This Runner's Trials

Why I want a natural childbirth

Below are my opinions on childbirth and what I think will be best for me. I am not judging anyone else's birth plans. All moms are so hardcore, no matter how your baby came into the world. However, I've always been a big believer in goals, hence why I'm sharing this.

I've never had a baby before, so I have no idea what labor and birth will feel like.

In our society, we're taught to fear birth. We're told it will be the worst thing we'll ever go through. Pain like nothing else. And we certainly won't be able to do it without the use of medication.


This has never made any sense to me. I expect childbirth to be painful, but perhaps not completely unbearable. After all, women have been doing it for centuries and our bodies were literally made for it.



My goal is to have a natural childbirth. Of course, I know these things often don't go as planned. I could very well need a C-section or beg for an epidural. As long as I get a healthy baby at the end, I'll be over-the-moon happy.

Why go natural? I've heard a lot about a natural childbirth being better for the baby. While that's a huge perk, I'm semi-embarrassed to admit that's not my main motivation. I want a natural birth because:

1. I hope it won't be that bad. I've always thought of giving birth is like running a marathon for the first time. You prep for many weeks, try to picture what it will be like, and hear all kinds of advice. (Marathon training and pregnancy are quite similar after all.) But no matter how well you train- and how many tips you hear along the way- nothing can quite prepare you until you experience it yourself.

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The most striking similarity: you're aware that it will be painful, but you also know that it will eventually end. Knowing there is an end point (albeit unknown) really helps me mentally. Just like a race, giving birth seems like just as much a mental battle as a physical one. I hope mental tactics and a positive attitude go a long way in the delivery room.

2. I kind of like pain. Like many endurance athletes, I like pain. Ok, I really like it. Speed work and tempo runs- arguably some of the most painful workouts- are my favorite. I love the feeling I get after overcoming something so painful.

I want to know what childbirth feels like. I want to know if the pain is truly unbearable or something I'm capable of overcoming. Believe it or not, I'm actually excited about this new challenge.

3. I've felt horrible pain before. Maybe my endometriosis pain compares to childbirth, maybe it doesn't. I've been physically crippled with pain on the bathroom floor before. It killed like nothing else, but the worst part was not knowing what was causing it. I'm guessing I'll have a pretty good idea what's causing my pain during labor and birth ;)

4. I hate pain meds. I loathe them for two reasons:

  • I never understood the point of pain medication. Why take something to mask pain when pain is your body's way of telling you something's wrong? I used to take pain pills in college for a herniated disk in my back. The pills made the pain go away, so I worked out hard, and then my back hurt more after the pills wore off.
  • Pain meds make me vomit... a lot. Sorry, but it's true. I know there's a good chance I'll toss my cookies during labor anyway, and I really don't want to do that more times than necessary.


Not an epidural. Still made me puke.

5. My mom did it, so why can't I? My mom gave birth to me- at 9 lbs, 10 oz- and my 10 lb, 1 oz brother naturally. And she was a few years older than I'll be when I deliver this baby. It seems silly, but knowing my mom was able to do it reassures me that I'll be able to handle it, too.

So there you have it. As for how I'm preparing, we are taking a childbirth class at our hospital, I plan on studying the Bradley Method, and I'm reading lots of birth stories and taking notes. Hopefully it's enough.

I can't wait to see what really happens on my baby's birth day. I promise to fully divulge every little detail- and eat my words if need be- after the big event :)

Comments (47) Trackbacks (2)
  1. I can’t wait to share my experience with you since we’re after the same goal! I plan of focusing on knowing there is an end point and knowing that the pain is for a purpose, too. I hope we both get the deliveries we’re after! I’ll let you know in the next 2 weeks- AH! :)

  2. I hope you’re able to have the birth you’re hoping/planning for. Lots of women do it without pain meds and live to tell the tale. It’s funny you mention the part about your mom being able to do it. When I was in labor (epidural in place), I was talking to my mom, who had two babies without pain meds, on the phone and she was like, ‘no fair, I want to have another baby so I can have an epidural.” Ha!
    Having run a marathon and given birth, I’d rather run fifty marathons than give birth sans epidural, but that is just me. Back labor did me in.

    You’re prepared and well educated and I sincerely hope your baby’s birth goes just as you hope. Best wishes!

