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I Didn't Want To Give Birth Naked, & Here's How That Went

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It was during our second natural birth prep class that I heard it for the first time. We sat on the floor in the dim yoga studio, with tapestries and pillows under us to really up the hippie-factor. Our instructor was walking us through a “birth labyrinth” when she casually mentioned that you know a woman is ready to push when she’s totally naked. It was a given, thrown out there are a non-negotiable: women give birth naked.

Me: F*#@ that.

The universe: LOLOLOLOL.

I was 100 percent on board for my natural, unmedicated birth-center delivery. But I figured I could be natural without being “au naturale.“ It wasn’t like I was planning a water birth. And even those women always seem to have on sports bras in the YouTube videos I’d seen.

I heard it again a week later in a documentary. Then again in a book. Something about a woman’s animal instinct coming out and her inhibitions disappearing.

My inhibitions are steel. Mine are solid. I don’t do naked.

In no way do I want my husband to watch me push a baby out of we-all-know-where while totally naked.

Here’s the thing, I’m a nurse. There is no body part I have not seen. In fact, there’s no body part I haven’t seen on an 80-year-old man. You can’t embarrass me with bodies. I am not shockable — I’ve seen it all. But that in no way means I want my husband to watch me push a baby out of we-all-know-where while totally naked.

It just seems unnecessary. Nothing is happening upstairs! This calls for a robe or even just a button up shirt. Why on Earth are all these women losing their tops?

Courtesy of Megan Whitaker

I knew labor was going to be hard. I knew it was going to be a mess. But I was delivering at a birth center with nicer rooms than most 4-star hotels. King beds with fluffy stark white bedding. Large soaking tubs. Wood floors. All the medical equipment kept hidden away in oversized armoires. It was going to be hard. But it was going to be beautiful.

When I went into labor, I went into labor. I thought “Hmm, that was a contraction” at 5:45 p.m. and I met my daughter six hours later.

Labor that quick has several side effects. My pelvis was not thrilled at the rate this baby was trying to exit my body. That creates painful “back labor,” which is a very nice way of saying you feel absolutely sure that you are about to poop like you’ve never pooped before.

In a way, you’re right. Because a baby’s coming out. Think you’d like to give birth without getting naked? Let me show you how that goes.

25% Naked

Once my doula arrived, I relayed my “back labor” and she helped me to the bathroom, from which my husband was banned. Seeing our baby born is one thing, me on the toilet is another. Walking and then sitting upright only made the pressure worse, leading to another effect, shaking. With so many hormones and so much adrenaline pumping through my body, I was violently shaking from head to toe.

Since I’m a nurse, I decided to check my own cervix. That’s when I felt the baby’s head.

Unfortunately, or perhaps extremely fortunately, banishing my husband meant my doula had to leave the bathroom to tell him to call the birth center. As she left I experienced the next fun labor effect.

Sitting on the toilet I turned and threw up over the side of the bathtub.

The pressure from throwing up caused my water to break — at exactly the same time.

It was not my most glorious moment.

At this point I wanted to know what the hell was happening to my body and my beautiful labor. It had only been five and a half hours and I was a mess. So, since I’m a nurse, I decided to check my own cervix.

That’s when I felt the baby’s head.

As it was nearly midnight, it took only 1 minutes to drive to the birth center. My midwife and husband each took an arm and carried me to the nearest room. With increasing pressure in my back and amniotic fluid leaking out, the only words I said were, “Put me in the bathroom.”

They obliged.

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50% Naked

At this point, with contractions every minute, I apparently did not care as much what my husband saw. I was still trying to take my pants back off when I threw up again. I begged for a towel and ripped off my wet shirt.

75% Naked

Scrubbing myself with a towel, I was now sobbing that I couldn’t meet my baby with vomit on me. My bra was dirty too. Off it went.

They half carried me the five feet to the bed and removed the pants still caught around my ankles.

100% Naked.

After the next screaming contraction my midwife took me by the shoulders and said, calmly, “Do you want to have this baby on the toilet?”

NO. NO I DO NOT. THAT IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL BIRTH.

I managed to shake my head.

“Then stand up.”

They half carried me the five feet to the bed and removed the pants still caught around my ankles.

Totally naked, I pushed. My daughter arrived two minutes later. It was the most beautiful moment of my life.

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