The Labor Party

17th November 2006

I’m one of those women who strongly considered adopting because I was so afraid of labor. A month or two after I got pregnant, I had a two-week period of complete freak out and sent this note to a girlfriend:

“Last night I had a mini breakdown and decided that I definitely do not want to push a baby out my vagina. I want even less to have major abdominal surgery. I do not want to feed another human being with my boobs. Also, I will not be pushing a baby out of my vagina. I cannot imagine what my boobs are going to look like after this, let alone my ass. I have never felt less sexy. Also, my vagina is very small. I do want to be a parent, but don’t really want to be a mom. Also, I will not be pushing a baby out of my vagina. No.”

I was irrationally, but seriously, trying to think of other ways to get the baby out of my body. Intense meditation? Osmosis? Teleportation device? How ’bout it, science?

Anyway, I’m OK now. The panic eventually subsided as I made a conscious decision to stop playing Worst Case Scenario. I refused to read anything having to do with labor and related complications, and began screaming, “Only happy stories, please! Only happy stories, please!” when mothers tried to share their graphic labor survival stories.

This was unfortunately necessary, because when you’re pregnant, conversation in a group of women goes like this:

Me: I’m freaking out about labor.

Susie: Don’t worry, you’ll be fine! Just fine! God, I hated being pregnant, though. I was on seven months of bed rest vomiting into a pan.

Lisa: Really? (Pulls air in through teeth.) Yeah, I threw up every single day. Twice. And, hello? Jacob was 11 pounds. I was in labor for 46 hours. They really should have given me a C-section, I was pretty ripped up afterwards.

Gina: And then you’re just praying that you’ll never have to poop again because the thought is so terrifying. My first bowel movement was practically as painful as giving birth. I was so afraid the stitches would pop right out!

Cut to me keening and desperately trying to place my head between my knees, despite the watermelon sized belly impeding my ability to do so.

Susie: Oh, honey! I’m sure you’ll be fine.

Lisa: You’ll be fiiiine. You’re going natural, aren’t you?

Gina: Oh, yeah. You have to go natural.

76 thoughts on “The Labor Party

  1. s@bd

    There is nothing natural about refusing drugs to make your experience less painful.

    Do you refuse to have drugs when you get a root canal because you want to do it naturally?

    So say I.

  2. smallstatic

    your email completely dials in to my thought process regarding future potential pregnancy and babies. although for me that last sentence would be more “also, i will not be wiping up snot, drewl, vomit and various other leaky bodily substances for the next ten years of my life when i could be shopping for cute shoes. no.” for the labor? swift and broad anesthesia. thank you for sharing and making me realize i’m not alone in my little moments of impetuousness. and fwiw, you’re a BEAUTIFUL pregnant lady! i can only pray to look as good as you do when prego.

  3. Bethany

    Oh, girl. Hell yeah thats some scary shit. I can almost feel myself ripping just thinking about it…..but i’m sure YOU”LL be fine. Haha, sorry. Oh, Maggie, you crack me up. I always said that I wanted to be a young mother but now at 27 I find myself kinda dis-liking kinda scares me cause I know I want them…eventually. The husband is 3 years older and more ready though…eeek.

  4. Ty

    I totally agree with you! NO horror stories please!! I do not want to know what will happen down there. I WILL be having an epidural, possibly 2 or 3, and if I have a C-section, they will be doing a tummy tuck while they are in there! (which I have decided is the way celeb mom’s get back in shape so quickly!!)

    Happy Thoughts, Happy Thoughts…beatiful baby coming!!

  5. crzylady

    you do whatever you want and I found it to be one of the few times in my life I wasn’t ME. I was suddenly this superwoman, or a robot.
    I was 10 days late and glad to be and wanted to go longer I was so scared. but then it happened. I didn’t have time to think about anything, because you just become this woman who is every other woman who has had a child and it hurts and it can be long and tiring but you aren’t you so it’s okay. You get to be you about 6 months later :) and sometimes it’s all worth it (haha)

  6. Karen

    To take a different tack, I embraced the horror stories. I always prefer to be informed. If you have a whole spectrum of experiences, you can say to yourself “well, surely my labour can’t be_that_bad.” That’s how I approached my 1st labour and it really helped.
    *natural labour for me = drugs and more drugs, but not an epidural. Where I live, they’re a damn expensive needle!

  7. Megan

    Chin up – Saint *Margaret* is the patron saint of expectant mothers! Does that offer some inspiration?

    …of course, (I’ve heard) she *was* swallowed by Satan in the form of a dragon, but (the upside) the cross she was carrying irritated his throat, and he spit her out unharmed… And…she was eventually beheaded…

    …is this at all helpful? …hello?

