Most women I’ve come across describe their birth experiences as wonderful, but only because they ended up with a beautiful baby at the end of the process.
Few are as ecstatic about the labor process, or the actual experience of giving birth. That’s where I feel a little unusual. I had an incredible experience giving birth. So much so, that a few days after Caden was born I told my hubby, “I can’t wait to do that again!”
I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m nothing special. I’m not a star athlete with a super-human pain tolerance. I just sort of lucked into a process—and a group of people—that worked like magic to give me a totally natural, totally painless birth experience.
Interestingly, few women who have given birth want to hear about it. Or if they do, they’re incredulous. It’s almost like they’d rather tell their war stories about all the things that went wrong during their babies’ births, as if birth should be a rite of passage where the most scarred woman wins. Why is that?
I don’t understand it, so here’s what I want to do. I’ll tell you my first birth story, and then you tell me yours. I think we all go through different experiences, and we can all learn something from each other. The most important thing is that we respect each other’s choices. As in, what worked for one woman may not be ideal for another. But it’s still worth sharing, don’t you think?
Like I mentioned Monday, I had wanted a totally natural childbirth experience. If you read enough about it, it seems like doctors and researchers go back and forth on the merits and problems of using epidurals and other drugs. Same thing with episiotomies and inducements. To me, going natural meant I wouldn’t have to worry about which research study was right.This idea sounded good until I was about halfway through my pregnancy and realized the baby would have to come out somehow. And, though I liked the idea of going natural, I didn’t like the idea of powering through the pain. I’ve been known to cry if I stub my toe. Pain, to me, is generally unbearable.
Somewhere along the lines I stumbled across the idea of using hypnosis to cope with labor pain. I bought a book on it. The book made it sound too good to be true. I was skeptical. Then, amazingly, I heard about a new class starting up in my town that trained expectant moms in using hypnosis for birth. Hubby and I went to check it out and actually met a woman who’d had a successful hypnosis-birth. The program was different than the one I’d read about — and a lot more logical, really. So, we enrolled.
Fast-forward to the day of our birth: In a nutshell, my water broke and intense back labor started thirty minutes later. I was so caught off guard, I screamed at my husband something like, “Why are we even doing this? I don’t even want children!” It took half an hour for him to calm me down and convince me I was actually in labor (I didn’t really believe it at that point). Once he had me convinced, he turned on my hypnosis CD, put me on the bed with a heating pad, and that was it. I went into deep hypnosis and the pain was gone. I dozed on the bed for the next five hours.
When my contractions were two minutes apart, my husband decided it was time to head to the hospital. I stayed in hypnosis the whole time we were in transit, still feeling no pain. When we got to the hospital, I was already at six centimeters. After getting the thumbs-up from my midwife, I opted to get in the big bathtub. At that point, the pushing phase began. Still no pain. Still no drugs. Still under hypnosis. I felt pressure, sure, but pressure is a very different thing from pain.
It was there, in the bathtub, that Caden was born—just two hours after we got to the hospital.
As I prepare for the birth of my second baby, I can’t help but think of my first birth experience. If I hadn’t actually been the one to do it, I’d find it hard to believe I didn’t need drugs to have a painless birth. I guess that speaks to the power of a woman’s body. Still, I wonder … can I do it again?
I guess we’ll know soon! I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I’d love it if you’d share your own birth story in the comments section below.