Post Submitted by: Hilary Kimes Bernstein
When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t have a clue about childbirth options. But, as a journalist, I started researching right away. I didn’t like the side effects that are linked to epidurals, and I wanted to try an unmedicated birth even though it meant facing pain. I reasoned that the Lord made a woman’s body to conceive and bear children – and I wanted to fully experience it.
When my Labor Day arrived and I needed an induction, I declined an epidural, even though it meant laboring through Pitocin-induced contractions. Like many mothers, my laboring experience was intense. Once I dilated to 7 centimeters, I didn’t think I could handle anything more. That’s when I asked to labor in the birth tub in my hospital room.
My nurse gladly filled the tub, helped me in … and suddenly there was relief. I couldn’t believe what an amazing difference I felt. Whenever I felt a contraction coming, I made sure to immerse myself in water and relax.
I was able to labor through transition without being in pain. I loved having my nurse quietly encourage me through each contraction while my husband fed me ice chips. When I reached 9 centimeters, I slowly emerged from the water, was helped on the delivery table and pushed until our healthy son was born.
When I was pregnant with our second child, I looked forward to another birth process and hoped I could finally experience childbirth without induction. However, our daughter was overdue. Once I hit 42 weeks, I was induced yet again. I knew I could labor without having an epidural, so I did. This time around, I was familiar with relaxation techniques, and even though I experienced pain, it was manageable.
When I reached the transition phase, I experienced self-doubt again. Aware of this birthing signpost, I asked to use the tub. I could hardly wait to relieve my contractions. Once again, as soon as I immersed my belly, the pain subsided.
This time around I was able to smile, greet nurses as they entered my room and visit with my husband and nurse. But each time I could feel a contraction coming I stopped talking, crouched down in the water and relaxed. When each contraction stopped, I sat up again.
With that routine, I made it through the entire transition phase smoothly. I left the tub once it was time to push, but being out of the water definitely magnified each contraction. Unfortunately, after unexpected complications during the pushing stage, our daughter ended up being delivered by emergency C-section.
While the intensity of my childbirth experiences brought me to complete and utter dependence on the Lord, I was grateful for the way my pain was naturally managed with water. Before my childbirth experiences, I had no idea what a huge difference laboring in the water would make. I quickly discovered that it was the most effective natural way to manage painful contractions and help through the transition phase. And that was a gift from God.
Hilary Kimes Bernstein is a Christ follower, wife, mama, and journalist who blogs about making healthy decisions that honor God and happen to help the environment at Accidentally Green. Recently she released her first eBook, First Bites: How To Instill Healthy Eating Habits During Your Baby’s First Year. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.