“I had a nat­u­ral birth without an epidu­ral.”

Ca­t­rina Costa Da Silva, 25, post­grad­u­ate stu­dent in in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics

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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.

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