  8. blurry

    How about a quick, positive birth story then! A friend of mine recently gave birth to her second child and only had to push for 25 minutes. I’m also pretty sure she pushed for less then an hour with her first and both were fairly short labours as well. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and wish you the same speedy delivery, Maggie!

  9. nicole

    sometimes things are fine even without drugs… I also didn’t want to hear the horror stories and so my husband read everything for me and then kept mum about it… my labor was fairly easy and there was no tearing… and taking going to the bathroom after my son was born was NOT painful…
    you could have an “easy” time of it, you never know.

  10. New mom

    From the flipside…

    Having pushed a baby out of my vagina nearly eight weeks ago–and prior to that having been just as heebie-jeebied out at the thought of it as you, if not more–I can report that it was more than survivable. My contractions were so mild at first I completely blew them off–they started around 10 a.m., and I didn’t even bother to time them until that evening. I checked into the hospital around 8:50 that night, got my epidural until after midnight (I highly reommend the epidural!), and just past 3 a.m., I pushed for maybe 15 minutes and my sweet little girl was born. No episiotomy, no vacuum extractor or forceps, no rush to the OR for a c-section–just some minor tearing that healed up very quickly and less uncomfortably than I’d imagined. Aside from a single Darvocet they gave me right after the birth, I didn’t need anything stronger than ibuprofen for the pain. Best of all, I got a BABY to take home! (And you will, too! Congrats!)

  11. Lora

    The war stories are almost like we are trying to outdo each other in the birthing department…as if a horrible delivery will make me more of a woman. Ha! I did have an almost 12 pound baby, who was face-up and after 4 hours of pushing ended up with a c-section. But, honestly, it wasn’t that bad…so not bad that I’d do it again, no problem. I have a sister who was absolutely terrified of labor and delivery and ended up with a c-section and she thought it was the worst possible thing in all the world. Me, not so much. All I cared about was a healthy baby – it didn’t matter what I had to do to get him here!

  12. maybeknott

    I’ve noticed that people sometimes act like it isn’t really labor if it isn’t a horror story, and moms that have positive things to say about the experience are often dismissed like they don’t count.

    For that reason, I rarely mention that it is a process that is totally doable. I didn’t tear, didn’t have drugs, and have only positive things to look back on when I think about the birth of my son.

  13. Just A Mom

    I’m confused by the “small vagina” comments. Small as opposed to….? Women who have such large vaginas the baby just falls right out?

  14. Melodie

    The labor and delivery of both of my sons was amazing compared to the pregnancy. First son was a short labor, no drugs, 42 minutes of pushing, and small tearing. Second son was an epidural, short labor, 1 1/2 pushes (i’m such a pro!!). I listened to other people and totally freaked out about going #2 on the potty – but I relaxed and took my time and everything worked out (wink wink nudge nudge).

    You’ll be fine. Take things into consideration but you are going to have your own experience. Plus, by the time you get into your l&d situation – you’ll have forgotten all of the horror stories you’ve been told!! Good luck!!

  15. Choice

    I am only six weeks pregnant, so I am far from an expert on this subject. But I must say that I am looking forward to the birth, to the exertion, and to that one chance to really see how strong I am, way more than I am looking forward to slow, incremental changes over the next 34 weeks. I think it helps to view giving birth as a transformative experience and not as medical procedure that has to be calculated, monitored, and executed with some sort of precision. You are a strong and beautiful woman and all of the little wombs in the world, your baby chose yours to be nurtured in. He/she knows that you’re perfect for the job.

  16. jessica

    I’ve never posted comments here before, but I feel compelled to this time. Having recently pushed a baby out of my own small vagina, and being just as terrified, if not slightly more so than you were, I will tell you this – get the drugs, and you will be juuuuuuust fine. Don’t try to be a hero and hold out, get them if you want them – you need to make this experience as enjoyable for you as you can.

    Birth is nothing compared to the nine (TEN!!!!!!!!!!) months of carrying the baby, if you’re anythign liek me you’ll jsut be so happy to finally be able to see your feet and not have a person living in you, you won’t care HOW it gets out. And that first bowel movement? like the previous commenter said, relax, take your time, invest in some colace and drink lots of fluids and it will be OK. (if you’re given pain killers when you leave the hospital/birth center, you may wanna save one for when you are ready for that first movement…)

    Oh! and the boob feeding? I’ll be honest and tell you that a few days in to it, you may be a little sore, buy the nipple lotion – it helps, but honestly it’s worth those few cracks and raw nipples when you see your baby gaze up into your eyes as s/he is nursing. the bond you feel and form will make your heart explode right then. BAM! heart pieces – everywhere.

