First of all, good for you! Giving birth without drugs is the only way to ensure with 100% certainty that your baby will arrive unaffected by any drugs that have crossed the placenta. It is also the only way you can completely avoid the potential risks of pain medications to yourself. Going through the birth process without drugs allows you to feel every bit of the power of your own body as it opens, stretches and pushes a baby out. And yes, it does hurt! In the interest of full disclosure, I am a BIG fan of natural childbirth. Not having the natural childbirth I wanted with Nathan only made me more determined to do it the next time around. And I did. And it was everything I wanted it to be. It took me beyond what I thought I could bear, but I found I could bear it, and I did as labor went on. There is no life experience I know of that makes you feel more powerful than birthing your baby all by yourself! But most women need excellent support systems around them to pull it off, especially with nurses popping their heads in the door to offer the epidural if it sounds like they're in pain.
Advantages of doing it natural:
- Avoids all the potential nasty side effects of drugs, including slowing of labor, malposition of baby, and fetal distress.
- Allows labor to progress in a more physiological manner as you are able to sway, change positions, get upright, and move, move, move!
- Gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment (Having a baby at all gives one this feeling, but doing it naturally amplifies it).
- Increases your odds of all your pain ending as soon as labor ends. One of the unfortunate things about epidurals is that a good epidural will block all your pain during labor, but once it wears off, you are REALLY sore: sore back, sore butt, sore stomach. If you have gone to the peak of labor pain, your body has produced massive amounts of endorphins (natural painkillers) that stay in the body for a while after the baby is born. This means that a lot of stuff that would usually hurt doesn't, and if it does, it doesn't bother you as much.
- Really increases your odds of having an easy start to breastfeeding. Undrugged babies, left to their own devices, will pedal their little legs until they crawl up to their mother's breast, and then attach themselves unassisted by anyone. Most mothers don't want to wait this long (the process can take around 45 minutes), but baby's alert state makes it much easier to get him or her interested and latched on properly at any point in the first hour or two.
I sure am having fun writing about all this birthy stuff; I hope you're having fun reading it!