I summed up Henry’s birth story with this thought:


Labor was, by far, the most emotionally and physically intense moment of my life.  But I look at Henry now and know it worth it.  The entire pregnancy, the labor – it was worth it.  I really believe that all women should be very proud of themselves no matter how they deliver; there’s no right or wrong way, just what is best for each mother and baby, including their physical and emotional needs.  I am very proud of my birth story.  But I could not have done it without Bradley Method classes and without the support of Kristien.


Birth posts are difficult to write because you feel like you’re offending someone by simply writing about what you wanted for yourself.  I hope everyone realizes that while a drug-free birth mattered to me, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with others doing whatever is necessary or desirable to them.  I’m not going to pepper the rest of this post with tons of disclaimers because it would get incredibly redundant but – again – there’s no right way for everyone to birth, but this was right for Henry and me.  I’m writing this post for the women who are considering a drug-free birth, not for people who want to debate the merits of it. 


My Pre-Birth Review of Bradley Method Classes talks a lot about what the classes entailed and how they helped me.  Bradley Method classes gave me the tools necessary to deliver without pain medication; our class had a total of 10 couples and all but one woman gave birth without medication (the one who needed drugs had an emergency c-section).


Some women have said to me, “I want a drug-free birth but if it gets really bad and I can’t handle it, I’ll just get the epidural.”  The women I know with that attitude ended up getting medication (I’m referring again, of course, only to women who had a choice, not ones who medically needed drugs).  The reason that I think this attitude doesn’t work as well as, “I will not get pain relief unless there is a serious medical reason to do so,” is that childbirth is REALLY FREAKING PAINFUL.  If you are open to drugs, you will probably get them during delivery.  I am curious to know if anyone out there in Internetland went into labor thinking they’d like to go drug-free but weren’t super committed to the idea of a natural birth and didn’t end up getting pain relief.  I had a drug-free birth because I was extremely committed to the concept.  I really wanted it and believed that I could do it.  One of my takeaways from my birth experience is that if you want to go drug-free, spend a lot of time learning about natural birth and thinking about why this philosophy matters to you.


Of course, all of this assumes that a woman who wants a drug-free birth is able to safely have one.  There are excellent reasons to medically intervene and give drugs (whether pain-relieving or contraction-inducing).  I realize that birth is sometimes completely out of a woman’s control; however, I do think women are too often led to believe intervention is necessary when it isn’t (for example, the Natural Alignment Plateau issue).  Luckily for me, my birth remained in my control, I had a great midwife and nurse, and the only intervention that was required before Henry was born was an episiotomy (and it was the right decision).  Ten weeks later, I remain very, very proud of my birth experience.  Childbirth was the most empowering moment of my life.


This thought leads well into the first reader question…


Brie asked, “I’ve been very very very hesitant to say I want to go med-free, because I don’t want to feel like a failure or that something was “wrong” with my baby’s birth after the fact if it doesn’t happen. You were so open about it on here that I imagine there were a lot of expectations going in. I feel like I read a lot of blogs and stories where women hype up drug-free labor and delivery SO MUCH, and then something goes wrong and they’re crushed. So I guess I’m curious as to your take on that.”  (Emily B asked a similar question about pain relief.)


Lots and lots of readers expressed concerns over my birth plan, stating that I was too committed to a particular birth scenario and was destined to be disappointed.  While this objection to birth plans makes some sense, I’d argue that you must be committed to the idea of a drug-free birth to make it happen.  Did that mean that I was going to have a meltdown if I got pain relief?  Not at all!  During one of our Bradley classes, the instructor told us something that really stuck with me:  Even if you end up getting drugs to ease the pain or speed along contractions, the longer you ‘hold out,’ the longer the baby has had a drug-free birth experience.  Additionally, I knew the most important thing was getting Henry out safely.  If I received medication, it was going to be because I really, really needed it.  Therefore, if I had drugs, I wouldn’t feel bad – there was an emergency, and I overwhelmingly would’ve just felt relieved it was all okay. 


Repeat after me:  At the end of the day, the birth really is just one day.  It’s an important day, but it’s just one day. 


Did I feel ‘pressure’ because of the blog to refuse pain relief?  Honestly, hells to the no.  That’s because it was something that I really wanted for me and for my baby, not for show.  Trust me, going through drug-free childbirth is not something that I would do just to impress someone else!  If you’re considering a drug-free birth, I would just take some time to explore why you want it and how important it is to you.  Also ask yourself what’s ultimately so bad about having a different birth experience if your hopes don’t pan out (the answer is not much – the baby’s health is the priority).  If you’re in labor and things don’t seem to be going the way you’d want them to, remember there are many ways to preserve the general feel of your wishes – for example, my friend who had a c-section made sure her baby did skin-to-skin contact with her husband once the medical team cleared the baby.   


Amanda wrote, “What relaxation methods did you find most helpful? Did you really practice the methods/exercises beforehand? Did they pay off during labor? Were you still nervous in the weeks leading up to labor?”


I did practice some of the relaxation techniques beforehand – whenever I felt ill, I would practice letting my whole body go limp and take my mind to my happy place.  But I didn’t do my ‘homework’ every night or even every other night.  Relaxation worked in the initial stages of labor, but once things really got going, I just rode out the pain.  Actually, long distance running and triathlons prepared me more than anything.  I was used to my body hurting and not being able to stop.  Additionally, I feel that staying active through the end of my pregnancy was so important.  I knew my body was in shape and could pull through the tough physical demands of drug-free labor.  This gave me a lot of confidence.


What was most helpful for me was knowing what my body was doing and why.  I would’ve FREAKED OUT during transition if I didn’t know what was happening and that it would end soon.  I visualized what was physically happening to my cervix and uterus and pictured the baby moving down.  And I was nervous in the weeks leading up to labor, but again, I felt very well-prepared thanks to Bradley.  I think preparation is key.


Jordan asked, “I wonder, if you get pregnant again, do you think you will you go drug-free again? I know it is painful, but do you attribute getting through it so well to Kristien and the Bradley Method classes?”


I will definitely attempt to go drug-free again.  I think some women want pain relief because it makes them feel more in control of the birth experience; however, the thought of introducing drugs into my system during labor makes me feel totally out of control.  That’s not to say that I was cool, calm, and collected during labor – I was a screaming, thrashing, cursing beast of a woman.  I was an animal.  But I knew that everything happened to my body was supposed to be happening – the contractions weren’t being artificially induced or strengthened, for example.  That made me feel in control of what was happening and is why I’d ultimately opt out of pain relief next time. If you could 100% guarantee that I could get an epidural and not trigger a cascade of medical interventions (which happens!), I would possibly reconsider… I’ve heard of women reading magazines during active labor thanks to an epidural; that sounds nice.   


Katie asked, “Can you please explain what contractions feel like? I’ve heard they start off like menstrual cramps, but what does it feel like as they get stronger? I keep wondering what this “worst pain of your life” is like…. Also, is the pain constant or does it last only as long as each contraction (i.e. 30-90 secs or so). I would love to hear a detailed explanation of what contractions/labor pains feel like (if you can remember, you may have blocked it out!)”


I loved this question because I asked the same question to my Bradley instructor!  My labor begin with my water breaking, and it took a few hours to have a contraction.  Early contractions do feel like super intense menstrual cramps.  Later, in serious labor, it feels like… well, it feels like someone is wrenching something inside you wide open and shoving a 7-pound baby through the opening.  The sensation is deep , which I found disconcerting because I had not felt serious internal pain before.  After a point but before you start pushing, the contraction pain is constant; as I said, transition was really rough (can you tell I hated transition?).  Once you start pushing, there is constant sensation but it is not intense and constant pain.  Your body is very smart – if you get too tired, it will begin to space out your contractions to give you a two to three minute break from pushing.  There were times during the three long hours of pushing that I just laid on the table, calmly staring at the ceiling and waiting for another contraction.  There is pressure during these breaks but I wouldn’t call it pain.  Also – the pain is intense.  So intense.  But it is bearable.  The thing about childbirth pain is that it has an end point.  It doesn’t go on forever.  You just have to try to ride it out.  I think this attitude about pain (“This is terrible but it won’t last for eternity”) was really helpful for me.