  17. Sarah B.

    My college friend Kate visited a few weeks ago. She has an adorable almost-three year old little girl, and when I confided that I get the baby fever more and more now, she spent an hour telling me about being pregnant, giving birth, the cutting, the first poop after, and then what happens to your boobs afterwards, FOREVER. By this point I was curled up on my end of the couch, hiding my head in the cuhsions, one arm bent protectively over my rack, and then she said, “Yeah, we’re going to start trying for another again next month.”

  18. Debbie

    This is hilarious. My friends and I talked about this very thing when we were pregnant. Why does everyone want to tell you their horror stories?!

    I had children before my closest friend. She wanted a baby badly, and said that it seemed like there was a “mom club”. If you aren’t a mom then you’re not a part of the club. I didn’t think that it was true, but it is! You get two or three ladies together and the one who isn’t a mother is totally left out of the conversation. Or the moms are trying to coax that poor childless lady into having kids.

    So, if there is a “club” for moms than the birth must be the initiation. And your birth story had better be a good one because if it isn’t you’ll be greeted with a sarcastic “well, good for you” comment. ;)

  19. rik

    (just have to say i feel like i’m crashing a girls’ sleepover here by commenting, but just had to…sorry)

    While I can in no way commiserate with the anxieties, nor can I share personal war stories (positive OR negative), I just had to say how much I just loved reading this. Cracked me up. Several times, in fact.

    As a guy, am I allowed to see humor in this? Is it culturally acceptable for me to even show my “face” around this kind of conversation? Mind you, I find no humor whatsoever about the pain and the semi-permanent alterations that a woman must go through to bring another life into the world. Nothing but respect. Heck, the worst thing a woman can do to her body is quite possibly having a child (well, that’s highly debatable and certainly not the point). I am in awe of the whole process.

    I am even more in awe of the result, especially, as the last comment mentioned, when mothers decide to do it again. And sometimes again (and even again). That, to me, speaks volumes about the character of that woman (and women in general).

    I guess the funniest thing about all this is the whole “labor party” aspect of being pregnant and giving birth. The same kind of thing happened at my wife’s bridal shower: everyone came out with all their horror stories about sex and marriage…not exactly what a soon-to-be-newlywed needs to hear. And not exactly what a soon-to-be-first-time-mom needs to hear either, I imagine.

    To quick: kudos for your lighthearted approach to the whole thing, for overcoming the anxieties, and, most importantly perhaps, for not turning back.

  20. Jeannette

    I think labor and delivery are a pivotal part of your life if you choose to have children. I mean, it’s one thing to get big and round and gestate a new human being, but you can’t see your child’s face, touch her cheek, or look into her wondering eyes until you actually push her out. In that moment, it’s almost like you are creating life instantaneously — out of you comes this whole new person.

    And people looooove to dramatize it. Every one of us feels compelled to share our story because it was such a big moment. You find yourself sensationalizing it because words can’t describe what you felt, what you learned… and you want to pass that on.

    However, no horror story from me today. I will say I had one + epidural, one au naturel, and I preferred no meds. My body just took over that time, it was absolutely amazing.

    Good luck with delivery. You are going to do great, like everyone who ever had a baby did — no matter how Mighty Jr. comes out.

  21. Amanda

    I had one baby “naturally” (which was anything but natural) and one baby with the sweet merciful bliss of an epidural. That’s my two cents on that one.

    Giving birth to my daughter (the one with the epidural) was a BREEZE. And I swear to god my vagina can not fold sheets. It is NOT adjustable. But it did the job fine. And yours will to!

  22. Yatima

    It’s hard work, but my daughters’ births were the two best days of my life, by quite a long chalk. Afterwards it is great fun to be one of the cackling harpies competing to squick out the woman who is pregnant with her first.

  23. Phc

    Yes, but nobody tells you about the potential for the absolute freakin’ adreneline high afterwards. I was *so* not looking forward to labor (although I have to say at 42 weeks anything to get that baby out sounded good), and it was nothing I could have possibly imagined, but Oh My God. Afterwards? I wanted to do it again- NOW! The high was so amazing; there are not even words to describe it. Honestly, there’s not words to describe any of it. It’s just a trip.

  24. lisa

    I gave birth for the first time exactly four weeks ago, and I swear to you that it was not nearly as bad as I had imagined it would be. It will go by quickly, and you will recover completely. You might be shaken for a few days, but you will be fine. If I did it, you can too. I promise.

