Natural Childbirth Birthing Options, Delivering Baby the Natural Way or Epidural?

This is a guest post from Heather P, sharing her personal story of finding out she was pregnant while still a high school teenager, and her decision process in favor of natural childbirth with no Epidural or pain relief medications.

Seeing the double pink lines on the pregnancy test, showing positive results that I was pregnant, came as a shock. I’m having a baby and I’m scared to death. I had just celebrated my 18th birthday, about to graduate from high school, go on to college and get my degree, then pursue my chosen career.

Here I was, a month after returning home from my summer vacation to Chicago, taking a pregnancy test, with my boyfriend on the phone with me. Out of all the things I was worried about and planning for my future, taking a pregnancy test and getting the results was the last thing I wanted to deal with.

I knew I had to tell my mom about my discovery, but how? I hadn’t even graduated from high school yet; I’m young and not married, but I’m pregnant. Having to tell my mother that I’m pregnant meant disappointing and hurting her. How do you look your mother in the eyes and tell her the news? How would she react to hearing that her own daughter was now an unmarried pregnant teenager, just like those she’s written about here on this site? Every emotion possible was running through me. I had no idea how to tell my mom, “Hey, Guess what? You’re going to be a grandmother…” Umm, no.

How to Tell Parents You Are Pregnant

I decided that I was going to call my mom at work and tell her over the phone once I got home from school that day. I expected all hell to break loose, but I was extremely surprised and relieved that her only reaction (after a long moment of silence) was to calmly tell me to go to Planned Parenthood and take another pregnancy test to be sure there was no false-positive results, and that we’d talk about it when she got home.

Having heard how other parents of pregnant teenage girls have reacted to an unplanned pregnancy, I was expecting to hear an explosive reaction from my mom too, but I didn’t get one. All we talked about were the 3 different pregnancy options that needed to be decided: Adoption, abortion, or keeping and raising the baby. There was no criticism from my mom; no down-talk; no name calling; no emotionally-charged rants whatsoever; our conversation was purely informational and calm.

While I knew I wasn’t ready for a baby, I called my boyfriend and told him what I was thinking and feeling, and asked him what he wanted to do since it was his baby too. He cried his heart out to both me and my mom, telling us that he wanted me to keep the baby, and that we’d work everything out. Ultimately, that’s what he and I decided to do. So I was now a 18-year-old mom-to-be.

Next question that had to be answered was, where was I going to live? My boyfriend lived in Chicago, and I live in Texas. Was I going to move back to Chicago and stay with him and his family? Was I going to stay in Texas and he move out here? We decided I was going to stay here in Texas with my mom, and my boyfriend would move here as soon as possible. While his family had already known (prior to him moving) that I was pregnant and he was about to become a father, my dad and siblings still had no idea.

I was way too afraid to hear their criticism and negative comments, so I asked my mom if she could deliver the news for me. She didn’t need to tell me what they said to her about it because it was written all over her face. Suffice it to say that their reactions were the exact opposite of my mom’s reaction. Then it was time to start figuring out who my labor and delivery doctor (OBGYN) would be, where and how I would give birth to our baby, and start getting things we needed for the baby.

Birthing Options for Expectant Mothers

Although I didn’t know anything about the different places to labor and deliver a baby, my mom knows what birthing options there are for mothers-to-be and she was a big help to us! In an unbiased way, she explained the pros and cons of giving birth in a hospital, as well as the cost of delivering a baby in a hospital. She explained midwives and birthing centers to me and the costs involved, and explained what home births are like. Not once did my mom ever say anything to pressure me or influence my/our personal choice of how or where I would labor and/or deliver our baby. Thanks mom!

Labor and delivery in hospitals is very expensive even if you have health insurance, and you have virtually no freedom on how you’re going to labor and deliver your baby. If you’re having mostly back labor (where the labor pains or contractions are mostly felt in your lower back), the last thing you would want to be told by the hospital nurses is to lay flat on your back, or that you’re not allowed to turn on your side or move around at all even if it makes you feel more comfortable before, during and after each contraction.

Hospitals aren’t very open-minded to what birthing methods women want for their own labor and birth experience, and you only see your doctor for a quick few minutes when the baby is ready to be delivered. Birthing Centers are very open to what pregnant mothers want for their birth experience, assuming you don’t want an Epidural or any strong pain medications. Birthing Centers are available for women who want natural childbirth like I did, but at a much lower cost than having a baby in a hospital. Birthing at home (home births) is essentially the same as laboring and delivering your baby at a Birthing Center.

