Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Thoughts on Drug-Free Labor

I've been mulling over this post for a long time.  I feel like my writing needs to come with a few disclaimers:

* Yes, I know -- not everybody is interested in hearing my thoughts about drug-free labor.  In fact, very few of you are probably interested.  If you're not interested, now's the time to walk away.  I'll see you when I post cute pictures of my kids.  :)

* I don't want any mother to feel like I'm passing judgement on her for choosing a different path. I understand that every woman's birth experience is different.  I have been lucky to have quick labors, so I can't put myself in the shoes of somebody who has had a more difficult or lengthy labor.  Like I said in this post, I understand the merits of inductions/epidurals/c-sections at the right time (but I do think they are extremely overused).

With that being said, away we go!

Remember those three reasons I had for choosing drug-free labor?  The last two were more like goals, and I'm pleased that I achieved my goals of educating myself and joining those amazing generations of women who have all given birth drug-free.  I'd like to also add three additional reasons that I think drug-free labor was worth it in the end.

1.  Awe at God's creation of the female body.  We truly are "wonderfully made". It's amazing to see and feel the female body at work.

2.  A personal understanding that God created childbirth to work without interference.  When Marlowe was born, I got an epidural right before it was time to start pushing.  I pushed for two hours, and had some of the worst tearing possible (more on that, next).  In retrospect, having been through a drug-free birth, I know with certainty that nobody should have to tell a woman when it's time to push -- that baby is coming, and the mother knows it!  I also know now that there is no way that it should have taken two hours to get Marlowe out.  If I had been able to feel my contractions and been able to push with an understanding of where the baby was, she would have been out much sooner.  We all know that epidurals come with a higher risk of complications. With an epidural, the mother feels nothing, which makes her unable to respond to her own body, the process takes longer, and babies sometimes begin to go into distress.  In a drug-free labor, the mother is able to help herself, understand what her body is doing, and respond to it.  

3.  Recovery time.  As I said, I had terrible tearing with Marlowe.  My recovery took weeks.  It was agony to sit up to nurse her ... and chase around 2.5 year old twins in the meantime!  With Cecily, I tore less, only took one ibuprofen during my hospital stay (and that was for those awful nursing contractions), and didn't even use the witch hazel pads and pain relief spray that the hospital provides.  Sure, Cecily weighed half a pound less than Marlowe, but I have no doubt that some of my easy recovery was because I allowed my body to feel how to get her out, which meant less pushing (compared to those two hours of numb pushing with Marlowe) -- and less time with a 8 or 9 pound baby inside means less tearing!

"But what about the pain?" you ask.  Yes, it was painful.  Yes, Tony said that I acted like I was trying to climb him during the hardest ones.  Yes, I felt foolish during that one contraction in the hospital hallway when I couldn't even stay on my feet and dropped down to my knees.  Yes, different women have different pain tolerances.  But, if you prepare and educate yourself for the pain (using whatever method you prefer), it's tolerable.  And it feels ... productive.  Because that's exactly what it is.

And I've gotta say, the pain was worth it, because I'm pretty pleased with the end result.  Look at that sweet face.



1 comment:

Anne said...

I'm glad you got a chance to go 'drug free'. I like knowing there's an end in site. Even if the pain is awful and you don't know how you're going to survive any more...but you do, because that's how we were made. :) God is good. I'm glad it was a positive experience for you.