“I had a natural birth without an epidural.”
Catrina Costa Da Silva, 25, postgraduate student in international politics
From the moment I found out that I was pregnant, I was set on having a natural birth because I believe that God gave women the duty of bringing life into this world, and He wouldn’t give us more than we can handle. Luckily, my doctor was extremely supportive of my decision.
I’m naturally petite, but I gained a full 24kg during my pregnancy simply because I couldn’t stop eating. And the more weight I gained and the bigger my baby grew, the more concerned my friends and family became about the risk of a natural birth. Plus, I’d heard all sorts of traumatic things about vaginal tearing and the pain of delivering a large baby. I would sit in bed at night watching online clips of natural births to convince myself that I’d made the right decision!
During the final week of my pregnancy, I was really tired and my legs cramped constantly. I visited the doctor, who confirmed that my baby was in the correct position to be delivered that day, and we agreed that he would start the induction process once I arrived at the hospital.
My fiancé Jason kept asking if I wanted to change my mind about having a natural birth. I guess he was just scared for me and being caring, which I appreciated, but his questions upset
me at first, as I thought that he didn’t believe I would be able to handle the pain. I explained that I wasn’t going to change my mind, and he was very supportive after that.
I felt my first contraction at 11am, and 15 minutes later, the pain was a hundred times worse. By the time the nurses took me into the delivery room, I was uncontrollable – screaming, sobbing and biting my mother’s hand! I had also dilated too fast to receive the epidural that I had originally requested. The only thing I could depend on to ease things was oxygen. It only helped a little, but I was just happy to have something.
After a 40-minute labour, our son Mason was born weighing 3.6kg. I was lucky – no complications and no stitches needed! I even refused a wheelchair, and walked to the ward shower.
As difficult as natural birth was, the pain was gone within an hour and I would do it all over again, no epidural and all!
NATURAL BIRTH: THE PROS AND CONS
“A natural, unmedicated approach allows you to remain in control of your body, so that you can be an active participant during both labour and delivery. Choosing this route means accepting the potential for pain, which can be considerable, but there are many benefits, too: fewer side effects for both the mother and the baby (as natural techniques are non-invasive); no loss of sensation or alertness; the chance for both you and your partner to be involved in the process; and the feeling of accomplishment that many women experience this way,” says Dr van der Merwe.