I have four children, all of which I birthed vaginally. They were all conceived in the traditional way: through intercourse with a man.
I realise how clinical that all sounds. But I’m still searching for the right words. I think to say "naturally" is wrong. As if babies conceived through IVF or via a surrogate, or those that arrive via c-section or through adoption are "unnatural".
I was determined to try to birth without pain relief. That was my plan. If no medical intervention was required I wanted it to be as "natural" as possible.
After all, women do it all the time, right? Some women give birth in a field and then return to work a few hours later.
Our bodies were made to do it. Sure it would be painful but it would also be worth it in the end. That’s what I always told myself. I believed it to my core.
Watch: Questions about childbirth (answered by mums and non-mums). Post continues below.
Until one evening I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a video of a woman in a hospital bed with her husband. "I’ve been in labour now for over 12 hours," she said. "We are getting ready to push! I’m so excited!"
Her face was glowing and relaxed.
If she didn’t say she was in labour, you wouldn’t have been able to tell. She was lying down smiling and holding her husband's hand. He was stroking her hair telling her how amazing she was. They were smiling at each other and in that moment I felt as if I was intruding on their little world.
It was so beautiful. It was clear she had an epidural and wasn’t in pain.
I stared at these strangers through the screen and began to cry.
I had never thought of birth through that lense before. To me the beauty came from the primal moans and the heavy breaths. The enduring. The incredible sensation of your body being able to bring life forward.
The fact that I didn’t have pain relief with my children, I secretly wore as a badge of honour. As if this was part of being a woman and I had experienced it in its most raw form.