I’m currently 15 weeks pregnant with my 4th child. Each pregnancy seems to go faster than the last and I know that in the blink of an eye, the big day will arrive and this baby will be born. Labor and delivery has certainly gotten a bad reputation! Most of my friends won’t even consider going all-natural, much less having a home birth the way that I do, however I’m a firm believer that labor and delivery can be an amazing, life changing experience that shouldn’t be dulled by epidurals and other pain medication.
Now, hear me out – I’m not trying to vilify you if you’ve chosen to use an epidural or other forms of pain medication for your birth. But, what I am trying to tell you, is that if you’re choosing the drugs out of fear of the pain, you could be robbing yourself of something that is truly amazing beyond words. Some experiences are worth the pain and discomfort, and I think birth is one of those.
When you have a medicated birth, you are relying on those medications to get you through. There are so many aspects of natural childbirth that I love, but today I want to talk about how I’ve seen it strengthen my marriage time and time again because I turn to my husband and rely on him to help me make it through.
Knowing that I wanted an unmedicated birth, one of the first things I did when I found out I was expecting my first was to enroll my husband and myself into Bradley Childbirth Classes. The Bradley method focuses on living a healthy lifestyle while pregnant, having a natural, unmedicated, low intervention (if any) birthing experience, and utilizing a birthing coach. For most moms, the coach will be her husband or the father of the child.
My husband has always taken his role as the coach pretty seriously. When I go into labor, he is there at my side, ready and willing to help me with anything I might need or want. Whether it’s a drink of water, assistance to make it to the bathroom, an encouraging word, or a hand to squeeze, he’s there. In fact, when I squeezed his fingers together so hard he thought they might break, he kept quiet and instead thought about the extent of pain I must be experiencing in that moment. (He did however, tell me later that he quietly removed his wedding band when that contraction ended, because it was digging into his fingers, causing excruciating pain.)
My first labor, which is notoriously the longest, was slightly less than 12 hours from start to finish. Until you’ve gone through labor, you really don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. My water broke to start labor (before I’d ever even had a real contraction). I was still at 0 centimeters, which meant I had a while to go without my water there to cushion things as the baby moved down. Each new contraction was a wave that rocked my body. I remember vividly the moment my midwife checked my progress and told me I was only at a 5. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know how I’d make it to 10cm. It felt like I’d been in labor for an eternity already. Labor truly was/is tough. It’s uncomfortable.
When I would feel like I couldn’t go on any more, there was my husband, giving me the confidence I needed to get through the next contraction. I lean on him for everything through labor – everything. He is my rock. The love and the concern in his eyes is a reassurance that, yes, whatever life throws our way, we will hold hands and we will make it through it together, as a team. He might not be experiencing the same pains that I am, but his entire focus is on being there for me and it’s clear he’d take the pain from me if he could. When the time arrives to push the baby into the world, there he is with a huge smile on his face and telling me “she’s almost out honey….you’ve got this….she’s coming!”
I can’t fully describe it, but when labor has ended and I have that baby in my arms, not only does my heart overflow with love for my newborn, but also for my husband. It’s in those moments, after I’ve gone through one of the hardest moments of my life, that I feel the closest to him and am reminded of the depths of his love for me. We do it together, as a team, and it’s an amazing experience!