family) are supportive and truly respect your desires , plans and actions and then others think they could do a better job, know the 'best' way to do something, and generally don't realize they are not well-meaning but the exact opposite. It's a delicate balance sometimes at first, especially as you find your new normalcy in a new life as parent. When doubtful of myself, and the "am I crazy?' moments I remind myself that I am following my gut and my heart, it is what feels right. Instinct is our greatest strength, and to listen and respect it answers my 'am I crazy?' feelings.
Sorry~ I think I'm babbling
Also~ a true birth partner is worth thier weight in gold. DH is my rock and as hard as I know it is for him to see me labor through such pain, I also see in his eyes that I really can do it and he truly believes I can. Whether it is your dp, doula, family member or friend, someone who has immeasurable faith in you and respects your desire is irreplacable. Even if a time comes in a birth where a laboring mom needs pain-relief, a solid birth partner will see the strength it took all along, no matter what.
Now, having BTDT, I honestly think it's odd that healthy women go to OBs instead of MWs, and odd to decide you want an epidural even before you've ever felt one ctrx.
I did always hate the "SURE you're not having an epidural, just wait until you feel those contractions!" comments. Um, yeah, thanks, I WILL wait for that before making up my mind. *grumble* I did kind of get a smug little satsifaction talking to those people afterwards, although that may make me a bad person.
Kelly (28), in love with husband Jason (38) and our awesome babies: Emma 4/09, and Ozzy 8/10
My husband and I had practiced the Bradley Method and used it effectively, but I did, as the baby was crowning, yell out "I need pain medications!" one time. My husband, who had practiced and practiced with me, looked at me calmly and said "no you don't."
But then again, I took the epi and don't regret it. I had the pitocin and an induction. I was going to try it without the epi, but I made my decision as soon as I knew I was going to be induced.
For the op, if you don't want to be hooked up to tons of machines, be unable to eat or move, then try stick to your original plan! I had the medicated experience and it was ok, but it definitely had its downsides. Weigh what's really important to you.
Just a random note, I didn't find pushing on my back all that hard at all. What I found hard was pushing on a completely empty stomach.
Birthing from Within might also be good for you, because it helps you process your thoughts and fears and find your strenght, and has techniques for dealing with the "pain" (which is so different than being hurt/screaming on TV pain as everyone has said).
So my question is, were any of you (or are you) just as scared or nervous about the pain? What were some ways you naturally alleviated the pain you felt during childbirth? Did you meditate, use a labor tub? Any encouraging words are appreciated!
I used deep breathing to get me through the contractions. I just breathed in deeply and relaxed, while my husband (and sometimes the doula) rubbed my back. I was worried that they would get worse, to the point that I couldn't handle them, but they never did. The worst part of my labour was that I felt like I had to go to the bathroom (#2) the whole time and I was afraid that if I relaxed too much it would come out, so that made me unnecessarily tense, and I kept running to the bathroom, but couldn't get anything out. I even asked my doula about an enema because I thought it might make me more comfortable. Then I immediately ran into the bathroom and started pushing--the pushing came like waves over my body and I realized I wasn't the one controlling it. The #2 feeling was actually the baby trying to get out. So I went back to be examined again and I was taken to the delivery room.
The pushing phase really did suck for me, but I blame that on the nurse who "coached" me through it and refused to call my doctor. It was over within 2 hours, and I never once thought about drugs. I did think it was too late at that point and besides, I was too busy pushing.
ETA: you know, I do think that during the pushing stage, I asked if anything could be done to help me, and I was told, "No, you are the only one who can do this part." In retrospect, I am glad about this because what I was asking for (without even thinking it through) was intervention. I was just exhausted and not thinking about what I was asking. If they had offered a c-section, forceps, or vacuum, I don't think I would have agreed, but at the time, I thought, "There must be something you can do to make this easier." But I was told I needed to do it myself, so I did, just to get it over with so I could go to sleep.
A) I was petrified of NCB and....
B) I was surprised by how painful it was...and wasn't. It was pain, all right. But wasn't not like the pain of a broken arm, when you're in agony and feel like there's nothing to look forward to. Instead, it was a pain in anticipation of something so exciting that I pretty much didn't care about the pain! I even relished in the knowledge that it was bringing my baby closer to me.
birth often doesn't go exactly as we'd planned. This is not to say that it doesn't often end up being perfect, but our bodies and our babies sometimes take some unexpected turns. You may have your heart set on a medication/intervention free birth, and for any variety of reasons may decide during the birth that you want various interventions. This is OK. This is nobody's birth but YOURS. If you do get into it and decide that hey, this sucks, and you want that epidural? Or to have them break your water? Or that the situation warrants placing an internal monitor on your baby? Or any of the other things that could happen... this is ok and you can still have an amazing, perfect, empowering birth.
