There are many different methods of delivery for childbirth. Which is best will vary from person to person. Read this mother’s experience with 3 different methods.
by Madison Hardgrave
Hello! My name is Madison from Oklahoma. My husband and I have been married for 9 years and we have three boys: 4.5 years, 2.5 years and 3 months. It’s loud and busy in our house and I love being a boy mom! I love the Chronicles of a Babywise Mom blog and Valerie. They have both helped me so much in all seasons of my motherhood so far. It is such an honor to write a guest post here!
I love birth! I’m amazed by the miracle of our bodies. Pregnancy? Not my favorite. I have rough pregnancies; I get very sick and it’s just overall not a good place for me. But birth? Oh, I love birth. I love to talk about my births – join me as we tour the greatest hits.
I had three very different birth experiences. I’ll share with you my stories and my opinions, but keep in mind they won’t be the same as yours. Every pregnancy, birth, and person are different. It’s important to make educated choices for yourself and your family.
Unmedicated Vaginal Birth
My first birth was an unmedicated vaginal birth. That is what I wanted and what we planned for. My husband and I took a 10-week birth class to prepare and educate ourselves on birth and what to expect.
My water broke at home at 39 weeks and we went to the hospital! I was in labor for a total of 24.5 hours. After my water broke, my contractions were steady but not progressing my labor, so 18 hours after it broke, I was given Pitocin, a drug that artificially strengthens and speeds up your contractions to help labor progress.
There were 5-6 hours of very intense pain. I required physical and emotional support from my husband– he held me, rubbed my back, and talked to me.
I pushed for 20 minutes and then the doctor pulled my son out and lifted him up and laid him on my chest! It was the best moment of my life.
There is a lot of pain with an unmedicated birth, there’s no way around it. If you are interested in this type of birth, know that, and expect it. Embrace it. The moment my child was placed in my arms, I didn’t care about any of what had come before.
Pros: Wonderful feeling of connectedness to your body and your baby.
Cons: Pain. It’s real and it’s intense.
Partner Perspective: The preparation and birth were a major bonding experience for us as a couple. My husband was very involved in this birthing process, which he valued, but seeing me in so much pain was stressful.
Recovery: I had a second-degree tear and the stitches were uncomfortable/painful/itchy for several weeks after birth. I walked immediately after birth and had no medication side effects. Mentally, it took me weeks to be able to appreciate the experience and not just feel overwhelmed by the physical toll it took on me.
My second child was breach, born via emergency c-section at 33 weeks.
I had premature partial rupture of membranes (PPROM), or the leaking of amniotic fluid, at 32 weeks and spent a week in the hospital on bed rest. Then the baby’s heart rate wasn’t doing well so they took me in for a c-section right away.
I had a spinal block, numbing me from the waist down. I don’t like needles and it was not a pleasant experience for me. I flinched and was scared when the doctor told me I HAD to hold still.
A kind nurse held me in her arms against her chest. During the surgery, I could feel the doctors touching, tugging and pulling my skin. There was no pain, only pressure. My son was held up to my face over the drape so I could see him, but I did not hold him for 36 hours, as he went straight to the NICU, and I was either in surgery, recovery, or in bed.
Pros: No pain during birth.
Cons: Lots of pain for several weeks after birth. No walking or showering for 24 hours after. You have a lifelong scar. Loss of feeling/itching/pain can occur around the scar for months and sometimes years after birth. This is major surgery, and with that comes medical risks. These are important to discuss with your doctor.
Partner Perspective: My husband felt like a bystander and not involved. He was anxious about me having surgery and knew I was disappointed to have a c-section.
Recovery: Slow. It took me over a month to be able to move normally, without restriction or pain. Weight restrictions on lifting made it hard to take care of my 2-year old. Mentally, this was my most difficult birth. I wanted another unmedicated vaginal birth, and I was very disappointed for months afterward. I still wish things had been different! I talked to a therapist to process the loss of the birth I wanted.
VBAC with Epidural
My third child was born at 38 weeks via vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).
I had an epidural per the doctor’s recommendation, so in case of emergency, I could be taken to surgery sooner.
My water broke at home and we went to the hospital! My son was born 11 hours later. I had the epidural in my hospital room.
This time was better than the c section spinal block, but still rough for me. Deep breathing and hugging a pillow helped. I was so comfortable after that! The discomforts and pains of the last 9 months slipped away, as did the constant urge to pee, thanks to a catheter!
My steady contractions were once again not progressing my labor, so I was given Pitocin. My legs felt tingly like when they fall asleep, but without the painful pins and needles.
I couldn’t feel anything, including contractions so I asked the nurse how I would know when it was time to push. She said I would feel rectal pressure. By the time I felt it, the baby’s head was already visible! I pushed 2-3 times and he was out! I watched it in a mirror, fascinated, totally alert and pain-free.
It felt very surreal, compared with the intense pain and feelings of my first vaginal birth.
Pros: No pain during birth, no repeat surgery
Cons: You can’t walk until the epidural wears off. There are medical risks with VBAC, these are important to discuss with your doctor.
Partner Perspective: My husband was very anxious about the medical risks associated with VBAC. The epidural and birth process was very smooth, we laughed and joked through the whole thing!
Recovery: I had another second-degree tear and some discomfort again with the stitches. Recovery from this birth was the fastest and easiest for me, physically and mentally.
Here are some of my tips regardless of the type of birth you have:
- Practice relaxation techniques often during pregnancy (meditations, breathing, etc)
- A supportive partner is instrumental to any successful birth. Involve your partner as much as both of you are comfortable with
- Openly discuss your fears, goals, and thoughts with someone you trust, preferably your birth partner.
- Have a doctor you trust, who has experience with the type of birth you want
- Be flexible- lots of things can change and it can happen quickly. Prepare yourself mentally as much as you can for the possibility that things will not go the way you want. Try to let go of the illusion of control. Be at peace with the process
- Take a birth class of some sort – online, at the hospital, in person. Education is key to empowerment and having the greatest success of achieving your desired outcome
- Don’t listen to people’s birth horror stories- surround yourself with positivity and happiness. In most cases, birth is not a medical emergency. Women have been having babies for thousands of years!
- Give yourself time to recover from birth and process your experience, no matter what type of birth you have. Journal, discuss with a trusted friend, your partner, your doctor or a therapist. Give yourself and your body grace- you have performed a miracle and brought life into the world. It’s not easy and takes time to heal
- Be in tune with your body for mental, physical and emotional changes
- Grieve the birth you wanted if it didn’t happen – try not to feel guilty. You can love your baby and be grateful they are healthy while at the same time, feel sad that things didn’t go the way you wanted. Both things can be true
I love to reflect on each of my births impacted me. They were all very different and they all helped shape me as a person and as a mother. Birth is very personal.
My unmedicated birth was a highlight of my life and I would have repeated it every time if I was able! But what resonated with me might not feel right for you. Do your research, find what works for you and your family. I wish you confidence in your decisions, happiness in your outcomes, and always, healthy baby snuggles!