  25. Zandra

    Omygod. Drugs. Drugs and More Drugs. Seriously it fucking hurts. I was determined to go naturally with my first but that was very silly on my part. I told the anaesthetist I loved him after I finally agreed to an epidural. Second kid I ordered my epidural on arrival, no dicking around that time.

    Honestly though just do what you feel is right at the time. oh and um relax- you and your vagina will be fine. ;-)

  26. Dana

    I also had my first “naturally” and had an epidural with the second. It felt like a party with that epidural. Womens labor stories are like men’s fishing stories. Each time they tell it the labor is longer, more awful.

    I used to be more afraid of labor than of dying. Really, the labor, not so bad. You completely forget about it right when you have the baby; and afterwards? You get porno-size boobs and the feeling that you’re a tough chick.

  27. sharla

    I even got the “dreaded” pitocin and it wasn’t that bad. Yes I did get an epidural for the same reason that someone else mentioned don’t get a root canal without the drugs right? I was laughing and joking while pushing the baby out. Yes your tired and sore afterwards but you have your beautiful baby and it just doesn’t matter that much. I would do it again.

  28. heidi

    the labor & birth experience is UNIQUE to every one, therefore what happens to one won’t happen to you. i am one of the lucky ones. my labor did not hurt at all. the contractions were just weird sensations for me. when i got to the hospital i was already 9.5cm dilated because the whole time at home i wasn’t even really sure what i was feeling was real labor. i did tear badly, but still no pain. the only thing that did hurt was the uterine massage that they do after the baby was born. i wanted to punch the nurse out. it really really hurt. Goodluck, Maggie. We’re all thinking of you.

  29. Kek

    OH, it gets worse…. whilst still in hospital with my firstborn, I was inundated with horror stories from visitors about all the terrible things they’d ever heard of that went wrong with newborn babies! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THOSE PEOPLE??!!

    My 3 births were all natural, and I would have had a dozen more babies happily – if only I didn’t have to bring the little so-and-sos home and look after them for the next 20 or so years. ;-)

  30. AmethystGreye

    You DO NOT have to go natural, because an epidural is the greatest thing invented. I never got sick with either of my sons, no episiotomy (sp?), no hemmorhoids, even. I took a nap when the monitor showed my contractions were off the charts. When it came time for actual business to occur my first son took about 23 minutes, total and I didn’t feel more than the pressure my hospital gown was making on me, while he was crowning. My second son came so quickly when he was ready I thought they were going to suggest I cross my legs. I could have left fine and dandy that evening and by the next day I was cooking dinner.

    And I’m 5’2″, and weigh an average of 98 pounds, despite eating like horse (to clarify, I mean a horse with no eating disorder). So, it’s okay. “Small” people do it just as well and being small doesn’t condemn you to a horrible labor and delivery. As long as you and your doctor are on the same page it pretty much works out.

    And if all else fails remember how miniscule this part is in comparison to the rest of your life.

  31. JewJewBee

    Positive story, I swear… My water broke as I sat on a toilet — yay, no mess! I arrived at the hospital already 8cm dilated — woohoo! I had no drugs (no time for them even if I wanted them), I only did about 5-10 minutes of pushing, and my son was able to latch on (without issues) right away… The best part?!? I am not even lying!

  32. jocelyn

    Oh Maggie you’ll be great. If you think of it not as pain but just hard work, that helps. I’ve had every kind of labor experience including one at home. Just remember that your body is actually designed to accomplish this.

  33. kylee

    until they start giving out medals and money to women who give birth “naturally,” don’t die on that hill…give yourself a little slack and don’t fret if you get an epidural. it is still a natural process, right?, you just can’t feel it as much. i had an epidural with each of my 3 little guys, and it was enjoyable. i was even snapping pictures as he was coming out with my last, born 5 weeks ago. make your birth experience YOUR birth experince. it will be special no matter what.

  34. Jen

    argh… I would laugh, but I know first-hand that it’s so true.

    The good news is, my friend just had her 2nd baby this week, he was 9lbs 7oz and she only pushed 3 times. She of course had an epidural (smart move!) but she said it was easy and she didn’t have much pain at all.

    I asked her if she could share her secret. She said no :(

  35. Emily

    Maggie, I know you have gotten a lot of advice / horror stories from friends, family, and strangers, but SERIOUSLY. You will never feel as mighty a girl as you will feel after you’ve delivered that kid. The pregnancy IS the hard part. The trick, I think, with labor is to trust that your body can do it. I know that sounds all fruitmama, but I promise that thought got me through. It’s quite frankly the only time in my entire life when I felt the need to utter the phrase I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR … NOW BRING ME THE DAMN ICE CHIPS. It’s just fantastically intense. Let it happen.