Laura wrote, “I was curious about the "ring of fire" I’ve heard people mention and if you actually felt it giving birth? Also, would like to see update stomach pictures like you did the week after-so curious to see what it looks like for a normal person after giving birth.”


The ring of fire refers to the pain you experience when the head crowns at the vaginal opening.  I think that I did not experience the ring of fire because I had an episiotomy.  Or maybe I was just naturally numbed from the pressure of Henry’s head (again – our bodies are so smart!).  At one point, the nurse did say, “This is when it is really going to hurt,” and I was kind of like, “Um, lady – it ALL hurts; I am birthing a baby sans drugs.”  Hah.


Here are post-birth stomach pictures!  Please excuse the creepy bathroom pictures and pajamas.  (Reminder:  I looked like this at 39 Weeks.)

photo_thumb7 photo2_thumb2


Erin wrote, “I’m really curious about what Kristien thought during your labor and delivery. I feel like so many blogs are written from the mothers point of view (obviously, since it’s 90% women who write them) that we don’t hear as much from the fathers/partners perspectives through the experience. It must be really scary for them to see the person they love so much in extreme pain/discomfort. I’m curious as to what he was thinking, how he stayed calm, helped you through, if he thought the Bradley Method was helpful, etc.”


I asked Kristien if he would respond to this question, and here’s what he said… “I thought Caitlin was so strong during delivery, but I wasn’t surprised at the way she handled it.  I was very confident that she could have a drug-free birth if the situation allowed for it.  I wasn’t as nervous as I expected to be, in part because of my Bradley training.  It was helpful for me to know why certain things were happening and to feel educated in potential interventions so I could help Caitlin make sound decisions.  I stayed calm because I knew that staying calm was my one and only job.  I expected Caitlin to be vocal and cry a lot, and although I didn’t like watching it happen, it was okay because we were both prepared for it.  A few of my friends told me that I would never look at her the same way after I saw her deliver, but I think that’s an odd thing to say – childbirth is raw and messy but perfectly normal and natural.  Bodily fluids just don’t bother me.  Caitlin said afterwards that she felt bad that I had to stand up on my feet for so long, which was very nice of her!  I was very tired by the time it was all over – we had been up over 24 hours.  But mostly, I was just so excited that things had gone well and that Henry was here.”


Kendra wrote, "Are you still taking the placenta capsules? How much of a supply do the capsules provide? I know you don’t have anything to compare your experience to but do you really think the capsules helped with your hormones/mood?”


I wrote about my placenta pills in this post.  In summary, I do think they made a huge difference (I had a one month supply) and will definitely encapsulate my placenta again.


Brooke wrote, “Do you think having a baby (not the birth, the every day life of raising Henry) is harder than you expected?”


It is actually WAY easier than I expected.  Henry is such an easy baby; we are really blessed.  He is very smiley and joyful and independent.  Sure, there are trying moments and life is different now, but it is so much better than I imagined it.  I say this because for years, I was terrified to have children, thinking it would be the end of life as I knew it, but it’s not always like that.  Sometimes, it is just fine.  Minus the poop explosions. 


I could do without poop explosions.  Especially ones that occur in the baby bathtub (why Henry, why?).



  • Linda August 23, 2012, 8:34 am

    What a great post. I love the way you shared “your” story. I always think it is fascinating to read about birth experiences because each one is so unique. I’m due with my second in just 6 weeks. Congrats, Caitlin!!

  • Heather@YSP August 23, 2012, 8:36 am

    As a woman who never even considered going without drugs, I wanted to say thank you for this post. It’s well reasoned, fair, beautifully personal, and didn’t once make me feel judged. In fact, it made me feel like I might considered a drug-free birth if I ever did it again. Henry is beautiful, and you seem so natural and comfortable as a mom. It’s nice to see.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat August 23, 2012, 8:40 am

    Haha I love the last bit about poop explosions… I don’t have kids but I’ve done my fair share of babysitting and those were not infrequent occurrences. Maybe I should have asked for extra pay lol! Great post Caitlin – I love how open and honest you’ve been about the whole pregnancy ordeal and I’ve learned tons from you. Before this, I had no idea what the Bradley Method was! Like you said, I think it definitely helps to be very educated about pregnancy beforehand so you know what’s going on with your body and so that it doesn’t freak you out. I will be well prepared when that day comes!

  • Becca August 23, 2012, 8:46 am

    This was great. Thanks so much, and congratulations on a successful birth and a beautiful little one!

  • Sarah August 23, 2012, 9:01 am

    Ha- we had a Code Brown in the tub a few weeks ago- SO GROSS! Not fun to have to stop mid-bath, clean the tub, and then rewash the baby. Ew.

    I had a c-section because my son was breech and wouldn’t turn despite the amount of time I spent upside down the last month of my pregnancy. My water broke two days before I had an appointment to talk about ECV.

    I’m really committed to have a natural birth next time as I HATED my c-section- complete and total disdain for the whole process. I want to do Bradley classes or hypnobabies to try and work on visualization and relaxation throughout my pregnancy to make sure that I am trying to get a head down kind from the start. I do think, though, there must have been a reason my son was breech and that perhaps that was the safest place for him to be.

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 9:04 am

      I like the way you think 🙂

  • Callie @ The Wannabe Athlete August 23, 2012, 9:03 am

    I had an epidural and I literally took a nap during active labor. Totally slept through progressing from about 3 inches to 7 inches. This is one of the reasons it’s really hard for me to imagine going without an epidural this time around. 🙂

    • Robin August 23, 2012, 1:13 pm

      Gosh, I sure hope you mean cm not inches 😉

      • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 1:14 pm

        Lol !

  • K August 23, 2012, 9:18 am

    I’m that person who wavered on pain relief and ended up with a drug-free birth. When we took our hospital tour, the nurse told us if we were at all considering an epidural, we were going to end up with one. I think that’s true in 99% of cases. During my labor I wanted one and asked for one. Labor and delivery was too busy so I was stuck in triage for awhile, where they can’t administer epidurals. Then, I progressed from 2 cm -9 cm in 3 hours without being checked on. Once I heard I was 9 cm, I couldn’t believe it. But I was so happy I was because I thought I was the biggest wuss being in SO much pain at just 2 cm! So I went through transition thinking I was just progressing from early labor into active labor, and thinking it would get so much worse, which felt terrifying. Once I was at 9 cm things happened fast, even faster than dilation. I pushed for 20 minutes and she was here! I think I am a fluke- an accidental drug-free hospital birth- but I’m thrilled with how it all happened.

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 9:19 am

      That is an awesome story. Going from 2 to 9 in 3 hours sounds pretty epic. 🙂

      • Ki August 23, 2012, 5:37 pm

        This is very similar to my first baby’s birth story. I was open to drugs, but also a little worried because I’d never taken anything stronger than novocain before and didn’t know how my body would respond to real drugs. But I labored quickly. My water broke at home and I fuzt’d around (took shower, shaved my legs, made the bed, did a quick load of laundry, moved some furniture…). We left for the hospital two hours later and we I showed up I was 9 cm and was in very active labor. The nurse told me that if I wanted drugs I needed to say so immediately or it would be too late. That let me know how far along I was and I was shocked. “Is this, like, labor labor? Like the real deal?” I kept asking. Not that it wasn’t painful. It was! But I thought it was only the beginning and would be building and so my idea of what the pain was going to be needed to be recalibrated. I knew I could totally make it to the end without pain meds. I took all my contractions standing up, like a peasant and pulled the baby out myself! I felt like a superstar. The nurse with me had never seen an unmediated birth before–very telling of modern hospital births! And it was actually fun to ride this out with her. She asked
        ME a lot of questions.

        My second baby was born without meds too, but having gone through the first with such happy results, I was more committed that time–and that was good because she was 2+ lbs larger than my first–and 3 inches longer. When I talked to my mother the next morning she asked how I was feeling and I said my throat hurt. I did a lot of screaming…

  • Juli D. August 23, 2012, 9:23 am

    I was curious how essential you felt the doula was in your natural birthing experience?

