Did you have a natural childbirth?

While natural labor and childbirth are the ideal for many women, we know that sometimes the health of the baby or the mother dictates intervention.  Still, there’s so much pressure these days to opt for an epidural or a C-section that it’s nice when you are able to have support for your birth plan.  Did you manage to have a natural labor?  If so, did you have to fight for it or were your physician or midwife on your side?  Feel free to tell your birth story!  We love to hear them!  What would you tell someone who is right in the middle of her first pregnancy?  Any tips?


  1. I’ve written quite a host of things on my blog (link on my name above) about natural birth, herbs to use in pregnancy, natural ways of dealing with pregnancy pains and problems and so on. I had the most beautiful birth I could ever have hoped for, gentle, calm and amazing, despite 48hrs of labour. I had a relatively supportive midwife (home water birth, by the way) but in truth, I just was very firm in what I wanted. I spent 8 months researching, learning, preparing and getting to know EVERYTHING I could about birth – and really that would be my main advice for a pregnant woman – learn learn learn learn – don’t leave the most life changing moment of your entire life entirely in the hands of someone you’ve just met.

  2. midwives delivered both my babes, but i ended up having an epidural the first time around. my second (unmedicated) birth and recovery were much easier/more pleasant.

    i loved the care i got with midwives–not only for the delivery, but also throughout my pregnancies. i felt very listened to and honored in my choices. many women may not realize that you can deliver at a hosptial with a midwife, and it was the perfect scenerio for us.


  3. I was induced 10 days late with my first. Midwife got called away for much of my LONG labor to attend another birth, I ended up with an epidural that didn’t work well (had to move the needle and put it in again), was pumped full of fluid, antibiotics (for a fever from the epidural), etc. Generally, not my favorite.

    I was induced 2 weeks late with my second. This time I had a doula and midwife. I didn’t use an epidural – had a little fentanyl at transition. Much more pleasant experience — could NOT have done that without a doula. This might be TMI for some, but feeling my baby’s head come out was just an amazing, amazing experience (plus it meant that I was almost done, hallelujah!) Since I was breech until I had an external version around 36 weeks, I felt lucky that I didn’t have a c-section, so I wasn’t that sad about being induced again. Left the hospital the second I could.

    Not natural, because I had pitocin (avoid that if you can!). But at least no epidural the second time around. And no c-section (though that isn’t the end of the world either – just something to be avoided).

    I highly recommend midwives AND a doula to everyone if you would like to avoid interventions and an epidural. Also, everyone should learn a variety of pain techniques. You may have a blissful epidural, but you might not! And it’s nice to be prepared if the epidural doesn’t work super well for you.

  4. I had a mostly unmedicated labor. My water broke and contractions didn’t start for 6 hours, and they started me on Cervidil because I wasn’t dilated at all. Looking back, I could have waited quite a bit longer since labor WAS starting.

    But, I developed pre-ecclampsia while in labor and so I also had magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures.

    Those two drugs did complicate things a bit and made laboring harder, but I did avoid that epidural like I wanted.

    I would say if an unmedicated birth is important to you and you are delivering in a hospital (even with a midwife!) it’s important to read good books (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth), take a Bradley Method childbirth course along with your husband, and hire a doula.

    We are hiring a doula this time around since I will again be at a hospital. It has a 98% epidural rate and the nursing staff just doesn’t know what to do with mamas who choose not to have one.

    The midwives aren’t there for a lot of the labor — the nurses are. So my doula will help express my wishes.

  5. I was fortunate to have a natural childbirth with an OB that completely supported this plan. I had no problems with the doctors or nurses trying to push an epidural on me, they all respected my choice. I ended up with slowed contractions while pushing, and if I had chosen an epidural I would have for sure needed petocin and possibly a C-section. So I was thankful in the end that all went well and my recovery was smooth.

    My biggest issue has been the reaction by others in last three years since mychildbirth. Most women I talk to think I am CRAZY for having a natural birth and I have a very difficult time getting them to listen to my rational for not choosing an epidural. I respect choice and realize there are medical reasons some women need them, but I am always disappointed in the reaction that it is a “must have” and try to educate as many people as I can on the issue.

    I always explain it as… the last 3 hours were more pain than I could ever imagine, but it was all worth it and quickly passed as soon as my daughter was in my arms. I went on to run my first marathon before she turned 1, because I realized how mental pain is and it is all about attitude!

  6. I had two healthy natural deliveries where I labored at home with my husband until 2 hours before the babies came out, when we walked around the corner to a hospital. I preferred not having a doula based on what I read about being calm and having loving caring people surrounding you. I just did not want someone who I didn’t really know in the room, I thought that would inhibit me. But my husband learned a lot and we used the Bradley method and he was amazing. They were both beautiful and empowering births. I have so much more to say but no time right now…I think you just inspired me to write a post about this. I’ll link up when I do.