    And don’t listen to what anyone tells you. :)


  36. orange skirt

    From what I’ve heard, I’d get the epidural – just make sure the person giving it to you knows what she’s doing. My mother ordered an epidural with my older brother, but the nurse put it in the wrong spot and it never took (at least that’s what she said happened). With me, with a needle that took, it was a breeze apparently.

    Although my point of commenting was not to scare you. No way. You can laugh at me in a few years when I’ll be the one terrified.

  37. katie

    At least when it’s over you can torture other nervous expectant mothers, right?
    It will be okay, I promise. Halfway through pushing I swore to God that there was no way I could go on and that my baby would end up trapped between my legs forever. Luckily I had a very good Doula who asked me what I wanted more than anything, I told her a cup of gingerale with pebbley ice and a straw. She said that it would be there as soon as I was done pushing and that motivated me enough to go on (sadly the miracle of human life was not as important at that moment).
    Anywho after two and a half hours of pushing an 8lb10oz baby out I had no episiotemy or tear and went to the bathroom two days later with no fear. AND I got a cup of pebbley ice gingerale AND my beautiful baby boy. So there you go, a success story!

  38. kate r

    Look around at all the women you know who are physical cowards. Note how many have more than one child. Feel better.

    I pushed out three babies, all without meds and I kvetch about paper cuts.

  39. Anna

    I wonder what it is about finding out another woman is pregnant that compels other women to roll out all kinds of horror stories about their own pregnancies and births.

    As soon as I told people I was pregnant (still am, and now beginning my final trimester), they told me all kinds of unsolicited stories and advice, which led me to believe that a lot of women out there either didn’t know what was going on in their own bodies or didn’t want to know. And that a lot of them were wusses.

    But seriously, what makes them think it’s okay to freak a new mom out?

    (Watch, I’ll probably be the one to say, “I was fine the whole time, and there’s nothing to worry about.”)

  40. Jen

    I’m sorry, I have to share my story with you now.

    My baby was due in February, but I had him four weeks ago tomorrow. He was born at 24 weeks gestation. I went into labor in Santa Fe, NM, on the day we were flying home to Omaha, NE. I got home in time to get to the hospital and be put on drugs to stop labor. I was halfway dialated at the time. For three days, I was on the drugs, and then they shut them off because my lungs were filling with fluid. As soon as the drugs wore off, I started having contractions again.

    Once I was actually in delivery, and after I had my epidural, it didn’t take long. I pushed twice when they told me to. The first push, he was half way out (breech) and my water hadn’t even broken yet. Second push, and there was a baby. A tiny, tiny 1 pound 8 oz baby. It took a whole four minutes to get him out.

    No one has been able to tell me why I had him so early. Will will be a month old on the 23rd, which is further than we had even dreamed of hoping on the night he was born. He’s already had heart surgery, and is looking at intestinal surgery. He’s still under 2 pounds right now.

    I’m sorry again, I’ve just turned into one of those people who has to tell her story too! Pretty much, my labor? Not painful. Everything else? Scary as hell.

  41. Missy

    One word, EPIDURAL!

    I got mine about 2 hours after I was admitted and then sat and watched the Olympics until it was time to push. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be to have it placed. I think it was worse for my husband who was watching than it was for me.

    I didn’t really have any pain after. I think I took ibuprofen once (and that was just to get the RN off my back because she kept telling me there was no need to be stoic!).

    I have stubbed my toe and had it hurt more than the whole labor thing. You’ll do great.

    Oh, and as for the whole feeding someone with your boobs, don’t beat yourself up if you decide to go with formula. I only breastfead for about 2 months before we started supplementing and 4 months before we switched her completely to formula. She is just fine now and rarely gets sick, despite me bringing home every germ known to man from the ER I work in.

    Good Luck!

  42. Carol

    Pregnancy, labor and delivery are nothing compared to the teenage years, honey sit back, relax and enjoy the birth and baby/toddler years. When your daughter hits 11/12 or your son 12/13 you are in for some pain the likes of which you have never felt before. When you realize that you had a “natural, drug free” labor for the health of your baby, that same baby that is out experimenting with drugs and booze, driving too fast, and living his life like he is an X Games contestant… oh wait, you didn’t want to hear any scary stories, Sorry! Mom of three – 24, 21, and (yikes, here we go again)13

  43. Amy

    Giving birth 6 months ago was the single most amazing and incredible experience ever. I did it drug-free and I’ve never felt so strong in my life. It helps going into it understanding how a normal, natural birth is supposed to work. Then, even when things seem crazy, you’ll know it’s normal and you’ll get through it. To paraphrase some unknown person: It hurts, it’s hard work, and you can do it!

