After having our first baby via a c-section, I was determined to do a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section) for the second baby. I felt that c-section deprived me of the labor experiences moms go through during labor and delivery. And I wanted to have all that experience, the pain and all.
After all our tests proved normal, I started enjoying my pregnancy a bit. I tried to stay as active as possible throughout the pregnancy by walking, squatting, doing pelvic tilts, and long stretches. I also ate healthy, partially by choice and by necessity (major food aversions).
When I entered the third trimester, I began drinking several cups of Red Raspberry Tea daily. Several mamas swore by it on Pinterest, therefore, I decided to try it to assist with my VBAC.
Additionally, I bought Clary Sage Essential oil and began infusing it after 39 weeks and ate crazy amounts of dates.
My first baby was 8 days late and I kept thinking that being late led me to be induced, leading to other medical interventions thus a c-section.
Now I am know that this belief is an exaggeration on my part. But because I received several negative and shaming comments from some family members about not being able to deliver vaginally, I was determined to try everything in the books to attempt my second naturally.
When my due date approached, I started to worry a little. I had had strong Braxton hicks contractions from the 2nd trimester until due date and I was ready for the real deal to start.
Around 6:30pm on my due date 6/6, I started having contractions.
I downloaded an app on my phone and started to track it. I knew I was in pre-labor and decided to rest, walk, shower, and just relax myself. By 3am 6/7, my contractions were 8 minutes apart.
We headed to the birthing center and I was feeling calm and positive.
When we arrived, the doctor advised that since my water had no broken and I was still not dilating, there was a good chance I may need to go back home.
The contractions started coming hard and strong. They were fluctuating between the minutes, some close together and then far apart.
During one of the contractions, my water broke. I thought I had peed myself because I was feeling the urge to go at that very moment.
It’s show time, I remember thinking.
Around 7am, our wonderful nurse asked us if we wanted to have a doula or midwife present.
Since this was our first birthing experience (I took an epidural with my first before I hit active labor and basically slept all the way until pushing then c-section), we decided to have a volunteer doula assist us with the birth.
It was the best decision we made!
Our doula was wonderful and coached me with my breathing and labor positions. Here are some pain management techniques we tried to ease pain and progress labor.
Natural Labor Pain Relief Techniques: How I Managed Pain Without an Epidural
These really helped relax me but did not do much for the pain obviously. My body felt relaxed after a hot bath and it also helped me focus on my breathing and contractions. Many mamas swear by hydrotherapy and whether it’s a shower or hot tub bath, go for whatever helps you.
Since I was dilating slowly, we took several laps inside the building to speed things up. I did notice that I had several intense contractions during these walks so maybe it worked.
The best way to deal with pain is to just breath it out! Right? Well yes but it is essential to breath correctly. Slow and deep breaths are the best way to handle pain. Trust me, this is difficult to do during the transition phase of labor when all you want to do is pant and breath fast. My doula corrected my breathing on several occasions, advising that I slow it down like I was doing yoga.
I tried to keep my hands open and shoulders relaxed whenever I was in pain. This was very difficult because pain makes you cringe and tense up. However, I told my husband to keep reminding me of this during labor and also open my palms whenever he saw them closed. Our doula agreed with this and stated that tightening your body slows labor and makes contractions ineffective. Note: This is not easy to do especially during late active and the transition phase.
I made a rice bag to use however my nurse made me warm compression pads and tied them around my lower belly to help with the pain. It was helpful and some what effective.
Now this is a great ball. When I wanted to rest, my nurse put this ball between my legs to keep the contractions coming. This way my labor would continue to progress even though I was laying down. And boy does it work! My contractions were stronger when the ball was between my legs, so I never really rested :P. Oh so yes this was not for the pain but using it while laying helped ease back labor.
I used this on several occasions by sitting on it and leaning against the bed as well as sitting on it and moving my hips around. I also swayed from side to side and front and back as well. It helped with the pain initially but then it did not on several other occasions.
My husband was my savior during labor. He gave me several back massages and even used pressure point techniques to help me distract and even ease the pain.
Rocking and swaying
This again on my hubby! I had unbearable moments when we walked around the hallways and I leaned on him for weight support and just swayed. Sometimes the pain was so unbearable that I would throw up. Yep, torturous and disgusting 😛
Sitting on the toilet
During labor, I drank a lot of water and some juice because come on, it is hard work. And, this took me on many bathroom runs. My nurse advised me to continue this as the squatting and bearing down would help bring the baby down.
During pregnancy, my right knee would lock up because I squatted one too many times. Therefore, during labor, instead of squatting on the floor, I leaned against the upright bed and squatted on it. I felt that it was not as effective as squatting on the floor but whatever helped, I did it all.
Being on all fours really helped me. It worked like a distraction during pain and moving back and forth while on my hands and knees also moved the baby into the correct position.
After 27 hours had passed, my contractions started to slow down. The intensity remained but they became further apart. Labor had stropped progressing and I was already beyond exhausted. My nurses used a breast pump and stimulated my nipples. It brought on some strong contractions, but they were still 10-12 minutes apart. I was not fully dilated either.
Pain is a part of labor.
Your body is trying to do something so natural yet demanding therefore pain comes with the package. Some mamas have a high pain tolerance and others, like me, do not. I was convinced that I did not want an epidural. It was a very difficult choice.
The transition phase is the most difficult phase of labor.
All my breathing techniques, and calm demeanor went out the window when I hit the transition phase. I screamed in pain on several occasions and even cursed myself for wanting a VBAC. I also asked for an epidural :P. After my nurse told me that I was almost fully dilated, and the anesthesiologist was 30 minutes away, I decided to opt out of pain medication and just bite the bullet.
After 31 hours and 45 minutes of being in labor, our daughter was finally born. It was a very painful, emotional, and the most amazing experience of my life.
I am very grateful for my husband, the nurses at the birthing center as well my OB. Their support and care got me through many tough stages.