Unmedicated Hospital Birth Story

Before the Birth

I had a very loose birth plan, if you could call it a birth plan at all, with my first baby, and my second was no different. I ended up having an epidural the first time, and thought I would “try” to have an unmedicated hospital birth the second time – but honestly, I wasn’t dead set on it. I knew if it got to the point that I wanted one, I would go ahead and ask for one.

For as long as I could remember, I had always wanted my first two kids to be close in age, and somehow, I managed to get my husband on board. One factor that made the decision easier was my crazy menstrual cycle. I started birth control pills 7 weeks postpartum after my first, and a week later my “period” started. And it just.didn’t.stop.

My period lasted half of every month, with spotting in between. Whenever I talked to my doctor about it, she said my body just needed time to “adjust”. Finally 5 months postpartum I gave up and stopped taking birth control…and what do you know, the bleeding stopped too! I was eager to have another baby, so we decided to just let it happen. I also started tracking my cycle using the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), which has been a huge blessing, as it’s now all I use.

We got pregnant a few months later, when our oldest was 9 months old (read about his birth story here). I had been tracking my basal body temperature, so I knew right away I was pregnant when my temperature spiked and stayed elevated. I later explained this is how I knew my due date despite not having a period history to my doctor (a different one haha), and she looked at me like I was an alien…

This time around I expected to go overdue like I had with my first, and sure enough, an induction date was set for a week after my due date. I had some first trimester bleeding and worried about a possible miscarriage, but everything was fine and the bleeding stopped. I had been measuring large (about 2-3 weeks ahead, depending on which Dr. measured). I was a patient at a clinic with 5 different female family physicians, and rotated through seeing each of them. We found out the gender this time and knew baby would be a girl!

40 Weeks Pregnant

Birth Day – 7 a.m.

It was a Sunday and we arrived at 7am and the unit was nearly empty. We started out in the shared room (but we were the only one’s there), so already we were off to a better start than last time! Our nurse was young – she said she had graduated a year ago and had worked on the unit since, but we got the vibe that we might have been her first solo patient. She was always back and forth between us and the head nurse to report how things were going. Since the unit was empty, the head nurse actually ended up being with us pretty much the whole time too – we didn’t mind, it was nice to have so much support!

The doctor arrived around 8:30am, and gave me a prostaglandin pill vaginally (same as my first induction). I was already about 3cm dilated and 25% effaced. While she was there she asked if I would want an epidural – I told her I didn’t know yet. She said she would write an order for one if I wanted it (yay for thinking ahead!) but she thought I could do it without one (thanks) – especially, she said, if I could just make it to 10cm, then pushing would be a break (Ya Right! I later learned – not for me at least). The morning went by slowly, with mild contractions about 10 min apart. We walked around the hospital and just hung out.

12:30 p.m.

The doctor came back around 12:30, said I hadn’t dilated much more, but was now 75% effaced, so they ruptured the membranes. As with my first labour, the contractions were suddenly very intense and back to back. I felt more prepared this time than last, however, and tried really hard to stay relaxed. The two most helpful things I did were focusing on keeping my hands relaxed (apparently if your hands are relaxed your body follows suit? Worked for me) and low moaning during contractions.

My blood pressure was high again, like the first time, but the head nurse didn’t seem worried and suggested I go to my own room (thanks goodness!) and hop in the shower (thank you! Such a good idea).

I got to my room around 1 pm and spent the next hour or so in the shower. The nurse came only once to check on us, which was fine with us. The contractions were so intense, and back to back with no breaks. I just sat in the shower with the water on boiling hot and quite literally couldn’t even move. But I stayed relaxed and just moaned the whole time.

2:00 p.m.

Around 2 p.m. I told my husband I felt the pressure of the baby and needed to push. He rang the call button for the nurses and told them I needed to push, and they came flying into the room. I knew the baby was there and ready, but I also knew it just wasn’t going to fall out – they didn’t seem so sure. “Quick, get in the bed!” – so I tried – but I stepped out of the shower and literally couldn’t walk, the contractions were so strong, so I dropped to the ground. Despite the pain, I remember thinking it was kind of comical to see them freak out – “No, get up, now, DON’T PUSH!” I remember putting a finger up, like just give me a minute! In retrospect I now see no good reason why I couldn’t have just given birth on the floor.

Eventually I made it to the bed, where they promptly checked me to find I was 9cm dilated. The thought briefly crossed my mind that this meant I was for sure not getting an epidural this time. The doctor had arrived by then, and thankfully was a lot calmer than the nurses seemed. My husband describes the next part as the nurses just yelling at me. Afterwards he asked me about it, but honestly if they weren’t yelling at me, I wouldn’t have heard them. They really did just yell at me not to push. The head nurse kept yelling” Do not close your eyes, look at me!” (apparently my eyes were closed) and kept reciting the whole “breathe through it, don’t push” thing. As soon as the doctor was “suited up” she gave the go ahead to push, but honestly I just felt like I was finally not holding back. I wasn’t pushing, the contractions were doing all the work. I remember thinking this was absolutely the worst part of all.

Funny enough, in that moment I also remembered the summer I worked as a housekeeper at the hospital. I spent two weeks as the housekeeper on labour and delivery and heard dozens of women giving birth. I often heard something along the lines of, “No I can’t!” and always thought, well it’s too late now, so don’t bother saying it! Anyways, this whole time I remember wanting to say the same thing, but that memory kept me from saying anything – but I was plenty loud anyways. I was definitely past caring.

I remember I kept asking the nurse to raise the head of the bed so I was in more of a sitting position. I had done my research and knew that lying on your back is one of the absolute WORST positions to give birth in. The nurse seemed confused why I would want that and kept asking, “are you sure?”. Just another example of how important it is to be informed and advocate for yourself in the medical system!

Birth – 2:21 p.m.

After probably less than 10 minutes of pushing, baby girl was born at 2:21 pm, weighing 9 lbs, 6 oz! We were all pretty surprised at her size. She also breastfed right away, while the doctor stitched me up. She kept asking if I had gotten an episiotomy with my first baby – we assured her I did not, but apparently I had a large second degree tear up to my urethra (again) that looked like it had torn where an episiotomy had been. I’m assuming I tore in the same spot as the first time. Luckily I healed really fast though! I felt pretty much back to normal within a couple weeks.


This was definitely my most intense and painful labour and birth of my 5. But honestly, I remember feeling so proud of myself! In retrospect, the only thing I would change is how crazy it felt at the end. The nurses were very high strung, and I’m thinking they must have been worried about a precipitous (fast) birth. But if I had given birth intuitively, I would have never gotten up off the bathroom floor (hands and knees is a great position for giving birth!). Unfortunately, most labour and delivery staff are not comfortable or trained to catch babies anywhere but the end of the hospital bed, even though this is not evidence based. This is one of the many reasons I loved my 4th birth with midwives, but that wasn’t until after I had another unmedicated hospital birth with my 3rd.

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