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 9:30 am

      I didn’t have one so not at all!

      • Amanda K. August 23, 2012, 9:50 am

        i’ve been told doulas are ESSENTIAL – but i didn’t have one either. nothing is “essential” for everyone because everyone is different! i did bradley classes and didn’t use ANY of it because all i wanted to do was lay on my side and not be touched. you can’t expect what labor will be like, and, ultimately, your body knows what to do.

        • Lesley September 4, 2012, 3:12 pm

          I had two home births, one with a doula and one without. I would definitely say that the doula was indispensible, but a lot of that has to do with the home birth aspect. I hadn’t realized that the midwife has a lot of work to do to prepare for the birth, a lot of record-keeping to be done, and not a lot of time for “hand-holding”, for lack of a better way to put it. Plus the midwife often needed my husband to get supplies for her, since she didn’t know where things were located. By getting a doula, it meant that I was not left to my own devices and freed up my husband to provide emotional support. Also, she was way better at the massage and provided a TENS machine as well, which was great since I had back labour with both pregnancies, making the birth a lot more difficult to boot.

          I suspect that a doula is less important in a hospital setting or if you are able to have another experienced person present, such as your mother or a close friend.

      • Juli D. August 23, 2012, 4:29 pm

        Oh, for some reason I thought there was someone (not a doc) there that told you it would be okay to get the episiotomy! I guess my memory is failing me – pregnancy brain! 🙂

        • Juli D. August 23, 2012, 4:30 pm

          Ok, so I just looked back, and I guess you called it a midwife? I think that’s the same as a doula, but if not, I guess my question would be how essential was your midwife?

  • Samantha Angela August 23, 2012, 9:24 am

    I’m not really interested in ever getting pregnant but I love reading about your experience and what you thought of it.
    I know that you didn’t deliver naturally to impress people, but these days it really is impressive. and badass

    • Kate August 23, 2012, 5:45 pm

      As a childfree by choice person, I echo Samantha’s sentiment. I have no plans for kids, but find reading about your pregnancy, birthing process, and life with Henry super fascinating!

  • KellyK August 23, 2012, 9:27 am

    Caitlin, I cannot say thank you enough for the information you have willingly shared. My husband and I are expecting our first baby in October, which is coming up really fast. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now, and I have learned so much from you on many topics. The way you have approached childbirth has helped me to develop my own plan that is right for us. Thanks!

  • Blakely @ The Husky Life August 23, 2012, 9:32 am

    Could Henry get any cuter???

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 12:42 pm

      No 🙂

  • Britt @ BalancedBritt August 23, 2012, 9:32 am


    I am 29 weeks now, and the hubs and I are in our 5th week of Bradley Classes. It is only because of you and reading this blog that I even know about the Bradley Method, so I cannot thank you enough for that. There are 4 other couples in our class, and our instructor holds classes in her home so it is very intimate and casual. We have really been enjoying it, and I already feel so much more prepared for our birth experience. We are delivering in a birth center, and like you had mentioned before, my fear of birth has transformed into excitement! I definitely agree that knowing what to expect and why your body is doing what it is doing has been the biggest aid for me so far.

    Random question…Our Bradley instructor is very supportive of not telling the laboring mom what her progress is (5cm, 9cm, etc) in fear that hearing a number lower than you were expecting would defeat you. Did you get reports on your progress, or did you just listen to your body?

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 12:42 pm

      Yes! I didn’t want to know. I was only checked twice and the hospital required those checks (upon arrival and before pushing).

  • Emily N August 23, 2012, 9:43 am

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this post. It definitely addressed a lot of questions that I had previously as well as some new ones, not to mention ADDED a few questions for me to eventually ask my doctor.

  • Kim L. August 23, 2012, 9:45 am

    Great post! I admire how you make decisions that work for you and you don’t judge others for making different decisions that work for them. The world needs more people who can ‘agree to disagree’ respectfully.

  • Amanda K. August 23, 2012, 9:48 am

    This was a great post, thanks so much for all the info.
    I went drug-free with my son for the same reason: I wanted to be completely present, I wanted to be able to walk, and I wanted to not have a catheter (or a needle in my spine!)

    I also cringe when people say they’re going to try to go drug-free but they’re ok with drugs if they need them. I think you have to be totally committed. I always knew drugs were an option, but I also knew it was important to me to not have them.
    I compare it to running a marathon. Even though you know it’s ok if something happens and you end up not finishing, you have to toe the starting line committed to finishing! No one finished the race thinking, “eh. maybe i’ll do it.”

    And I was also a wild animal. A wild, uncommunicative animal whose throat was sore for 3 days from all the roaring.

    • Veronica August 23, 2012, 2:51 pm

      “I also cringe when people say they’re going to try to go drug-free but they’re ok with drugs if they need them. I think you have to be totally committed. I always knew drugs were an option, but I also knew it was important to me to not have them.
      I compare it to running a marathon. Even though you know it’s ok if something happens and you end up not finishing, you have to toe the starting line committed to finishing! No one finished the race thinking, “eh. maybe i’ll do it.”

      Yes. THIS.

      With my first, I wanted to go drug-free but I wasn’t 100% committed. I had done nothing to educate myself beyond what conventional labor would be like. I literally thought I’d stroll up into L&D, labor like a badass and just refuse pain meds.
      HA! That did not happen. By 4cm I got the epidural and I hated it.

      With my second, I had learned my lesson. I wanted to go natural and I knew I had to do the WORK. I started prepping with the Bradley Method around 16 weeks and practiced it over and over. My son was 10 days overdue, but I had the natural drug-free labor I’d been hoping for.

      Education, experience, preparation and downright stubbornness made my two labors look like night and day.

      In some ways, it’s a bit like marriage. If you go into it with an attitude that “when it gets hard, I can always get a divorce” then you’re probably going to get one! Because it gets really hard sometimes! But if you go into it with divorce not even being an option, you’re going to find alternate ways to deal with adversity when the going gets tough. Thankfully labor does not last anywhere near as long as marriage!! hehe.

  • BPage August 23, 2012, 9:51 am

    I wanted to do it without drugs but was willing to give in if needed. My labor went pretty fast – 5 hours. By the time I thought I MIGHT want an epidural, it was time to push. I was so glad that I was able to do it without. It was an amazing feeling of “I did it!”

  • Ellen August 23, 2012, 9:56 am

    This was a great post. I’m all about the natural birth!

    When you say, though, that the birth is just one day… Not always true. My sister was in labor for 3.5 days and it was horrible. She was so determined to have a natural birth but it didn’t work out that way. 🙁

  • Alex @ Alex Tries it Out August 23, 2012, 10:03 am

    I love reading these posts. I’m not ready to have kids yet, but I’ve never found such open, honest, relatable information. Thanks!!

  • Jessica August 23, 2012, 10:09 am

    I love hearing your reflections on your birth. I agree that the vast majority of women that are open to the idea of an epi will get them, there’s no way you can know beforehand the amount of pain you will experience! I was like you – 100% committed to a med-free birth – and it was sheer willpower to get through my 55+ hour birth without any meds.

    You are so lucky that you didn’t really experience the “ring of fire.” That was the worst part for me, the entire time I pushed (which was luckily less than an hour) I could feel myself ripping open with each push. I ended up with third degree tears (both directions, inside and out) because my water never properly broke and my baby came out much more forcefully than normal. But I’m so glad I saw it through, those post-delivery endorphin were wild! My sister took a video of me later that day, talking about my birth experience, and I look stoned. 🙂

    Henry is just adorable! And you are so lucky to have an easy-going baby. And you are so obviously enjoying motherhood, it is so apparent from your posts!

