So many people say, “That’s the craziest thing I have ever heard! You must be so brave.” Or “that is so irresponsible! What if something had happened to the baby?” Actually, I had wanted to have a natural birth for a long time. My sister had all of her children but her first in natural water birth, but my husband was not really on board with the natural childbirth idea . . . I really hate the hospital atmosphere, and being bothered by all the poking and prodding, and what I really wanted with my first three children was just to be left alone. No blood pressure cuffs, no I.V.s, no cervical exams, just nice peaceful rest and enjoying my new baby with the family.
Also, I really wanted more control over the experience . . .to change positions if I wanted, to get up, to have my family there in a more natural setting. I just wanted to be the one calling the shots and I didn’t want anyone telling me how I should be having my baby and pressuring me into things that I really didn’t want. I really feel that when you are in so much pain, it is really easy to allow yourself to give up personal responsibility for your own care, and when you are lying on your back, I found later that this is the most painful position to be in for childbirth.
On my fourth pregnancy, we had no health insurance. I told my husband that I could do this to help our family avoid the debt that we would certainly have if we had the baby at the hospital. At least $,5000 and possibly more. And so he agreed. I found a midwife who only charged $800, and paid my sister’s airfare so she could come act as doula.
I thought I would be scared, but I had so much peace in my decision that I was able to really relax and I spent my time reading about childbirth and educating myself about childbirth herbs and what to do if there was an emergency. I already had some knowledge, because I had wanted to do this before, but I wanted to wait until I had my husband’s blessing, and not have it be something that would cause a rift in our relationship.
I had three children previously with epidurals at the hospital. The water birth was so much easier on me that I was able to nurse the baby, who practically scooted up to my breast and was rooting very strongly — something that none of my other children did because of the medication in their systems — and then get up and take a shower right afterward, which is something i had never been able to do before. Also, the water birth only took 3 hours compared to my shortest labor of 6 hours with pitocin (something I would never have done if there was not so much pressure while I was in pain at the hospital). I actually had to hold back because I was worried that my husband would not make it home in time!
The water when kept hot, was very soothing, and kept the pain to a minimum. In the hospital, I had to have oxygen to control the pain induced nausia. I dodn’t need this with water birth and I actually had more pain with the epidurals than without while I was in the water. This along with using pressure points and vocalizing to control the pain during contractions made the birth much less painful.
There was also the unexpected psychological benefit that I experienced from having a natural childbirth . . . I felt like I had really accomplished something and the whole experience was very empowering. Almost as if I had a rebirth of my own. I was more able to stand up for myself and I had a new sense of personal power and self confidence that I had not felt in a long time. I credit this experience for my being able to stand up to my husband on some issues that I feel ultimately saved our marriage.
I can honestly say that if I had had my first child at home in a water birth, I would have never gone to the hospital for any of my children’s births, and I highly recommend it to anyone in good health.