For Family · For You

Is a Drug-Free Natural Delivery Worth It?

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When I was pregnant with my first child, I was pretty naive. When it’s your first time giving birth, I guess most of us are. After all my research with child-birth, I was determined to have a drug-free natural delivery because of all its amazing natural benefits.

But – it didn’t turn out exactly how I planned. I know that things don’t always go as you plan but this is especially true when it comes to giving birth.

Fortunately, everything went well and my doctor was happy for me to have a natural delivery. When I went into labour, I started off strong and I bore each contraction as well as I could. As the labour progressed, I just wasn’t quite prepared for how intense the pain became!

I was still absolutely determined to get through the labour au naturel, but when I couldn’t take the excruciating pain anymore, I gave in and asked for an epidural. Having a little help isn’t a bad thing – that’s why the option is there. I was still having a natural delivery anyway.

Bring on Them Drugs!

The epidural felt wonderful, and I had some calming relief from the pain – at first.  For some reason, it soon became evident that the epidural wasn’t working properly. With each contraction I could still feel most of the pain all around my tummy and back. And it just got worse as the labour progressed. Except for my legs – I couldn’t feel my legs – that was the only part of my body where the epidural was actually working properly. The anaesthetist tried to up the dosage, but there wasn’t anything more he could do to help ease my pain from contractions.

So there I was, legs numb but I was writhing in pain with every contraction on the delivery bed. Pretty ironic, right? There was nothing I could do! I couldn’t walk around to help me get dilated faster or have a warm bath to help me relax or anything. My sweet husband was doing what he could to massage me, stroke my head and cheer me on. I was listening to calming Mormon Tabernacle Choir music, although for some strange reason I still had the music from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang replaying in my head a million times.

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Yep, the situation was terribly agonizing (as much as I love Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). Plus, it was the most painful experience I ever knew.

I am embarrassed when I think back that I did start screaming in pain, and I am sure the rest of the maternity ward probably got quite annoyed. But at least I did finally dilate and the doctor delivered our healthy baby boy. I did need some help from the forceps, because I was so completely exhausted from 24 hours of labour.

I am grateful that I was able to dilate and things didn’t go wrong to warrant an emergency cesarean. Although the pain from the contractions was brutal (it surely made a saint out of me!) it was still a wonderful delivery experience as we welcomed our first child into the world.

After this first experience of labour with failed pain management, I knew that my game plan had to change for the subsequent deliveries I would have. Though I do know that I could try have an epidural again and it might work, I didn’t want to risk having my first experience again!

Forget Them Drugs!

Knowing that there was a chance that an epidural was probably going to do nothing for me, I decided to find other ways to cope with labour with my next two babies. I didn’t want to have another birth experience that would drive me mad with the pain.

Pregnancy – I have learned – is the time to prepare yourself for D-Day (Delivery Day). If you find ways to prepare yourself more and make your choices now, you will be better for it and very grateful when that happy day comes.

I prepared myself in a variety of ways that would help me go drug-free:

  • Getting fit during pregnancy so that I would be strong enough to cope with natural labour and have good muscles to push the baby out
  • Daily perineal massage with evening primrose oil during pregnancy from 30 weeks (it helps prevent tearing or needing an episiotomy)
  • Using HypnoBirthing techniques to help me have a positive and calm state of mind during pregnancy and during labour
  • During labour, I was active by walking, bouncing on the yoga ball, squatting, and climbing stairs
  • Getting my husband and my mother/doula to massage my back and tummy like crazy during contractions (this was probably my favourite)
  • Having a nice relaxing, warm bath during labour
  • Listening to relaxing or fun music during labour

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As I used a combination of these ways to cope, I was able to go drug-free for my next two births. They were shorter labours, too, and I was able to handle them much better than my first.

I do admit that the pain during these drug-free labours became so crazy intense for me towards the end, it totally pushed my pain threshold to the max. It was incredibly difficult, but thankfully when it was over, I was very grateful that I did it!

By no means am I saying it is a lesser experience to have drugs in your delivery or to have a caesarean. What I would like to convey from my story is that for those of you pregnant ladies who can have a natural delivery, that you consider these amazing benefits…

Let me tell you there are a whole bunch of advantages of having a drug-free natural birth:

  1. You Can Move Around Freely to Help Labour Progress

    It was so awesome to be able to move around as I pleased during labour. Besides the few minutes that I had to be on the delivery bed to be monitored and to have internals done, I was free to move around as I felt comfortable. I would go for walks, have a bath, and be in whatever position I felt was most bearable for me during contractions. As opposed to being bed-ridden and just waiting to become fully dilated (and lying down doesn’t really help dilation either) I thought it was so great to be active during labour.

  2. You Can Have a Water Birth

    It is SO NICE to have a water birth! I am so in love with the fact that I can jump into this huge warm bath to deliver my baby. Plus, the baby and I come out fairly clean and all that blood gets washed away. With my third child, I was so ready for pushing the baby out straight after the midwife did her final internal, I literally hopped off the bed, ran and jumped into the bath and with two pushes she was out! I am sorry to say it was so quick, my husband didn’t see her head being born!

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  3. Recovery Time is Quick

     

    With my first child, I obviously couldn’t walk for a couple of hours after the epidural and it was a bit frustrating. With my third child, I went drug-free and I shared a hospital room with another lady who had a cesarean. Cesareans are wonderful and very necessary in cases, but the difference in recovery between her and I was like day and night. She had to have lots of medication afterwards and had to make sure her wound and stitches were kept clean and so on. I was just so incredibly grateful that I could be up and about so soon after labour with hardly any post-delivery complaints. I didn’t even need pain medication, luckily. I did need pain meds after my first delivery, because I had an episiotomy. (Now that was so super sore and it took weeks to heal).

  4. It Keeps Things Interesting

    As I mentioned, being able to actively labour is way more interesting than sitting in a boring hospital bed. Just saying. My husband, mother, doula and I made memories with the long walks around the hospital, bouncing on the yoga ball and doing weird and wonderful things to help the labour progress. All in all, it was more fun and memorable for us.

  5. The Less Drugs, The Better

    It goes without saying, the more you are able to go without taking chemicals and foreign substances into your body, the better. You also don’t have to deal with potential side-effects. I have heard that epidurals may have long-term repercussions.

  6. Very Fulfilling Achievement

    Okay, so this reason isn’t really all that important, and shouldn’t be the only reason you choose to go drug-free, but it is a cool by-product. How amazingly awesome would it be to know you gave birth au naturel? To be able to tell people that you didn’t need the pain-meds? It’s something Wonder Woman would be do if she gave birth.

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I am aware that not every pregnant woman has the choice to have a natural birth, let alone a drug-free one! Every birth has a different story (I guess that’s why everyone loves to share theirs). By no means am I saying it is a lesser experience to have drugs in your delivery or to have a caesarean. I have heard many experiences from women that epidurals are the best thing ever. (I wish it worked for me!)

What I would like to convey from my story is that for those of you pregnant ladies who can have a natural delivery, that you consider these amazing benefits of going drug-free.

Pregnancy – I have learned – is the time to prepare yourself for D-Day (Delivery Day). If you find ways to prepare yourself more and make your choices now, you will be better for it and very grateful when that happy day comes. I hope that my story has helped you in your decision.

I wish the very best to all you lovely soon-to-be mommies!

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