This post is about my thoughts on Natural or Medicated Childbirth and what each has done for me...
With MacKenzie my full intention was to go without pain medication, I told myself I could do it, I told myself that pain medication wasn't an option and I poured over Bradley Method books. I practiced some, had Matt read about the method, and prepared myself for a easy childbirth. Fast forward to my labor and after teaching five full days, going into labor at 11 p.m. on a Friday, and being hit with a completely unexpected onslaught of contractions at 6 a.m. with no build up and no relief in sight, and I was done with the idea of natural childbirth (and told Matt as much). I knew I could work through the contractions, but I wasn't sure if I would have the energy to push at the end and I wanted to enjoy the process. I wasn't enjoying the labor like I wanted to and that frustrated me (which was even less helpful). My nurses were slow to help as this was all occurring during a shift change and I was done with trying. We took the intravenous medication first "just to take the edge off"....that was a huge mistake. It did nothing for my pain and made me completely loopy and I felt out of control. I asked for the anesthesiologist to come in and give me an epidural and I felt relief within minutes. I was able to rest for an hour before pushing and woke up rejuvenated and ready to meet our baby. We were able to laugh between pushing and enjoyed the process thoroughly.
For me, having pain medication meant that I could laugh, smile, and be calm during my first child's birth. It let me regain composure, it helped me rest, and regardless of whether my feelings were irrational or not it helped me be in the emotional state I wanted to be in. It helped me reflect on MacKenzie's birth as a positive experience.
With Keegan my intention was to do the best I possibly could, for as long as I could and if I decided to pursue pain management then I would go directly for the epidural. Fast forward to labor and I was progressing well, knew what to expect, and had support of a nurse who instilled confidence in me going natural all the way. She told me that I could go natural because I was already doing it...and only had a little bit longer to go. I was able to focus on working through my contractions because going medication free was my reality. I had about a 10 minute window in which to decide whether I wanted the epidural or not...I went from 5 to 7 cm in about 10 minutes of pitocin and the doctors needed to know what to do. When I made the decision to go medication free I had no way to turn back. This fact helped me immensely. I had to deal with what was coming and did so fairly calmly and just focused on relaxing as much as possible. When it was time to push I felt immediate relief and the pushing portion of labor was way easier than I thought it would be.
For me, going medication free meant a number of things. First, it meant that I was able to immediately get up and move around. I can understand now how women in olden days used to go directly back to taking care of their chores (not that I wanted to...I can just understand how that is possible). I felt less nausea and overall felt physically good (better than MacKenzie). Emotionally it helped me learn what my body was capable of. It helped me learn how I could push myself (not just a baby out) and really work with my body towards a goal. Whenever I run or am working out now, I remember that. And when I am facing challenges I look on them as my reality and something I need to take in stride.
Speaking of working out, both labors and deliveries have given me empowerment in another way. I alternate back and forth between doing weight machines for a few weeks and free weights for a few weeks. I felt a little hesitant to workout on the free weights a few months ago. This is a legitimate feeling with the onslaught of men working out in that section of the gym. They sweat, they usually wear funny clothes, they lift incredible amounts of weight, and the kicker for me...they make sounds that no person should make when working out. I have a really hard time with the grunting and howling these men utter as they lift. It really is intimidating to me. I started to turn away from the free weights and work out on the machines instead until I thought to myself..."No! You have been through childbirth. TWICE. And one of those times was without pain medication. That is something none of those men can say. You have just as much of a claim to be up there." And I confidently walked over, picked up my little weights and did a grunt and howl free workout. So an additional thank you to Mother Nature for giving me that too, I feel honored to have experienced that twice and hopefully...one day...no this is not an announcement (we have enough going on right now thank you)...we will experience it again. And when we do, we will see how things go and go without pain medication as long as we can...and go straight for the epidural if we want it!