Just over three weeks ago I gave birth to my first child, Beckett Harrison House. It was an amazing experience and thought I would share my experience giving birth naturally as I know it is not the most popular option, and is often viewed as something horrific and unthinkable for many. I certainly would never judge people who choose to have medical interventions and can completely understand why one would opt for an epidural, as the pain in labor is unbearable at times. In writing this post, I figured there must be some people out there who might be interested in hearing a little about my journey. I hope that for anyone wanting to give birth naturally, my story will help you realize that you absolutely can.

My labor was approximately twelve hours from start to finish. I was told that is a fairly short labor for a first time mother – it felt even shorter because I was already dilated to 5 cm when I got to the hospital (you have to get to 10 cm in order to push the baby out). I was not at the hospital for the first four hours and the labor was fairly easy; I could carry on a conversation, only having to stop when a contraction would come, about every five and a half minutes. Contractions would last about a minute at most. My guess is most women experience this stage of labor at home and feel the same way – that this stage of labor is uncomfortable but manageable. Once we got to the hospital, contractions began to get a little closer but not much more intense. I was able to play a game on my iPhone (love Bejeweled!) in between contractions and could move into different positions to make the contractions a little less painful. I would squat, sit on my giant exercise ball that I brought with me, kneeled on all fours, etc…it was definitely helpful to be able to move around. In most countries women give birth in many different positions and not laying flat on their backs. Laying flat forces the body to work against gravity and therefore makes labor more uncomfortable and difficult.

From hour six to eight, labor began to get more intense; contractions were becoming more painful and I was having shorter breaks in between. At that point, I had my mom holding one hand and Karl, my husband, holding the other. They were amazing coaches who gave me the encouragement and strength I needed to get through each contraction. Thank goodness our bodies are given the gift of breaks in between contractions to make labor bearable. I used those breaks to mentally prepare me for the next one. I wish I could tell you that this point was as painful as it was going to get…but it wasn’t.

At about hour eight of labor my water broke and labor intensity jumped to a whole new level; there were only tiny breaks in between contractions and the pressure that accompanied each contraction became incredibly intense. The tiny breaks, however, were just enough to allow me to regroup and stay focused on getting through this stage of labor. I never got to the place where I was serious about taking the drugs but it definitely crossed my mind, as this point would be my last opportunity to ask for them. I just kept reminding myself that I had made it this far and in no time, the pain would come to an end and an amazing gift would be waiting for me.

By hour eleven of labor, I had made it through the worst of it and it was time to wait for the doctor to come so I could push. Despite what I had heard, pushing was actually not painful and felt a bit relieving! I was very lucky that I only had to push about twenty to thirty minutes and had very little pain accompanying it. It was a very surreal experience pushing another life out of my body and into the world around me and felt very much like a dream. Beckett came out with eyes wide open and we shared a natural high that I had heard would be my reward for giving birth naturally. It was absolutely worth it.

I think the best part of giving birth naturally was the recovery process. I was in very little pain (I only took a couple of Motrin the first two days) and felt very alert and ready to bond with my baby. Beckett also seemed to be very responsive and awake as well which made our time together those first hours even more incredible.

Giving birth naturally was not easy. It was not pleasant. If your pregnancy has no complications, it is definitely doable and if you are thinking about doing it, know that you definitely can. Women have been giving birth for centuries without drugs, and their tolerance for pain was not any higher than ours. Below is a list of things that helped me make it through the process (which may come in handy, drugs or not!):

  • Karl and I took a “Bradley method” natural childbirth class where Karl successfully learned how to be a fantastic coach as well as what to expect in labor.
  • I packed lots of hydrating liquids including water, coconut water and Recharge (a natural Gatorade type drink) and drank liquids nonstop from the time labor began in hour one. I really believe this was a HUGE help.
  • I forced myself to eat a large meal before leaving for the hospital and also brought snacks to eat during labor. Though I was not hungry (and they don’t really want you to eat at the hospital in labor either) I knew that having the energy to get through labor was imperative and forced myself to eat small snacks such as an energy bar, a hard boiled egg and fruit.
  • I brought my giant exercise ball which was great for using during labor as well as a homeopathic “icy hot” type lotion called Sombra to relieve the muscle pain (great to have for aches and pains in general!). I had Karl rub some on a couple of times and it really helped alleviate the low back pain.
  • Having my iPhone was a great distraction when I was still in the earlier part of labor and had hours to go. Bring something to do to help the time pass when the pain isn’t too severe.
  • I asked to only have intermittent monitoring (they check the baby’s heart rate just once an hour instead of constantly) so I could freely move around for most of labor which was really great so that I could get into more comfortable positions such as squatting, sitting on my ball, etc…

I hope that no matter how you choose to give birth, you have a healthy and uncomplicated delivery.

Written by Lana House

Studio Owner, House Pilates

Beckett’s photograph taken by BeautiesandBabies.com