Ada’s Birth Story or Why Natural Childbirth is Awful

Before you start reading, let me just tell you that I have given birth seven times. Seven times. Twice pain-med free. So get off your high horse right now because that’s a lot of babies that I’ve pushed out of my body. One was a still-born so I know all about how a healthy baby is the real thing we need to focus on. This is my story and I get to tell it how it was. Don’t you dare say that you feel sorry for me that my birth wasn’t perfect because your natural pain-med-free birth was wonderful in every way.  You can tell your story on your own blog. This is my story and it is true.

Adelaide Amelia

You know how every child loves to hear about the day that they were born? Last week was Adelaide’s eleventh birthday and her birth experience was trotted out as usual. Most of my children were born with epidurals and there was much joy and happiness surrounding their births. My makeup looks great in the pictures and there was much smiling in the room. But poor Adelaide. Her birth story is this: pain. So much pain. And she was purplish. I think. I couldn’t even look at her really, because I hurt so much.

I honestly thought that by the time I had baby #5 that she would just fall out, things being all loosey-goosey down there by that point. My previous two labors had lasted for five hours from start to finish and surely this one would be shorter. This might be the perfect time to try natural childbirth and see if it really was as amazing as everyone said.

My sister and I had the absolute joy of being pregnant at the same time. There is nothing as great as having a baby at the same time as your sister.  Not joking. It’s really awesome. I never thought this would be the case because I had gotten a nine year head start but things worked out! So we decided to try Hypnobirth together.

Hypnobirth was pretty good and I do have to say it helped me stay on top of the contractions for the most part. But the class itself was hokey and my sister and I and our husbands just sat at the back of the room and cracked jokes and were generally silly and disruptive.  But when they’re saying that the only reason having a baby hurts is because we expect it to hurt (they use, as their entire basis for this theory, a story about some dumb Victorian girl who had a baby and it didn’t hurt because she didn’t know it was supposed to hurt. Uh, sure, Ok.) If we didn’t expect it to hurt, it wouldn’t hurt. So even though you’re pushing the equivalent of a cantaloupe out of your hoo-ha, it’s only your imagination that is making you feel pain. Seriously. Only a man could come up with something that ridiculous.

I was very disappointed to learn that Hypnobirth is not actually hypnosis and there would be no waving a pocket watch and saying, “you are getting verrrry sleepy.”  But I do subscribe to the notion that total relaxation can make pain a lot less intense during childbirth. So I practiced all my visualizations and relaxations and was all ready for the birth.

I had the bad planning to get pregnant with a due date the day after my birthday. There was NO WAY I was going to chance having a baby on birthday thereby ruining my entire life, so I decided to get induced a few days before my birthday. Since I generally have my babies right on time, this seemed like a prudent decision.

This meant I had to do a non-epidural childbirth while being induced. And you know what, Hypnobirth really helped me stay on top of the contractions. They still hurt like a mother bear, but I could take it. I sat on my yoga ball the entire time and felt not too horrible as long as I was concentrating on walking down peaceful garden steps and with each step becoming more and more relaxed . . . .

But then it came time to push. OH MY HEAVENLY DAYS PAIN DOES NOT EVEN COME CLOSE TO DESCRIBING THE HORROR. I probably only pushed for five minutes, if that. But I can’t imagine that being burned alive slowly while having my skin flayed at the same time could hurt any more.

The whole Hynobirth hypothesis is totally wrong because I literally thought going into it that it would hurt a lot less. Not so. It was so painful that when Ada came out (who at that point was named Clementine) I could not even open my eyes, everything hurt so badly. It was like no sense or logic were coming into my brain because trumpets of pain were blaring into my skull. Mister caught the baby and I remember him holding her and trying to put her on my chest and I was like, “get her away from me!” Not that I didn’t love her or anything. At that point I felt like my only reality was self-preservation. If I felt one more thing I would explode. Finally he said, “well at least open your eyes and look at her!” And I remember trying to say, ‘I can’t even open my eyes. It all hurts too badly.” It probably came out as a mumble.  I eventually pried one open and she looked kind of purplish but mostly I just felt like I had been ripped in half and that’s all that I knew.

The thought of holding her just put me over the edge. I simply could not do it. I did not possess enough strength to even lift my arms up, let alone cradle a newborn. It sounds really wimpy and babyish now that I’m writing it, but in case you didn’t know this little tidbit: childbirth is painful and that is no freaking joke. I thought some sort of euphoria was supposed to kick in and all the pain would go away the moment I saw my baby but that most assuredly did not happen.