  • M August 23, 2012, 10:26 am

    Thank you for being so wonderfully honest and informative! I am nowhere near the “kids stage” in my life, but know I want them – and have been rethinking what it means to have a natural birth ever since I started reading more blogs that have writers like you behind them. Also – holy moly, Henry is the cutest thing ever! Those cheeks, those funny baby facial expressions! You are and Kristien are super lucky, enjoy it all 🙂

  • Jill August 23, 2012, 10:40 am

    Ahahaha, the poop in the tub kills me. When we were potty-training my 4 year old stepson (he was almost 3 at the time), he was so stressed out about our attempts to get him on the toilet that he simply decided to hold it all in. For FIVE DAYS. We were on vacation at the time (because why have a fun and relaxing vacation when you can traumatize a toddler instead?) and when we got home, my husband popped him into the tub. Checking on him two minutes later, he found the little guy standing in the bathwater and facing the corner, pointing behind him and muttering, “I pooped in the tub, dad.” I guess he finally relaxed.

    How was/is your recovery from the episiotomy?

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 12:40 pm

      Haha. It’s okay. I was fine to walk very short distances after a week and pooping was never an issue. I was cleared for exercise and sex at four, although the doc I saw at six said the doc who cleared me for sex at four was insane (I agree). We are just getting to that point. Externally things feel fine but internally it’s still really raw. I think I’ve had a pretty good recovery though all things considering.

  • Ali August 23, 2012, 10:41 am

    thanks so much for sharing this. I never heard of the Bradley method when I was pregnant with my daughter. I did the “I’ll try to go drug-free, but….” method, and of course ended up getting drugs. My take-home message from this post is that if you want a drug free birth, you need to prepare yourself by educating yourself about the birth process. I would definitely take Bradley classes next time…it also sounds like it teaches men how to be great birth coaches (as opposed to the complete lack of training men get otherwise!). Really useful info!

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life August 23, 2012, 10:42 am

    Fantastic post, Caitlin! Thank you for answering my question!

    As for your curiostiy of someone, “thinking they’d like to go drug-free but weren’t super committed to the idea of a natural birth and didn’t end up getting pain relief.” Before my Bradley class I was extremely uneducated about labor. I was also terrified! But after the conclusion of our 12 week class I was feeling so relaxed and confident going into labor. Mostly because I knew what to expect (within reason) regarding the stages and how my body was going to handle each phase of labor.

    Going into Bradley classes I honestly thought I would take an epidural at the first onset of any kind of pain. After classes, I was committed to the idea of natural childbirth but I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a small voice in my head that knew the epidural was available if I WANTED it (not needed it). I know now that was just fear taking over, and that is ok. But once my labor kicked into high gear I utilized everything I learned from class, I was aware of what my body was doing and although it was extremely painful I was capable of letting nature run its course and getting through the pain was manageable.

    I’d also be lying if I didn’t share with everyone that at one point when I got to the hospital and the contractions were kicking my butt, I looked right at the nurses and my hubby and literally said, “I don’t think I can do this!” Having a husband/partner on board with your initial decision is also a big part of it. Hubby reminded me that I could do it and that he was there with me every step of the way. Again, I believe that the feeling of not being able to do it is fear and if you can get past the fear then you are capable of more than you ever thought! 🙂

  • Jolene (Homespun Heritage) August 23, 2012, 10:42 am

    Great post and as for the baby poop in the tub…I have 4 going on 7 kiddos and just recently did I have my first ever experience with this…my 2.5 yr old left some floaters…totally grossed out her 10 yr old sister who hopped out quicker than quick! I laughed so hard! Surprised its taken this long for that to happen!

  • Kelly meatlesswithaman.blogspot.com August 23, 2012, 10:44 am

    Love this! I think it also highlights the importance of MENTAL preparation. (don’t get me wrong, I know you read, went to classes, stayed physically fit, and loads of other preparatory events). With so many things in life, we don’t give ourselves enough credit for the power of positive thinking!!! You are a true exemplar of that, not only in your birth story but in your daily life. As usual, thank you for sharing!!!

  • Colleen August 23, 2012, 10:44 am

    Poop explosions are the worst. I could live with spitup, but not poop. Loved hearing Kristien’s thoughts. My husband isn’t as open about those things, but I do know he enjoyed telling people I delivered three babies with an epidural. I did have a localized pain shot during transition with my first son. But not with my other two. I hated the feeling of being drunk. As for the ‘ring of fire’ —- it is so real. To me it felt like my entire nether region was going to explode. Thankfully, it only last long even to get the head passed.

  • Tara August 23, 2012, 10:46 am

    Great post and some really good thoughts. I was also very commited to a drug-free labor, but tried to keep an open mind on what may actually during labor and what steps we might have to take outside of an all-natural birth. One thing that helped me was the moment I got admitted I asked all the attending nurses to please not offer me any pain medication. My mind was made up, but by then I was already realizing that this was going to be by far the most painful experience of my life. Having someone ask me if I wanted to ease the pain might have been too tempting. Having a doula was key for me. She kept both my husband and I informed of each stage of labor, what my body was doing, and that was comforting. Plus she had great relaxation tips!

    In the end, if I had chosen to do an epidural I would have had to have an emergency c-section, because my son’s heart rate kept dropping the last couple hours of labor and the only way I could keep it up was to be on my hands and knees, or standing. If I had been unable to walk and move freely they would have had to take emergency measures. Knowing that really made me feel that having a natural labor was totally worth it for me. I do completely understand women that want to take drugs and certainly don’t judge anyone for that choice. I’m expecting again and it feels good knowing that I can make it through a drug-free birth. I’m still aware of the fact that things happen and it’s good to know what I want, but to also know that if I do have to use pain medication it’s not the end of the world either! When all is said in done I just want my baby and me to be safe and healthy!

  • KT August 23, 2012, 10:49 am

    As someone who has never wanted to give birth, I just skimmed through this thinking it was interesting and good information from a different perspective. Then when I got to the end all I could think was, “My, Henry is an awesome looking baby.” 🙂

  • Julie August 23, 2012, 10:54 am

    I just had an “ah-ha” moment reading this post. I think you are 100% correct, but I had just never thought about it that way before. I was one of those women who was pretty committed to a drug-free birth, but open to an epidural “if I really needed it”. You can guess how that turned out. 🙂 In the end, I think it was totally for the best, though, because I had back labor & was in intense pain, & it didn’t help when the intern told me I was dilated to 7, & then the doc came in 3 hrs later & said the intern had made a mistake ‘cuz I was still only at 4. Bring on that epidural! It actually let me relax enough (I fell asleep for several hours!) so that I could dilate very quickly after that, & then I pushed her out in like 20 min. I would absolutely try to go drug-free again, though, if ever given the chance. Everything was smooth sailing until that darn back labor (baby was face up instead of face down so the hard part of her head was pushing against my back).

    Great post! As usual you explain yourself so well & so diplomatically. 🙂

  • Kristin August 23, 2012, 10:57 am

    Thanks for sharing i love reading about peoples labor! I got an epidural and was happy with my decision. I progressed fine with the epidural and had no further interventions thankfully. I was one of those, I’ll-get-meds-if-I-need-them people and I think that is setting yourself up to get the meds. I was very interested in the experience of labor and keeping an open mind but after experiencing labor for 5 cms I decided that was enough for me! Lol When it came time to push I was so numb and just chillin…. I couldn’t push so they… gasp ….turned the epidural off! So essentially I pushed her out with no pain meds it was excruciating. Honestly the most uncomfortable part was getting a hemmriod incould feel it everytime i pushed. Ur such a badass pushing for 3 hours I pushed for an hour and a half and though now it feels like a blur looking back I was struggling in the moment! I know I was a beast… It just felt so unnatural to be pushing a baby out of my vajay! I still can’t believe I did it and will do it again someday. It trips me out! Did u get a video of labor? I really wish I did because I deff blocked the pushing out because of the pain and whatnot, I wish I could go back and watch. Oh well there’s always next time!

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 12:37 pm

      They wouldn’t let us film it! Although I’m not sure I would want to see film or pushing pictures at all.

      • Kristin August 23, 2012, 3:50 pm

        I have a few pictures of her coming out and they deff won’t be shared with anyone! Lol I wish I could see the special moments right after birth… I mostly just remember being shocked the baby actually came out of me and that they were stitching me up without anesthesia lol. We have a photo but a video would be nice. I love Kristiens face in your first after birth picture. It shows so much love!