  7. I practically had to fight to get a c-section because of putting it as a “last resort” on my birth plan, and going into labor when my OB was out of town (so had a complete stranger as a doctor for most of my labor). I’d wanted a natural childbirth, and went 17 hours without any medication except for antibiotics due to a Strep B diagnosis in pregnancy.

    But by that point I was wrung-out exhausted, requested an epidural and slept for a few hours, and tried pushing again for several hours. I’d read that if, by 24 hours after water breaking, the baby had not come out, the hospital would automatically do a c-section, but they did not–they tried several other things including a vacuum suction I did not want, for another 6 hours past that point, so that by the time I finally got my c-section I passed out and missed the first minutes of my baby’s time in the world.

    He is a happy, healthy almost-4-year-old now, but I am still bitter about the circumstances of his birth and wish that, once it was obvious the natural way was not going to work, that we could have gone straight to the c-section without prolonging the ordeal.

    The main piece of advice I would give to expectant mothers is to have an advocate (spouse, parent, doula, whoever–you know best who will fight for your rights) whom you trust to push back and make the right decision for you when you are just too worn out to think straight.

  8. I had an induction 10 days after due date. It certainly was not my first choice, but kind of nice to schedule the trip to the hospital in advance. My son was breech until a version at 37 weeks, so I was very glad not to be having a C-section. I needed only a touch of pitocen to get me going. They had it up higher than I needed, but my son was not a fan and they turned it down because his heart rate dropped slightly. I had decided to have an epidural if I was not OK and if the pitocen contractions had continued I would have (I had the consult). But when it was turned back down I got into a much better rhythm. I had some Nubain (IV narcotic) to give me a rest after the nasty contractions and otherwise had a nice calmish labour lying on my side snuggling my husband and sitting up for the contractions and getting up occasionally. One of the big reasons I did not want an epidural was the freedom to move.
    We had a wonderful doula who was great being a filter for the medical staff. I had four nurses and I only remember the first and last ones, the rest just checked in with her that I was doing well. My doctor was great, but as I remember she spent more time stitching me up afterwards than everything else. My only regret was refusing pain medication for the stitches thinking they would only take a minute.
    I recommend a doula as a less emotionally involved and more experienced constant helper. I know a number of people who credit their doulas for being the keystone in their natural births.
    I also recommend making not a birth plan, but birth preferences. Me flexible since babies have their own mysterious ways.
    Next time I will probably go with a midwife, but stay in the hospital or birth center setting.

  9. I had a natural, unmedicated birth with my first, my son. I had an OB and while I didn’t have to fight as hard as others I’ve heard of in my town, and they didn’t do anything on their own (like some here have had episiotomies and were not informed and it was not needed), I still was pressured by the doctor by her talking to me about things. I still refused everything because the things she was talking about weren’t needed. I had a doula, also my childbirth educator, and my husband, and my mother there, so lots of advocacy for me. It was great and I will be having a home birth in September with my second.

    I would recommend that every first time mother go into it thinking they will do it naturally, and then when it happens decide if drugs are needed. Sometimes they aren’t needed, but lots of people go into the hospital and get an epidural right away. Everybody has different pain tolerances, so learning about how to control the pain naturally is a must, as is finding a provider that will let you do things like get in the bath, walk around, and eat while in labor. I also tell first time mothers not to surround herself with fearful stories, as most births do go fine (but to learn about what could happen, such as a c-section), and this can help with her confidence.

  10. * And then, if natural techniques of pain control don’t work, then decide about pain medication. 🙂 Left that part out.

  11. Tncastro says

    The best thing or rather person I had was our doula. She educated us for several weeks prior to the birth of now 6months old daughter. she was there from the beginning for us at the hospital, and assured me and my husband that things were going well. my midwife whom I just met moth day of the delivery was not very cheerful but respected my birth plan and did not ask if I wanted any meds. She just asked in the beginning what kind of pain management we wanted and we told her “natural” and that was what she did for us. I am so glad that I ha the natural birth and although it was the most difficult and painful thing I have ever done in my life, it was the most rewarding experience!

  12. Shannon F. says

    I wouldn’t trade my homebirth experience for anything. It is the most empowering, beautiful act any human being can do; I feel that it was a privilage to experience it in our own way and cherish it for the spiritual, physical, emotional miracle that it is.

  13. Shannon F. says

    And FYI: I would recommend this article to any woman who is pregnant and considering a natural childbirth:


  14. I had an all natural no meds whatsoever birth..in a hospital. I was in labor for about 36 hours or so and awake for the last 27 hours of that. I credit being able to do it to many things.

    Read read read..and read some more. Read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Read birth stories on line. Watch The Business of Being Born and read the books that go with it. Read Pushed. It is up to you to educate yourself, because no one else is going to teach you these things.

