Courtesy of Samantha Taylor

I Had An Accidental Unmedicated Delivery & Here's What It Was Like

Ad failed to load

You know those women who prepare for an unmedicated labor and delivery before they're even pregnant? The ones who immediately, after becoming pregnant, reserve an inflatable swimming pool to put smack in the middle of their living room for a water birth? Yeah, well, I’m not that woman. With my first pregnancy five years ago, I fantasized about knocking myself out at the first pang of labor and waking up as soon as the baby was out. I didn’t need to experience the triumph women spoke about after digging deep to find their inner strength through unimaginable pain. I didn't want to. I also didn't know then that I'd soon have an accidental unmedicated childbirth, but I would.

Instead, I wanted an epidural. The words spoke to me like the gentle rushing of a calm river full of pain-numbing drugs. I couldn’t wait to grab my pregnancy-appropriate mocktail, complete with mini umbrella, and float down the Epidural River that would culminate in the delivery of my bright-eyed baby boy. But little did I know that although I’d bask in the mostly pain-free haze of an epidural for my son’s birth, I’d be forced into a medication-free labor and delivery with my daughter several years later. And though I didn't realize it at the time, I’m one of those annoying women who’s actually grateful for the experience of a drug-free labor and delivery.

Courtesy of Samantha Taylor
Ad failed to load
While preparing to push, my nurse informed us that our son's heart rate was dropping and the cord was likely around his neck, so we'd have to proceed carefully. But I felt nothing. No pain. Very little emotion.

Labor with my son lasted 36 hours. He was my first child and the mild pangs started in the early morning hours and continued to slowly get stronger throughout the day. By 5 p.m. that evening, the contractions were very painful and close, so we headed to the hospital. I endured painful contractions in the triage area, only to find out I wasn't dilated at all. They threatened to send me back home when, relief of all relief, my water broke and they admitted me.

“Can I have the epidural now?” I begged. I was dilated to a 4. The doctor agreed to let me have the epidural, and I couldn’t get that long needle in my back fast enough. Within minutes, I felt no pain and just some not-uncomfortable tensing of my uterus. Combined with some morphine I’d had earlier, I was pretty out of it. I tried to read and dropped a magazine on my face more than once as I dozed off. I slept on and off, watched TV, and visited with relatives until it was time to push. While preparing to push, my nurse informed us that our son's heart rate was dropping and the cord was likely around his neck, so we'd have to proceed carefully. But I felt nothing. No pain. Very little emotion. The epidural numbed me physically, and the hours of labor without much sleep numbed me emotionally.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Samantha Taylor
The epidural had provided miraculous pain relief, but that relief came at a cost.

At last, I pushed my son out and they handed me a warm, white-coated squirmy little being. His cone head from the long time I spent pushing was covered with a knit cap. I didn't immediately register how completely I'd love him. How he'd consume my every waking thought. I nibbled vacantly on a cookie while the medical team checked my baby's vitals and bathed him. I still couldn't feel much below the waist, and remained hooked up to the catheter.

Ad failed to load

When, hours later, the nurse convinced me to walk to the bathroom, I nearly fell over. I felt sick and weak, with no bladder control. That night, I found tending to my new baby difficult while still tethered to the IV pole and having gone days without sleep. The epidural had provided miraculous pain relief, but that relief came at a cost.

Courtesy of Samantha Taylor

Fast forward almost four years later to my pregnancy with my daughter. Despite the difficulties of the epidural, I was set on having one again with her birth. Thanks to medication, the delivery of my son was nearly pain-free, and I wanted that experience again. So I barely scanned the labor and delivery section of my pregnancy books and rolled my eyes at breathing technique tutorial videos. There was no need to prepare. I was getting drugs. All the drugs.

Ad failed to load

A few days ahead of my expected delivery date with my daughter, I woke up early one morning with a regular but mild tightening of my uterus. The light contractions came and went throughout the next couple of days, never picking up consistently. After a night of Fourth of July fireworks, my contractions finally drew close together and became painful. We made the two-minute car trip to the hospital and an intense contraction in the hospital parking lot rendered me barely able to walk. By the time we were on the labor and delivery floor, I was begging to be admitted and asking for the drugs. The nurses were annoyingly calm, like they see my kind all the time or something.

