I Had A Natural Birth- And I Liked It

The other day I came across this somewhat angry post by a mama who enjoyed her epidural and c-section birth and seemed pretty ticked at some of us natural birth mamas. It left my brain stirring with thoughts about women and birth, the "good" birth experience and how we view, love and even hate each other as we navigate through the sad place known as the mommy wars.

I fully realize that as a big mouthed natural birth mama and blogger I have probably contributed to said mommy wars and I know for a fact that I have offended plenty of mamas who disagree with me. But despite all that, I had to respond. (Her words are in quotes.)

~And a small disclaimer before I start- I do think natural birth is awesome and I like it and I am BIASED in favor of it. If I wasn't I wouldn't spend hundreds of free hours devoted to promoting it. In my experience, natural birth moms have fantastic birth experiences- that is why they are excited about them, no other reason. ~

"I gave birth to my daughter. I had a c-section. I had an epidural. And I liked it."

For one- I am glad you liked your epidural and c-section birth. Really- I am. I didn't (nor do most women as far as I can tell) have a natural birth to shove it in anybodies face or to ensure some sense of superiority. I don't look down on people who choose differently. I honestly don't think that most of us do.

I choose natural birth because I wanted one. I got one because I got lucky. I thought, and still do, that it would be the best birth for me and my baby. It makes sense to me to feel everything related to this experience that we only get a few times in our life.

But one reason I chose it was because I thought I would like it. Just like you. I thought it was the best way to get a good experience for me and my baby.

"We live in the modern world. We have modern medicine available to us, which was created to help us moms in the first moments of motherhood."

I will admit that I don't totally understand the epidural choice. I have labored three times so I "get" the desire to numb yourself at some point. My views on modern medicine and its benefits are totally fringe, alternative, and pretty much sound crazy. I won't get into them here, except to say that I don't think that the benefits of modern medicine really apply to birth as often as they are used.

Birth to me isn't a medical event- most of the time. The only help I wanted was what nature told my body to do at the time of birth, not something modern or new.

"In his book Epidural Without Guilt: Childbirth Without Pain, Dr. Gilbert Grant, a New York City-based anesthesiologist, illuminates why epidurals are actually good for you (they may speed the childbirth process along and may help with breastfeeding, blah blah blah)."

Well, I do disagree on that. The issues surrounding the safety of epidurals and surgical births have many sides and studies on both sides. We can agree to disagree on the safety and the benefits of the epidural, but there is most definitely evidence that the epidural is NOT good for you. At the very least, this statement is debatable.

But I didn't just choose NOT to get an epidural because of safety. Honestly- it is pretty obvious that the vast majority of epidural moms survive just fine. But logically for me, it didn't make sense to numb the body right where it needs to feel nor to make it impossible to stand and walk and move for my labor. I want to be able to participate in that way. Gravity, seems a natural help in the process. I will believe this, proof or not.

" I didn’t think twice about getting pain relief when I wanted it. To me, it is a non-issue, created by those women who didn’t get one. "

Hmm. I don't know how I or any other natural birth supporter "created" the issue of pain relief. I really don't think this is motivated by a superiority complex. I think instead (speaking for myself) that we are gung-ho about natural birth because we LOVED our experience. Those women who didn't love their natural birth (and I admit they exist) don't talk about it much.

I will admit though that sometimes (more so when I was new to the whole natural birth scene) I would come off sounding a big offensive, high-minded or superior. Well, maybe it still happens.

To me this is more about you and ME having the choice to birth how we would like. Natural birth mamas (understandably so) can get a little defensive about this since we are a tiny little minority and the hospital system is pretty staggeringly stacked against us. We just want choices. Choosing an epidural, frankly, is an easy choice in hospitals today. You will be supported by your staff and by the vast majority of women.

It can be hard NOT to get defensive when you feel alone out there like so many natural birth mamas do.

"Those women who are walking around bragging to everyone about how they had a "natural" labor, how badly it hurt, how they survived."

I don't think I brag about the natural birth experience- nor have I ever heard a woman do this. Proud of it? Yes- Empowered by it? Yes- Eager to share this experience with others? Yes-

I also don't talk about how badly it hurt much either. For one- it didn't hurt that badly (OK- well it did hurt badly there for a while but it was just a few minutes! I am not making this up!)

Survived natural birth?! I would never describe it as surviving. It was awesome. But me thinking my experience was awesome in no way lessens your awesome experience.

"Please. You did not have a better childbirth experience than I did. We each had our own unique experience. Thankfully, we both have our child here in this world, we both love our child ad infinitum. "

Mama- I didn't say I had a better experience than you. End of story. And yes, I love my kids too.


