The more we hear true and honest accounts of what an unmedicated, natural birth is really like, the more we normalize it! So I wanted to share how my natural birth experience went, because it was truly one of the best times of my life!
I’m gonna preface this by stating that I am grateful for all the resources, technology and options I have access to. Ever since my old roommate, who ran a natural birth supply store, taught me about the benefits of natural birth, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. She also taught me about the benefits of breastfeeding, doulas, and attachment parenting. It opened my eyes to the world of raising children naturally. I was going to massage school at the time, where I was learning all about natural health, so it went hand in hand. It was the beginning of my crunchy roots.
Watch “The Business of Being Born”
Have you seen the documentary, “The Business of Being Born”? It was recommended to me by my old roommate. It goes into the industrialization of birth in this country. When you give birth at a hospital, every minute is counted towards someone’s paycheck so the care they give you is made to meet their needs. You come second.
For example, the usage of stirrups on the bed so the mom is forced to lay on her back up with her legs hoisted up in the air is not the ideal position to be in for a baby to go down the birth canal and out into the world. That was actually designed for the ease of the doctor so he can sit on a stool and be comfortable while he watches your baby come out. It is NOT in the best interest of the mother, because being in that position actually minimizes the opening of the birth canal so it makes it really difficult for the baby to come out.
The usage of epidural and pitocin is also pushed on the mother, often times without any informed consent. Epidural completely cuts feeling off from the waist down. The mom can no longer feel her contractions.
The contractions though, are what should be leading the birth – as it always has been in nature. Yet in a hospital setting, the whole birth is directed by a male doctor who’s never given birth in his life. They command you to push without knowing what is happening in your body. Why do we think tearing is so common in hospital births? Hmm.
Birthing is like a dance of the baby and the mother, an initiation rite of the beginning of a new life. Why would you want to check out of such a beautiful and most natural process? Mama, we are the stars! This is the origin of humankind! Every human entered the world through us!
The Key is to TAKE YOUR TIME
Ina May Gaskin, a prolific author and midwife, teaches about this. In fact, I really credit my coming out of birthing with a couple of microtears entirely to her. The slower you go, the more you can feel what’s going on in your body. You can listen to her wisdom below:
Her book, Guide to Childbirth, is full of real stories of natural childbirthing. She is a midwife who assisted hundreds of natural births. Her wisdom runs far and deep.
When my son was literally coming out of me, I really breathed into it and though the “ring of fire” was extremely sensational, I trusted that me and baby were fine.
The Ring of Fire is when your vagina gets stretched wide for the baby's head to come out. It's described as such because it is similar to a burning sensation.
Then I proceeded to breathe him out slowly. I let myself take time. As a result, I got a couple of micro-tears that took very little time to heal. I think I used the peribottle for peeing twice in my first week of postpartum.
The peribottle can be used to go pee by filling it up with warm water and letting the warm water run down the front of your vagina so that if you have tears, the acidity from the urine won't feel like it burns as much.
Our bodies are so strong and we deserve so much more credit than what society deems us capable of.
My Experience Birthing at a Birth Center
My due date was June 6, 2021, and our baby boy came to us on the 14th. I labored for 8 hours which they say is pretty fast for a first birth. My birth was kind of the dream scenario, despite it happening during a global pandemic! This was because I got to have my husband, my best friend and my doula with me. I delivered naturally with the help of two midwives at a birth center that was 15 minutes away from home.
Days leading to his birth, I was feeling pretty tired of being tired! I was big, heavy, slow and lethargic from carrying around a big load for a long time! I was in my 41st week of pregnancy and was getting antsy about meeting my little boy.
About a week prior, I had gone in to the birth center for a check up and the midwife gave me a membrane sweep. A sweep is when they sweep their finger in the space between the cervix and uterus. They do this when you pass your due date in order to initiate the beginning of labor.
That afternoon, after watching Netflix for a couple hours, I wanted some fresh air so I asked my husband to come on a walk around the neighborhood. We got as far as crossing the street when all of a sudden, I started getting contractions pretty strong and quick.
So we turned around and went home. I went to the potty and noticed a bloody show, and it seemed like my water had broken. We called the midwife who told us to come in when we told her how fast my contractions were, then I called my doula who said she’d meet me at the birth center.
Right as we were getting ready to leave, (this is why it’s essential to have a birth bag ready to go!) my best friend walked in the door. Perfect timing! I was so nervous and excited but calmly trying to manage the pain all at the same time. I’d say the pain level was about a 5. Once I got there, they examined me and said I was 9cm effaced and ready to enter the delivery room.
Having the right birth team with me allowed me to have a positive natural childbirth. Feeling the support of my loved ones helped me feel safe and that I wasn’t alone in this. Childbirth felt like one of the hardest physical things I ever accomplished.
It really is a physical feat. Luckily I only labored for 8 hours, most of it in a warm tub with my loved ones beside me. I give so much kudos to mamas who labor for longer.
We chose to do it at this birth center because the rooms were designed to look like a comfortable bedroom. They came equipped with a king size bed made up with soft linens, a luxury jacuzzi tub, speakers for music, candles, essential oil diffuser, a salt lamp and private bathroom. It was very cozy and the homey vibes felt safe.
Though I would’ve loved to do a water birth (it feels so good to labor in the warm water), my contractions started slowing down about 4 hours in. So my midwife had me sit on a birthing stool. It basically looks like the frame of a chair without the seat. She put a mirror on the floor so that we could see what was happening! To be honest, I didn’t look because I was afraid of what I was gonna see. I sat like this for about an hour, but my contractions were still slow. So what she had us to next was quite surprising.
The midwife instructed my husband to give me nipple and clitoral stimulation! Those two things stimulate uterine contractions. So my hubs and I went into the bathroom where he tried his best. I was so tired by this point that I barely could feel any pleasure from what he was doing, lol. I just wanted the baby out.
At about the 7th hour of labor, my midwife’s shift ended, so the next midwife on call came in with her new assistant. I knew all the midwives there because of all my appointments leading to the birth, so I felt comfortable with this midwife too.
Looking back, maybe I felt more comfortable with this one because within 30 minutes, my contractions shifted into high gear and she told me to get on all fours on the bed. And lo and behold, my son came out to greet us!
Meeting my son for the first time was the most exhilarating moments of my life. It truly is so exciting to meet your child. Like, I literally just birthed a new person! Who will go onto live a whole life of their own! What a great responsibility, privilege and honor to behold such a beautiful and sacred duty.
What I truly appreciated about doing it at a birth center is you feel like you’re in a cozy bedroom so you can relax on a king sized bed with your baby and partner right after the birth. They put the baby on my chest right after he came out. Then they encouraged me to breastfeed him while they waited for me to birth the placenta. I felt supported, comfortable and safe. Meanwhile, my doula was making sure both my husband and I were eating and drinking.
Would I do it at a birth center again? Yes. However, I am getting increasingly more interested in a home birth, or “freebirthing” as they say. I’d love to grow my family.
Below are the top reasons why I would have an unmedicated, natural childbirth at a birthing center with midwives and a doula:
- The mother is the priority
- Mothers and babies bond better
- You can choose your birth team
- They don’t push drugs on you while you’re in labor
- It’s tremendously empowering
- It’s more affordable than a hospital birth