  3. i totally support you on your goals, and commend your flexibility. and WOW i am amazed at your mom! [also, that may explain your measurements, right?]

    for me — i don’t love pain quite so much, even if i do love marathons! during medical school and moreso my pediatrics residency i had the luxury of actually watching lots of women laboring and babies popping out [both vaginal + c-section] and i have to say . . . when the time comes for me, i want an epidural. STAT. :)

  4. You can do this! When I was induced & my water broke and the contractions kicked in – I really felt them for an hour or more until I got my epidural. During the time I felt the contractions – I knew I could have gone naturally. For me, they were painful – but manageable (plus it was a good excuse to get a foot massage from hubby, which really helped!). However, I’m a total wuss and didn’t want to feel them over and over for 7+ hours. Eventually my epidural did wear off quite a bit and I was able to feel Molly come out and it felt amazing! While I was totally happy with the way my labor went – I think going in next time, knowing what to expect, I will try to go naturally. I can’t wait to hear your birth story! :-)

  5. You can totally do it!! I’m 30 and have given birth twice – with my first I had meds via an IV and then an epidural at 8cm, and with my second I went totally natural (and my second was a big baby – almost 10 pounds!) It is completely, completely doable to not have any meds and the recovery is so much better and faster afterwards. Yes, it is HARD, but worth it. With me, what helped was going into the birth with the mindset that meds/an epidural were not even an option (unless in the case of an emergency c-section or something, obviously). Knowing the option was off the table allowed me to focus all my energy on getting through the contractions and getting the baby out. Good luck!!!

  6. I think its great you’re going to give it a try. I think every woman is different in terms of pain tolerance and the amount of pain they’ve experienced before (ie your endometriosis). I think its also good to be open to the idea of pain control, like you are, in case the pain is much worse than expected (or if you have to have an C-section). My mom had me naturally (to save money actually), but had an epidural for my sister (and the rest were C-sections). I can’t wait to hear how you think childbirth is.

    Personally, after seeing several deliveries and such, I know I will be having an epidural! That’s just me though. It definitely depends on the individual.

  7. I’m planning the same thing except we’re planning a home birth instead of a hospital birth. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to do the Bradley classes or the Hypnobirthing classes-both have really great reviews. You’re further along than I am (I’m due Feb 1st) so thanks for being open because I’m excited to watch and see how everything goes for you and glean any tips I can. ;)

  8. I love your thoughts on this and I think it’s smart to have a plan. I am not in a place where I have to consider these things seriously, but I have always been most interested in natural childbirth when the time comes. I realize everyone’s experience is different, but I am certainly enjoying your thoughts through this journey!

  9. It is totally possible to go natural. Gather as much info as you can and be familiar with lots of different coping methods. You never know which one will be the method that works best. For me, sitting on a one of this big exercise balls was the best.thing.ever. for both of my labors. I ended up with an epidural (that didn’t work) for my first, so I knew I could handle the pain with my second. He was born at home with no pain meds and it was an amazingly empowering experience. (I don’t talk much about pregnancy, infancy, etc on my blog because my kids are older now, but I was a totally crunchy home birthing, extended breastfeeding, part-time cloth diapering mom, so feel free to email me if you want to chat – mom2shoo at

  10. Good luck to you on your goal! I ended up having a natural delivery because my labor went so quickly (pretty rare for a first time mom). I wasn’t completely thrilled with the idea of a needle in my back, so when the nurse told me I had a 5 min window (literally) to get it, I decided to pass.
    It ended up being the hardest and most painful thing I have ever gone through, but it was all worth it. I was up and walking pretty quickly thereafter (and starving!) I would do it again exactly the same way if I had to.
    I would say to prepare as best you can, but know there will be unexpected things. We took the class, etc but I had all back labor and was not prepared for that at all. It is completely different.

  11. Good for you! I respect natural child birth, but I don’t think I could do it myself. The thought of medicated child birth still sounds too painful for me. Then again, I’m a major wimp!

  12. You can do it!!! The first 2 of my 3 births were med-free and the feeling you are left with after is just amazing. It’s the biggest high ever, and a time when you can completely have a totally selfish pride in yourself for completely such a huge task all on your own.
    I also back up MCM’s comment about educating yourself on several coping techniques. My first labor I went in without much in my arsenal and it was really tough, especially at the very end. For my second I read up on the Bradley Method (didn’t take the classes though) and it was amazing how much better I handled all the contractions. I felt so much more in control of my body. My miracle object was also the birthing ball. It’s so soft and squishy when you definitely DON’T want anything hard and uncomfortable down in that area, and you don’t need to use energy to stand up, but it still lets you use gravity to your benefit. Don’t be afraid to try anything and everything because you really don’t know what will be best for you. I didn’t get the ball until the last hour of my first labor and it was the first thing I asked for with my second two labors :)
    Good luck and I can’t wait to hear how it goes!!! Just keep up your confidence through the rest of your pregnancy because you will definitely come in contact with people that doubt your abilities are just think you are crazy, and that can really be a mood-kill if you let it.

