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I've had both, first was a hospital birth with an epidural, second natural home birth. I'd do it natural in a heart beat again! The experience was amazing, it wasn't just about the birth though, having a support team and a caring knowledgeable reliable etc etc midwife made a world of difference. Having my husband know how to help me was pretty awesome. Being at home in the comfort of my own home, being able to distract myself through early labor by hanging out with my older kid, cooking,watching movies all helped. Being supported and never pushed into any decisions, and having full consent so that you feel like you are making a fully informed decision felt great. I don't see any cons to a natural birth in a normal low risk scenario. Pros were the boding I had with my second baby was amazing, she never left my arms, as soon as she was out she was in my arms and she stayed there for about 1.5 hours, all newborn exams etc were done after our initial skin to skin and nursing and it was done on the bed next to me. Anyways I can talk about this for days lol, if you have any questions for me let me know
Oh I think the biggest pro was being in complete awe of my body, I've never had good image of myself or my body but after this second birth I appreciate it a lot more, the best self esteem booster lol. My first birth was a total of 38 hours, about 18 hours of active labor. Second birth total of 19 hours, 1 hour of active labor. I can share both birth stories.
I've had both. After one, I said I was never doing that again, and after the other, I said I wish I could do that again! Very different circumstances, but I know for sure which one I'd pick again if I had to.
I had a 36 hour induction. Went from nothing to intense contractions when the Pitocin started. The dr broke my water. I had an epidural. Believe me, I loved that epidural. Nothing bad to say about it! My baby's heart rate dropped any time I moved off of my right side, so I even had to push on my side, and they made me stop pushing for a half hour to watch the baby. Much easier said than done. I pushed for four hours. I was looking to the nurses to tell me what to do, when to push, if we were ok. It was an exhausting eternity. I felt like I was doing it all wrong. It never takes that long on A Baby Story!! All of that after an HG pregnancy-- It was sad to know that my body was just not good at this.
Then 6 years later, I was brave enough to try again. I had my membranes stripped on my due date. I had cramping for two days, barely painful, and then my water broke. After that the contractions became more intense, and I was expecting the process to take hours like it did the last time, so I asked for an epidural. Yes, I was in a lot of pain, but I was mostly afraid of not having the epidural for the actual birth. My labor went SO fast that I never had time for the epidural. It was amazing to feel my body do what it was meant to do. I was not broken after all! The nurse asked if I was pushing (thinking I was still at 3cm), and all I could tell her was that I wasn't trying to, but my body was. I said I was too afraid to do it without an epidural, but I had to tell myself that I could because I had no choice. My eyes were rolling back & I just went into my own little zone, no clue what was going on around me, but so aware of what my body was doing. The ring of fire that you hear of was pretty quick & not as bad as I expected. The pressure as the baby moved down was intense but not painful. I didn't really push because he was flying out pretty quick, but the cord was around his neck twice & had to be cut, so during that time it was scary, but I never felt pain as he was actually coming out, which is what I was most afraid of. It was the most amazing, empowering, intense experience. I loved it.
My recoveries from both were equally easy. I was out of bed quickly with both. I never had pain.
I've pretty much had the full range. I should add that none of my labors have ever progressed without the help of pitocin, though. My first was an induction because she was late, and it was my shortest labor. I had Nubain in the IV, and I don't recommend that to anyone. It made me feel loopy and totally out of control. It also wore off very quickly. No epidural. They had to use the vacuum because her heart rate dropped every time I pushed. Recovery was rough, but they did an episiotomy, resulting in a tear from front to back. Ouch!!
My water broke on its own with my 2nd (late). Labor was longer, but once they started the piton, I went from 4-delivery in an hour. My husband finally had me talked into the epidural, but it was too late so no epidural that time, either. Only a few pushes with her. Very quick recovery and no tearing.
My water broke on its own with my 3rd also (late). Labor was even longer than the 2nd. They started the pitocin at a much slower rate after seeing what happened with the 2nd. I opted for the epidural, now knowing fully what pitocin-induced labor was like! My husband said it was great because he had "me" in the room. I think it was only 2 pushes, no tearing, and an even quicker recovery. I had absolutely no feeling at all, and it was great!! The only "downside" was that the epidural worked too well, and I still had no feeling in my legs 9 hours later - until they threatened me with a catheter.
My 4th was induced because of my blood pressure (early). Because they thought they were going to have to do a version, etc., I got the epidural before labor started to avoid multiple needles. This labor was my longest one. The epidural wore off about 6 hours before she was born. The anesthesiologist came up a couple of times to increase the dose and re-administer, but it never worked. I literally don't remember the last 3 hours of labor, with the exception of the nurse getting in my face one time and telling me that it was "time to re-focus and deliver this baby." The pain was amazingly intense and put me into "another world"! I don't know how to describe it, but I was not in that room. Hubby says I pushed about 45 minutes, which is not normal for me. I had a small tear, and a terrible recovery, probably my worst recovery as well. We swore no more after her. Well....
My water broke on its own with my 5th. I did have an epidural, but I think they purposely didn't check me before administering it because I'm pretty sure I was already fully dilated. Once I pass 4 cm, I go very quickly. Anyhow, no pain, but I could feel some pressure and knew when I needed to push. I tore again, but this recovery was very, very quick.
So, what this tells you is that there is no rhyme or reason...
I had 3 non natural deliveries all with epidurals, and 1 without an epidural. 2 of my labors had pitocin and 2 did not. I will say my natural labor was quick under 2 hours total but I would have opted for the epidural all over again. I guess I am a wimp! I thought the pain was terrible! The recovery was wonderful but pain awful. None of my recoveries were bad, just this one was easier.