Gretchen, age 22.

 Before I was even thinking about having babies, I had it in my head that when I did have a baby, of course I would get an epidural. Why go through all that pain when I didn’t have to? But when I found out I was pregnant, it didn’t take me long to decide I wanted to give birth naturally. I had a friend who had showed me some Hypnobirthing videos and after more research, decided that’s the route I wanted to take. My husband and I took a 5 week course, and felt more than confident that we could do it.

When I told my OB we wanted a natural birth, he pulled out some statistic that most women who go in wanting a natural birth, end up not doing it. It made me mad, but more determined for this natural birth to prove this guy wrong. (That’s also when I should have found another doctor but I just didn’t want the hassle.) Jude’s due date was November 8. In the weeks approaching, I had some Braxton-Hicks contractions and was dilated to a 2-3. Every time I felt a big contraction, I’d hurry and pack the hospital bag. But the contractions would stop not too soon after they started. A week before my due date, the Dr. stripped my membranes. I thought for sure it was going to put me into labor because I started to get heavier contractions, but after a week, nothing happened. The Dr. told me that if I still hadn’t gone into labor by the next week, to come see him and they’d send me over to the hospital to induce me. I wasn’t really excited about it. I’d been warned that it’s sometimes painful to be induced and I wanted the baby to come naturally, but after a week I couldn’t take it anymore.

The morning of November 14, we went to the Dr., all ready to have this baby. Well, the Dr. neglected to tell me that we wouldn’t be going straight to the hospital that day. They had to call and schedule and maybe I’d go the next day if the hospital had room for me. I wanted to punch this guy in the face but my husband didn’t think that was a good idea, so we went home and waited for the hospital to call and tell us we could come next morning. It was the longest day ever recorded in history but we got a call that night from a nurse telling us to come early in the morning. We arrived at the hospital at 6:00 AM on November 15. We signed all the paperwork and got in our room and at about 7:30 AM they hooked me up to the pitocin. I was working on my relaxation when my Dr. came and broke my water and found out that there was meconium in the water (which isn’t uncommon for overdue babies.) They had to put a tube in to dilute the amniotic fluid to make sure Jude didn’t swallow any of the meconium. And then the monitor they had on me wouldn’t stay on so they had to insert one to keep track of my little baby. It was definitely hard for me to relax and get in a comfortable position with all those wires and tubes strapped but I made sure to keep breathing through the contractions, which were getting stronger and coming every 2 minutes. I was soon at 5 cm when the nurses were having trouble with the monitor again. It had fallen off of Jude and they were trying to get it back on while I was having major contractions. My awesome nurses worked fast in between contractions to get that monitor back on. With the monitor back on, the nurses told me I should be dilating 1 cm an hour but not more than an hour later, I was at 8 cm and feeling ready to push. I pushed for maybe an hour and half, maybe two hours and made it through with the encouragement from my awesome nurses, my mother, and my sweet husband. At 1:15 PM, Jude was born. What a relief.

My first thoughts were (in order), “Yay! My sweet baby is finally here!” “Oh. My. Gosh. I just gave birth naturally. In your face Dr Baxter!” Jude weighed 10 lbs 10 oz and was 22.5 inches long. They rushed him over to the cleaning station to check on him and make sure he didn’t swallow any of the meconium, and since he was so big, they were worried about his blood sugar levels. I was very sad I didn’t get to hold him right as he came out, but after he was cleaned and I was stitched up, I got to finally hold and nurse my sweet baby boy. This is what I’d worked so hard for. This is what I’d imagined not just for the 9 months that I was carrying him but for my whole life as I pictured having my first child. I’m proud to say that I gave birth to my baby naturally. I’m proud that my body can do that. I can’t imagine giving birth any other way.

 1. When did you decide you wanted to deliver your baby naturally? 
 When I first heard about Hypnobirthing and watched the birthing videos, I knew that’s how I wanted to deliver my baby.

2. What reasons or factors went into your decision?
I had heard about all things epidurals can do to harm you and your baby and to slow down labor and I knew that’s not what I wanted. Plus the idea of a big, long needle scared me more than giving birth naturally.

3. What did you do to prepare for natural childbirth? (midwife, classes, methods, books, etc.)
 We took Hypnobirthing classes from Fiona Judd in Orem, UT. She was wonderful and I’d highly recommend her class. Find her info at http://www.ihypnobirth.com/utah-hypnobirthing-classes.

4. What was the hardest part of your experience - before, during, or after childbirth? 
Not being able to move around during labor made it hard for me to relax and get comfortable. Laying on the bed put more pressure on my body.

5. What was most helpful to you during labor to help make pain from contractions manageable?
My wonderful husband pushed on my lower back every time I had a contraction. I couldn’t believe how it took the pain out of my back. It helped me focus on controlling the pain in my lower regions.

6. What do you wish you would have known going into delivery? 
That no matter how hard you try, you can’t plan on anything. I made a birth plan but after they found meconium in the water, it all went out the window.

7. Is there anything you would have done differently?
The one thing I regret is not sticking up for myself and what I wanted. The number 1 thing I wanted was that baby handed to me when he was born. I understand they had to check him but they didn’t hand me my baby until 40 minutes after I’d given birth!!! The Dr. wanted to stitch me up first. Oh! There’s another thing. I would have found a different Dr. when I found out he wasn’t really into natural childbirth (but I wouldn’t recommend Dr. Jae Baxter to anyone.) I’m finding a woman/someone who’s actually given birth - OB or a midwife next time.

8. What did you feel were the positive benefits to your natural childbirth - were the benefits what you expected? I think for with Jude’s birth, if I would have had an epidural, it would have caused more stress and prolonged the labor. I didn’t know how calm and aware my baby would be without medicine. And I felt good right after birth. I guess I shouldn’t say “good” but I was able to get up and move around and go to the bathroom by myself.

9. Is natural childbirth something you recommend to other mothers, or something you'd do again? I would highly recommend it to other mothers! I know that it’s just not possible for some people but I think the relaxation and breathing techniques are great for everyone to learn, whether you’re planning on natural childbirth or not. I definitely plan on doing it again.

10. What advice do you have for other mothers interested in natural childbirth? Do what feels right for you and your baby whether it’s having a midwife or doula. Whether you want to give birth in a hospital or birthing center, at home or in a tub. Do what feels best to you. You can’t plan on anything but stick up for what you really want.

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