Even after having two successful, positive experiences with elective inductions and epidural labors, I decided that for my third delivery, I wanted to give birth naturally.
After diving into the community of natural birth, it seems like so many people do it, but I had very little to no family members who had and only a few friends to talk to about it. I had 9+ months to think and prepare and solidify my reasoning for changing to a different tactic this time around.
There are a handful of reasons why I chose the natural childbirth route and depending on who is asking me, I will give them an answer at a different depth and time limit. Here are my reasons in full length for those curious and want to hear all the details and read a few quotes from the books I read to prepare.
Juniper Fay’s Birth Story
The Name Juniper & It’s Biblical Meaning
A quick and easy answer to a passing question (and if I don’t have time to dive into the spiritual reasons of my decision) is essentially, I wanted to be more of an active participant in my birth compared to my previous two.
There was nothing wrong with my first two births. However, especially with my first birth, I felt like I was just an object in the room and the nurses and doctors scrambled around me without really involving me in any of the process. I sat there on the bed and in between pushes they just talked amongst themselves. It wasn’t a jarringly negative experience; they were cordial and kind but I definitely felt more like a passive participant.
It is safe to say that in my natural labor experience, I felt very much like an active participant. And I loved it! I could only make this baby come out myself and my body took over like it was designed to do.
“Birth stories told by women who were active participants in giving birth often express a good deal of practical wisdom, inspiration, and information for other women. Positive stories shared by women who have had wonderful childbirth experiences are an irreplaceable way to transmit knowledge of a woman’s true capacities in pregnancy and birth.”From Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth Book
Birth seems to have a more routine use of technology, even in cases when it’s not really necessary. I am so grateful for the fact that those technologies are available, and for someone who has had uneventful and textbook fantastic pregnancies and births, I felt confident in my choice to forgo the routine and take it upon myself to be the main participant in my own birth experience.
Heal Relationship Resentment & Grab Hold of My Own Birth Experience
On a similar note, if I have more time with you and felt like sharing something vulnerable, I would explain how my second birth transpired and the resentment I allowed to build up in my mind.
I chose again to get induced to make it work for my husband’s residency school schedule so we could make sure it was at a time that wouldn’t complicate things for him (do I sound like a people pleaser already?). We got to the hospital at 10 and I was induced. The contractions were getting very strong around 2 in the morning and my sweet husband was sleeping away on the uncomfortable sofa bed. My non-confrontational personality and instinct was to let him sleep while I agonized in pain, all the while resenting the fact that I felt like if I woke him, he would complain about his poor sleep the next day. I also thought, well what is the point of waking him up if all he can really do is just be miserable with me. I justified that I might as well let him sleep so at least one of us was well-rested for the morning. The problem with this wasn’t the fact that I was trying to be kind and thoughtful towards him, it’s the fact that I began to resent that fact and felt like it can never be about me (adding to a narrative from past experiences in my life).
So for my third birth, I finally communicated these feelings with my husband (who was clueless to them and felt terrible for sleeping through the night while I worked through the contractions alone) and we planned to be more prepared for this third birth. We took a class that was centered on husbands helping their wives to find comfort during labor and it was a great class to take together.
When it came to my third birth, my husband was there every step of the way, sitting behind me and massaging my hips and back through every contraction. At the end while I was standing, he swayed back and forth with me and kissed my cheek and that was when I must have had a surge of oxytocin because within minutes I was pushing and she was here. It was truly a healing moment for me and for my relationship with him and I’m grateful I learned how important oxytocin is in birth so I could fight for us to have that kind of atmosphere in our room. My husband’s constant attention clearly helped me have a calm and beautiful labor.
Tips for the Partner/Husband
I will let midwives, classes, and books give you tips and advice for your partner in the birthing room with you, but I did think this was interesting advice! I forgot it by the time we gave birth but a great one to try next time.