  44. Karan

    What the heck is a small vagina? If you mean short…then the trip through it will be shorter too…right? My theory about labor is that there’s a reason that humans take 9 months to complete…because by that time, a woman will do anything to get the thing out. Really. I was more than ready for each of my kids.

  45. robin

    Don’t feel silly at all. You are definitely not the first woman to freak out about having an actual person come out of your vagina. I was in complete denial for the entire eight months I was pregnant. So much so that after six hours of contractions (which aren’t that bad – don’t listen to those who say they are) and my OBGYN telling me to start pushing, I said, No. No Pushing! What am I going to do with TWO of them?” (I had a sixteen month old at home. Denial can happen anytime, anywhere. I guess I thought that I could keep her in just a little bit longer so I could have our peaceful little three member family all to myself. Now it’s just a peaceful little four member family. Oh, and when I was four months along, my chiropractor (highly recommend you get a chiro while you’re prego) gave me a pin that read, “Only positive stories, please. My baby is listening.” I wore it and people got the hint.

  46. Lori

    Yay, Amy, that’s what I was going to say.

    I have two sons and I didn’t take any drugs either time. You need to be well informed about how it all works; if you let your fear take over, then you won’t know what’s normal & what’s not and you might make choices that you wouldn’t if you knew all the facts. Epidurals increase your chance of having a c-section. My midwife offered to break my water for no reason early in my labor. Sigh.

    My best advice for you is to hire a doula. Don’t assume that your labor nurse will be there for you (she’s busy), that your midwife will be any more attentive than a doctor on call (I’ve done it both ways), or that your husband won’t suddenly become uncharacteristically robot-like (as mine did). A doula is completely focused on helping you, advocating for you.

  47. Anna Adam

    Ditto Amy and Lori. Three natural, drugless childbirths. While it may not be natural to have a root canal without drugs, the only one you’re affecting there is you. That’s really not a legitimate comparison and unfair, in my opinion to therefore be saying that it’s not natural to have a drugless childbirth.

    It was incredibly empowering to go drugless. It hurt, I won’t lie. But being able to walk to the nursery. Walk. Immediately after the baby was taken there. Okay, they wouldn’t LET me walk, but I could have. Wow. I felt MIGHTY. And my babies were so alert. And I could feel my legs. And I could go potty. And I was MIGHTY.

    And using your boobs to feed your baby. Sometimes it sucks. And it wasn’t very thrilling while the boobs adjusted. But sometimes… MOST times, in fact, once we got past the nipples agreeing to it all, it was euphoric. Calming for us both. My husband would laugh because nursing always made me so sleepy. Peaceful sleepy.

    Definitely hire a doula even if you’re not going to be a freak like me, Amy and Lori and the others who went drugless. Didn’t have one for the first baby, but did for the next two and WOW. What a difference! Even if you go with drugs, a doula is there for YOU, has been at deliveries a bunch of times before (unlike well-meaning hubby) and has had her own (unlike well-meaning hubby).

    Not everyone can go drugless, and I accept that. But I can’t believe the number of people that tried to talk me INTO an epidural (that had never gone drugless to be able to compare). Even my first OB fought me on it. He wanted to schedule a c-section even – when there was no reason to. But I digress. The point is, you need to do what’s right for you and for your baby. For me and MY babies, that was drugless and nursing.

  48. Lori

    I was totally the same way. I considered adopting because I didn’t want to go through labor (I was TERRIFIED of labor). I got OK with it as the pregnancy went on, though. I thought happy thoughts. I decided that everyone else’s horror story didn’t have to be mine. And I figured, no matter what happened, I could live through anything once. I thought it unlikely that I could parent more than one child anyway (I actually wasn’t even sure about one), so even if it was awful, it would never have to happen again. It was a good way to go, the thinking of happy thoughts, the imagining of the labor I wanted. If nothing else, it made the pregnancy a happier time.

  49. Lori

    OK, Anna, I will chime in again to join you in recommending breastfeeding. It was wonderful. It was incredible. The first week (both times) was difficult (less difficult the second time) and it’s flat-out painful the first few days. Once you get past that, it’s fantastic — bonding, convenient, easy, and just the best thing ever.

    I have a friend who didn’t breastfeed her first two children, then watched me breastfeed my son. She then breastfeed her third child. It kills her that she missed breastfeeding the first two (who are both wonderful kids, not to mention breastfeeding advocates).

