Monday, September 30, 2013

Carnival of Natural Mothering: what 'natural birth' means to me

Welcome to the October 2013 Carnival of Natural Mothering! This article is part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlowerEvery Breath I TakeI Thought I Knew MamaAfrican Babies Don't Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month's topic is Natural Birth Choices. Be sure to check out all of the participants' posts through the links at the bottom of this page.





When I hear the term 'natural birth', I think of a woman giving birth without unnecessary medical intervention. I think of a mother going into labor on her own, progressing on her own, and delivering the baby using only her body and the emotional support of those around her. I think of the body doing what it was designed to do, on its own terms, in its own time. 

From the beginning of my pregnancy, I knew I wanted to have a 'natural birth.' My mom did with me. My older sister did. And I just knew that I could too, and that I would. I don't know how to describe it really, but for me there just wasn't another option. I didn't even consider the idea of getting an epidural, and I thought about a c-section with dread. I knew it wouldn't be the end of the world, and I was thankful the option existed in case of an emergency. But man, the thought of it scared me.  

If I were to list out the specific reasons why I wanted to give birth naturally, it would look like this:

1. because breastfeeding was very important to me, and avoiding pain medication results in baby being born more alert and active.
2. because the idea of getting an epidural was scarier than the idea of not getting one (that needle. a catheter  scary stuff to me!)
3. because I wanted to avoid a c-section at all costs, unless it was truly a medical emergency
4. but most of all, because I wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to feel the contractions, to feel my baby moving down the birth canal and closer to being in my arms. I wanted to know how bad it really was. And no matter how bad it was, I wanted to conquer it.


When I think of my own experience giving birth, I feel so very blessed. I truly cannot look back and say that I would change a single thing. In the end, it was both harder and easier that I thought it would be. It wasn't as painful as I imagined it to be, I never once thought that I wanted an epidural, or anything to relieve the pain. But it was emotionally harder than I realized it would be.

It was the beginning of labor that was hardest for me, since my contractions were very strong and close together from the very beginning, and since my sister had labored for over 24 hours with each of her kids, I just thought I would too. I didn't handle the contractions very well because I didn't imagine how they could get worse. But once I realized that I had to stop worrying and just be in the moment, my experience changed immediately. 

I felt my body doing what it was meant to do, and it felt good. I felt empowered, and it gave me the strength to continue on and reach my goal of giving birth naturally. You can read my complete story here. I found that reading natural birth stories and watching videos was very inspiring during my pregnancy and I encourage any pregnant woman reading this to do the same. Read about the experiences of other women and feel empowered through their success stories. Watch videos of natural births. Trust your body. And after all is said and done, even if your birth doesn't go how you envisioned it, accept your experience, learn from it and be proud of whatever you were able to accomplish. 


Bloggers, visit GrowingSlower to sign up to be a part of next month's carnival.

We hope you enjoy visiting all of the posts in the Carnival!
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15 comments:

  1. You did it! Well done, beautiful mama!

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    1. (lots of love from Victoria @ Green Idea Reviews)

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  2. I'm so inspired by your story, Whitney! I feel the exact way that you do about the power of a natural and unmedicated birth. My husband and I are both so sad we didn't use a birth center. It's taken me a year to finally have some closure with our painful hospital experience...it's taken many hours of reading, writing, and support groups to get me to a place of acceptance.

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  3. Thank you so much for your sweet words Andrea! I so wish things could have gone differently for you, but I am so in awe of how strong you were through the entire process! And so glad that your family has been able to get past your painful experience and find some closure. sending a big hug down to Washington for you!

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  4. Just read your birth story too! So beautiful! I wish we had the option of midwives and birth centres here, but not yet on my little island! Boo! Its my dream to one day open one... someday! I so agree with the reading natural birth stories and watching videos! I loved that when I was pregnant too, so empowering!

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    1. Thank you Hannah! How amazing it would be for you too realize your dream and open your own birth center!

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  5. I can so relate to your reasons for wanting a natural birth. I'd rather experience the pain than all that goes with the epidural. I was terrified of anything that would hinder a successful breastfeeding experience. It's beyond empowering to know your body has accomplished something so amazing. Great job mama.

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    1. It was a great experience and I feel lucky that it went so well for me. Very proud that I was able to accomplish it, but I also know that there's also an aspect that's out of our control and I feel grateful to have been able to follow through with my plans for a natural birth. :)

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  6. I wanted that natural birth SO badly that I did watch the videos and read magical the blog posts and rehearsed how to turn down drugs if I were transferred to the hospital. I was so obsessed with it that when I chose to get an epidural after 38 hours of hard labor I felt like a failure (even though I had a vaginal delivery). I was severely upset and mildly depressed for two years afterwards. The only thing that "snapped me out of it" was the birth of my second son. After 43 hours of drugless back labor I realized I didn't need to justify myself when I needed help and I didn't have to prove myself to anyone. A woman is still a magnificent and strong being if she asks for help...maybe ESPECIALLY if she asks for help as it makes a person less proud. (Also, realizing that birth and labor is 1 or 2 days of your life and having a child will be for the rest of your life puts it in perspective.) I still think a natural birth and labor is absolutely the best choice and something that deserves your best try but I can also see that IT IS OK to humble yourself and go another route if it is needed. Thank you for adding your last sentence there! I still envy those who have a natural birth but I fully accept that I was able to accomplish 3 out of 4 of my goals: Healthy baby and mama, vaginal delivery, positive birth experience, and no drugs.

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    1. I love your story Amy, and I completely agree with you! It takes a very strong person to ask for help, especially when they feel they will be looked down on for doing so! There's definitely a place for having a plan, and hoping your birth goes according to plan, but there's also a place for altering your plan when it's needed.

      I don't think you should envy anyone of their birth experience, because you still were able to give birth to your beautiful, healthy babies and to stay healthy yourself. Like you said, it's very important to educate yourself and give it your best try, but I truly believe that epidurals and other interventions are there for a reason and do need to be used sometimes! My concern is when they're overused without any thought going into it. You are an amazing woman and mama and I'm so grateful you stopped by to share your story here! xx

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  7. So beautiful. May your story encourage and inspire others! Thank you for sharing and for being part of our carnival!

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  8. Beautiful - thanks for sharing! I completely agree with your reasons for wanting a natural birth - especially #2 & 4. Epidurals FREAK me out! and I felt the same way about wanting to see if I could do it - knowing that millions of women for centuries have done this and getting to join the ranks was so incredible. I feel so lucky and so blessed that, like you, my story unfolded the way I hoped and I got to have the (mostly) natural birth I wanted. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!!

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  9. This:
    "But once I realized that I had to stop worrying and just be in the moment, my experience changed immediately. "
    The easiest and the hardest thing to do in labor. Thank you for articulating it so well.

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  10. PS- Ditto to "beautiful birth story" ! Thank you for taking the time to share your empowering experience to educate and encourage other mothers that natural birth can be beautiful.

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