My Medicated vs. Natural Births

I had the unique experience of giving birth with an epidural and then giving birth a second time naturally.  Many women who are trying to decide between these two approaches often ask me about the differences.  I also want to highlight the similarities.  Both births were in hospital settings with doulas.  Both labors were around 10 hours with no complications.  I have two healthy babies who were brought into the world a bit differently from each other.

I used yoga poses and hypnobirthing techniques during both of my labors. For my first birth, I was almost at transition before I decided to get an epidural and I never had pitocin.  After they put in the epidural I actually took a bit of a nap. It completely numbed me from the waist down.  When I was pushing all I felt was some pressure and the nurses told me when to push based on the monitor they were using to track my contractions.  A doctor delivered my son and put him immediately on my chest.  After they took out the epidural it still took some time for me to regain feeling in my legs. That was weird and disconcerting. I also felt really nauseous, which was really annoying while I was trying to wrap my head around just having birthed my first baby, trying to start nursing, walking around and peeing for the first time with a few stitches #painful.  After the nausea subsided - a few hours after I reached the recovery room - I was OK and just dealing with all of the other first time mom stuff.

It was partly because of the nausea from the epidural, actually, that I decided I wanted to have my second child naturally.  Also, by that time a few of my friends had done natural birthing and they described it to me. I learned about the feeling of the "ring of fire," which is what it feels like when the baby's head passes through you and out into the world.  I also heard about the orgasmic euphoria that happens hormonally immediately after the birth. I wanted to know what these things would feel like.  My second baby was back labor, which I didn't have with my first and was super-challenging.  However, the actual experience of the natural birth of my daughter was incredible and I would do it again naturally if I have a third child.  It is really hard to describe because it isn't like anything that I've ever experienced. Part of it, honestly, was just pride at having been so strong.  I was strong the first time with the epidural too, but with the natural birth I really "felt" strong.  

The second birth, for me, came with a lot more confidence than the first. It also came with a lot less fear. It is possible that I had a better experience with natural birth simply because it was my second time giving birth. Here's the great news if you are going through a decision like this - it all turns out OK.  No matter how you bring your children into the world you will love them, nurture them, and be their mother forever.  

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