Giving Birth in a Society that Fears Pain


There were many things going against my wanting an at-home, natural childbirth for my second child:

1. I wanted a VBAC. My first delivery had wound up an emergency C-section. It was a difficult delivery—18 hours of labor including a forceps attempt—ending in the C-section.

After this major surgery I didn’t realize how down in the dumps I was feeling until I woke up one day about six months later and was like, “hey, I feel like myself again.” (I didn’t know I hadn’t been feeling like myself.)

My son was born on a cold January morning; I transitioned from a career-track job to full-time mommy and had so many changes swirling around me. Life didn’t look at all like how I had intended, starting with the mind-and-body-changing delivery.

2. I didn’t want any drugs. No epidural this time. No mind fogger. No body number. I wanted to be fully present and awake, exhausted and alert to my new child. (What? No epidural?)

It seemed hypocritical to me that I would scorn caffeine and alcohol for the duration of the pregnancy and then load myself up with a chemical cocktail so that I wouldn’t have to feel the pain of transition. (During my first son’s labor the epidural had numbed me from the neck down. I could feel nothing. The doctor would watch the monitor to let me know when contractions were happening and ask me to push. Yes, I will try and push a body that I can’t feel or connect with. )

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