“Pay close attention to her breathing pattern. As she breathes out, use a downward stroke matching the length of her exhalation. When she breathes in, lift (or almost lift) your hands off her body, moving them back to your starting point. Then stroke downward as she begins her outward breath. Your stroke should reflect the intensity of her breathing: When she exhales forcefully at the peak of the contraction, stroke down a bit more firmly; as the contraction wanes and breathing becomes quiet, stroke gently. In this way, your touch mirrors both the speed and intensity of her breath.”From Birthing from Within book
“Proving” My Strength
I wasn’t choosing to birth naturally to “prove” to anyone that I am strong or could do it. I did have an inner narrative about myself that I believed deeply that I wanted to rewire and shift that mindset. I have never kept to an exercise regimen my entire life — I have that genetic luck that I don’t struggle with weight — and my mind added the probability that I am just too lazy and am not capable of being disciplined enough. So when it came to laboring through hours of contractions, I thought pushing myself in this way was an obvious form of discipline practice. I didn’t need to prove to anyone except myself in a sense that I could do this. Which leads to the next point.
Many of us approach birth as a purely physical challenge. Yet, time after time, birth has shown me that it requires the work of a woman’s mind, not just her body.From Natural Hospital Birth book
Divine God-given Gift to Create and Carry Life
My go-to spiritual answer to someone asking about natural childbirth is the fact that I believe the ability to create and carry life is hands-down the most divine God-given gift that is given to humanity. Women’s bodies were intended to birth.
And as a woman, I have the privilege to experience that. I want to experience it in its full capacity! I want to reconnect to the empowering beauty of childbirth that is woman’s amazing gift. I only have a few chances to experience that partnership with Creation a few times in my life. (Luckily, I know how hard it is for so many women. Infertility issues are so common. I experienced a few heartaches along the way to our first child that you can read here.)
The blessing of being able to bear, and sustain a new life is never lost on me. “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” – John 16:21
“Pain guides the mother. Commonly, the positions and activities she chooses for comfort are also those that promote good labor progress or help shift the baby into the right position for birth. Remove the pain, and you kill that feedback mechanism.”from Birthing from Within Book
Two Parts of a Soul — Mind & Body
In my religion, we believe that the soul is comprised of both the spirit and the body. We believe the body is a gift from God, but in most religions, the body is sometimes labeled as the “natural man” part of us that it is inherently sinful. We do not believe that, which is why we do not baptize infants but wait until a person is past the “age of accountability” of eight years old. We believe the body we are born with will be reunited with our spirit when we are resurrected after Christ’s Second Coming, so the body is so important to us. We do practice ways to discipline our natural man tendencies — one of those being the practice of fasting and abstaining from food for a period of time. We do so to let our spirit have the opportunity to strengthen and prepare.
“This birthing turned out to be my first major proof that mind and body are one.”From Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth Book
Pushing our Mind & Body to Extremes to Elevate Both and Create a Beautiful Connection
I bring up fasting because I have seen it as a way to practice that discipline and tension between the spirit (the mind) and the body. We hold our spirit on this beautiful platter above the body sometimes and I wanted to do the opposite. I see birth as the chance to let our body’s design take over and show our mind how capable it is to handle the extreme. Instead of holding it back, I wanted to let God’s design show off a bit. I thought natural childbirth was the perfect kind of extreme event to stretch both mind and body to its limits and see that those limits I was holding myself to are actually farther than I ever expected!
This is exactly what happened at my third baby’s birth. I labored so quickly that by the end of it, while holding my daughter in my arms, I thought to myself how (dare I say) easy it was? I was fully expecting as I was feeling all the contractions and surges to still be there for at least a few more hours and yet 3 hours felt like no time at all. Obviously that is not everyone’s experience, but I was delighted to see that my mind and body’s limit was farther than I anticipated and I didn’t have a moment where I felt like giving up.
I also believe these two parts of our soul have a beautiful connection. In my research preparing for childbirth, it mentions that much of pain is in the mind. I love this demonstration the mind-body connection that is childbirth. You are constantly in your mind, focused yet staying relaxed. Both mind and body are required for this intense task.