  • Elizabeth M. August 23, 2012, 11:03 am

    Love this post! I really don’t know what type of birth plan I would want (not close to having a baby of any kind) but my sister and grandmother had a number of complications which may run in my family, so I know for my health and the health of my baby, medical intervention is very possible.

    Henry is SO friggin adorable, I can’t get over it. His facial expressions are just too much!

  • Marissa C August 23, 2012, 11:08 am

    I’d say I was pretty committed to go without drugs, but I did have an epidural for 30 min at 9 cm–I was so close! It wasn’t necessarily the pain that did it–it was the exhaustion that started impeding my ability to deal with the pain and (27 hour later and I was up the whole time, even awake through Tylenol PM and a “horse tranquilizer” dose of Ambien).

    I did things to prepare, but I think I could do more next time. I have high hopes because my first delivery was remarkably like my mom’s first delivery–she had painkillers the first time and then went on to deliver 4 more children naturally. I think knowing what is coming and making sure I get plenty of rest will help A LOT next time. That and the realization that I REALLY hate pushing with an epidural!

  • Elizabeth August 23, 2012, 11:09 am

    I have a little trouble with the “it’s just one day” idea. (And maybe this veers too much into debate; if so – I’m sorry). I think “it’s just one day” is true if you have a relatively uncomplicated birth, but I don’t think it’s true if you don’t and I think saying it has the potential to make moms who are struggling with their birth experiences feel worse.

    Two years ago, after carefully planning my intended natural birth with my first, I went into labor and got to the hospital at 7 cm. They discovered she was breech (total surprise to everyone). I labored to 10 cm, we considered a breech birth, and the OB decided she felt most comfortable with a cesarean. Intervention-wise, I was totally comfortable with the decision, then and afterwards. It was the safest way to birth my baby in that situation. But the physical pain, long-term physical repercussions, and emotional processing from that birth were much longer than one day.

    Three weeks ago, I had a med-free, intervention-free VBAC. Although it was no more sacred than my first birth, the limited physical pain, lack of long-term physical repercussions, and less emotional processing make it way closer to “just one day.”

    I think the reason to be careful with this phrase is that people who read it and are struggling to let that one day go will possibly feel like something is wrong with them – that they can’t just get over it.

    Thank you for sharing your story, your wisdom, and for opening this topic up for everyone.

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 12:36 pm

      This is a great comment. So insightful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Casey August 23, 2012, 11:29 am

    I love reading birth stories, so this was fun to read as well! I was opposite of you-got induced, epidural at 3cm, slept all day, nurses woke me up to push, and I was literally giggling with the nurses when 10 pound baby Leo came out!

    I agree with you, as long as baby is healthy and well taken care of everything else is a matter of knowing your own child.

  • Nicole August 23, 2012, 11:39 am

    I was definitely not committed to going drug-free. When it started to feel like my uterus was ripping apart, I asked for an epidural (I was induced). Unfortunately it was a rule in my hospital to have two bags of fluid given before an epidural, so I experienced a lot more pain than I had hoped for. By the time I got the epidural, I was already 7cm. I know transition is the worst part but looking back, I wish I would have gone without it. My labor progressed quickly and I feel that had I been more mentally focused, I would have been fine. And thankfully my daughter and I were fine in the end anyways, but if I were to have another normal birth, I would skip the drugs. With that said, I’d like to mention I was not one of those women reading magazines after the epidural. The power in the hospital went out and the epidural wore off before they got it turned back on. By that time it was time to push!

  • Kathleen Ojo @ Onward; Inward August 23, 2012, 11:41 am

    Thanks for writing this! I had my baby almost 4 weeks ago, at a birth center sans medication, and I agree 100% with you about the need for good preparation. I didn’t use Bradley, and just took a few classes with one of the Midwives from the birth center that covered relaxation techniques and the stages of labor, but my husband and I did a LOT of independent research and went in feeling extremely prepared. I think everyone (unless there’s a medical issue) is capable of having a great childbirth without pain relief, but I agree, it takes a lot of mental and physical preparation (I’m not sure I could have done it if I hadn’t stayed active throughout pregnancy), a strong will and commitment, and a great support system.

    I wrote about my experience here: http://onwardinward.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-birth-story.html
    and here: http://onwardinward.blogspot.com/2012/08/reflections-on-childbirth.html

  • Allison August 23, 2012, 12:38 pm

    I LOVE THIS POST!!! I am 39 weeks pregnant and have been preparing for a natural, med-free birth. Lately, I have read a lot of birth posts on my Bump birth month board and EVERYBODY gets epidurals, then has major disasters and often ends up with a c-section. They make me feel like I won’t be able to handle it, but your post reminded me that I’m super-prepared and can do it. Also, the part about Henry at the end makes me feel better. I have been stressing about what life with a baby will be like (will I even have time to eat? will I know myself anymore?) but you reminded me that life will be different, but better. Thank you!!!

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 12:43 pm

      It will be great!!!

  • Ruth August 23, 2012, 12:46 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing. I’m 37 weeks along and I found your blog about a month ago and became OBSESSED 🙂 I’m just finishing up my Bradley method classes and I can say I relate to SO MUCH of what you are writing about – in terms of confidence and “wishes” for my birth experience. Like you, I want to have an unmedicated, intervention-free birth – but I have educated myself on the many options available if certain complications occur. My confidence & excitement levels have gradually increased the more I learn, so I’m no longer “scared” of giving birth. I do realize there is a lot I won’t be able to control, but because I have so much faith in my body, my husband, my doula and my doctor, I truly feel that the best decisions (AND OUTCOMES!) will happen for me.

    Anyway, I so appreciate this story and your blog in general. So THANKS!!

  • Jenna White August 23, 2012, 12:49 pm

    Just wondering, didn’t you have to take Pitocin….isn’t that a drug?

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 12:52 pm

      Yes but after delivery, as I noted in the post. My placenta took over an hour to deliver, which is very dangerous so they gave me Pit to encourage it to come out. I still consider it a drug free birth because I got Henry out before drugs were administered. Maybe some would argue with me but that feels rather nit picky.

  • Angela @ Happy Fit Mama August 23, 2012, 12:52 pm

    Thank you for putting your disclaimer at the beginning of the post. So many people feel the need to say “this is the right way.” The right way is the way that is best for you and the baby whether it be natural, c-section, epidural, whatever.

    I fully agree that poop explosions were the hardest thing to deal with. 😉

  • Annette@FitnessPerks August 23, 2012, 12:56 pm

    this is all so interesting—I’m not a mom (yet–but one day!), so this is all helpful to consider! Thanks!

  • Brie August 23, 2012, 1:17 pm

    Thanks for answering!

    I am admittedly a total commitment-phobe, which is probably part of my problem. I think I am just scared to make a decision because I don’t know what to expect (I mean, I’ve educated myself as much as possible, but that only goes so far) and I don’t want to feel like I let myself down in any way. I am so bad at decisions.

  • Morgan August 23, 2012, 1:19 pm

    Thank you so much for this information! I went natural with my daughter but had not planned on it. My labor was less than 2 hours so there was just no time to get anything even if I had wanted it. Amazingly, my contractions never felt worse than intense menstrual cramps. My mom and cousins said the same thing about all of their labors, so I think easy contractions must be genetic. If we ever have another baby (we are leaning toward an only child) I would strongly consider Bradley classes just from reading your posts about them. I know I will probably never have enough time for an epidural, so it would be nice to have some knowledge and feel more powerful in the moment.

  • Helene @healthyfrenchie August 23, 2012, 1:22 pm

    For years now I have had a huge fear of being pregnant and giving birth. The idea of so much pain and so much change in my body really does scare me.
    The fact that I suffered from an ED does not help. I had a big fear of losing control of my body shape and appearance (even though that is what happens with bulimia).
    But reading your blogs and the comments as well as all the post-partum updates helps me come to term with the idea that it is a natural process and that I won’t be “wrecked”. You look so blissfully happy I can’t help but think it is all worth it 🙂
    I agree with you though that preparation is the key. I have never given birth but I can imagine that like with anything else that is challenging you need to do your homework.
    I don’t know if I will take Bradley classes, but I will make sure to research what really happens to your body (beyond all the horror stories).
    I didn’t even know epidurals could cause problems! I think it’s a shame that women are not more educated in the subject though, I think it would put a lot of our fears to rest.
    Thanks again for sharing.

