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If Your Ideas About Childbirth Were Formed by Claire Huxtable...
on January 7, 2006
...who said that it's like taking your lower lip, stretching it over your head, and stapling it to the back of your neck, then you're thinking, like most women,
"Why on EARTH would I want a natural childbirth?"
Well, I've done it both ways now. After years of hearing horror stories from friends & Hollywood, but stubbornly deciding that since women had been doing it for eons, I could, too, I tried birth naturally with my first child, scared to death about it ... and failed miserably. I didn't know any alternative laboring positions, or to relax, or anything - I just braced for each contraction for 36 hours until I hurt so much I asked my husband to kill me. The inevitable epidural left me hurting for a week.
Well, wasn't that fun?
Then I took a Bradley class. Instead of teaching fancy breathing techniques and how to be a convenient patient for the OB, they taught relaxation - "You CAN do this; and fear only creates tension, which increases pain" - and what a difference. Without me fighting the contractions (which tensed up the very muscle the contractions were trying to relax), the pain went from unbearable to manageable. Sure, it hurts to have a lineman stand on your foot, but who's going to take an epidural for it?
Bradley taught me that if you're thoroughly relaxed and labor feels excruciating, something needs to change - position, environment, something. If it's still agonizing, something is dreadfully wrong - but if I were under an epidural, I wouldn't know that. Bradley taught that if you've been doing everything great for hours and suddenly you feel you can't take it anymore - that you're in transition and will soon be pushing and have a baby! (How true that has been!) The relaxation techniques I learned helped with the early labor (remember, you can't get an epidural before 4cm or after 10cm), the excruciating afterpains of a subsequent birth, and the discomfort of sitting on a sore bum, not to mention all of life's inevitable pains ever since.
Natural childbirth left me with so much more energy afterward that my 60-something in-laws are converts, too! They can't believe that the totally drained, beaten woman they saw after Birth #1 (who was afraid to use the bathroom and couldn't sit for a week) is the same who walked from the delivery room and immediately dressed and left at 24 hours for Births #2 and #3 (and suffered very little postpartum pain after the uterine-shrinking contractions ended).
Lastly, Bradley taught me better breathing (my trumpet-playing is vastly improved!), sitting, posture, and lifting techniques for the rest of my life. And gave me a few good laughs while he was at it. Love him!