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August 6th, 2011, 11:13 PM
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Quantum_Leap Quantum_Leap is offline
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Location: Seattle area, Washington
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Have you read Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth? I would highly recommend it. It provides many very positive accounts from women of all shapes and sizes who were able to give birth naturally, even when medical professionals doubted it was possible. It also discusses the mind-body connection fairly extensively. I think you might enjoy reading it. One of the stories that springs to mind immediately is of a woman whose labor had stalled much the way yours did. When her midwives started talking to her to find out if there were any fears that were holding her up, she admitted that she had some insecurities about her marriage and about how well her husband would do as a father. As soon as she started to discuss these openly with the midwives she dilated to ten in the next fifteen minutes. So definitely, the mind-body connection can be a lot more powerful than we want to admit.

In answer to your original question, I think that there are probably a very limited number of women who actually 'can't' give birth naturally. Like, if their pelvis was truly misshapen, if they had a serious heart condition that made natural childbirth too dangerous for them to attempt, etc. But obviously, the vast majority of women are capable of having a natural childbirth or else the human race wouldn't have survived for as long as it has. For thousands of years all women from all walks of life were expected to give birth naturally. Did they all enjoy it? Obviously, no. Many found it extremely painful. But they managed it, because once pregnant there was no other option for them.

Now, whether or not all women SHOULD give birth naturally is a different story. Ultimately what's most important is that you have a positive, empowering experience in labor, one that you look back on later fondly rather than with regret. That might mean taking pain meds, or it might not. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like you got that with your first two labors (especially not with your second), even though you did have pain meds. As others have already mentioned, that might be because the epi, under certain circumstances and for some women, can make things much worse. It might also be because some of the fears you were having made the labor just a less positive experience in general. It's up to you to find out what the reason was, and I think that counseling could definitely help you to do that. But I just wanted to point out, that pain meds aren't something that are evil in and of themselves. They're something that I personally choose to avoid because I think they would make my labor into a less positive, less empowering experience. But that's not the case for every woman.

I also want to point out that an epi isn't the only form of pain relief that's available during labor. It's the form of pain relief that most doctors in the U.S. jump to use immediately, which I think is unfortunate. But it's not the most common in other parts of the world. When I had my first son in Kuwait, I used gas and air for pain relief, and it helped relax me enough to make it possible to avoid all of the other interventions that might have been recommended. It didn't affect my pushing in an adverse way, it didn't pose the risk of a spinal headache or any of the other side effects that an epi can have, it didn't leave me numb and immobile (which would have totally freaked me out). I wouldn't choose to use it again, because now that I've given birth once without it I have more confidence and know that I don't really need it. But at the time it was a good choice. If you just need a little bit of extra help to relax you, you might want to look into something like that as an option instead of the epi. (Although, unfortunately, it's not available at most hospitals in the U.S.)

hon. Kudos to you for working so hard to have a natural childbirth. You should be proud of what you accomplished, even if the outcome wasn't totally according to 'script.' Definitely find someone who you can talk through your feelings with before the next pregnancy, and definitely check out Ina May's book if you haven't already!

Thank you to the SSMC makers for my beautiful siggies!

(x2)(x2)(October 2011)
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