When I got pregnant the first time, I was intent on doing everything as "naturally" as possible. I thought "natural" meant better, and it didn't occur to me that so many things can, and do, happen during pregnancy, labor, and delivery that make "natural" childbirth not only impossible, but unsafe. So, when I "failed" to deliver according to my highly detailed birth plan, I felt like a bad mom. That's why I think it's time I reveal some confessions of a medication-free childbirth "failure." I want other moms and moms-to-be to know that I didn't actually fail at anything. "Natural" childbirth just wasn't the right fit for me.
It took me a while to realize that I didn't "lose out" on the labor front. I was hellbent on experiencing a "natural" childbirth, so I hired a midwife, wrote a birth plan, and joined natural birth groups on Facebook. And according to the natural birth community, there was only one right way to give birth — going into labor on your own and delivering vaginally with no pain medication and as few medical interventions as possible. So, when my due date came and went, I tried everything to avoid being induced. I placed evening primrose oil capsules in my vagina, let my midwife strip my membranes, and used a breast pump to try to induce labor at home. And what did I get for my efforts? Messy panties, pain (having your membranes stripped really hurts), and a handful of contractions that stopped as soon as I got to the hospital.
When my blood pressure started to creep up, my midwife recommended induction. I was admitted to the hospital and my natural birth plan slowly went out the window. I had to have I.V. medications, which meant that I had to monitored continuously and couldn't labor in the tub or shower like I planned. And after 18 hours of back labor, I begged for an epidural. But even though I was able to enjoy a much-needed, glorious nap and a beautiful, empowering birth, I still felt like I had failed.
I think the the inadequacy I felt about childbirth was largely due to having unrealistic expectations. I had sufficiently romanticized childbirth to an unhealthy degree. I had fallen for the prevailing idea that there is only one way to birth a baby. I know I'm not alone, either, which is why this has to stop. Not only is this obsession with drug-free labor and deliveries potentially unhealthy, it's ableist, it's dangerous, and it's seriously anti-feminist. We're hurting pregnant people in the process, and that's just not OK. It turns out that the only thing I failed at was helping to perpetuate the myth that there's only one right way to give birth. And for that, I am totally not sorry.