Thursday, September 20, 2012

So, natural or medicated childbirth?

With Kayden, I got an epidural after several hours of active labor.  If you’re interested in the whole story, it’s here.  Since I have had the epidural AND have gone the non-medicated route, here are my thoughts on both (per my friend Anna’s request)…

I have to say, the epidural is oh-so-wonderful!  No one has any reason to fear childbirth anymore because of this miraculous procedure!!!  I don’t fault anyone who chooses that route every single time.

This is your life on drugs.


Natural childbirth (with Pitocin—which could have made the contractions feel more intense than without) is the hardest physical and mental thing I’ve EVER EVER done.  When I was in the thick of labor, I firmly told my husband probably 10 times “WHY AM I DOING THIS? THIS IS INSANE!!” Yet…I kept going.  By the way, Darin was completely supportive of whatever I wanted to do.  He was not at ALL pressuring me to go without an epidural.  As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure he’d prefer me to have one so we could just have a birthday party!!

This is your life off drugs.

(and yes, I was throwing up in that trash can)


To the question “would you do it again?”…

Then: I was not hesitant to say, “whew.  Glad that’s over!  Epidural all the way with every future child!”  It’s kinda like running a marathon* (I suppose.  I never have run one, but I am pretty sure this is what it’d be like for me…).  When it’s over you are SO glad you did it, but you NEVER want to do it again.  Check that one off the bucket list and move on.

Now (only 2 months later): I am not so sure I won’t ever do it again.  I think if my labor was progressing quickly I would just do it again.  With Griffin, those 7 hours or so of intense pain felt like more than 24 hours.  When I “came to” soon after his birth, I really couldn’t believe we hadn’t yet been at the hospital for 24 hours.  It felt like FOREVER.  If that forever got shorter, I could probably do it again.

*Side note: I said that birth is like running a marathon (or any race, for that matter), but in one way it is very VERY different. Birth is like running a race when you have NO idea how far you have to run. In a race, you can pace yourself and you know exactly how much farther you have to go. Labor is like running an unknown distance. Someone keeps moving the finish line on you. Just when you think you’re close, you are told you probably have at least another 20 miles to run. Probably. Hopefully not more. It’s a real mental game when your doctor comes in and says, “well, you’re still dilated to 4 cm” even though you thought you’d been covering some ground for the last 8 hours.

Why would I do it again?? 

  • The HUGE sense of accomplishment. It feels incredible to do extremely hard things.  To know that I could control my mind and body enough to get through something that tough even though I had a way out, is sickly satisfying to me.
  • The teamwork with my partner is so rewarding.  I am sure I couldn’t do it without him. I love how well Darin and I work together in the birthing process.  Both times it has been so extremely unifying and pretty spiritual. 
  • Another reason I liked going sans epidural was that I could walk to the recovery room and not be in a wheelchair.  This time, I certainly did not miss the numb legs and dependence of not being able to walk for some time after delivery.  Now, I understand that that doesn’t always happen with an epidural because I’ve had friends who have walked just fine…so hopefully that would be my luck next time. 
  • Also, they say that with natural birth, the babies are much more alert immediately and that was definitely true with Griffin compared to Kayden—but they could have just been different from each other anyway.
  • Finally, I have felt it.  I know what it’s like to deliver a baby and feel the whole thing.  Like the pioneers…only I was in a safe, clean and comfortable hospital. :)  No, but really. I was visiting with a neighbor who is in her 90’s and had 11 siblings.  Her mother bore TWELVE children without any drugs.  Ouch.  And I knew the pain she went through for each one.  Empathy is way better than sympathy.

to recovery room Griff

NOTE: I only endorse saying YES to drugs for childbirth.


  1. This is a fascinating post. I have horribly complicated labors (I actually almost died delivering Sydney and then Kenzie came via emergency C-section after 12 hours of labor) so if we have another child I'm not sure I will have much of an option other than a C-section but I am proud of you for doing this and even considering doing it again. Everyone's labor experience is so different and personal that you can't advise anyone one way or the other but it always helps to get opinions and to hear of successes so thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you for this! I find pregnancy/labor/delivery so fascinating. The fact that you skipped the epidural AND were on pitocin makes me admire you all the more! Pitocin labor is so hard!

    I want to go all natural. I want to know what it feels like (even though it's different for everyone). I want to be part of the elite club. Maybe next time. :)

  3. All I can say is wow! I loved reading your story, thanks for sharing! You are pioneer stock for sure. I labored with James for nearly 17 hours (only 6 was on pitocin) before I got my epidural and I swore I would never go that long again. Pitocin contractions are remarkably harder!! I am glad it was a good experience for that its over!

  4. That is amazing. I have that goal one day and we'll see if I am ever brave enough to actually do it. I loved your thoughts on it.

  5. I have had so much fun catching up with your great family on your blog! I love all the pictures and stories.

    I have had an three epidurals - two were absolutely beautiful and one I am trying to block from my memory :)

    This time around, though, I'm delivering at a birthing center, so I've been studying up and preparing (along with Brandon) all I can for it, and I have loved reading your experience! Thanks for sharing :)

    I was sad we missed each other when you were in town. Next time you come visit, I very much hope I won't be moving, so hopefully we can get together - I would LOVE that!

  6. I loved loved loved reading this post! It gave me a lot to think about for birthing my next bambino. You're a rockstar Rachel! Congrats on your cute new baby Griffin.