Let me start by saying that I never considered myself to have a high pain tolerance and I really hate hospitals and IV’s. However, there is something so empowering about giving birth, you really do get this “mommy strength to get thru it all.” Take it from me, I’m a first time mom who really overcame a lot of fears to bring a life into the world. I know it is cliche, but I would go thru it all again. Women’s bodies are insane. We are strong and we were made to do this!
When I first found out I was pregnant at the end of March 2020 during a global pandemic, I was so excited and on cloud nine. It wasn’t until about maybe month 7 that I started really getting nervous about the “giving birth part and how would I push a baby out while having to wear a mask?!” I just heard horror stories from other moms who really “told the tale.” Whether or not they embellished things, it quite literally scared the crap out of me to go thru it. I heard from mamas who did un medicated births, epidurals, and C-Sections and all were honestly negative and that four letter word PAIN was often used. This is a HUGE reason why I wanted to write this post and share my positive, relatively painless birth experience. I hope to ease some of you first time or already mama’s fears and anxiety about giving birth. Truly in writing this now 3 weeks postpartum, I thought the 2 weeks after giving birth were the hardest out of the entire pregnancy. You have to now take care of a little one and you are healing as well and doing it all with barely any sleep. It does get better though!
My little girl was very timely. She was due New Years Eve and I was in the hospital on that day. I had actually been having what I thought were contractions 2 days prior. I was in labor for over 24 hours. I got no sleep the 2 days before her due date because I was woken up by weird back cramps that sort of felt like period cramps. They were not too terrible, but definitely kept me up. They didn’t last long and were coming about every 20 mins or so. My doctor said they were probably just Braxton Hicks and I believed her. At that point 2 days prior to going to the hospital I was only 3 cm and 80% effaced. Each day leading up to 12/31 got more intense. When I say intense, I mean that the back cramps started to indeed get closer together maybe about 10 mins apart and then 5 mins apart. I knew this had to be something. I had a log on my phone in the notepad app timing when they would come! I thought it was weird though because everyone was like “oh you will know when its a contraction and the real thing because it will wrap around the front of your belly too and it will just be un bearable!” For me, that didn’t ever happen. All of my contractions I felt in my back, which made sense to me because all of my period cramps I’ve ever had in life were always felt in my back.
My husband and I headed to the hospital on 12/31 to actually go get an NST to check on the baby since my doctor thought I was just having Braxton Hicks, however every pot hole we drove over made those contractions seem to come and they were getting longer, stronger and closer together. They were manageable though! I just breathed thru them and then they would pass. Since they were seemingly like they were about 7 to 5 mins apart we decided to go to triage in the maternity ward just incase. Turns out after I was checked by the doctor, I was staying! I was at that point 5 cm and 90% effaced.
After getting checked in at around 3 pm on 12/31 things started to progress fairly quickly on their own. I was handling the contractions well I thought and was proud of myself that I didn’t have any Pitocin or epidural yet. They asked me right after I was checked in triage by the doc at 5 cm if I wanted the epidural and I was surprised by that for some reason. I thought “I’m good, I can handle this so far!” I decided to get the epidural that evening when I was about 7 cm. It wasn’t bad at all! Just a tiny pinch from the first needle and then some minor pressure after when they are putting the catheter in. I probably could have gone longer on not getting the epidural, however I didn’t know what to expect and with already being 7 cm I didn’t want to risk not being able to get it. I have full respect to the mamas out there that do this au natural, but I was not trying to be a hero here. I was all about the epidural life.
Now here is the worst part of my labor experience. The epidural wasn’t working as well on my left side for some reason, so I was definitely feeling those contractions now from 8 cm to 10 cm all on the left side. They came very frequently at this point too. I had a long night dealing with that until in the middle of the night they gave me a little more of the epidural medicine and that did help me sleep for a little bit. Although that dang blood pressure cuff goes off every 15 mins, and that sure doesn’t help anyone get some rest!
When you get an epidural, they need to give you Pitocin as well. I heard horror stories from a lot of mamas about the dreaded Pitocin and how it makes everything so much more intense. I think it definitely sped up the contractions but with the epidural, it was manageable. I ended up not having my girl on New Years Eve, we were close though! My husband and I shared a hospital kiss at midnight and then went back to sleep, at that point I was 9 cm but not ready to push yet.
Finally, at 6 am the next day I was woken up my my doctor, was at 10 cm and ready to push. I felt so weak because I was so hungry and didn’t sleep too great the night before. I was thinking, oh my gosh, how am I going to push a baby out right now, I’m so sleepy and just felt so weak. The nurse instructed me how to push, and you really do push like you are trying to have a bowl movement. The hardest thing is that with the epidural, it is difficult to feel yourself pushing. Also, you have to push with every contraction you have and the epidural does make them not as intense. I could still feel them coming though so I knew when it was time to push. I really had to close my eyes and visualize how to push since I couldn’t really feel my legs. (Side note: My legs felt like elephant legs, just so heavy and almost like dead weight with the epidural. I did not have to wear a mask while pushing, which I thought was very nice. I just had to wear it anytime there were nurses or docs in the room.)
I won’t bore you with all the details however, I probably should not have drank apple juice right before pushing. Not sure why, but I had the worst acid reflux all of a sudden and during the early stages of pushing I ended up vomiting all of that juice up. Not a fine moment of mine, but hey labor isn’t glamorous! I didn’t feel sick or queasy though. So strange! I really don’t know how I did this, but I had to push for 3.5 hours. I think it took me so long because it was hard to know if I was making any progress and I really was so tired from no sleep and no food. I really didn’t want a mirror to see what was going on down there either. I knew I would probably freak out if I saw what was happening. LOL! I knew they gave you 4 hours to push and then, I’m not sure what they would have done, but I knew I didn’t want to find out. So when they announced we were coming up on 3.5 hours something came over me and I was thinking “oh hell no, we gotta get this baby out now!” After 2 more pushes she was out! Everything is so mental during labor and you really have to concentrate.
I’m happy to report that I didn’t feel any tearing or ripping down there or a ring of fire and when she came out, it just felt like a lot of pressure and a huge release, no pain though! I did have a 1st degree tear and did need stitches. When the doctor was stitching me up, I didn’t feel a thing. Thank you epidural!
I was pleasantly surprised at how well my birth experience went. I thought it was going to be way more painful but it wasn’t. The worst pain was honestly them putting the IV in and of course some of the contractions too. It really is nothing to be scared of. The nurses and doctors are so excellent and walk you thru everything. I just kept telling myself, people have babies all the time. I can do this.
When they put Olivia on my chest for the first time, it was so overwhelming. I cried tears of joy because I couldn’t get over how beautiful she was and honestly clean! LOL It was such a whirlwind experience. To any mama who is nervous about giving birth, please don’t be nervous or scared and get rid of the word PAIN from your vocabulary. Just breathe, I promise you got this. The epidural did make my experience so much better. I was able to focus and not be in so much pain so I was able to enjoy my birth experience.
“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had… and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” -Linda Wooten