I don’t understand some of the questions I get when I say I had an unmedicated birth and I’m planning to have another.
(I’m not going into the preconceived ideas about home birth right now. That’s a whole other post.)
Yes, I understand my super short birth story doesn’t make me an expert on labor. I realize that most women do not have first birth stories like mine, where, after sleeping through seven hours of early labor, I got up, active labor began, and three hours later I had a baby. I know: not fair.
I still, however, don’t understand how people can ask questions, without knowing my birth story, like, “How did/will you possibly deal with the pain?”. As my mom always says, “Women have been giving birth for thousands of years without medication.” Our bodies were built for labor (under normal, low risk circumstances). Labor isn’t pain free or easy, but our bodies do have built in pain management mechanisms and, if we can quiet our minds enough not to panic, its entirely possible to get through labor without medication if things are going smoothly. Even, as was the case for my mom when she labored with me, when labor goes on for 12 hours with two to three hours of pushing a baby facing “sunny side up”. Smoothly does not necessarily mean quickly, which I think society has taught us.
It’s not for everyone and I understand that “managing” to get through hours of labor doesn’t sound enjoyable or worthwhile to many. The thing is, at the end of that labor, is this enormous release of endorphins and love hormones. It’s the most amazing high ever. It’s a euphoria that is unique to drug-free births. The body only releases endorphins when it feels pain and, if the pain is stopped, fewer endorphins are released. There are studies to prove it, but I think it’s common sense.
(If you’re interested, a good resource on the hormones involved in birth is Michel Odent.)
Obviously, every woman has a different pain tolerance and sometimes things happen where a woman has to have an epidural. How a woman manages her pain during birth is in no way a measure of her maternal strength or ability OR some sort of indicator of her success in birthing her baby. Sorry, but those are just insane ideas. Every woman who has a baby, by any means, deserves lots and lots of praise and will feel an overwhelming amount of joy and love for her new infant.
My point is, why is it crazy for me to want a natural birth? I think I am entitled to a drug-free birth without necessitating a label of crazy lady. What do you think?