It was amazing to feel that amazing power of my mind to help me through the contractions. It was amazing to recognize the amazing chemicals that were naturally releasing from my own body and not from a drug given to me. My body is amazing. My mind is amazing! That is what I came out of it thinking.
Closer Connection to Heavenly Mother and Female Ancestors
Another spiritual aspect I may have mentioned if we had lots of time to chat is the desire I had to have a closer connection to my Heavenly Mother and other female ancestors of mine. I don’t just believe in a male God, I also believe I have a Heavenly Mother that stands right beside my Heavenly Father, alongside my Savior and Advocate Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost to help facilitate Their power to me. In most religions, it’s either the Trinity all-in-one, or there is no mention of a female in the Godhead mix. Although we don’t know a ton about the Feminine Divine, we know enough and I wanted to gain a closer connection to Her where She is somewhat hidden.
I read a few books on the Feminine Divine and found those interesting. I prayed that I would feel Her presence. I ended up not focusing as much as I would have liked and during my labor I don’t feel like I had any particularly grand moment of connection, but I do feel incredibly grateful to be a woman and to have the knowledge that I do have a Mother in heaven.
I was really thinking of my female ancestors a lot while I prepared for my natural childbirth coming up. I went to Family Search and looked up a few women to see what kind of memories and stories they had in their accounts. I clicked on a handful, opened new tabs, and chose one to read. The very first one I chose ended up being my father-in-law’s grandmother Eula Lee Smith. She was born April 26th 1894. That date was me and my husband’s anniversary and the due date given for this third baby so I was instantly intrigued to learn more about her. I read what was inside her account and there was written a short autobiography from herself. She wrote that her very first memory was when she was ill with pneumonia and she felt incredibly warm and secure being held by her mother. That was all that it said but it felt so powerful to me and related to my other thoughts about feeling grateful to be a woman and have the opportunity to be a mother which I hold as the most sacred and beautiful task here on earth. She had many photos in her account (she died in 1981) and you could tell she was such a beautiful woman inside and out. I think the photos of her older years reminded me of a doula. So I thought why couldn’t she be there as a doula on the other side?
Connection to My Baby
I’ve never had a hard time bonding with my baby after birth, but I loved reading about how much the uterus and the baby work intently and together to make the birth happen. I loved feeling like my body’s instinctual reflexes and my baby’s body’s instinctual reflexes were in sync throughout the process.
My Nephew and the Passing through the Veil
Now if we’re really getting into a deep conversation about the reasoning why I chose to go natural, this next point is honestly the starting point to the rest of the above. I had a 10-year-old nephew pass away unexpectedly between my second and third babies, in 2021. The month prior, I had been prompted by the Spirit to take a social media break and I read book after book after scripture and felt like this was a turning point in my life. Come to find out, the Lord prepared me for such a tragic grief our family experienced by buoying me with this spiritual awakening. That is all a story on it’s own, but during this feasting of scriptures and books, I read a lot about light and about near-death and shared-death experiences. And one thing I thought about was this sweet nephew of mine and his passing through the veil and what the experience might have been like for him. Who was there to greet him, what did it look like and feel like, etc. It made me think about the two times we are at the veil, once when we come to this earth, and the second when we leave.
I realized that I am that portal through the veil and I am that person who greets this new spirit to the world. I want their experience through the veil to be as free as possible. I wanted to be fully present, which reminded me of my second birth experience and how even though I was awake and pushing and aware, the drugs made me incredibly lethargic and when I look back at videos and pictures, I don’t look very present at all. It slightly saddens me how non-present I was for his birth and I wanted to change that for the next time I would greet a new spirit to this world. I also thought about the people who would be passing her from their hands through the veil to mine, which is where I started down the path to a closer connection to Heavenly Mother and my female ancestors.
It was overall such a wonderful experience that I will gladly do again if I get the chance. You can read her birth story here. I hope all these details and reasoning are helpful if you come across this post considering whether you would like to give birth naturally or not (of course make sure to talk to someone about your options, consider your medical history, and don’t just go off of my experience). I will now give a couple of details about what I did to prepare myself for her birth.
