Mamamia wants to break the code of silence when it comes to telling your birth story. Here, we share detailed, raw and real accounts of what it’s really like to have a baby.
The birth of my son was the most beautiful experience of my life, thanks to an epidural.
I didn’t plan to have an epidural. I’d been having contractions for nearly 24 hours, and getting through them with deep breathing and thoughts of meeting my son. I felt like I was dealing pretty well with the pain. Then, because the labour wasn’t really progressing and I was a 40-year-old attempting a VBAC, the doctor suggested breaking my waters. I agreed.
The pain of contractions, which I’d put at about an eight out of 10, suddenly went up to 11 out of 10. Or maybe 93 out of 10. It felt like I was being knifed in the stomach. My husband suggested a shower. I grabbed him, looked him in the eye and said, “I know you’re trying to be supportive. But if you really want to support me, GET ME AN EPIDURAL NOW.”
Miraculously, an anaesthetist appeared almost instantly in the room (yay for public hospitals). The relief of the pain gradually ebbing away was indescribable. I felt so incredibly grateful.
Having the epidural meant I could focus on the birth, rather than being overwhelmed by agony. I was still able to push. It was a peaceful, beautiful experience.
My son was born, calm and alert. He took his first look at the world and then began breastfeeding. He has brought me joy ever since.
Everyone's birth experience is different. Photo via iStock.
The reason I'm sharing my birth story now, six years after it happened, is because of a piece written by Jessi Klein that appeared in the The New York Times. She talks about how, when she was seven months pregnant, a stranger in the supermarket asked her: "Are you having a natural birth?"
The stranger was shocked when she said she was planning an epidural. Klein was left feeling annoyed.
"No one ever asks a man if he’s having a 'natural root canal'," she writes. "No one ever asks if a man is having a 'natural vasectomy'."
Klein says there is so much pressure on women around birth and labour and mothering.
"It’s so easy to believe the notion that having a baby demands complete and total self-abnegation, and anything short of that is not enough," she adds. "But here’s the thing: If you’re worried that skipping the pain of childbirth means you’re somehow cheating your baby, or yourself, you’re not."