    If you try, give it at least a month (so you can get to the good part!), and don’t *ever* supplement.

  50. M

    For the love of god, get an epidural! Despite what you may have heard, you really don’t get any medals for doing it naturally. It’s 2006, sister. Drugs were invented for a reason.

  51. Anna Adam

    I got a “medal” for having a drugless birth! It was the almighty HIGH and the feeling that I could practically DANCE immediately afterwards. And it was a baby with no groggies and that a nurse claimed she’d never seen any baby so alert in all her years and mine was the first natural she’d done. It was the pride from my husband. The awe of those who got epidurals. I’m so tired of hearing, “You don’t get a medal.” THIS is exactly what I mean – people trying to talk you into actually having drugs. WHY? If you CAN do it without, why wouldn’t you? If you really feel like you can’t get through it, if you really feel like you might resent the baby for the pain, fine, but don’t be talked into one because of the lack of a medal. Everything I got out of my drugless births were WAY better than a medal!

    Oh, and yeah, Lori’s right. If you’re going to try breastfeeding, make the commitment to a month so that you are sure to get to the good stuff and get a lactation consultant to help you if you feel you’re not making enough milk BEFORE you begining to supplement. Supplementing can put you in a downhill spin. Breastfeeding was heavenly after a couple of weeks. Seriously.

  52. Anna

    and one more thing… The first poop didn’t hurt me at ALL. And I did have stitches. The FEAR of the first poop, now that’s a different story.

  53. Cobwebs

    My son was an even 10 lbs. at birth. I pushed him out with only a small tear (I understand that episiotomies are often deeper than a natural tear would be). Labor, from the very first, “Hm. I wonder if that’s a contraction,” to getting a slimy baby plopped on my chest was about 11 hours, only a couple of which were what I would call uncomfortable.

    I did wind up getting an epidural. I had planned to do the drug-free thing, and then on the way to the hospital my husband hit a pothole while I was in the middle of a contraction and I decided that the corpus of Western medicine was at my disposal for a reason.

    Overall, it was a lot less traumatic and painful than I expected. Look at the bright side: If it’s easy and painless, hooray! If it’s an absolute nightmare, you have a great horror story to scare other potential moms with. The grand prize is a baby, either way.

    Okay, that last bit probably wasn’t as reassuring as I’d hoped….

  54. Lori

    Like you, Anna, I felt fantastic immediately after giving birth — zero pain, could get up and walk around immediately afterward, was blessed with those post-birth happy hormones. I had my first son at 1:00 a.m. and went home the same day, feeling great. Second son, I got up and walked from the labor room to my room, feeling fine.

    An epidural can give you a migraine, it can take on only one side and not the other, and it can force you to stay lying down after giving birth. Giving birth isn’t a root canal; it may be painful, but it’s a natural thing your body is designed to do.

    It’s important to educate yourself (The Birth Book by Dr. Sears is my favorite) so you can make informed choices. Fear can make you not want to read about these things, but information takes the fear away.

  55. Kate

    I had my first (9lb 2oz) with nothing and the 2nd as a C-section, and I’ll go for pushing over abdominal surgery any day of the week. It did hurt, but nothing I couldn’t handle, and then this huge endorphin rush kicks in and I felt like I could climb Mt. Everest. The C-section sucked.

  56. steph

    No matter WHAT happens, remember that it is temporary. You can get through ANYTHING for a finite amount of time… whether it’s 46 hours, 9 months, or 18 years – everything is temporary. If you think of it that way, it’s a lot easier to enjoy what you’re going through. Two further thoughts: childbirth is to women as going to war is for men, in the aspects of both glory and the feeling of impending danger. You will feel great about the accomplishment of it when it is over (however it ends up happening). Thing two: the taoist idea of thinking of the glass as neither full nor empty, but already broken – imagine how you will feel when all this is over, and you will wish you could cling to one moment before that. If you know how much you will savor the memories, you will try harder to make memories than be scared or grossed-out, or whatever negative emotions you’re inclined to.

    (Just my thoughts… hope this helps. I wish you a very fulfilling experience all the way around. :)

  57. seejanemom

    You might want to lay off on that whole(COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDABLE) “small vagina” thing—the implication being that “BIG BRI” is actually hung like a field mouse.

    Juuuust putting it out there…

  58. Jen W.

    Here’s my honest but completely lacking in graphic detail description of labor: it’s a pretty lousy day with a really good ending.

