As soon as you get into the world of natural birth, the pressure can get pretty strong. If you get the feeling you are “less-than” other women if you don’t get the birth story of your dreams, then this is for you.
Learning About Natural Birth
As a young mom-to-be, I read a lot about natural birth. The books (see below) were very good, but one of them in particular made it sound too easy, and also put the pressure on for having a totally natural birth.
I also remember years ago when a young mom needed a C-section the first time around because her baby’s heart rate was dropping too much. I remember her mentioning that someone had made her feel “less-than” because she had gotten a C-section.
Don’t get me wrong. I totally stand for learning all you can and trying for a natural birth. I am glad I did because I am sure that is what made my first three births go so well. But all the knowledge would not have helped anything to get my fourth baby here safely.
See the Video.
My Birth Stories
The best option for us is the public hospitals here in Costa Rica. I am blest to have a good hospital too. My first labor went very well for a first timer, with seven hours from the time I realized I was actually in labor, till my first daughter was born. Even so the last couple of hours were really tough. The first time around I think very few women are prepared for the intensity of labor.
Fear of Future Births
While I knew I wanted more babies in the future, the fear of going through labor again was pretty big. (Even when I didn’t have a hard labor for many hours like some do!) When our second baby was due 16 months after our first, I spent that labor asking God to help the next birth go easier. I also practiced a lot more with the Bradley Method like I had with my first. (See book list below.) I would try to relax as I imagined a contraction. At first I would nearly go into panic attacks, but by the end I could relax through the imagined contraction.
Our second daughter was born during a very stressful season of life as we were building a house, and moved in when it was still very unfinished, a week before she was born. But God was faithful. Her labor and birth has been the easiest of all of mine. She was born about four hours after I realized I was a labor.
Between my second and third baby we had a miscarriage. It was hard, but not as hard as I know it has been for some others. While I was about 2.5 months along by the time we lost our baby, its heart had stopped beating about a month earlier. Sometimes I wish I could have met our baby, but I trust God had His purpose in it all.
My third labor was by far the longest, though it wasn’t intense at all for much of the time. I felt like I was at a place in life where I could handle the longer labor, like I wouldn’t have been able to with my second. We were blest with another healthy daughter.
My fourth pregnancy was by far my easiest, so much so that I thought I would have another miscarriage. Everything went well. But one day towards the end I woke up in the middle of the night to pain and a contracted stomach. Long story short, through several miracles, we got to the hospital just in time. They discovered a very low heartrate for the baby. I was rushed off to an emergency C-section where there wasn’t enough time for an epidural so they just knocked me out with anesthesia. We nearly lost our first son, but we are grateful God allowed us to keep him. He was in intermediate care for three days, and I needed a couple of blood transfusions as I had placental abruption, which would have taken my life too without a C-section. After three days we could go home. Recovery felt tough after having three natural births, but I was simply grateful for the miracle of having a son who ended up healthy, and for all the help we were given.
Processing Your Birth Story
My encouragement to you is that not getting the birth story of your dreams does not mean you are some lower class woman. I know I would have struggled much more with this in my first births, but now it doesn’t affect me so much. I will carry this scar for life, but I am so blessed to have my son with me.
It doesn’t mean God is not blessing you.
Bad birth experiences does not mean God is not blessing you. Mary was highly favored by God, and yet she gave birth in a stable. That doesn’t seem fitting for a King, and yet God allowed it to happen. Maybe it was in part to show us that the details of our birth stories don’t need to be perfect. He is in stables and operating rooms too.
It is okay to grieve and feel the loss of dreams.
Accepting our birth story is a process. It doesn’t mean you need to smile at it all and not feel the disappointment. Take your time to grieve the loss of your dreams. You will see the light again.
Take time to process your birth story.
Whether it was just much harder than you expected, or totally not what you wanted, or something traumatic happened in your labor and birthing experience, it is good to go back and process the feelings. For me I have had to revisit the image of the surgery room filling with people in green just before I went to sleep. There are other parts of the pain on the way, the rushing in the hospital, and the recovery period that are a bit hard to think about. But I know that all this processing will heal the parts that are still hard to work through.
Heaven Will Heal It All
If you struggle with the scars your body carried from birthing your babies, remember the hope of heaven where our scars will be gone. It might be hard to accept it, but life is not perfect, and I hope you can come to a place of peace.
If you lost your baby, I understand that is a pain that I can not say anything to soothe. I just pray you can find comfort in your Heavenly Father. If we had been a few minutes later, our son would not have made it. That thought still shakes me. I am grateful, but I know it’s nothing I did to deserve this blessing. May God’s grace carry you.
Save it for Later.
Labor and Birth Books
Studying up for birth did help me have three good, natural births. If you are looking for books, here are my two top recommendations. You can find the links for them on my resource page under Pregnancy and Labor.
Natural Child Birth the Bradley Way (This book helped me so much with visualizing and understanding the birthing process, but it does make things sound too easy so just remember that…)
Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth (This is another good one to read to prepare yourself mentally.)