  • Rosie August 23, 2012, 1:24 pm

    I really appreciate your general approach to writing, Caitlin. I just got married and am starting to look into pregnancy [baby fever BAD]. I really appreciate these types of posts because they help de-mystify a lot of things that surround pregnancy. It seems that you don’t really find out much about what pregnancy is like until you’re actually pregnant and then I feel like I’d be absolutely bat sh!t crazy about it because of the hormones and the whole “no turning back now!” It’s good to mentally prepare myself for what all of pregnancy [and of course child rearing] entails – rather than just “I love him so much and we would have really cute babies.”

    Ps: Henry is my brother’s name. We’re from the UK originally and were named after family members. We’ve got lots of Henrys & Rosies in our family. 🙂 It is one of my favorite names and I really want to continue the name with our children. Might be a little weird to name after an uncle though… 🙂

  • Allison August 23, 2012, 1:41 pm

    Everyone really IS different…your post highlights the fact that your commitment to having a drug free labor is what made it happen for you. I was completely on the fence about an epidural, and had a completely drug free/intervention free labor. I live in a place where it is very standard to have a drug free labor and lots of my friends did. My husband and I did not take Bradley but we did find the 4 week (8 hours total) of hospital birth class very helpful. During the class we filled out a form about what we wanted as far as medication goes, and I rated my feelings about this as neutral. I certainly hoped to make it drug free (and let the nurses now this) but without having been through it before, did not know what would happen. No one offered me drugs during labor, and once things got going, it was not something I even thought about.

    I have now had 2 drug-free births and like you said it is the most intense pain but the most empowering experience. I credit my experience to lucky genes which gave me super wide hips and being an endurance athlete.

    Apparently, during my first labor I was completely stoic and did not really make ANY sounds (in my head I was screaming). During my second labor, I was a cursing, screaming maniac.

  • Liza August 23, 2012, 1:43 pm

    Caitlin, I admire you so much!

    That’s all 🙂

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 2:07 pm

      Thank you!

  • Susan August 23, 2012, 1:48 pm

    Thank you for this well-thought through, considerate post. I was intent on a drug-free birth (my husband and I were Bradley method trained) but after many, many hours of intense labor I ended up with a c-section with our first baby. I was trying desperately for a vbac with our second baby and again ended up with a c-section. This time around I’m just going straight in for the c-section. Badabing, badaboom … done.
    I still feel sad at times that I wasn’t able to have the birth(s) that I wanted, but that never overshadows the gratefulness for two healthy babies thus far!!
    I LOVE and appreciate your gentle reminder that the birth is just one day. One day. I needed to be reminded of that. Thank you!

  • ellen August 23, 2012, 2:00 pm

    Some women have said to me, “I want a drug-free birth but if it gets really bad and I can’t handle it, I’ll just get the epidural.”

    Doesn’t this make sense for first time moms? This was my attitude solely because I did not want to be one of those smug/naive-sounding pregnant women who insist on being committed to a med-free birth or whatever (having never gone through the process) and then end up having an epidural for pain relief (and everyone later says…told you so).
    So, yes, I wanted drugfree, but was open since I had never been through the process and just made decisions moment to moment. I did not end up getting an epidural or other pain relief. I also did not do any birth prep classes, because I was on bedrest and could not go.

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 2:06 pm

      For what it’s with, I think people who say I told you so about delivery are assholes. 🙂

    • Marissa C August 23, 2012, 2:28 pm

      Haha, I said the same thing “I’m going to try for natural but I’m not totally against an epidural if I really cant stand it” but intended on going solely natural. Just so I wouldn’t get the “told ya sos” too

  • Laura August 23, 2012, 2:07 pm

    Great post, so informative and I loved your view point!

  • Kate B. August 23, 2012, 2:08 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been a reader of yours for awhile now and enjoyed reading your pregnancy updates and birth story. Henry is just adorable! My first baby (gender also a surprise!) is due tomorrow and I am planning a drug free birth, but have to admit I’m not 100% closed off to the idea of an epi should things get unbearable. I think you have great a point that going in there with that mentality may cause me to waver more than I would if I just took that option off the table. I didn’t take Bradley classes but read the book as well as Hypnobirthing, and am planning to use a combination of things I learned in those books, along with a lot of prayer. 🙂 I hope to have a story just like yours – sounds like Henry’s birth was a peaceful yet exhilarating experience, which is exactly what I am hoping for! Your post re-instilled in me that my body was MADE to do this, and I CAN do it! Thank you!

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 3:12 pm

      Good luck! You can do it!

  • caroline August 23, 2012, 2:10 pm

    I admire you so much, your truly a brilliant woman! Love reading your posts in the wee hours of breastfeeding 🙂 We had a lovely bath time poop explosion this morning! Niiiiice and clean little guy 😉


  • Alexandra August 23, 2012, 2:30 pm

    Cant even begin to tell you how much I appreciate your raw, real, and honest opinions on child birth and your whole experience. As someone who is trying to get pregnant truly love reading about other women’s experiences but ONLY when they are real and honest…I have always wanted to have a drug-free birth and am fully committed to it!!

  • Lindsey August 23, 2012, 2:57 pm

    I loved all of this post and actually really appreciated hearing your response to raising Henry. I’m pregnant now (7 weeks and puking my guts out, yah and yuk at the same time 🙂 and I haven’t quite begun to worry about the labor/birth yet but am still constantly questioning if we’re ready and if we picked the right time. You often hear people say “it’s so much harder than I expected!” I know it will be a change and adjustment but I feel as though I have pretty realistic expectations. Also, if Bradley classes weren’t available in your area would you just recommend Bradley resources?

  • Johanna B August 23, 2012, 3:07 pm

    My favorite poop explosion with my daughter occurred while I was sitting on the floor changing her. All I’ll say is that it covered my bare foot.

  • JessicaE August 23, 2012, 4:03 pm

    ” I am curious to know if anyone out there in Internetland went into labor thinking they’d like to go drug-free but weren’t super committed to the idea of a natural birth and didn’t end up getting pain relief. ”

    I am one of these women 🙂
    I went into labor with an extremely open mind. I wasn’t deciding to have en epidural, but I wasn’t telling myself, “I will NOT get pain meds, no matter what.” However, I think my basic personality contributed to not having any help with pain:

    1.) I have never been a fan of medicines, pain medicines, etc, besides Ibuprofen etc. Things like Vicodin make me sick to my stomach. I hate feeling weird from medicines. I absolutely hate needles and the thought of a huge one scared me horribly. However, having never gone through labor before I couldn’t say for sure whether the big needle would be the lesser of two evils.

    2.) I deal well with pain, have worked out hard for years through pain, and am extremely tough and stubborn when it comes to dealing with difficult times. I have always been hugely capable of “mind over body”. Having dealt with anxiety since I was nine taught me to overcome both physical and emotional pain while still staying calm and breathing through it.

    3.) I assumed I would much rather fight through pain that made sense than try to give birth my body numb.

    Once I was in labor, it was all back labor. I spent the entire time on my hands and knees, even in the tub. It hurt very, very much but I refused to tense up, moved my body with the pain and until 8 cm never felt like “Oh my gosh I canNOT handle this”. I actually said to the nurse at that point, “Its too late for an epidural, isn’t it?” It wasn’t so much that I wanted one, it was just that the pain was becoming so frightening that i wanted the assurance that it was there. 😛

    However, by then, I was so close and had come so far. I was also in so much pain that the thought of requesting the epidural, waiting for the anesthesiologist, signing the paper work and worst of all: getting off my hands and knees and sitting still to get it, was MUCH more horrible sounding than just giving in and letting my body take over. Between 8cm and being fully dilated was the toughest thing I had ever gone through… but what helped me was knowing there was an end in sight.

