When I gave birth to my first child, I went into my birth confident, but left an absolute mess. Nothing went as I had planned and my birth experience was a traumatic blur of interventions: breaking my water when I didn’t want to; giving me no choice but to have Pitocin; using vacuum suction to pull out my baby after a completely uncalled for episiotomy that I didn’t consent to having. I had so little control during that birth experience that I never wanted to go through it again. But when I became unexpectedly pregnant with my second child, it was clear I didn’t have a choice. I’d have to give birth again one way or another. But instead of a second round of trauma, I had the birth experience I'd always wanted, because I knew how important it was to stand up for myself during labor.
I knew how easy it was to get steam rolled by hospital staff when you’re in such a vulnerable state. I knew that if I didn’t raise my voice, it could so easily happen again. So when I walked into labor and delivery, I made it clear that I was going to do things my way. When I went in and found that I was only dilated 4-and-half centimeters, I asked if I could go home and labor for a while instead of being coerced into admitting. I knew my doctors wanted me to stay. After all, I was already halfway through the paperwork. I was already in the room. We wouldn’t have to go through the beginning steps of the admitting process all over again. But the truth is, this wasn’t about them. This day needed to be about me and about my baby.
When my baby girl was born a few hours after entering the hospital, I felt so satisfied with my birth experience I couldn’t wait to do it all over again. That’s right, it was so good it made me want a third baby.
I was able to labor at home for another 12 hours before going back in. In those same 12 hours during my first birth, I'd been told they needed to break my water to get things moving, had put me on Pitocin to speed things up, and I had taken Demerol because the pain had become so intense from the Pitocin aided contractions. It turns out all my body needed was more time, not more interventions, but because I hadn’t pushed back the first time I didn’t get much of a choice.
When I finally went back in, I was 6 centimeters dilated, and far more rested and ready to give birth. When my labor slowed, as it had before, instead of letting them break my water I took vigorous walks around labor and delivery. When I eventually did have my water broke and started Pitocin, it was on my terms, not theirs. My second epidural was also far less awful than the first, because I was able to talk through my fears and concerns with the anesthesiologist beforehand. When my baby girl was born a few hours after entering the hospital, I felt so satisfied with my birth experience I couldn’t wait to do it all over again. That’s right, it was so good it made me want a third baby.
Even though I had many of the same interventions with my second birth as I did with my first, the experiences were so completely different because I felt comfortable speaking up for myself during labor. I pushed back when I felt uncomfortable. I asked questions when I felt unsure. Speaking up gave me a feeling of control that I desperately needed when in reality there was so much that was not in my hands. Standing up for myself during labor was the best choice I ever made, and I wish I had known to do it sooner.