Mister was thrilled that he got his baby girl all to himself, though, so he was relishing every second. Usually he plays second fiddle to the mother-child bonding session, but he got to cuddle Ada all he wanted while I tried to gather together the shattered pieces of normalcy and self-control.

Once I started to feel somewhat human again I was able to open my eyes and see that, yes-indeedy, she was a bit purplish (the nurse said she must have smooshed her face on the way out or something like that) but she seemed pretty cute. And then the doctor uttered the most hateful words I had ever heard, “time to push again!”

Say WHAT???

I knew I wasn’t having twins. Push what for?

Oh, the placenta. “But I never pushed any of the other times!” I wailed, certain that I would never push anything out of my body again as long as I lived. “Oh, you did, but you had an epidural so it wasn’t much of a production,” he cheerfully replied.  I think it was it this point that I started sobbing hysterically.

The placenta came out and I lived to tell the tale. It was still half an hour or so until I felt stable enough to hold the baby, though.

I’d heard that women who don’t have epidurals recover faster and can get up and move around quicker. Again, lies. I guess we epidural-free mothers don’t have to wait for the medicine to wear off, but I was in no mood to do anything put keep ice packs down there for hours. Where exactly was I supposed to be in a hurry to go anyway? A stroll down to the gift shop? When you’re sporting mesh panties and a maxi pad the size of a life raft, your choice of activities is still quite limited. But you never really think these things through when other moms are pushing their pain-filled agendas down your throat. You just nod along, certain that you’ll get some trophy from the Outstanding Mother Awards Committee for going though the whole thing with no pain relief.*

All in all Ada and I bounced back from the whole ordeal. But you know what happened when I was in the hospital sixteen months later giving birth to baby Jasper? Yep, I got the epidural and it was magnificent.

*Turns out there are no trophies handed out for giving birth without drugs. So why would anybody do it? Peer pressure and bragging rights, is all I can think. Because doing something without pain is way better than doing the same thing with pain.

Either way, we love this girl and are happy that she came to join our family, despite causing so much pain on the way out.

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19 thoughts on “Ada’s Birth Story or Why Natural Childbirth is Awful

  1. I have done induced birth with medication. I have let the baby come when they are ready and had no medication (didn’t have a choice as baby came an hour after we got to the hospital). I have also had a c-section birth. My favorite was letting the baby come on their own and having no medication. I can’t imagine doing an induction without pain medication. I think Pitocin makes everything feel worse.

  2. Being induced is not considered a natural birth. Labor inducing drugs make labor at least twice as painful than labor without any drugs. This is a very sad way to remember your child’s birth. It seems like you are trying to instill fear in women who like the idea of a drug free birth. This post might get your more traffic, but not for a positive reason.

    1. There are women who like things to be pain-free and I’m tired of natural childbirth bullies making them feel like losers for wanting it that way. I’m just telling my truth. Sorry if that goes against your agenda.

  3. What a bunch of bull! I did hypnobirthinf/hypnobabies and it works perfectly fine. I am part of a group on Facebook in which most of the women use it and love it. I think the problem was in your attitude from the beginning. If you believe in something and are positive it will most likely work. Natural or no interventions is becoming non-existent, which is sad because women have done it that way for thousands of years. I felt more empowered and strong after my birthing experiencing then I have with anything in life. Don’t get me wrong, I know some women do not have this option, but if they can go natural why would someone elect to have a longer recovery time?

    1. What exactly is bull? That I felt pain? I dedicated myself to all my relaxation work and was into it 100%. And, like I stated, I totally thought it would work. And my contractions were pretty bearable for the most part, as I stated in this post. The pushing was the awful part. I have every right to say what my experience was. Also, I have the right to say that a longer recovery time when you’ve had an epidural is total BS. I felt like a million dollars after I had five babies with epidurals and felt like my birth experience was total crap when I did it pain-free. I’m sorry you don’t like that but it needs to be said because there are women going into natural childbirth having a wretched time that might enjoy it a lot better with an epidural. It’s totally frowned-upon to say that but it’s my experience and you can say it’s “bull” all you want.