    I had a MW through my pregnancy and a doula to help me for the birth. I phoned both of them constantly, trying different positions per the suggestions of my doula. I labored at home until 3 hours before giving birth. I walked into the hospital, on my own, moaning through contractions but on my feet. No wheelchair thankyouverymuch.

    I arrived at the hospital at 8 cm and bags bulging but intact. Once they broke all bets were off. I pushed on my own schedule, trying various positions. After two hours of pushing my son was born. I did it all on my own, my own power.

    I could go on and on…but advice for first time moms would be to…again..educate yourself. Do not take the word of your OB or MW as the final word. Ask questions..ask what the risks are and do not accept “minimal” as an answer to that.

    Personally, I didn’t have to fight with hospital staff or my MW with regard to anything. They knew my wish for no meds and more specifically, to not even be offered them. That is the key…don’t offer them. It will undermine your confidence. And get a doula.

  15. I had a planned C-Section and that was the right decision for me and my family. I opted to not try a v-bac. I had a beautiful baby boy. I couldn’t be happier!

  16. With my 1st, I tried for a natural delivery at the hospital but it didn’t workout. My water broke with no contractions, so they gave me pitocin- after 18 hours of that I asked for an epidural (I was only at 1.5). The 1st epidural they put it in wrong & bent the needle. The 2nd was in the wrong place & offered no relief. After 7 hours I finally got a working epidural & we delivered our healthy girl 5 hours later.

    I just had my 2nd girl 3 months ago. With this one we wanted to avoid the hospital & try again for a natural delivery- it worked!!! We had a midwife at a free standing birth center (not attached to the hospital) We had the option of a home birth but I loved the calm ambiance of the birth center. I did most of my labor in the water & chose to deliver on the bed. We had a healthy 10 pound girl. The water helped with the pain of the contractions & also helped soften things down there-no tearing!!!

    If it is an option in your area I would check out some birth centers. I liked my doctor with my first, but I LOVED my midwife for my second. Throughout my whole pregnancy I felt so confident & empowered- like I was doing something my body was meant to be doing. I still got all the medical attention, but with my hospital/doctor delivery before- it was almost as if they were looking for something to be wrong so they could fix it.

    Try to have a doula if you are going for a hospital delivery, they are there for you and can fight for your choices to be heard & respected.

    Read all you can about natural child birth. Try water birth at least for part- they told me I was in transition & I couldn’t believe it-I had nowhere near the discomfort I had with my 1st pitocin delivery.

    Most of all trust your body & connect with other people who support natural delivery- there are too many people out there that want to bring you down with their birth stories.

  17. I had an unmedicated hospital VBAC with my second baby and it was such a good experience. I credit two things to my successful VBAC…an awesome support team (husband, doula and great labor nurse) and Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth which I read about 5 times while pregnant. It certainly hurt, but everyone was very calm and focused and I never once wished for an epidural.

    I did have to fight for it somewhat. My OB really wanted to induce me a week early because she was afraid my scar would get too stretched out. Since there is absolutely no evidence suggesting early induction is a good idea for a VBAC I kept canceling the appointments. My water ended up breaking one day after my due date and one day before another appointment to be induced. Fortunately for me my OB ended up being out of town and her partner was there…the partner does not like to induce for a VBAC so it worked out well for me.

  18. We planned a natural birth at home….but I went 42w and had to be induced at the hospital. Things started to go bad after 10+ hours of labour so they did an emergency c-section. Kind of the opposite of what we were looking for but I am just glad B got here safely.

  19. I had my first baby 6 weeks ago. (I can’t believe it’s been six weeks!) I did the whole labor without intervention until I was in the pushing stage. The only intervention I had was oxygen while I was pushing – the baby’s heart rate had dropped and I was having trouble getting enough oxygen between contractions to push through the entire contraction, probably because I have mild asthma.

    A friend leant me a copy of the book Spiritual Midwifery. The majority of the book is composed of short essays of mothers telling their birth story – all of them natural births. When you get pregnant everyone wants to tell you their horror stories, it’s nice to hear the flip side – that almost all births go fine and that you *can* do natural childbirth. I also found their philosophy helpful. In a nutshell, stay relaxed and don’t fight the contractions because the tenseness will slow down the dilation and make labor longer and more painful. Also, they specifically avoid teaching a specific method for pain management because they think that there is no single method that will work for every woman so each woman should find what works for them. This ended up working really well for me. I probably would have taken a childbirth class if one was available in my area but since one wasn’t available I had to find what worked for me. I found that deep breathing worked best (instead of the panting-style breathing) especially if I also did some meditation style focusing.

