Dear first-time mama wanting a natural birth,
You have your reasons.
And just like you don’t judge other women for their chosen method of birth, you hope they don’t judge you, either. You wish for some understanding and you crave their support.
Maybe you want to avoid drugs while your baby is still in your womb. Perhaps you want to be free to move around and change positions. Maybe you desperately want your baby to be born in the comfort of your own home.
If you’re like me, maybe you have an uncontrollable fear of a needle in your spine or you simply want to experience the miracle of childbirth without being numbed.
It’s your decision to make and it’s no more or less valid than opting for a c-section or saying “I want pain meds ASAP.”
But did you know?—
“There’s no medal for natural childbirth.”
“You’ll be begging for that epidural the second the contractions start.”
“Most births don’t go as planned so you should probably manage your expectations.”
If you’ve shared your desire with other moms, you’ve likely heard (or will hear) some versions of those reminders. I don’t think words like these are necessarily spoken with malicious intent. I don’t think they aim to discourage or dismiss. Most of the time I think other women feel obligated to prepare you for what they may not have been prepared for themselves. Or they simply don’t understand your choice and so they just don’t know how to support you.
I desperately wanted a natural birth.
From the day two lines appeared on the stick, I was googling natural birth success stories and reading them constantly. I found a friend that helped me with hypnobirthing and I practiced breathing and visualization techniques daily. I had a Pinterest board full tips like eating six dates a day and drinking red raspberry leaf tea and sitting on a yoga ball at work. I researched all my options; the pros and the cons. I wrote a birth plan and changed my OB/GYN so I could deliver in a place I knew would be more supportive of it.
I was a fanatic about this, and my husband will tell you I was that obnoxious girl raising her hand to answer all the questions in the childbirth prep class.
It’s because it was so important to me, and I knew that the only way it would happen was if I prepared in every way I could, and kept myself focused on my why.
And I grew in confidence as the months passed, until negative feedback from others would fill me with doubt. I’d question myself and my body’s ability. I’d question my reasons and wonder if it was really worth it, and have to constantly remind myself that yes, for me, it was.
When the time came, the only thing “natural” about my daughter’s birth was the fact that I delivered her without pain meds or anesthesia.
But wait. Please don’t stop reading there.
I don’t tell you that to scare you out of your decision or to add to the negativity you’re already getting.
I’m telling you to empower you and to encourage you to keep going.
I’m telling you because even though I needed some interventions, I wouldn’t have changed a SINGLE THING that I did to prepare for the birth I wanted.
I wouldn’t have done anything differently.
Every step I took leading up to that day put me in the best possible situation and enabled me to maintain some control over my experience that I otherwise may not have had.
I’m telling you because even though things took an unexpected turn toward the end, I still made my husband swing through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru on our way to the hospital and had a solo dance party in the delivery room to Portugal The Man’s Feel it Still when my contractions were 90 seconds apart because I was just that chill.
I’m telling you because I want to be a different kind of voice in your head — the voice that tells you that every experience is unique and you can’t base what’s right for you on what happened to someone else. The voice of a mama that didn’t get everything she’d hoped for but still believes with her whole heart that it’s possible. That you CAN do it.
Keep adding to your Pinterest board. Find your support circle and a birth place you trust. Practice your breathing. Hire a doula or a midwife. Make a labor-day music playlist. Keep reading about all the mamas who had awesome natural birth experiences.
Drown out the noise. Let the negativity fuel your determination, meanwhile supporting other moms on their journey to birth in whatever way they choose.
And the next time someone tells you “you don’t get a medal”, just humor them with a look of astonishment and a “crap, well that sucks”.
I can’t promise you that everything will go as you hoped and planned, but I can promise you that you won’t regret staying the course that’s true to your heart on what will likely be the most memorable day of your life.