Ashley Whitney’s Birth Story

Like many women, I worried about how I would handle the pain of childbirth. It is a pain no first-time mother has ever experienced before, so the fear is mostly about the unknown. 

That’s why I want to share my story with you. I experienced birth in a hospital with a labor induction and an epidural, and I also experienced a natural birth at Breath of Life. They were two very different experiences. One was full of trauma and the other was incredibly empowering.

Why I Thought An Epidural Would Help

I scheduled the usual 2-hour birth class at the hospital and came away feeling like I had a pretty solid birth plan in place. The problem was, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I actually left the class that day fairly uneducated.

I’m not exaggerating when I say the birth of my son was traumatic for me.

I ended up feeling like I had no control over my birthing experience. My labor was induced and the pain I feared was even more than I imagined. By 7cm, I was desperate for relief. I got an epidural.

Once it started kicking in I realized not only was I numb, I couldn’t even move my legs. Now I REALLY had no control over my birth experience. All I could do was what the medical professionals told me to do.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, my son got stuck during delivery. We were experiencing shoulder dystocia, a complication that occurs during delivery when the baby’s shoulders become lodged and can’t pass through the birth canal. Because of the epidural, I wasn’t in control at all. I couldn’t feel anything. My body had no ability to naturally respond to the situation. Having an epidural doesn’t give you the option to listen to your body and let your body tell you what to do. As a result, I ended up tearing and my recovery was prolonged.

Expectant Mom, I want to encourage you that they are STRONGER than you think. 

Not Getting An Epidural Was Empowering 

When I found out I was expecting my second child, I was concerned I couldn’t handle the pain of childbirth again. 

As I researched my options for prenatal care, labor, and delivery, I discovered my insurance covered Breath of Life Birth Center. The induction was horrible and so painful,  I couldn’t imagine what the pain would be like naturally. 

“It can’t be worse than my first experience,” I thought to myself.

I’m so glad I contacted Breath of Life. 

Every expectant mom who delivers at the birth center goes through birthing classes. They are extremely helpful and informative. I felt educated and empowered. They addressed all of my concerns and I learned things about my body and birthing that I didn’t know after my 2-hour hospital class. Everyone took the time to get to know me–and my husband and son–and I got to know all of them well too. It was all very reassuring.

I was worried about not being medicated but, because my first labor was induced, the whole experience was unnatural. Natural labor happens much more gradually than it does when forced by Pitocin. I ordered Nitrous Oxide to have in case I couldn’t handle the pain, but I never used it. Our bodies are equipped for the natural process of birthing. 

I was also concerned about what would happen if my daughter got stuck the same way my son did. Would the midwives and nurses know what to do? I was reassured to discover, if we did come across a shoulder dystocia again, they have been trained in what to do.

At Breath of Life, no one tried to step in and take charge or tell me what to do. I was in complete control. The midwives and nurses were there for support and to make sure my baby and I were healthy and everything was going well; but, otherwise, it was all me. No one imposed themselves on me.

They made me feel confident about listening to my body. No one was telling me what I was feeling, they were encouraging me to simply let my body do what it’s going to do. It made me realize how conditioned we are to believe that we need intervention to have a healthy delivery. As women, we instinctively know what to do. 

The greatest gift was immediately bonding with my daughter. They put her on my chest immediately and the moment was so special. 

The midwives recommended using Pitocin after the delivery, and I’m glad we did. It prevents excessive bleeding and helps the uterus contract faster. Unlike the days after my son, I had very little bleeding after my daughter. The recovery time was so much faster and the bonding time was immediate. 

Nursing was an incredible experience after natural birth. I didn’t force my baby to try to latch when a consultant came into the room, like at the hospital. Instead, I just laid with her and she eventually just latched on her own. Babies also instinctively know what to do.

We arrived at Breath of Life at 9 p.m. My baby born at 10:22 p.m., and we were home with our daughter by 3 a.m. 

As I left, I said to my husband, ‘I can’t wait to do this again!” 

Moms, you are stronger than you think! Your body was made for this. 

Natural birth is so empowering and so amazing. The greatest risk may just be that you want to have more babies.