  4. That is rough. Each birth story is valid and deserves to be told. Sometimes they are beautiful and easy recovery and sometimes they are traumatic. Induced labor can be so very tough. It can be 10 times more painful. I have incredibly intense but short labors and I too need a few minutes to gather myself before being able to fully take in that I’m holding my baby. From my experience, Hypnobabies is a little different because it validates that there is going to be pain pushing a baby out through a small sensitive area. However, it goes deeper into hypnosis and helps develop hypno anesthesia which can be a natural painkiller on top of the relaxation. Some hypnobirth classes do, some don’t. The main key is consistent practice of the hypnosis to have it be stronger and second nature. Some births can be painfree but some are going to be have pain regardless.
    As a doula I have seen truly beautiful peaceful comfortable births and I have seen miserable ones and been so grateful for epidurals. As a mom i have had births that were quick and easy pushing stages and ones where it was a truly traumatic experience that haunted me for a while after. I am amazed at the strength of women that even when it is the hardest thing they have ever done that, like you, they are able to make it through. Likewise, i am so grateful for epidurals to help in those times when pain or discomfort becomes suffering. I am also amazed to see how how certain practices can take unbearable pain to totally doable.

  5. NAILED IT!!! Thank you so much for validating my experience. I too was told how natural childbirth was this amazing high you get and a speedy recovery…pshhhh! Yeah right I am now 2 1/2 months postpartum with my 1st baby and I still can’t sit straight. I was in labor 12 hours pushed for 3 and I wanted to DIE!!! I too couldn’t pick my baby up or look at him. I was exhausted beyond measure. I couldn’t even see straight. And after another 2 hours of stitching me up they sent me home. I didn’t have energy to even hold my baby and now you wanna send me home and get into a car and sit on my broken vagina and stitches!? Crazy. When people ask about my birth story I always start off by saying…. It SUUUUUUCKED!!!!

  6. The only Thing that bothers me abut this is that you’re proclaiming YOUR truth to be universal. Just because your experience of an unmediated childbirth was not a happy one for you, doesn’t mean that other women are lying and only motivated by bragging rights and peer pressure. What an ignorant thing to proclaim!

  7. Everybirth story is unique just as everybaby is. I am so sorry that you had this experiance. I am more sorry that you did not have the support and love surrounding you that you needed. Birth can be painful. However to make a decision about how to birth souly based upon the experiouances of others is incorrect. I have natural un-medicated home births because of my experiences, and my education. My suggestions to any pregnant woman is to become informed.

  8. It is different for everyone. I do not choose unmedicated birth for a trophy (that would be weird). I do love it though. I always say it is not for everyone. It could be very traumatic for some. My most recent unmedicated home birth was honestly the best day of my life. For me it goes so far beyond bragging rights. Ultimately birth is amazing no matter how it is done as long as the mother feels respected and heard. For me I love the challenge. And I can honestly say it was not painful (I used hypnobabies). Intense? Hell yes, painful? No. But I am grateful that women have a choice in how they give birth. I was very grateful for the epidural my first induced birth. And I do have to laugh about the part about the victorian lady. I agree, that is silly. I am a huge believer though that birth “can” (not always) be mostly comfortable with serious preparation.

  9. I loved my Hypnobirth. I followed it twice and didn’t feel pain. Pressure, but no pain. My first baby was with an epidural and I kept telling the anesthesiologist he was my hero. My 2nd was an epidural and I still felt pain and decided to go natural after that. I’ve also done pitocin without an epidural and that was painful. My mom always said that you don’t need to be a martyr to have a baby. I’m glad we all have options. Everyone has different experiences. I never thought I would join the natural camp. You don’t have to, that is your business. Not all natural mommas have an “agenda.” I’m so sorry you had such a painful experience though. I really did recover faster without medication. Please don’t say it’s ALL lies, because really everyone has such different experiences. Epidural doesn’t always guarantee pain free either. I have a friend who was so scarred by her birth she had to have c-sections after. It’s not always roses, but sometimes it is, and ALL experiences are valid.

  10. I’ve had three babies and every delivery was so different. My first I was induced with an epidural. I give you props for going natural with piticin. I had back labor and it was pretty painful.

    My second came 20 min after I checked into the hospital and I was not prepared to go without meds, but I got through it and pushing part wasn’t too bad pain wise since it was so fast. I did feel really out of control and took me about a half hour to quit shaking. I only had a first degree tear and I did feel great afterwards.