  59. Dmom

    Okay, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to share my HAPPY labour story with you….
    I had the labour freak out as well and was lucky enough to have it in front of a friend who looked me in the eye and said, “It’s nothing, get the drugs you’ll be fine” So I stopped worrying, told my obgyn at my next appt that hey, those drugs we invented to make this a fun day? Yeah, sign me up for all of those!!!!
    It turned out I was induced for both my labour’s (at two different times, don’t freak out {:o)) and I had the epidural. (sidenote, just in case you go the induction route, when the nurse say’s “once your contractions start comming they get strong fast so don’t wait to tell us when you need the epidural” she really means it!!
    Anyway, I had the epidural, fell asleep for three hours, my husband went for a walk and got a sandwich in the cafeteria and brought me back some Jello (great man I tell you) and two hours later our first baby was born.
    Similarly, with our second, I was induced, asked for the epidural almost imediatly, fell asleep woke up refreshed and ready to do the whole labour thing and spent an hour joking around with the doctors and nurses because they said that when I laughed my body pushed more than when I actually tried to push (The anestetist gave me a little too much for my second but it was fine). That is in fact my favorite part of this story. My second baby, my golden haired, blue eyed, sweetest little baby was born into laughter. Not silence, not screaming, not stress or “labour bi#@hiness”, but happy, excited, laughter.
    So, don’t worry. Do the drugs, do the natural thing, do what you want and what you feel is best for you and your baby. (Words to live by as a mom let me tell you) It’s a great day and when it’s over, tell us your story!
    Take care!!!

  60. Chair

    I had a simple, easy pregnancy and a simple birth. I can’t say it was an easy birth because squeezing that head out just aint easy but, well, I’m actually thinking about having another one so it can’t be all that bad, right?

    Also, I’m a hippy and didn’t use drugs but I’d be the first to say that the thought definitely crossed my mind, mid labour, that I must have been out of my goddamn mind.

  61. Mouse

    Your body was made to give birth and breastfeed. Don’t be scared; educate yourself on the power of your body. There are far too many ignorant mothers in this world who think they are “too small” to give birth vaginally or that they will “not make enough milk.” You can overcome these stereotypes! Believe in yourself and DO YOUR RESEARCH. Labour doesn’t cause pain – fear does.

  62. Mouse

    Oh, and those who are saying that the epidural is the best thing ever need to have their heads examined and do some reading about the dangers of chemicals for mothers and babies. Women are far more likely to die in a medicalized, hospitalized birth than a natural birth at home!

  63. Jenna

    Try reading “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.” It may start out seeming a little crunchy granola, but will give you courage for the incredible experience you are inevitably bound toward.

  64. Stacey

    22 hours of labour, induced.
    10 minutes of pushing
    Tearing, Episiotomy, Hemmoroids? Check.
    Getting up and walking with no pain a half hour later? Priceless. Didn’t even need an advil!

    It’s not so bad. And I’m on year two of breastfeeding, it’s a joy.

    You’ll do great! (so will your vagina)

  65. Amy D.

    I feel your pain! No kids of my own yet, but I was just asking myself if other people ever want to tell their own thoughts to get the fuck out of their head! I’m so going to freak out just. like. that! Love your writing….

  66. Melanie

    I had a c-section with my first (posterior presentation, she got “stuck” after a long, 6hr pushing phase), and a VBAC the second time (and he was 9lb 7oz). Both labors without drugs (until, obviously, the c-section). I have to chime in with the other poster above who didn’t feel the contractions as painful–that was my experience too! They were just weird, and pushing was the weirdest feeling. Not painful, just, well, weird, and nothing that I couldn’t deal with. My advice to anyone who asks is to not make big plans about how labor is going to go, since it really is a completely unique experience. You may find you need an epidural, you may not.

  67. Traci


    I had a great birth experience. It was wonderful, intense, fabulous; the most real thing that I have ever done. I cant post a link, but if you are interested, you can search my site for birth story and read all about it. Not too much TMI, but, well, a little.

    You will do great, sweetheart, and even if you dont, there will be a sweet tiny cute baby at the end of it all. If Britney can do it, you can.

    Good luck, I can not wait to hear all about it.

  68. immi's mum

    one word – HYPNOBIRTHING. or is that two? I totally didn’t believe in this kind of junk. But if nothing else it teaches you to get happy about having a baby. My partner & I spent a lovely weekend thinking positively about the birth. And guess what. I had a drug free labour. I was disappointed because I actually wanted to try out all these great drugs. I just *forgot*.

    Forget about the birth. It is one day with professionals around. It is the six weeks afterwards when you are on your own that is scary.

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