I’m one of those mamas society now labels “crunchy”. I didn’t know it until recently. In fact, I didn’t even know what a crunchy mama was until I Googled it after hearing other mamas reference it. That being said, a few months after I found out I was pregnant, I decided I wanted to have an unmedicated home birth. I chose a wonderful birth center, my husband and I took the Bradley Method birthing classes, I read books, I talked to others who’d gone through it, and I did my research, but I still wasn’t prepared for what that “unmedicated” birth was going to feel like. Here’s five things I wish I would have known:
1. It’s Not Romantic: During my labor, I had candles lit, the lights dimmed, music playing. I labored in a hot shower, the steam rising up around me. I labored on a birth ball, against the strong chest of my husband, on my own bed. It sounds marvelous and almost somewhat romantic; and it was, but IT WASN’T. Unmedicated birth is difficult. There’s no other way to say it; and I’m not saying it to discourage you, but it is hard. It’s one of the messiest, hardest things you’ll probably ever have to do, but it will also be the best (though it may take some time for you to realize that).
2. You Will Feel Like You’re at the End of Yourself, Long Before You Are: I remember being in the shower, with the lights off and the candles glowing, thinking to myself, this is it, I’m at the absolute end of myself and I need this to end . I thought those thoughts at 4:30p.m. and I gave birth at 1:56a.m. My body continued to endure for almost another 9 ½ hours. Remember, you can endure long after you think you can’t.
3. It Takes More Mental Strength than Physical Strength: When I was feeling like I was at the end of myself physically, I continued to strengthen myself mentally. You become incredibly weak and tired, but if you continue to think positively and refuse to give up, YOU WILL MAKE IT THROUGH. I refused to say “I can’t do this”. Memorize quotes, memorize scripture, memorize encouraging song lyrics and share them with your birthing team. I chose to memorize a specific scripture and shared it with my husband. When I became too tired and a bit discouraged, he continued to recite it to me throughout the remainder of my labor. Because my mind was made up, I refused to give up! One of my favorite quotes I read in regards to contractions was, “These are not stronger than me because they are me.”
4. You’ll Feel Like Super Woman…. But Super Woman Who Got Hit by a Truck: After I gave birth, I thought I would feel like this super powerful, strong, she-woman. I imagined I’d sigh mightily, lean my head back against the headboard and say to myself, “you did this! You are one.stroooonnnngggg. woman. I mostly just felt like I’d been run over by a truck. My legs were shaky and I couldn’t even begin to process what I’d just went through. I didn’t feel strong and mighty, I really didn’t even feel the depths of the pride I thought I would at such an accomplishment, I just felt exhausted. As time goes on, you will realize how proud of yourself you are, and you’ll smile, mostly in disbelief, at your accomplishment each time you think of it.
5. You Might Consider a C-Section, An Epidural, Or Adopting In the Future: During my labor, I thought these two things: 1) No wonder women opt to have c-sections or the epidural and 2) I’m adopting the rest of my children. In the process and even after—looooonnnnngg after— it’s over, you may not want to have another unmedicated birth. You don’t forget about the pain right away, but as time goes on and you see the benefits, you will get back on the “unmedicated” bandwagon.
By Holly M.