By Caitlin Tucker
I knew right away this time around — I started to feel those familiar signs of pregnancy, cramps, tiredness and nausea. I took a test the first day of my missed period this time and those two little lines came up. My husband and I were very excited! Of course, I have the usually worries throughout the first trimester and the excitement to hear that little heart beat for the first time. For my daughter, who is now 15 months old, we took the typical route of care. We went to my family doctor to confirm that the home test was right, I stayed in their care until I was 28 weeks along and then I transferred care to an obstetrician for the remainder of my pregnancy. I felt confident with both my family doctor and obstetrician, and in spite of the quick visits and long waits in the waiting room, I was satisfied overall.
We also took the typical labour and delivery classes through our local hospital. I remember only learning what to do once we got to the hospital and how to be admitted, but not much about how to cope during labour. I figured, since I wanted a natural birth, it would just happen that way. I read a lot of books and spoke to a few of my friends that had already had babies. I wanted a non-medicated, natural and healthy birth. At 38 ½ weeks pregnant I felt my first contraction. After a few that were about 15 minutes apart, I let my husband know I thought early labour was starting. We arrived at the hospital when they were 1-3 minutes apart after about 5 hours of early labour. After about 7 hours more at the hospital, our little girl arrived at 5:43 a.m., weighing 6 pounds 15 ounces. We were relieved and so excited she had finally arrived! I think we were both just so happy she was healthy that it took a few months to come to the realization that my labour did not go the way I had hoped and planned. After I arrived at the hospital, I was set up on the fetal monitor and was continually monitored throughout my labour and wasn’t allowed off the hospital bed. In hindsight, I came to understand that being on one’s back during labour is one of the least comfortable positions in order to achieve a successful natural birth. I laboured for 3 hours on the bed without medication, but as labour got more intense and I wasn’t able to move around, the contractions became very difficult to cope with. My nurse was very nice, but didn’t offer any labour support and just kept her eyes on the baby monitor. My OB was also very nice, but as usual, she was on-call and was in and out of the room and also offered no support during labour other then medication options. Throughout my labour I was asked several times if I wanted an epidural and I kept saying “no” but after 3 hours and not knowing when it was going to end, I gave in and signed the form for the epidural. After taking the medication, I was relieved the pain was finally over. Two hours later, I was fully dilated. After 2 more hours of directed pushing, our little one arrived.
Initially, we were satisfied with how things went and didn’t think too much about the disappointment that our natural birth plan didn’t happen. When I started to think about having more children, I realized how important it was to me to have a natural, healthy and safe birth. I started to read more books on natural births, watch documentaries, and educate myself. I spoke to my friends who had natural births and talked about what they did differently than myself. One major point that differed from my experience was that they prepared themselves by taking classes on how to cope with labour and had professional support with them during labour who encouraged and supported natural birth under safe situations. I continued my education on natural birth and it lead me to look into other care professionals that promote natural birth as a healthy part of life, instead of viewing the pain and experiences of natural childbirth as a burden. When we found out that baby number two was on his/her way, I knew this was my opportunity to be as prepared as I could for labour this time around. I am now seeing a supportive midwife, enjoying their peaceful office with minimal wait times, and receiving encouragement to have a natural birth and continual support throughout labour and postpartum home visits. I believe that our bodies were designed to give birth that is inherently safe, and under most circumstances, women have the ability to give birth without medication, to move freely throughout labour. I believe that women need support from their friends, family, care givers and society as a whole to give birth naturally. It should be celebrated by women. Even though I’ve given birth once, I truly want to experience birth and have the support of my husband and midwife as they help me labour through the discomfort and bring another life into this world. I’m choosing not to be simply satisfied with my birth story – I want to be in awe of it.
Caitlin lives in Toronto, Canada, and is a wife and stay-at-home mother to one little girl and baby number two on the way. She and her husband are involved in their church and Caitlin helps run a mothers group on a bi-weekly basis. She recently enrolled in the Douglas College Lamaze Childbirth Educator Program and hopes to bring knowledge, empowerment, and encouragement to other women throughout their pregnancy and birth.