I feel like I need to preface this post by letting you know why I’m posting it.
- My blog is how I connect with you but also how I connect with my “future” self. I like to look back on it and reflect on my mindset, priorities, life events, etc. So, I like to use it to document, and the birth of our daughter is certainly worth documenting!
- When I was pregnant, I scoured the internet for unmedicated birth stories and I found them to be immensely helpful! Each one was different and left me feeling a little more prepared. I remember thinking — wow, I’m sure glad she took the time to post a video/write a blog, etc. So, I suppose this is my way of paying it forward? Perhaps someone will find my post in the sea of “birth story” posts and get a little nugget of help from it.
- While I have a lot of close friends who have had wonderful birth experiences, I only had one who chose to have an unmedicated birth. So, there just wasn’t a lot of information out there for me, aside from what I could find on the internet and through my Doula. I figured I could offer my perspective for ladies who are looking to go that route. (Obviously a personal perspective, not a medical one.)
- It is NOT to say that my birth experience was better than anyone else’s. I respect and appreciate every mama’s birth — and I want to reiterate that I’m only sharing my story in hopes of helping other future moms if they are curious about hearing someone else’s unmedicated birth story!
I was about five or six months pregnant when, after much research, I decided I wanted to attempt an unmedicated birth in a hospital setting. We had already secured a Doula (Kiesha Baker at Dallas Birth Doulas) because we don’t have much family right in town and we wanted to have some support just in case nobody was around when I went into labor. Once I decided this was the route I wanted to take, I reached out to her because she’s the only person I knew who wouldn’t think I was crazy .
(Yes, people have been doing this thing unmedicated since the beginning of time but, aside from my mom, I didn’t know many of them.) I 100% get & respect the use of medication & intervention during pregnancy and was also open to that as a part of my birth process. (And I would still be open to it if I had other children. ) However, I wanted to attempt to give birth in the most natural way possible. I had read about the beautiful experience it could be and the incredible endorphin rush afterward. I had read about how amazing it would be to feel alert, energized and connected immediately after childbirth. I wanted to remember every part of it and be present as my baby attempted to nurse for the first time.
Kiesha immediately suggested some adjustments to my workouts. (Less spinning/cycling due to the hamstring contraction and more yoga/stretching/bar classes/walking.) She also told me to stop wearing high heels so often. (Not because they’re dangerous during pregnancy but again because of the way they position your body — apparently they’re not optimal for preparing your body for birth.) If you follow my Instagram or Facebook pages, you likely saw me in 5 inch heels all the way through pregnancy. I assure you, that was only on camera! I was diligent about wearing flats any time I wasn’t on tv. She also suggested a chiropractor and told me about the Hypnobabies program. (Click here to learn more about Hypnobabies.)
I switched up my workouts, saw the chiropractor and ordered the Hypnobabies program. I also joined a prenatal yoga class that was supportive of unmedicated births at Move Studio in Dallas. I had never been to a chiropractor before and was a little nervous about that. The adjustments were very simple and I didn’t experience any back pain throughout the pregnancy. I also listened to the Hypnobabies program. My husband and I went ahead and took a day-long birth class, which I think was really helpful in knowing what to expect!
For the last several years, I’ve committed to one physical challenge for the year. For example – one year I ran a half marathon, one year I did Bikram yoga, one year I committed to Bar Method, etc. So, I decided this year that I was “in training” for having a baby! I really tried to prepare myself physically and mentally for going through all the stages of pregnancy.
As I passed my due date, I tried every “old wive’s tale” to go into labor. Walking miles and miles, walking stairs, curb walking, massage, reflexology, spicy foods, bouncing on a ball, squats, acupuncture — even some labor inducing pizza I read about on the internet.
On Brighton’s birthday, almost 2 weeks past her due date, contractions started at midnight. We attempted to get some sleep but things really intensified by 5 am. There was no way I could sleep anymore or even attempt it. Trying to relax was my best option.
I continued to labor at home, with the help and support of my husband, Heath and my mom. They both moved mountains to create a peaceful environment at home. They set up an essential oil diffuser and candles in the bathroom. They offered water, food, etc. For hours, I got in and out of the bath, trying to breathe through the contractions and find comfortable positions. We had learned about some of this in our childbirth class and Heath put it all into practice. I alternated listening to the Hypnobabies tracks and meditative music. And no– that didn’t “take away” the pain, but it did serve as a small diversion. I think the combination of these techniques made it more manageable. The mantra in my head was that my body was made to do this!
As the contractions intensified, I started vomiting— repeatedly. I think it was just my response to the intensity of the pain. I have no idea how many times. Maybe 15 times over the course of the 17 hour labor? I remember thinking of it in the same mindset as the half marathon. I didn’t think about getting through the whole run — I just had to make it for the next five minutes.
In the early afternoon, Kiesha came to the house and she continued to help time out contractions and find more comfortable positions. Because of the vomiting, dehydration was a concern, so I drank as much water and coconut water as I could. Sometimes I thought I wouldn’t make it but I just kept thinking of our precious baby girl.
Around 1 in the afternoon, I remember joking to Heath that I knew how many babies we would be having. ONE. I didn’t think I could ever do this again! Contractions continued for several more hours…
Just before we left for the hospital, I felt an almost out of body experience. It was as if I was so connected to my body that I could step aside and view what I was going through. I don’t know if that makes sense but that’s the best way I can describe it. Again – despite the intensity of the contractions — I told myself that my body was made to do this. At this point, it was a mental game.
We got to the hospital around 4:15 pm. The nurse asked me to tell her what my pain was on a scale from one to 10. I couldn’t speak but held up 10 fingers. I was nine centimeters dilated.
I remember thinking in the days leading up to the birth that I would be taking advantage of the tub, birth balls, bars, etc. at the hospital. I even packed special socks to walk around the hospital in. But, there was no time for that! I had really done most of my labor at home.
By the time I was pushing, I felt very connected to the process — almost as if I instinctively knew what to do and when to push. I do feel that was a benefit of not being medicated. I could feel when my body was ready to push, and when to hold back, so as not to tear. At one point, in my “preparation for childbirth” – I heard of the phrase “breathe your baby out” — as a coping technique for pushing. Well, I just repeated that phrase over and over in my head during that phase. You’re going to think I’m making this up but — at one point, in between pushes, the doctor looked shocked and said “she’s moving out on her own”! Little Brighton was born about 90 minutes after arriving at the hospital.
That day was the most intensely painful, intensely surreal and intensely rewarding day of my life. I grew more in that single day than at any other time of my life. My marriage was strengthened because of how dependent on my husband I was throughout labor- I had to surrender to the process and to his help. Any masks of false perfection were torn off as he helped me work through the biggest physical challenge I’d ever faced.
Despite the painful, lengthy labor, I wouldn’t change a thing. The endorphin rush was everything I had heard about and more. I felt clear-headed, happy and peaceful for days after the birth. Despite not sleeping, I felt rested. Brighton was alert and was able to nurse the minute she was born. I was also able to stand up and walk around freely as soon as labor was over.
I realize this is a blessing and I’m genuinely thankful I was able to experience this. I know there are many paths to birth and all should be honored and respected. Mine is not “better” — it is just my story.
I only share this story because — I wish I had more friends to say “you can do it” or to share the process of their unmedicated births because quite honestly, I was petrified and I didn’t have much confidence I could do it. I want to remind other mamas who are wanting to try an unmedicated birth that they can do it (if that is what they want). Each woman has her own reasons to do it or not and there is no judgement by me-I’m just offering my little story. Much love to you and thank you for reading!