Once my boyfriend and I understood the choices and options about how and where to deliver a baby, we decided to visit the Allen Birthing Center in Allen Texas. I didn’t want to have to spend $20,000 just to see my doctor for 5 minutes, so it was a relief when they told me that the cost was only $4750 dollars flat fee; the price includes from the moment you have your first prenatal office visit, to the day they check you after birth. Once we had a good look around and got all our questions answered to our satisfaction, we decided that the Allen Birthing Center was where I would give birth.

Trying to finish school while pregnant proved to be very interesting to me. At first I was self-conscience about myself and the way that everyone looked at me, but after I realized that the kids at my school didn’t really make a big deal about it, it was easy to just be myself. Being pregnant didn’t really stop me from doing very much. I still drove everywhere, and held a part time job well into my third trimester.

The prenatal Lamaze classes that my boyfriend and I went to were pretty funny. We were the youngest couple there, but no one treated us any different. We watched some birthing videos of people having a baby, worked out of a workbook, and practiced different breathing and relaxation techniques that make labor more tolerable. I didn’t realize there was so much information you needed to know about labor and delivering a baby.

Natural Childbirth vs Epidural and Pain Relief

The time came for me to decide what kind of birth I wanted to have. I already knew that I wanted natural childbirth, with no Epidural administered or pain meds. Since my mom personally chose natural labor and delivery for each of her 6 kids, she was a good reference for “what to expect” as far as what natural labor and delivery is like. It was really helpful to hear from someone who’s “been there” explaining what it was like for her, and feel no pressure from my mom at all, or influence to go through labor and delivery the way she did.

I even decided that I wanted a water birth, where I would deliver the baby in a bathtub filled with warm water or in the “birthing tub” in the birthing center bedroom I chose. At 4:00 am on May 11th last year, I woke up to the sound of a really weird “POP”. Lucky for me I didn’t really FEEL the pop, I just heard it. (It sounded a lot like when you pop the cork from a wine/champagne bottle) I didn’t really notice anything weird for a couple seconds, until I started leaking fluid a little bit. My water was breaking, slowly. It was only when my mom woke up and came upstairs that we confirmed that indeed my water broke and was causing me to leak.

My mom, my boyfriend, and I sat in the living room for quite awhile just timing the contractions that had begun, until I decided that I wanted to get into my parents huge Jacuzzi-tub. I just wanted to relax and take it easy, so sitting in the tub getting a back massage and listening to some good jazz music, was definitely the way to go.

Once the contractions started getting more intense and lasting longer, I felt it was time for us to drive to the Birthing Center to get checked out, but we were sent back home with further instructions. A couple of hours later we went back to the center a second time, and even though I had only dilated 4 centimeters, I was allowed to stay at the center and was told to walk around as much as I could to help speed up the process. Gravity matters during labor!

My Doula came in to help relieve my back pain as my labor and contractions progressed, since I was having back labor mostly. Hand/fist pressure applied to my lower back only helped a little, and left me bruised more than anything else. I tried sitting on a “birthing ball”, also known as a birth ball or labor ball (it looks like an exercise ball) and rolling my hips, but it didn’t really do anything for me. Sitting on a stool in the shower for about 45 minutes, while my boyfriend held and directed the shower-head water on my lower back helped a lot.

The much maligned transition phase started while I was sitting in the shower. Transition was painful but, surprisingly, it was still tolerable. Even though both my mom and I were criticized about my personal decision for natural childbirth vs having an epidural and/or pain medication, I’m glad I did it this way and would do it again. I labored and delivered our baby my way, just like I wanted and planned for myself.

Delivering a Baby the Natural Way

It’s a very strange feeling when your body naturally, suddenly and without warning, starts pushing the baby down and out the birth canal. Water births are great! Sitting in the tub filled with warm water made pushing the baby out a lot easier than I had originally imagined. The tub water took the weight of my stomach off of my back, so it was easier to concentrate on pushing, instead of how sore my back felt. When my daughter’s head was crowning, I was scared to keep pushing because I could feel myself tearing slightly. Once the baby’s head came out, the midwife told me to stop pushing. “What?! Are you crazy?” were my thoughts.

As a way of distracting myself, I turned to my mom and my boyfriend, and told them that my boyfriend and I weren’t going to be having any more kids, haha. Someone then told me that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my daughter’s neck and they had to unwrap it before I could finish pushing her out. After the midwives/Doula un-wrapped the cord, another push or two was all it took and beautiful Sophia Bella was finally born at 2:59 pm on May 11th 2009.