  13. I couldn’t agree more. Well said. I’m due in mid October and am planning to do it naturally. However I know several new mothers who had every intention of doing the same but ended up having an epidural so I’m definitely open to anything happening. If I’m in labor for 20 plus hours I can see giving in but we’ll see. My mom also gave birth to both me and my brother naturally so if she can do it, I know I can :)

  14. Hmmm very interesting. I have never been good at dealing with pain so just figured that I will probably hvae hte meds but you made me stop and think, hmmm i really do have to think on this and really know what i want..thanks!

  15. I found your blog through “More Room In My Heart”. I hope you get to have the birth you want. I also wanted a natural birth but things didn’t go quite as planned. I’ll spare you my story but nothing went as planned. But I got a beautiful, healthy little boy so I wouldn’t have changed anything for the world. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy. I’m also a runner/triathlete going through IVF trying to have a second child.

  16. Good luck, and I hope it all goes the way you want it to! When my NP (in my later appts.) and the nurses in the hospital aske me if I was planning to get an epidural, I’d say, well, I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes, they practically laughed in my face. Basically, I was told that the meds are there for a reason, and I wouldn’t get a better mother’s day card if I did it au naturel vs. medicated. Hmph. How’s that for motivation to go natural? LOL. Anyway, I’ve always thought that I had a really high tolerance for pain. I take ibuprofin if necessary, but I generally prefer to try not to. So, I’m in the hospital on pitocin (since my water had broken and I was not contracting fast enough, they put me on pitocin since the baby had to be delivered within 24 hours of my water breaking) and they really turned it up. The contractions came hard and fast, and I thought I was going to die. Well, it was nearly unbearable. So I got IV meds (not really sure what they were) that took the edge off and let me rest for an hour or so. 3 hours later, when it wore off, I was ready for another dose. They gave me that and said after this they would give me the epidural if I wanted. At that point, I said, yes, let’s do it. I felt like that dose did not work at all, but I thought I had to wait 3 hours for the meds to “wear off” before they could give me the epidural. When the nurse came back and asked if I was ready, I said yes. However, when she checked me, I was already at 9.5 cm! She said I could still have the epidural, but I was going to push in 30 min. At that point, I said forget it. Once you start pushing, I think the epidural is moot. Of course, I ended up pushing for almost 2 hours though, but I can proudly (to myself) say that although not totally unmedicated, I had a “natural” birth? Again, nothing against an epidural…I was ready to have one! I think if I have another baby, and do not have to be on pitocin, I could do it unmedicated. Pitocin is NASTY stuff!

    • Oh, and my mom went unmedicated for all 3 of her kids, too, because I guess they didn’t do meds back then. I think she scoffs at the epidural. LOL

  17. Hey Jen, I just gave birth on Friday of last week and all my reasons for natural childbirth were the same as yours. And I did it! It was harder than I thought it would be (so just expect that your expectations will be exceeded!) but I’m so glad I did it naturally. You can do it!

  18. Good luck to you. I have 2 kids and had 2 epidurals for each kid and it was still the most pain I’ve ever felt. That said, it was 150% worth it and when it’s over there’s this state of euphoria that comes over you. I respect your stand on the matter and I know, no matter what, it will be the best moment of your life. :)

  19. Good for you!! The benefits to yourself and the baby are great. I took a class from my hospital called Hypnobirthing and it totally worked! I would suggest looking into a class or at least getting the book by Marie Mongan. I went in with the attitude of ‘whatever’. I will try it this way and if I can’t take it I will ask for the drugs. Kind of like running while preggo, don’t have any expectations and you won’t be disappointed :)

  20. Thanks for posting this. I’m not pregnant, but when I am will absolutely try for a natural childbirth. In all my reading of birth stories, I hear much of the same reasoning from many women: it’s better for the baby, women’s bodies were built for it, medical interventions are sometimes unnecessary, etc. All true, in my opinion. But you brought up two points that are central to my motivations, but that I don’t hear articulated very often: love of pain, and the sense of accomplishment that overcoming it brings; and the sense of pride you expect to feel after having a natural birth. Women are taught not to express pride the way men do… we belittle it, and (my theory) subconsciously avoid situations that would necessarily lead to us expressing pride and reveling in our accomplishments. Having a baby, running, or whatever herculean task you set yourself to, are all wonderful opportunities to face the darker sides of ourselves, come out smiling, and proudly announce it to the world.

    (I’ve been following your blog since you announced your pregnancy, and always find your running and general outtake on life to be very inspiring. Looking forward to reading for a long time to come :)

  21. I had to leave a comment when I saw this post. I had a baby in May and was pretty open but hoping to have natural childbirth. Because of how my son was positioned I ended up having back labor and you name it I had it. Epidurals (2, in fact), pitocin (because the stress of pain halted my dialation progress) and very nearly a c-section. The best advice a nurse gave me was that having kids is all about rolling with the punches and letting go of control and this was a good introduction to that life. It was a hard 42 hours of labor and in no way what I thought the experience would be like. But in the end I met the most amazing little boy and the minute I saw his face none of my plans for childbirth mattered. Congrats and good luck !