    Other things that helped me: Both my midwife and the hospital staff were willing to try the birth without meds. (That being said, I don’t think they actually expected me to succeed – the nurses kept commenting on how amazing it was.) I was also able to move around and try different positions to ease the pain. I found that lying on a bed was the most painful position possible and only did it when the nurses needed to do an exam and when I was actually pushing. The rest of the time I was standing, walking, sitting on a birthing ball, etc. I think being upright helped move the labor along, too.

  20. I had a natural labor–right up until I had an unplanned c-section.

    My active labor lasted 45 hours, spread over two events. The first was 28 hours, and the nurses and my OB/GYNs were great. They didn’t intervene at all, and only used handheld doppler to monitor the baby’s heart rate intermittently. After 28 hours, I had dilated only 1.5 cm (despite something that looked a heck of a lot like transition to everyone in the room!), and the labor stopped on its own. Five days later, my water broke and I went into active labor again–and again the docs and nurses did nothing to intervene. Fifteen hours in, though, my son’s heartbeat was dropping into the 70s with every contraction and I still hadn’t gotten past 2 cm. I just wasn’t going anywhere, so they decided to do a c-section before it was really an emergency (they actually gave me the option of waiting, but I felt that doing it right then was the best option all around).

    It wasn’t at all what I had planned, but I didn’t feel like I was pressured into the c-section at all. It wasn’t a cascade of interventions (I wasn’t induced, didn’t have an IV, didn’t have strapped-on monitoring). It just happened. It took me a while to recover physically and emotionally, but now I have a wonderful 4-month-old son to show for it.

  21. Wow, Allyson, I could have typed your post myself. My experience was almost exactly the same as yours.

  22. I had a natural birth at a birth center with a midwife attending. If you want to read my entire story, it’s on my blog. http://parentingtips365.com/my-birth-story/ Basically, early labor lasted about 12 hours (until I was at 4cm) and then I went from 4-10 in about 4 hours. No tearing, perfect, beautiful, dare I say easy? birth. I went home 5 hours later.

    Drugs were not an option at the birth center, but that’s what I wanted. So yes, my midwife was on my side.

    To prepare myself I bought the self-study Hypnobabies course. I really loved the affirmations CD.

    You need to know the information and then decide what you want your birth to be. Once you decide what you want, you need to make decisions that will support that. You don’t want to “fight” for your preferences with anyone, especially during labor.

    Best wishes!

  23. Here is my advice to any first time mom or any mother who is thinking about pursueing an unmedicated birth.

    1. Take a class – there are many schools of thought about natural birth. I liked the Bradley Method, but there are others like hypnobirthing, lamaze, etc… Mainly they teach you how to care for your self during pregnancy to ensure you are in peak condition mentally and physically before labor. They also help teach you and your birth partner relaxation techniques to use while in labor. I never realized how much of a mind game labor is, until I did it. Much akin to running a marathon my runner friends tell me. You go inward and find a rhythm with your body.
    2. Hire a doula. Interview lots of doulas to get a feel for personality, philosophy, availability. We personally wanted someone who would help my husband help me. If that meant running to get food, parking the car, handing my husband hot pads, or taking over for him if he needed a bath. We wanted a facilitator not a “take over” personality. A help me help you and if you are rockin’ it I am not going to get in the way. We hired the same doula for both our children. My husband was reluctant about the whole doula thing at first, now he tells all his buddys they “need a doula!” and “Doulas are the best!”. Most doulas will meet with you a couple times before and after the baby is born. My doula also offered unlimited phone and email support too! Love her!
    3. Go to http://www.spinningbabies.com. Optimal fetal positioning will make your labor much easier. Just ask any woman who as experienced a posterior labor, you really would like to avoid that if you can.
    4. Write a birth plan and share it with all of your care providers and have them put a copy in your chart. Also have a couple copies for your hospital bag just in case for the nurses and provider.
    5. Remember to go with the flow if things don’t go as planned. This is not something to be ashamed of, it’s the birth of your child! Embrace any experience you have even if it didn’t go as planned. (My first has meconium and I couldn’t birth in the water, my second’s water broke a week early and I needed a pitocin drip…nonetheless I continued with my plans. I had my second child unmedicated in the water with a pitocin drip. I had my first on land with one dose of nubain after pushing 4 hours!)
    6. Try to redefine the word pain, think of it as work, or pressure or stretching. It sometimes feels good, it sometimes feels like hell. No matter what remember it will end and you will be a mamma!
    7. Don’t be afraid to change providers if they aren’t supportive of your desires. They are providing a service for you.
    8. Figure out how you like to be touched during labor. Most husbands go into hyperdrive and start petting us like we are puppies. Not good. Practice slow strokes, hip presses for a full 45 seconds. Trust me the last thing you want him doing is stopping mid contraction, only if he has a death wish. This is where the doula comes in VERY handy, so your partner can take turn with her.
    9. Remember the labor is just a very small part of being a parent.

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