When did you realize you were really in labor?
After three nights of intense prodromal labor that began and ended like clockwork (1:30am-6am all three nights), I knew based on the time of day that it was the onset of real labor, after having my "show" early that morning.
What was the most challenging thing about going natural?
Retraining my mentality and emotion surrounding childbirth altogether. My firstborn was a hospital birth that ended in an epidural and relatively dismal experience. I knew I needed to rid my mind of the social conditioning that plagues a lot of us (pregnant women) surrounding pregnancy, labor, pain management, physiology and so forth. I had to really learn to trust my body and fully embrace that trust through the process of labor. Staying centered in what was taught, including simply relaxing, was a challenge near the end, but it was so rewarding to see it all come full circle!
What was the most helpful thing you did to prepare for childbirth?
I surrounded myself with the positive! Books, people, birth stories, etc. That is the first big step- taking the fear out of childbirth and not letting others skew our healthy perceptions- by allowing them to describe or discuss it as a medical condition vs natural process. We all know emergencies are a possibility, we all know pain (or intense sensations) exist through the process, but fear does nothing but hinder our ability. I read I kept positive, I learned how to self-advocate and surround myself with all beauty natural childbirth is (and how to have a "successful" one).
What surprised you about your birth?
How quick and enjoyable it was!
I want mothers to know that they are capable. That's the first step, truly believing in their ability. Once you decide it is the journey that suits you, stick with it! Learn, digest and simply DO IT.
What pain relief strategies worked best?
Various breathing techniques and positions! I found what worked for me throughout and stuck with it until I needed to change positions. It also helped with keeping as relaxed, dim and quiet environment so I could focus on my breathing (as well as "horse lips" when the surges got very intense right before and in transition)!
What position did you end up delivering in?
I delivered on hands and knees.
How did it feel to hold your baby for the first time?
It was incredible. He came out with so much hair! I just stared at his tiny fingers, the curve of his nose, his little lips- every last inch of him. It's just so beautiful.
What advice can you give to other mamas who want to go natural?
I want mothers to know that they are capable. That's the first step, truly believing in their ability. Once you decide it is the journey that suits you, stick with it! Learn, digest and simply DO IT. It's not about being tough, it's about being sound in trusting our body and taking it moment by moment. Whenever doubt creeps in, remind yourself that "fear is a liar" (and can rob you of a beautiful experience). Knowledge and simply believing in yourself are wondrous and natural birth is such an incredible journey!