HarmonicMama said…
I love this. It is about being free to choose the type of birth you'd like. I had one child in a not so good hospital birth and with my second I chose to fully follow through on my natural birth plans and had her at a birth center (which I loved). Two births two totally different experiences (good and bad) and two wonderful kids later I take the stand much like you do that we are all free to birth as we wish but I prefer natural, unmedicated birth.
Krista Eger said…
As a doula I firmly believe that the most important part about birth is having the experience that you originally wanted and feeling good about the experience. Obviously I think that the hospital policies need to change significantly, but if a mom goes into a birth wanting an epidural and gets one, then she will still have a great birth experience. However, you know as well as I do that many moms go into it wanting a normal birth...with an epidural included and often times end up with something very different. Very few people want a c-section yet the rate in this country is what? 35% or so? That means that 35% of moms aren't getting out of birth what they originally wanted (most of them at least). All I am out to do is educate people on their choices so that they have the best outcome on their birth-day. You can have a great outcome with an epidural, but the chances of a bad one are more common.
I had two great outcomes. One in a hospital with an epidural and one at home naturally. I loved my natural experience MUCH more, but I also loved my hospital experience. Knowing what I know about hormones and the natural process, I feel that it goes deeper than just the experience, but essentially, as long as you bond with your babies and make up for that lack of bonding they received in the beginning then to each his own. I personally just want everyone to have a good outcome. period.
Anna Q said…
I am also a birth doula. I have had 2 children and am expecting #3. During #1's birth, I had to endure being physically abused by a doctor, emotionally abused by a student, pressured to receive an epidural several times by nurses after having expressed my desire to birth naturally and that I would ask for medication if I needed it.

I think that a lot of women do not know the side effects of an epidural. During my childbirth class, the teacher showed what routinely happens as a result of an epidural - needle in the back, catheter in the urethra, AROM, internal fetal monitor, and of course, you have to stay in bed. All of that, and IT MIGHT NOT EVEN WORK! I've NEVER heard a doctor tell a patient that 1 out of 20 women who have an epidural experience only partial or no pain releif at all. I was a doula for one such women and it was hell. They tortured her for hours and she was relieved when they suggested cesarean.

Like Mama Birth said, I fully support your choice to get an epidural but where is the support for my choice NOT to? Why does it continue to be pushed on me even after I say no repeatedly?

#2 was born at home - free from pushy doctors, students eager to practice interventions on me - whether I needed them or not, and overworked, tired nurses.

I'm currently preparing to have #3 at home as well, hoping for a waterbirth this time. I can't imagine birthing my children any other way. (but as a doula, I fully support women in THEIR journey to reach THEIR ideal birth.)
weena38 said…
I had an elective c section. It was great! It was the most beautiful, peaceful birth I could imagine. All my family was able to work the birth of my son into their schedules so they were all there! I loved my doctor and all the nurses, I had no pain. The drugs were wonderful and I was walking that very evening. My son and I have a loving bond that was not interrupted by any "unnecessary" procedure. I feel so empowered that I was able to choose my own method of giving birth. I thank all the feminists that advocated for us so that we can all make our own educated choices and not be forced to comply with other people's beliefs.
Anonymous said…
I just had a baby March 2012. My second. My first birth I labored naturally until the end when I freaked and asked for an epidural. It took them soooo long to come to my room and so long to get the darn thing in that I had dilated to ten and my son's head was crowning. They literally placed the epidural, I laid back and pushed a few times and my son was born. I was so disappointed in myself for going through the whole labor and then numbing myself at the very end when it didn't even matter anymore!

So with my second son I made sure that they would not keep me in bed, hooked to monitors. They monitored me once an hour but otherwise I was walking around and labored the way my body told me to. It hurt. Yes, it did. But it was mental and I didn't struggle against the contractions. The Bradley method really helped me. I opened myself up to what the contractions were trying to accomplish. With my first son (flat on my back in bed) I had a 12 hour labor. With my second son (on my feet) I had a 4 hour labor.

The feeling of my son emerging from my body was AMAZING. I felt primal and strong. I don't care if other women hate me for it. I LOVED my natural birth. It was one of the best experiences of my life!

As soon as my son was born I felt like I could dance a jig. I felt GREAT. It was such a contrast from the first birth (which was almost natural).

Anyhow, I just wanted to share. It isn't a competition. I don't care how other women choose to birth but I want to tell other moms not to get mad and jealously claw at me because I had a natural birth and liked it! And plan on doing it again!