Why I Chose a Hospital Birth, Yet also To Birth Naturally
I toured a birth center, but it was currently under construction (was most likely going to be done by the time I was due) and I didn’t like that I had to go down south to it but if there were any emergencies and either me or baby needed hospital intervention, we would have to retract up north and past our home to the hospital. I felt most comfortable being near the life-saving technology since my anxious brain was nervous about the fact that the first two were so smooth so it must be the next baby (anyone else have those silly thoughts?).
I wanted a hospital birth primarily for the comfort of knowing that if an emergency arose, a plethora of life-saving equipment and know-how would be in the room. Yet I had a deep desire for and a deep trust in natural birth.
The first two books really got me nervous about choosing a hospital natural birth. I am so glad I read the “Natural Hospital Birth” book because it gave me some practical tips if I received push back on certain points and it encouraged me that most labor teams really do try to create the experience the mother is wanting to have.
“The teacher told the students that if they wanted to give birth in a hospital, they had to be ready to “fight.” She tried to get them ready to do battle. Shannon was disappointed by this approach; she wanted an atmosphere of cooperation at her birth. When Shannon went into labor, she and her husband, Kevin, brought with them a calm sense of purpose that ultimately won most of the staff to their side….Shannon and Kevin were polite but firm and direct about what they wanted helped them achieve their goal…as did their infectious confidence.”From Natural Hospital Birth book
Things I Did to Prepare for my Hospital-Setting Natural Birth
Books I Read
I read Ina May’s book first and it was wonderful but gave me a little trepidation about choosing a hospital birth (the birth center in my area was just wrapping up a renovation and felt just far enough from a hospital to be the right choice for me at that time). I immediately read Birthing from Within and it had the least highlights but I enjoyed reading a lot of other women’s experiences and the art therapy they did. Again, though, a lot of “horror stories” in hospitals. So I took a few months off and then one month before my due date I read “Natural Hospital Birth” and it was my favorite of the three. Similar research and explanations of the benefits of natural childbirth, and suggestions on how to help facilitate the atmosphere you desire in a hospital setting, yet did it in a respectful way for the hospital team and not frighten the reader.
There were lots of birth mantras examples and print outs you can find. I wanted mine to feel personal and as a graphic designer, I had my own aesthetic and ideas I wanted to use. So I created a wall full of my favorite birth mantras, made a few myself, and created a line in between each mantra using one or two words from each that created a mantra in itself. You can see a photo here.
In-Person Partner Class
Whether or not you decide to go natural, my husband and I highly recommend taking a class that can help you discuss different positions to relieve pain and open up a conversation to make a plan or “strategy” in a sense for different scenarios (like if your labor stalls, if you have back labor, etc.). We loved our class and there are usually at least one you could find in your area!
I don’t believe I necessarily did this during my birth, my focus was just keeping my jaw relaxed, but I thought these visualizations were interesting and then after my experience, felt relatable to the feelings and thoughts I had. I do remember trying to visualize my cervix opening and softening during each contraction in my mind.
“All these chants are empowering and effective because they unify body-mind, leaving no room for doubt, fear, or self-pity. Whatever the sounds or words are, their uninhibited, complete expression merges with the pain and momentarily dissipates it. Vocalization in labor is primordial, beautiful, and it works.”From Birthing from Within book
“Visualized my yoni as a big, open cave beneath the surface of the ocean, with huge, surging currents sweeping in and out. As the wave of water rushed into my cave, my contraction would grow and swell and fill, reach a full peak, then ebb smoothly back out. I surrendered over and over to the great oceanic, engulfing waves.”From Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth book
“As he helped me breathe slowly and deeply, I kept focusing on the drawing of a purple flower on the wall above his head. I began repeating to myself, “I am a flower opening up.” With all this help, I was able to remain strong. I did not let the contractions overwhelm me.”From Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth book
Birth will teach you so much about life….if you let it. How to trust what you cannot see. How to surrender to the unfolding. How to navigate detours with confidence. How to take things one step at a time. How very, very capable you are.From Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth book
When I practice the Center technique, I think of a hurricane. The eye of a hurricane is still, while the destructive, forceful winds swirl around it. When you concentrate on the center of a sensation, you may be surprised by the absence of pain (until your mind remembers the pain, looks for it, and finds it!).From Birthing from Within book
I will let the books teach you about breathing techniques (Birthing from Within goes the most depth into this) but I did notice that once you get into the middle of labor, all you can do is focus on breathing through it. There is breath awareness, non-focused awareness, verbal/non-verbal shifting, quaker listening, varying your pace, introducing distraction, becoming curious of the pain, finding the edges of comfort, mentally visualizing something and manipulating it with your breathing, etc.