    So there ya go. 🙂 I always knew that an epidural didn’t feel right for me… but I also didn’t throw it off the table. I think that deciding not to helps a lot, but I also strongly feel that a woman’s previous life experiences and personality is also a deciding factor. Great post thank you.

  • Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction August 23, 2012, 4:21 pm

    Great post! I love when you say that “The birth is important, but it’s only 1 day”. Never looked at it like that but it makes sense. I am honestly such a baby myself, so I really don’t know if I could go through a drug free birth. Like you said everyone is different, and there is no right or wrong answer. I love reading your opinions and the way you put them. I love reading your blog because it is fun but also because I learn new things that I would otherwise heard about ie: Bradley Method.

  • Heather August 23, 2012, 4:22 pm

    I had an epidural, and it was definitely the right decision for me. My childbirth went from 8 hours of drug-free misery to 4 hours of the most amazing, intimate experience of my life. I spent those last 4 pre-baby hours (calmly) enjoying a wonderful conversation with my husband. We reminisced about our first years together and discussed our dreams for our new family. We even laughed at some of the stuff I said to him while I was unmedicated. It was the perfect moment to have before I delivered a healthy, beautiful baby. Without the epidural, I would have just continued being a bitch to everyone instead of sharing that moment! 🙂 And this was more important to me than going natural. I plan to get epidurals for my next childbirths, as well.

  • Ali August 23, 2012, 7:56 pm

    I’m curious about the episiotomy. Did you have to receive any medication/numbing/pain meds as part of it? Or are mommas just so “in the thick of it” at that stage that the procedure is done without numbing?

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 8:46 pm

      There was local anesthesia. Thank god.

  • m August 23, 2012, 7:58 pm

    I was open to drugs during delivery, but didn’t have any because of the speed of labour. I think this is probably the main reason people who are open to drugs will end up going un-medicated. No time!

    My labour was only 45 minutes start to finish (I was seriously out having fun 45 minutes before she was born!). When I got to the hospital I remember thinking “oh man, this is supposed to me easy part and I feel like I’m going to die already!” The doctor checked me and was like “oh my god, you are 10 cm and the head is right there!” So what I thought was early labour was transition. One push later, she was born…I almost feel like I didn’t give birth in some ways, as I had no time to process any of it!

  • Sarah August 23, 2012, 8:00 pm

    You look amazing! I’d love to look like that, and my baby will be 6 in October 😀

  • Heather August 23, 2012, 8:09 pm

    In your pre-birth review you gave the cost of the course. I’m wondering, does insurance cover the cost? I should probably know this, but does insurance cover “conventional” childbirth classes?

    • Caitlin August 23, 2012, 8:45 pm

      I don’t know if insurance would cover either! But they should.

  • Lexi August 23, 2012, 9:51 pm

    I just wanted to tell you your blog has become one of my absolute favorites to read. So many of the other blogs out there are self-centered and really just have a superior tone about them; your blog is beautifully written, interesting, intriguing and perhaps most importantly…real. Cheers!

  • victoria August 23, 2012, 11:17 pm

    This post makes me wish I had taken the bradley classes instead of hypnobirthing. Oh well, too late now.

    for those of you ladies considering drug free births may I suggest reading some of Ina May Gaskin’s books/writings? For some what she describes may seem otherworldly, but it is truly eye opening her perspectives on women, childbirth and the process of labor in general. It will increase your belief in yourself if nothing else. Also – not that anybody has asked me, but I can’t say enough good things about having a doula with you for your birth if you want to go drug free. A good partner/husband is wonderful and will not be excluded if a doula is present. A doula can walk you both through the process, especially the first time around. And no – I’m not a doula! I did not have one for my first but did for the 2nd and 3rd and it made all the difference in the world.

  • Claire August 24, 2012, 1:07 am

    Great post. I have had three natural medication free births with no problems or complications, and I know I’m lucky. I was very committed to avoiding medication due to the effects it has on the baby. I think the thing that helped the most was educating myself about the process of childbirth to remove the fear. I think if you don’t know what to expect and if you are afraid of the pain, that is going to make the experience much more difficult. For example, it really amazes me that more people aren’t aware of using alternative positions and moving around during labor to help things along.

    I think labor being the worst pain is a bit of a myth and it is very unhelpful. Obviously everyone is different, but labor pain is mostly intermittent, meaning you get breaks between contractions, it is for a specific (wonderful) purpose, and it stops once you have delivered. I am sure that serious burns are much more painful than labor. I know I would prefer to go through any of my three unmedicated births again rather than enduring burns with the months of dressing changes and skin grafts and contractures…. I think it is important to have a bit of perspective about labor pain.

  • Lauren M August 24, 2012, 1:17 am

    Fantastic post, I couldn’t agree more that you need to go in with a committed attitude to increase your chances of having a natural birth.

    I’ve had two natural births (within 18 months of each other) and the second one is MUCH easier and quicker. I felt like a million bucks afterwards, it’s such an incredible experience.

    As for transition – it’s pretty much indescribable, but I’m so glad I got to experience it without drugs.

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) August 24, 2012, 7:19 am

    I really enjoyed reading this post and your thoughts on a drug free birth. I did not even entertain the idea of going drug free. . . just was not a deep desire of mine so I was planning an epidural from the day I new I was pregnant, ha ha. BUT I really appreciate your thoughts here and admire your dedication to your birth plan. Way to go!

  • Jessica August 24, 2012, 9:46 am

    I went in with an open mind and ended up asking for the epidural after 24 hours of strong enough contractions that I couldn’t sleep and 36 hours without sleeping (I started labor at 5pm). I could still feel all of my contractions, it just alleviated my back labor enough that I could rest. I could still feel everything and I could still use my legs, so even if you get the epidural it’s not always like you lose touch with your body. Like you said, everyone (and every birth) is different.

  • Katie H. August 25, 2012, 1:23 pm

    Caitlin, I really appreciate your honesty in this post. My husband and I are planning to start trying within the next year, and I’m just starting to do some “research” on fertility, birth plans, etc. I’m not sure if drug-free is the way for me, but I’d be interested in any resources you might be able to recommend regarding different options.

    Again, thanks for this post. It answered a lot of my questions, and I was especially relieved at your answer to the last question 🙂 One of my goals for motherhood is to still be me, just be me with a kid. I think it’s cool how you’ve been going places with Henry, training for your race, and finding ways to incorporate motherhood into the things you already enjoyed doing. You’ve been a real inspiration to me as I start down this path myself!

  • starla August 26, 2012, 3:25 pm

    hey there! love the blog and have been following for a while. i thought i would weigh in on your q re: medication. i wasn’t 100% committed to having a natural childbirth, but i knew i preferred it. i generally don’t like to take medication unless it’s absolutely necessary. that said, going into it, i was open to it b/c i just had no concept of what childbirth would be like. i knew my pain tolerance was pretty high but never having given birth, i had no clue. when the moment came, i found that i could manage the pain through my own combo of breathing and visualization and telling myself to just go a bit longer without the medication. even at 8-9 cm i was *sort of* okay. i did listen to a hypno-birthing cd 5-6 times throughout my 3rd trimester but wasn’t super serious about it. i fell asleep every time i listened to it, so maybe it subconsciously got in my head?? 🙂 at 10cm the pain was bad, but i knew i didn’t have much longer and the pushing actually felt good after all of those contractions. in the end i felt SO fortunate to have been able to do it 100% med-free, but if you had asked me if i was gung ho when i got to the hospital, i would have said “no way.”

  • MG August 28, 2012, 9:10 pm

    So – in response to one of the questions you posed – I went into my 2nd delivery actively desiring medication, specifically, an epidural. I had broken my tailbone during my first delivery, and since it was a possibility the 2nd time around, I wanted to avoid that pain at all costs. However, in the middle of transition (which was when I was admitted), I was talked into going med free by my OB. So, there you go – I had the reverse narrative: dead-set on meds, delivered med-free.

  • Ali September 3, 2012, 4:06 pm

    You mentioned that having Henry in your life was easier than you expected. Pre-Henry I remember some posts that mentioned your desire for lots on children. But then you recently wrote a post about Henry MAYBE being and only child. I wonder what changed?

