1. Stop calling it “natural” childbirth. The correct term is “unmedicated birth.” ‘Cause remember — all birth is natural, unless you’re a man giving birth to 2,000 babies at once, in which case you’re a sea horse and should get that checked out.
2. It’s a personal choice. Here’s my story: I wanted to have an unmedicated childbirth because my mom had been a huge advocate of hers, and she died before my kids were born. Attempting it myself became kind of a tribute to her. (Yes, I’m in therapy, thank you very much.) But my reason was also medical — my first daughter became breech while in labor, and I had to have an emergency C-section and received my pain med as a spinal on the operating table because I had not opted for an epidural during labor. It resulted in a crippling spinal headache, which lasted for a week and took something called a blood patch to fix. (Go ahead, Google it, I’ll wait.)
There was no way I wanted to go through that again, so with my second kid, I attempted a vaginal birth, and I once again went the epidural-less route. And the odd thing about labor no. 2 is that it felt totally different from my first, with slower, more manageable contractions. In fact, I felt pretty good until my doctor broke my water to speed things along and the baby came rocketing out of me. That’s when I started screaming for the epidural, but by that point, it was too late. (Hello, I’m the woman who got through pushing her baby out by screaming “FUCK!” so loud that nurses down the hall came to watch me deliver. Nice to meet you!)
3. It’s not really particularly helpful when you get all pushy about why we should get an epidural. Some women have legitimate fears of hospitals or needles. Others want the most minimal amount of interventions possible. Others give birth at home or in a birthing center where it’s not even an option. And then there are the women who go through labor so quickly they don’t even have time to ask. And then some just … don’t want to. And really, do we have to give you a reason to begin with?
4. You can stop with the “you must be a masochist” thing. I’m sure this is shocking, but you’re not the first person to say that. We’ve all heard that one before. Like, all the time. Seriously, shut up. Right now. I’m not a sadist either, but I will smack you if you say this one more time and I will enjoy it.
5. We’re not all woo-woo, Moon Juice-drinking, yoga-addicted, yurt-living hippies.Not that there’s anything wrong with that (because *unfurls yoga mat, sips green juice* I kind of am). But women who opt for unmedicated births aren’t all giving birth alone down by a river as a sage gently plays flute nearby. And even if we are, we have good reasons! Rivers are really pretty. But the bulk of us are just people who, for whatever reason, are interested in attempting birth without pain meds. Namaste.
6. If you’re planning on having one, at least consider a doula. Here’s the one thing that sucks about doulas: They cost bank, making them not accessible for all women. But many doulas work on a sliding price scale, and some doulas offer their services at lower cost — especially doulas in training. And it’s worth looking into if you’re considering unmedicated birth, because a doula will have your back during childbirth — literally. (My doula actually held a heated, lavender rice pillow on my back as I walked the halls of my hospital laboring for hours.) Doulas help manage the physical pain of labor, focus your breath and energy during contractions and pushing, and advocate for you with nurses and doctors. Also, did I mention some of them bring lavender rice pillows with them? I did? Well. Who knew a pillow filled with rice would be so life-changing?!
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