Keeping a Calm and Respectful Atmosphere to your Room
This was one of my biggest goals in my “birth plan”. You can download what I wrote here.
If a woman’s body isn’t producing enough oxytocin, why isn’t it? Probably because she is experiencing, perhaps deeply and unconsciously, the fear that labor provokes in many women. This fear blocks oxytocin production and stimulates adrenaline production.From Natural Hospital Birth book
A Few Tips I Recommend
I absolutely used this recommendation suggested in the Natural Hospital Birth book. Mostly because I know my tendency is to clench my jaw. “Your partner can encourage low vocalizations like the sound “ahh.” Opening your jaw will help you open internally.” In the videos captured by my friend in my labor, you can see me stick out my tongue while taking deep breaths to help remind me not to clench. You can’t clench your jaw with your tongue out so that worked well! I also used my hand to stretch and release from clenching.
“The best pain-management technique you can use in early labor is pretending you’re not in labor. How will you know when you’ve reached this stage? It will be when you can no longer talk to anyone except in monosyllables between contractions. In my experience, this sign has been unmistakable. Almost certainly you will be able to talk between contractions. You may even be able to talk during a contraction. If you can talk or walk during a contraction, I encourage you to do so. Your body will demand your attention when it is needed.”From Natural Hospital Birth book
“As soon as you start to feel contractions, I suggest that you drink a full glass of water. Dehydration can cause your uterus to cramp. If that is what is happening, and labor isn’t actually beginning, drinking a glass of water can reveal the truth. If labor is truly beginning, it’s a good idea to start well hydrated anyway….Before labor, in late pregnancy, I encourage you to make a list (with your partner, if you have one) of twenty things you could do in early labor—ten for a daytime labor, and ten for a nighttime labor.”From Natural Hospital Birth book
What Natural Birth Taught Me
Here are a few quotes I highlighted in the books I read that now, reading through them back, resonate with me and what I learned from my own experience.
I left my comfort zone and the culture I had grown up with. I learned that I can work through scary and painful situations and be strong and present when I need to be.From Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth book
I have felt incredible energy and life force through my body, and I have really been reborn a happier, healthier, and more confident person. I have learned I can choose to focus on the darker side or the lighter side of all that is around me. I choose the lighter side and have the discipline to keep it up.From Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth book
I truly feel like the allure and beauty of birth reached out and grabbed me and I’m so glad I was able to have a positive experience. I believe my research and prep work helped so if this is something you’re interested in, take a look at the books I recommended and go find a class near you.From Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth book
“I become aware of their thoughts, so they too can be the creators of their reality. I gave up complaining, because I saw how it caused me to be angry and blaming. Instead, I try to pay close attention to my thoughts through mindfulness practices. I insert positive, affirming, and grateful thoughts into the stream, and ride them like a raft on the white water of a turbulent mind.”From Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth book
Being-in-labor is a continuation of your life, not a separate event. Labor is a continuous series of activities, including waves of emotional and physical stress (not just sitting relaxed in a chair). When practice and awareness of breath become part of your moment-to-moment living, it will just continue into the first contraction, and the next…into pushing…into mothering.From Birthing from Within book
Her confidence in her ability to give birth naturally oozes out of her. This is a woman who believes in her body and expresses amazement at what it can do, “with no direction from me.”From Natural Hospital Birth book