There are many options to choose from regarding labor, dealing with labor pains, and options for delivering a baby that pregnant teens or women need to carefully consider and decide. I wanted a natural, vaginal childbirth, and I’m so glad it all happened as I had planned. Creating a birth plan is very important when you’re pregnant, and I’m glad my mom provided me all the information, support and guidance I needed in order to choose for myself and my baby.

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8 Responses to “Natural Childbirth Birthing Options, Delivering Baby the Natural Way or Epidural?”

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  1. Karla Bond says:

    Wow what a great story and Happy Birthday Sophia! I am not sure I could take natural childbirth. I had my one an only with drugs, lots of them, but a water birth sounds nice and relaxing.
    .-= Karla Bond´s last blog ..Eco-Friendly Laundry =-.

    • Lin says:

      Hi Karla,

      It’s amazing that Sophia is a year old already. Heather did an excellent job during her labor and delivery, and I’m sooo proud of her. She made a personal choice to deliver her baby naturally without any medications, epidural or so much as a tylenol. Even though she (and I) were criticized that she had chosen natural childbirth without an epidural or anything, she has a mind of her own and made the choice she felt comfortable with. My job as her mother was to ensure she had all the information she needed to make an informed choice for herself and her baby, versus trying to tell her what to choose or persuade her one way or the other. The water birth was incredible – something I’d never even considered for myself years ago.

  2. Todd says:

    That is a great story, and a happy ending to boot.

    Obviously I can’t know what any of this actually feels like, but I have attended a birth or two in my day. Based on that, I can tell you one thing … if men had to give birth, the human race would probably go extinct; especially if we couldn’t use pain meds. 🙂
    .-= Todd´s last blog ..My Girls Are 100% Angel =-.

    • Lin says:

      I’m sure you’re right Todd! And I could almost bet that most men would be begging for pain meds very early in labor, well before transition sets in 😉

  3. Cath Lawson says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sure it will help a lot of pregnant teenagers.

    In the UK, a lot of teenager girls get pregnant deliberately to get benefits from the government. If we had that $4750 fee over here, I think it would put them off.

    I was laughing when you said everything went to plan because my first pregnancy was totally the opposite. I wound up in labour for 24 hours and most of that time my cervix was dilated to six inches. It was not a good experience and in the end I wound up needing a C section. I wanted a natural birth but it wasn’t happening. But thank God for modern technology, or so many of us would probaby die in childbirth.
    .-= Cath Lawson´s last blog ..I’m Back But I Forgot An Important Lesson =-.

    • Lin says:

      Hi Cath,

      It doesn’t surprise me at all that some teens get pregnant on purpose, whether it’s in the UK or here in the U.S. Unfortunately, some teen girls have the convoluted idea that getting pregnant on purpose is the easy way to become emancipated from parents, but fail miserably in understanding the lifelong responsibilities they are suddenly faced with once the baby arrives.

      There are of course times when plans to have a natural childbirth have to be altered, and sometimes by emergency C section. That’s something the birthing centers are great about – their very close working relationship with nearby hospitals and how quickly a laboring mother is transferred to the hospital should the need arise.

      24 hour long labors, if not longer, is something even I didn’t have to ever experience. Heather’s first labor/delivery was a mere ten hours, and if she’s anything like me (as it seems), her labor and delivery times will be less and less than the first time around. Hopefully not for quite awhile tho haha.

  4. ChrisCD says:

    Our first child was by emergency C-section after 24-hours of hard labor with potossin (spelling?). Our other 5 were all planned C-Sections, because my wife was too small to allow our children’s to heads to engage (or our children had way too big a head :O) ).

    I applaud your daughter and you for handling it very maturely. As a dad, I can’t say that my initial reaction would be calm. :O)
    ChrisCD recently posted..Rates From Around the USMy Profile

    • Lin says:

      Hi Chris,

      24-hour long labors sound horrible, and I’m glad neither me or my daughter have experienced anything like that. I’ve read many articles listing the various reasons why having a C-section might be absolutely necessary, including where the doctor found the birth canal being too small for the baby’s head and body to be born naturally through the vagina.

      However, from numerous articles found online and offline, there does appear to be a growing “trend” towards choosing to have a C-section not out of real need (the mother of baby’s health or life being threatened or in danger) but for other somewhat frivolous reasons. I’m glad my daughter really did her homework and made choices for herself and her baby that was in the best interests of both of them.