The Choice of a Natural Birth
Ever since I could remember thinking about having children, I had always known that I was going to give birth to them naturally. It was not because I wanted to be a hero. Whenever I had mentioned this desire to other people it was always greeted with some laughter and discouraging comments. “Wait until you are there, once you are going through the pain, you’re going to want all the drugs you can get!”…“I thought that too until I started to feel the pain, and I was only two centimetres by then”… “Don’t be a hero, just take the drugs, that’s what they are there for”… ”What are you trying to prove anyway?”. Bla, bla, bla.
I think one of the biggest reasons why my desire to want to have a natural birth had brought on such negative comments in turn, was just because of what it would say about those women who had chosen to have an epidural; if I am brave enough to have a baby naturally, that indicates to other women who had not had a natural birth, that they were not brave enough to do so themselves. If I had been able to tolerate the pain, that meant that they have zero tolerance for pain, and I was just some crazy freak who probably doesn’t feel pain or cannot possibly have experienced it the way others have. As much as I understood that the discouraging remarks had nothing to do with me but more about how other women had felt about themselves, I still had felt that my desire to have a natural birth was looked down upon.
The only person who I could turn to was my own mother who had birthed all her three children naturally. Whenever she had talked about her experiences, she had never romanticized it with pretty flowers, nor did she ever deny the amount of pain that she had felt. She told me that giving birth was indeed painful. But she had also told me that she had never focused so much on the pain as the experience itself. But even my own mother had said to me that it would be easier for me to take the epidural rather than to fight the pain.
But you have to understand that I am very stubborn and very persistent. The truth is, labour pain wasn’t really a scary thought for me. Women have been birthing babies naturally forever, without medical interventions or any drugs, hence why would I be unable to do so. I kept thinking about this epidural. This big scary looking needle going deep into my back with the potential possibility of it causing me paralysis. The thought of me being at the mercy of this needle, without any control, without really experiencing labour made me almost sad. I think our society focuses too much attention on pain in labour, rather than looking at it as an incredible experience and a hard working journey that would bring you the most wonderful gift of all. I had known from the beginning that the epidural was not for me. It wasn’t because I thought that I was much braver than women who had chosen to have the epidural. I wouldn’t even suggest that I had a higher pain tolerance, or that I am somehow better or stronger because I had given birth naturally. I will say this; to give birth naturally was something that I had wanted to do and had made the choice to do so.
Why did I want a natural birth? I don’t even think the needle itself had been the real reason. I have been wanting to have a baby all my life, and I guess I wanted to experience absolutely everything with that, including the pain that comes with the birthing process itself; for the pain of giving birth was essential and meaningful in my experience. I felt that I needed to feel the pain of child labour so that I could understand in my mind all of the sacrifices I will have to make for my child, including my comfort and my lack of sleep. I think for me, the pain was like an awakening to the beginning of the rest of my life.
Regardless I fought the pain with every ounce of strength that I had, both times that I had laboured my children. With my older daughter Alyssa, I came into the hospital well prepared, where my husband and I had meticulous a plan of how to deal with whatever came our way. With my younger girl Emma, we had decided to wing it and had a much longer and more difficult labour than anticipated. But nonetheless, I was fortunate to have had wonderful support from my husband and loved ones, and had my two girls Alyssa and Emma naturally, just as I had wanted.
Giving birth naturally is just as empowering as asking for an epidural. It is a choice that a woman has a right to make and not have people around her make her feel like she is a freak show for wanting to do so. Women should not discourage this choice just because their births did not go this way, but rather congratulate her for wanting to make a decision to birth her baby the way she would like to.