    • Caitlin September 3, 2012, 4:31 pm

      Hahah funny observation! Its easier than expected but dang, the lack of sleep is the hardest thing. And breastfeeding is hard too. I don’t think I can envision more kids when I’m in the thick of it. Gotta get further away and forget how trying it CAN be. The actual parenting part is easier and more fun than expected… Just the sleep/BF parts are not. Also – $$$$! Babes are so expensive.

  • Karen September 3, 2012, 7:30 pm

    My attitude before going into labor was that I wanted to go drug-free if possible, but I let my husband and midwife know that I might change my mind once I was actually in labor. Becuase I had no idea how painful it would be! While it was painful, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and I ended up not getting any pain meds.

  • jill September 30, 2012, 4:12 am

    I had a drug free childbirth, there are two reasons it worked. I had a wonderful coach who kept me focused. He was wonderful. When the nurse kept insisting on drugs, he told her “no”. I’m so glad I didnt, my recovery was great. I was walking the halls that night, felt great. My sister in law had two drug free childbirths, they were beautiful births. Hers worked well because she was open to allowing family “sister moms” in the room. However, my next birth was not drug free. I had to have a C-section. It hurt and took weeks to recover. Because it was my second birth I didn’t have the family members show up. Thank goodness for my Mom who came and helped me. My husband could only take off a few days so her help was so appreciated. I would say if you can do drug free, do it. Don’t feel like you failed though if you can’t.

  • Marlon Kosco September 6, 2013, 11:23 pm

    It isn’t generally very easy to keep positive, but surrounding myself with terrific close friends plus a suportive relatives always causes it to be easier. I remind myself constantly that each day can be a reward, and we are lucky to awaken each early morning and just take piece in it…

  • Katrina October 25, 2013, 2:12 am

    I wanted to go drug free, but figured if i need the pain relief, i’d take it. Which I didnt do. I did get a drip to help hurry it along though.

  • M.R. April 23, 2014, 3:48 am

    I am so glad I found this post, although I DO wish I had found it before now!! I’m almost 36 weeks pregnant. I’m in the “I want to go without drugs unless” category, but that is because I had never even HEARD of the Bradley method. I didn’t even know there were classes in my
    Area FOR natural birth prep. My hospital doesn’t have midwives, and my area doesn’t have a birthing center. Now I find all this info, and I have 4 weeks until my due date, and I’m not even sure if I’ll make it that far. I’m absolutely terrified. TERRIFIED…of the crap that’s about to go down, lol. I would really rather not use drugs if I can help it, but I also know that I have been through a lot of things in my life. Let’s just say I can’t even go in for a routine pap without getting the shakes and cold sweats. I’ve had to hae a colposcopy and passed out on the poor doc….needless to say in the ob/gyn arena I’m kind of a wuss. Is there ever a way to get past those types of mental blocks and come through labor natural and drug free and conscious?? There’s a big part that would love to do this just to gain control back that I’ve lost. I guess my big question is, do you think that is even possible?

    • Caitlin April 23, 2014, 8:48 am

      Do you have a doula? You need a doula!

  • Sarah June 6, 2014, 3:20 pm

    First, thank you for sharing your story. I hope my story will help someone too. Please know this comes from my heart.
    As a healthcare provider who has read much about birth and cared for many critically ill people, I had no extreme commitment to a drug free/intervention free birth. Massive transfusion protocols, ventilators and vasopressors exist for a reason. Conversely, between my mother and mother in law, they had 18 drug free , live births between them. Some in and some out of hospital. So I knew it was possible to deliver without drugs.
    When it came time to deliver our first child, who is now 20 months, I planned to roll with the punches and take it moment by moment. I chose a nurse-midwife and a reliable community hospital to deliver in.
    I scarcely slept the night before he was born, being too crampy and too frequently to the bathroom to sleep. But I had a few nights similar to that in third trimester, so I didn’t think too much of it. As my husband awoke to start his day, I fell asleep and awakened shortly for an early morning check/US with the midwife. At this point I was 11days post due date and this visit was to discuss possible induction. No one was more surprised then me when she told me I was contracting and that the they couldn’t find any fluid on US. She was confident he would be born in the next 24 hrs.
    At the hospital, the staff took a hands off approach until about 3pm, when I was checked for the first time, had my first episode of fetal monitoring, an IV was started and we collectively decided to break my water. Apparently my membranes hadn’t ruptured yet, the placenta had simply worn out. I was at 4cm.
    My first real contraction started about 10 minutes after membranes were ruptured. Contractions came like waves, the intensity building like the tide. It took me a while to find a position of comfort, on my feet, walking intermittently, clutching a countertop towards the end. (My SI joints and then symphysis pubis had given out earlier in pregnancy, so sitting or having external pressure on my sacrum was agonizing).
    I delivered in the bed, something I think I will avoid this time, and felt the usual pain. I didn’t scream or cry, I prayed desperately and earnestly inside my mind. Sometimes I would allow myself a small groan. My husband, very thoughtfully, told the nurses that silence was the best medicine, and he was right. When they put my son in my arms he felt so very heavy, and I was so very tired. I wasn’t euphoric or elated or even happy, just tired and relieved the pain was over. It was 11:13pm and he weighed 9’7″. He was healthy and strong. He took to the breast easily once the nurses were able to position him for me. My arms and hands were too clumsy.
    Things got even more foggy for me, and I remember that there was talk in the room that the placenta wouldn’t come and how much longer should they wait. My arms were so weak and the baby was so heavy. (I didn’t know then what he weighed) It seemed like forever before I could convince my husband and the nurses that I couldn’t hold him anymore. It was really difficult to speak. I was sure that I was going to drop him on his head before he was 5 minutes old. Time passed. The midwife then asked me if I was willing to try a manual extraction of the placenta in the room or go to the OR. I repeat, I was really fuzzy here.
    After everything had gone so well so far, I hated to incur the cost of the OR. ridiculous, but that was all I could think. So I opted for manual extraction. In retrospect, there was likely a miscommunication between the midwife and the nurse. My IV, which hadn’t been needed thus far, was now useless, so the RN, wasn’t able to give me fentanyl as is the apparent normal procedure. (My background is cardiac surgery/ICU/ED, never L&D).
    If anyone ever asks you about manual extraction, I would recommend you take them up on their offer of drugs at the very least. The pain of a manual extraction was blinding, unutterable, and extinguished every neuron in my mind. I have never not been able to think before. The whole universe was white and silent and very far away, all there was was pain.
    With that intervention complete, the staff struggled to encourage my uterus to contract to stop the bleeding. So after an entire labor, delivery, and manual extraction of the placenta, I was given antibiotics and fluids via IV, as well as lidocaine when my tears were sutured. The bleeding eventually stopped and I was narrowly able to avoid blood products.
    No friend or book had given me the slightest hint, that the worst pain might occur after delivery, that you might not have any emotional response to the delivery of your child, or that you can be so tired that you cannot lift a finger to touch your own child’s skin or put him to your breast. I don’t look back at my delivery with any sense of accomplishment. It was the most exhausting thing I have ever done.
    Our daughter is due in 30 days. Maybe I will get thru this next delivery drug/intervention free. Only time can tell. I know that this baby will be a small miracle too.

  • Nancy B May 9, 2015, 5:41 pm

    I really appreciate the opportunity to read and share your unsolicited discussion of your pregnancy & birth experience, and your sensitivity toward others who may be afraid of attempting a natural birth.

    You put a lot of care into your writing, knowing how so many women are skeptical and/or fearful of the idea of a natural birth. Sounds like you had a great Bradley instructor. God bless you & family!

    I will be linking to your story from my website in hopes more expectant parents will find your blog helpful as they make decisions regarding preparing for their births. I have had 4 Bradley births myself and am now fulfilling my dream of being a certified Bradley Method(r) instructor.

    Sounds like you have a lot on your plate, but you’d make a great instructor! Give it some thought! 🙂

  • Tofa January 17, 2016, 12:06 pm

    It’s a great article. Many women will be very much helpful who are willing to plan pregnant. Your experience and idea o nice.

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