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My Birth Experiences
First things first. I am going to share with you about MY birth experiences. I gave birth to my first child with an epidural and then giving birth to my second child without any medication. This is my natural vs. medicated birth experience.
Trust me, I fully understand that my birth experiences will not be like everyone else’s.
My hope is to share my story with you so that you can see the differences between an unmedicated birth versus a medicated birth.
Don’t feel like reading my whole story? Feel free to scroll to the pros and cons lists that I created for each birth experience!
*Note that this is not medical advice and should not be taken as such. Please speak to your healthcare provider if you have specific health concerns or questions.
My Epidural Experience
In February 2019, I gave birth to my first child. A beautiful baby girl.
Leading up to her birth, I put in a lot of work to prepare myself.
I watched YouTube videos (there are so many informative channels), took a birthing/breastfeeding class and read What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
What I learned about birth was that you can prepare as much as possible, but unexpected situations still popup. One of the nurses teaching the birthing class shared something that has stuck with me all of these years.
During the birth class she took turns asking the class to raise their hands if they wanted a medicated or unmedicated birth. The nurse then let each of us know that we could have the best plan in place, but plans sometimes change. She encouraged us to be flexible.
My plan with my daughter was to wait and see. I wasn’t sure if I wanted an epidural. I had never experienced birth before so how was I supposed to know?
Fast forward to baby day. I woke up in the middle of the night and I instantly knew something was different. I had a gut feeling that labor had begun.
Sure enough it had. I chose to labor at home until a little after 10pm the next night. At that point I could not handle the increasing pain that each contraction brought.
Arrival At The Hospital
When my husband and I pulled into the hospital, I was taken straight back to be assessed. The midwife on call made the decision to admit me based on the frequency and strength of the contractions.
I had been admitted at around 3cm dilated. After being admitted I wanted to walk the hallways to help speed up my labor. At this point I barely made it a few steps out of my room before I had to turn back.
This is the moment that I knew it was time for me to request an epidural. I was running on fumes from laboring all day.
Once I let the nurses know I was ready for my epidural, things seemed to go pretty quickly. I don’t remember having to wait long at all for the anesthesiologist to arrive.
My anesthesiologist was a sweet older lady who truly was a miracle worker. Her placement of the epidural was perfect.
Having my epidural brought me pretty instant relief. I was able to finally relax and get some much needed rest. I even had visitors brought in because I felt so good.
Having my epidural during labor did bring some challenges. My epidural was very strong and left no sensation in my lower half. I was completely unable to move or even feel my legs.
I also could not feel my contractions. When it came time to start pushing, I would watch the monitor to see when my next contraction was coming.
As you can imagine this made labor difficult. Even though I was pain free, I had to learn how to push with very little sensation.
After delivering my little girl, I had to wait several hours until my legs felt normal again. I also had to wait for my epidural line to be taken out.
My Unmedicated Birth Experience
I gave birth to my second baby in February 2022 (yes another February baby!)
You can check out my second pregnancy symptoms post here.
My plan for this baby was to have another epidural. To prepare myself for early labor, I decided to download an app called Christian Hypnobirthing. Side note: I highly recommend this app!
Remember what I said earlier? About birth plans changing? Well mine definitely did!
My second labor started around 1am. After laboring at home for around an hour and a half, my husband I left for the hospital at 3am.
Throughout the car ride I listened to my Christian Hypnobirthing app and prayed that we would make it quickly to the hospital.
One difference between my second labor and my first labor is that my second labor was quickly becoming more intense with each passing contraction.
After an agonizing 45 minute car ride we made it to the hospital. I could barely walk into labor and delivery (L&D), even with the assistance of a sweet nurse.
I was assessed by the L&D nurses, and then my midwife arrived. I was admitted at 6cm and quickly approaching 7cm dilated! My midwife let me know that I was progressing too fast to get an epidural. She also couldn’t give me any other type of pain medication.
What? This was NOT my plan!
Did I have a mini breakdown? Yep. Was I in denial? Absolutely. Was I able to do it? Yes, with God’s help!
I could not have given birth sans medication without God, my husband, and my amazing L&D team.
I gave birth to my healthy baby boy an hour and a half after getting to the hospital. His birth was fast and furious which was a little ironic considering he was three days overdue.
My recovery after having a unmedicated birth was night and day from my first birth. I was able to get up, walk around, and take a shower within an hour after having him.
I also feel like I bonded quicker with my son and had an easier time breastfeeding him. According to this article having an epidural may decrease a mother’s ability to bond with her newborn. I truly believe that this was my experience with my first birth.
Key Take Aways
I hope that me sharing with you my medicated vs. natural birth experiences has given you a glimpse at the differences between each. Whether you choose a medicated hospital birth, a home birth, or something in between, choose to remain flexible and open to your birth plans changing.
Share this post with someone you know who is expecting! I pray that it will bless them.