At last, the nurse gave me an injection of some sort of pain relief that would take time to take effect. The only problem was that I didn’t have time, only I didn’t know that yet.

In triage, I found out I was only dilated to a 4. I was admitted, but before I could have an epidural, I needed IV fluids. and before I could have the IV fluids, the nurses needed to find a vein, a difficult process involving many different pokes as I struggled against the brutal contractions to hold still.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Samantha Taylor

Soon my contractions were so painful and close together they felt like one never-ending tunnel of terribleness. I tried to do some breathing techniques (what little I remembered from the first time around), but could barely focus in my full-body vise of crippling pain. I could only cling to the rail alongside my hospital bed and plead with the nurse for pain relief. At last, the nurse gave me an injection of some sort of pain relief that would take time to take effect. The only problem was that I didn’t have time, only I didn’t know that yet.

All I knew was I needed to escape the pain. Desperate, I crawled onto all fours in my hospital gown, crotch towards my husband, face on the bed. I felt myself poop and pee all at once as my uterus contracted violently, pushing my baby down. (Hey, my husband and I like to keep the romance alive!) I could hear myself bleating like a goat as though the sound was coming from someone else.

Ad failed to load
I had no choice. I had to push or be pregnant forever or something.
Courtesy of Samantha Taylor

The nurse checked my dilation and announced I was at an 8. An 8?! She left the room and returned with a whole team. Team epidural! I could have high-fived them all if I wasn’t in such a fit of agony. A doctor who was definitely not my obstetrician rushed in, putting on gloves and giving orders. A nurse took each one of my legs and another stood by my shoulder. “We’re going to need you to push your baby out now,” the one by my shoulder said. There must be some mistake. This was not what I signed up for. I was not doing this without an epidural. I was supposed to be getting all the drugs.

Ad failed to load

Still, I had no choice. I had to push or be pregnant forever or something. So I put my chin to my chest as instructed and bore down. I felt a stinging sensation, but the pain didn’t worsen. I pushed and felt my baby sliding out. “One more time!” a nurse called out.

I pushed, and felt immense relief as all the pain and cramping stopped immediately and completely. I heard my baby cry. She was alert. I was, too. The nurses brought me my swaddled and sweet-smelling conehead-free baby to hold. I nuzzled her as my obstetrician delivered the placenta and sewed me up. That part hurt, as well, but the distraction of my warm new little bundle of love dulled the pain.

Courtesy of Samantha Taylor
Ad failed to load

My baby girl latched on right away to breastfeed. She fussed a little, but quieted down when I sang to her. I felt I had to use the restroom, and so got up and walked to the bathroom without trouble just minutes after birth, no IV pole in tow. Then I walked down the hall behind my baby’s bassinet as she was wheeled to our recovery room. I hated to admit it, but I felt good. I felt really good.

The short labor combined with my epidural-free delivery made for a swift recovery and allowed me to be more emotionally and physically present for my baby’s birth and the aftermath. My husband and I have decided we are done having babies, but would I have an epidural again if given the chance? Probably. The prospect of a virtually pain-free birth is just too tempting to pass up. Still, I’d done unmedicated childbirth, even though that wasn't part of the plan. Sometimes natural childbirth is a choice and sometimes it’s not. Childbirth, like life, is unpredictable and doesn’t have to play by the rules.

All said, it’s pretty empowering to know that we women really are capable of handling unmedicated childbirth, planned or not — unfathomable pain, pee, poop, and all.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Umm, Toys "R" Us Has A BOGO 50 Percent Off Deal So You Better Stock Up

After the holidays, you were probably hoping that your kid's massive toy collection would keep him entertained for a little while, at least. But that was wishful thinking, wasn't it? Because now that a couple of months have passed, all those must-hav…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

A Hot Mess Mom's Guide To Surviving Winter

As I sit here at my home office in Connecticut, it's cold. Damn cold. Winter is a rough season in New England and it's even worse when you're a parent and have to manage cooped up, restless children. It's even worse when you're a hot mess as it is, u…
By Jamie Kenney

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

8 Reasons I Let My Toddler Play Outside Unsupervised

I'm not a helicopter mom, but I'm not exactly a free-range parent either. I like to think of myself as safely ensconced somewhere in the middle. I insist on certain safety measures, like car seats and helmets. I prefer to keep my 2-year-old in my sig…
By Kimmie Fink

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack