As a childbirth educator, a positive childbirth experience = payday. Everything I have tried to create with The Baby Lady is directed to helping moms enjoy as much of their birthing experience as possible. That said, I have decided to connect with women in the postpartum stage to find out what did/did not work for them during childbirth.
These Q&A sessions are my way of sharing candid, honest, genuine experiences from other women in an effort to help other women find something that may help them.
Name: Laura W.
Childbirth History: Third gestation (pregnancy). Deliveries 1 and 2 were medicated (epidural) + forceps use.
Preparation: Mindful Childbirth Course, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Birth Affirmations (Mongan Method)
Labor Details: Spontaneous unmedicated vaginal delivery
- How did you prepare for labor during this pregnancy?
This was my third pregnancy, and I had always prepared physically for labor but had not done much mental preparation until this pregnancy. I prepared physically by staying active and exercising my entire pregnancy, making sure to strengthen my pelvic floor and transversus abdominis. I prepared mentally by taking the baby lady natural childbirth class, reading Ina May’s book, listening to birth affirmations in my third trimester, listening to birth podcasts, and having a doula friend give me an hour private lesson.
2. How did that preparation compare to your previous pregnancies?
As I said above, I had not really mentally prepared at all for childbirth with my previous pregnancies. I had planned on getting epidurals, so I figured I would be OK as soon as I got to the hospital. Rookie mistake.
3. How did your labor/postpartum course from this pregnancy compare to previous?
I took a free, in person, one night a week, eight-week labor and postpartum class offered by my hospital with my first pregnancy. Unfortunately, we only made it to four of the classes before having our baby because I found out about it too late. While this was an okay option for my first pregnancy, it was not feasible to do an in-person class for my later pregnancies because that would’ve required finding childcare every week for my other children. It was so nice to be able to do the baby lady lessons online on my own time frame. The online format also made it easy to re-watch parts that were especially relevant or skip parts that seemed redundant since I was not a first-time mom.
4. What was the most difficult aspect of preparation?
Finding the time! Because I have young children at home, my alone time is scarce and precious. I would often struggle to make myself choose to focus on preparing for birth when I could’ve been sleeping or relaxing. Luckily a lot of the natural childbirth course was practicing relaxation methods or listening to birth affirmations which I could do while taking a bath or before falling asleep at night.
5. What was the most rewarding aspect of preparation?
Feeling excited rather than fearful. It was so nice to have less anxiety in that last month of pregnancy when you already have anxiety about a million other things.
6. What were your fears of natural childbirth and how did your preparation help you?
The pain! My previous two births were very painful and had traumatic interventions that left me with extreme fear and frankly I would say some PTSD. My epidurals did not work correctly and I was completely unprepared mentally to cope with unmedicated childbirth. I think my preparation was a game changer. I especially resonated with the birth affirmations and the idea of releasing fear and looking forward to the delivery with excitement. I also decided not to find out the gender this time so that I would have a big surprise to look forward to which helped me focus on the joy and excitement rather than the pain.
7. Was the natural labor experience (physical pain/emotions/energy) what you imagined it would be? Why or why not?
It was incredible. Truly. I want to have another baby so I can do it all again. It was absolutely agonizing at moments, of course, but it was also so beautiful and empowering. The physical pain was extreme. I appreciated that the mentors and friends who had done unmedicated deliveries were honest with me about that. They did not try to minimize the pain involved and yes, I thought I might die at one point. But I didn’t! And holy cow, what a flood of endorphins I got after! I have never felt a birth high like that. I felt such intense euphoria and frankly like a badass. I felt powerful and strong. As expected, my recovery was also much easier. It was so nice to be able to walk around right after.
8. What advice would you have for someone interested in natural childbirth?
Do it! But if you are going to do it, be really committed and do your research and preparation. I think that if you even have a little glimmer of doubt and think that you can always get the epidural if you change your mind, you will probably change your mind. Because it hurts! But honestly, even if you do end up changing your mind and using pain medication, the preparation that you put in before will still make your labor so much better. Also, accept the fact that you don’t know what will help with your pain until you get there, so keep an open mind. I was sure I would want to push in a certain position and didn’t. Just be flexible. Lastly, have a good support person or people. Make sure that the people who will be with you really understand your wishes, believe in you, and are willing to advocate for you.