    With my third six weeks ago I was afraid he’d come fast again and I’d end up giving birth at home so we went in as soon as I felt like I was in labor, plus I was strep b+ again and I didn’t want to stay the full 48 hrs. I could tell before we even left the house these contractions were way worse than the second or even the first time. My water broke naturally after they checked me and I was only dialated to 1.5. I had the worst back labor. It was terrible! I didn’t even get a break in between contractions. I threw up three times and I was shaking so bad! I couldn’t move because I was hooked up to the antibiotics. I kept telling everyone I wanted an epidural right from the start and I felt a little judged. It definitely made me realize that not all labor is the same. Contractions are not necessarily more tolerable because you were breathing a certain way, sometimes they are just harder. I was dialated to a four after a few hours and they let me get my epidural and they checked me right after it was put in and I was dialated to a 10. I guess I could have finished with no meds retrospectively, but I was so tired it would have been a traumatic experience I’m sure. I waited for a couple more hours for the antibiotics to finish and I pushed him out with no pain. It was the best experience after birth. I didn’t like waiting for my legs to come back but it was awesome bonding and I felt good otherwise. I didn’t tear at all so recovery has been a breeze. Every birth is so different. It’s impossible to say you should only have natural birth. They are not in your body.

  11. Might be a good idea to change the title to ‘Ada’s Birth Story and Why Induced Labor is Awful’. When I was induced the contractions were unbearable and it inevitably led to an epidural. If you read the hypnobirthing book you will learn why that is so common. When I did everything naturally it made a world of a difference. My contractions were manageable and not near as painful. I do validate that transition and the last 5 minutes were extremely painful though. But you can’t say you had a natural birth. Oh and the trophy is a calm, peaceful baby. 🙂

  12. This has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. What a waste of my time. Everything you say were lies might not have happened for you but it has for other people. It can be wonderful. I’m betting you were just unprepared, and expecting everything to be pain free. If birthing with an epidural is how you do it best that’s great, but don’t preach like that’s what’s best for everyone. For some people, not feeling anything is what they consider awful. Keep having you babies pain free because obviously you can’t handle it any other ways.

  13. I’ve had 6 babies, 5 with pitocen because I’m a type 1 diabetic and was induced. (The first was born C-section.) Twice I didn’t have an epidural because I have babies fast. The first time without the epidural (but 2nd VBAC) the strength of the contractions was beyond intense and I was arching my back, the nurse said, “Oh, honey, you can’t do that!” (Because that makes sense, obviously I could and was doing it.) The doctor never made it to the room before, or after the delivery. I had signed the paperwork for the epidural but they never made it to my room in time. When our son was born, I was so spent, plus my sugar was a little low. I just wanted to curl up and sleep. I didn’t want to hold him, just sleep, maybe cry. AND for the lovely Jess who believes that someone else can’t tolerate pain because their story is different than her own or her belief about another’s ability to work through pain, I’ve had oral surgery, induced births, and a car accident, without pain relief. Trust me, I can do pain. Bless your heart.

  14. Natural Childbirth is awful?

    I have been reading and enjoying just about everything you have weitten these past few years.

    This post really made me feel sad. You are so smart and have such a huge influence on the women in your life.

    When you really think about it, the Mommy Wars are between those who have embraced chemical parenting (Epidurals, Antibiotics, Vaccines, and Mom Substitutes) and those of us who feel called to the Natural Family Living path.

    Summing up natural birth as “awful” is just as judgemental and rude as someone like me writing a blog post declaring that epidurals are toxic and deadly for newborns.

    The research unfortunately for you and all the chemical Moms proves that Epidurals are in fact toxic and deadly for babies, but Shhhh, don’t let any new Moms know this secret. Don’t want any Mothers to feel one ounce of guilt for her choice to medicate.

    A new book has been written that I am certain you will enjoy reading…

    Please give it a look. Dr. Amy has taken years to perfect her messaging so all of the chemical Mom Bloggers don’t have to think it through much beyond, “Hey, you natural Moms are a bunch of know it all Sanctimommies and I have NOTHING to feel guilty about.”

    I reviewed her book on my blog here: https://jennyhatch.com/2016/04/23/book-review-push-back-by-dr-amy-a-few-thoughts-from-birth-activist-jenny-hatch/

    In the decades to come humanity will begin to wrap our heads around the truth of what chemical parenting has wrought on our children.

    But it will probably be a few more generations before we are humble enough to admit it.

    Jenny Hatch
    Birth Activist

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