For example, I had planned my own intervention-free hospital VBAC just over 2 years ago. As it happened, I went 9 days past my EDD, had low fluids, and got sent straight from my NST over to labor and delivery. I did not get to labor at home like I'd planned. I didn't even get to eat lunch that day! But it all still ended up being absolutely perfect and I have great memories of my daughter's birth.
I guess what I'm saying is that I know of many women who especially get very fixated on doing everything naturally. And then for whatever good reason at the time, they opt for some intervention, and then afterwards they feel like a "failure" because they didn't have the exact birth they'd planned. I think this is really unfortunate, because they're judging themselves unfairly.
Ok best of luck!
Mom to James ( 5/2006), Claire ( 6/2008), furry kitties Calvin and Bob, and wife to Dennis.
i think part of it is just the unknown. i don't know what the next birth will be (should i choose to have one). I know i 'can' do it, i don't know how it will go, though. you never can know.
so, part of it is just striving to make peace with the fact that you aren't in control of it. you can do a lot of things to prepare yourself (so many great ones mentioned), but at the end, you just have to accept that it will be what it will be.
and when you get to that point, i think it becomes less scary overall. i mean, i has to accept that although i was planning and preparing for a UC, a c-section might be in order--you never know. i didn't want that, of course, but i did have preparations for all kinds of transfer needs, and that included if i felt i needed to go and get some pain management and related help.
so, honestly, it just comes to accepting that it will be what it will be, and that whatever that is, you can handle it.
I wasn't afraid of unmedicated birth while pregnant with my first. I'd read a lot of positive birth stories and decided that birth might or might not be painful but that if my birth ended up being in the 90% or so of physiologically normal births it was probably an experience I could handle. And if it wasn't, well I was giving birth in a hospital so other options were there.
I really, really hate pain. I scream and cry and swear when I stub my toe. I threw up and almost passed out when I got my nipples pierced and self medicated afterwards to deal with the pain. My daughter's birth wasn't painful. I told my husband that I thought I might want medication at one point because I wanted labor to be over, the contractions at this point weren't painful per se but they were psychologically overwhelming... he called a nurse to do a cervical check and it turned out that it was time to push. Once I started pushing everything felt right again and I didn't want the meds.
I don't doubt at all that some births are painful for some women, but it's not a given that it will be for any individual. I'm not a masochist. If my birth had been painful I would have gotten over my fear of spinal anesthesia and taken that route.
daughter #2 10/08/10
Second, hire a doula. I know this as been said repeatedly already, but I feel like it's that important that it should be said again! Best of luck mama!
SAHM to Bird (6/07) and Bear (7/09), and now enjoying our newest addition, born June 1, 2011!
At the same time, remember to be flexible... what is planned, may not happen. So what if you choose to utilize pain medications? You did not fail at anything. You just chose a different route for your birth.
Start with this wonderful article:
I am going to be completely and utterly honest. I had a c-section with #1, so I really didn't experience labor much, but with #2 I had a homebirth. The birth was extremely painful, and I wanted an epidural, and the only thing keeping me from going to the hospital for one was the FEAR of getting in the car and dealing with the contractions the whole way. But... I did do it. I went unmedicated. But... I didn't think it was a big deal.
Next birth will be at the hospital, and if I want an epidural, I am getting one and will do so without a flinch.
Look, if you do end up having an unmedicated birth, that's wonderful. But, if you get an epidural, it's still wonderful -- it's the birth of your child. Don't let anyone ever make you feel guilty for getting an epidural, or even just thinking about geting one. It's NONE of their business.
I am not trying to scare you or dissuade you, just being 100% totally honest with you. I wish more would have been frank with me when I was planning my first unmed birth.
But that's me. And different women have different experiences. Chances are you will be just fine having a natural childbirth if you are allowed to move around and you have sympathetic support people. And if something happens and you do choose meds then you're not a failure. We all have different needs and experiences in labor.
Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds 11yo dd 9yo ds and 7yo ds and 2yo ds
My advice - get a doula. No matter how amazing your partner is, he will get tired just as you will. Make sure your support team knows your wishes.
If you decide on an epi, there is no shame in it. Only you know what your body needs.