  22. I loved this post. I’m not a mother yet, but all I’ve heard is scary things about labor. I like your positive outlook on the whole thing going into it.

  23. While both of my pregnancies ended in c-sections, I went into both not planning on having a section. The first time around I did 17hrs of labour before getting an epidural, and then another 10 hrs with no progress (likely because of the epidural). And the second time around I was emotionally broken over having to schedule my c-section at the end of week 40. (I attempted a VBAC for my second but ended up going 40 weeks before scheduling a c-section in case baby didn’t come before the end of week 41, inducing a VBAC carried far too many risks).

    While I realize that there are no medals given out for med-free, natural deliveries it’s still something that I feel is missing from both of my pregnancies. I don’t feel like I gave birth to my girls. And I literally didn’t. Someone cut me open and took them out. Yes, I ended up with healthy and beautiful babies both times and at the end of the day that is really.all.that.matters. So…..that being said:

    Educate yourself and prepare well, but stay open minded and know that this isn’t necessarily a “goal” that you have complete control over “achieving”. I hope that you get what you want, but know that no matter what happens and how baby arrives you will forget it all the moment you set your eyes on your son. *the “” are not meant to be mocking but my way of saying that you can’t really associate these words with labour because it really isn’t all up to you (there is another human being involved here ;) ), whereas achieving other goals is all about how much YOU specifically put into the process and directly impacts your level of achievement.

  24. Keep exercising your body (as much as possible) and focus the most important ‘muscle’ — your mind!! You CAN do it!!! :)

  25. You are definitely doing your research, Jen! It’s obvious you are making very informed decisions based on what will be best for you and your baby. I admit I know very little about child birth, but I would be inclined to choose the natural route if at all possible as well. A lot of your reasons make perfect sense to me, and I also dislike pain meds a lot. I appreciate hearing your though process throughout this journey – it’s definitely making me think about my own (future) choices :)

  26. Go you! I’m definitely all about natural whenever possible for all things. I’m impressed by how knowledgeable you are about all of this. You’re a great resource for all of us! :)

  27. I tried to have a natural birth with my second, but failed. What got me was the undetermined finish line. I was in labor with my first for 16 hours (I think it went on so long because of the never ending cycle of epi and pit) so with my second, after the pain got really bad, I had no idea how much longer it would last. 30 minutes after caving in and getting the epi my son was born. Damn it. I should have stayed strong.

  28. yay jen! i think it’s so important to have a plan! i love the marathon analogy and it is so true. no long run prepares your body for what that race day actually feels like.

    you know i’ll be cheering for you that everything goes as planned and you get your natural child birth!

  29. I love this and I agree! I have experienced some horrible pain before so I think I can handle it. Guess I will just wait and see if and when that time comes :)

  30. I gave birth to my daughter naturally 7 weeks ago. I have to say it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had prepared myself for it to be. I didn’t think the contractions were bad, it was the pushing that was the most difficult part. I think if you go in with a postive attitude and the confidence that your body knows what it’s doing, you’ll be able to do it. Don’t fear the pain, go with it.

    Good Luck!

  31. I tried with my second and went through all of labor with no drugs. It was awesome but he couldnt dilate past 7 and eventually had a csection. but at least I tried

  32. You can do it! I have run a marathon and had a natural birth with my son (9lbs 3 oz!). The birth was way harder! But they are similiar in the ways you said – you know there is an end! You just have to keep pushing (haha). It is soooo much better for the baby and it is how our bodies are supposed to work. I think (almost) everyone can have a natural birth, but we as a culture tell women they can’t. My hubby was right there with me at every contraction and really pulled me through. Ask your DH to help you make it through and be your #1 cheerleader and you’ll do great!

  33. You can do it! Whatever “it” becomes. You have such a great attitude and understanding of your body that I have no doubts about your labor.

  34. You are brave for opting to go natural! I hope your labor goes very smoothly!*

  35. With my first, I was in labor for 18 hours. During those 18 hours, I was ON-BOARD with the drugs. The drugs were my friend. Then, after all my hard work, I was taken in for an emergency c-section, because, essentially, we we’re both dying or something. He was a idiot of a doctor.
    Planned c-section with the second baby. Didn’t even have to consider contractions. It was awesome. I had a considerably better doctor.
    My body was not designed for poppin out babies. :-)
    I hope you are able to achieve your birth plan. :-)

  36. YES YOU CAN DO IT! I know everyone’s experience is different, but let me my experience with you. It was not at all what I was expecting. We planned a home birth despite some people thinking I wouldn’t be able to do it because it was my first and I “had no idea” what it was going to be like. I am a very committed and determined person and I was determined to do it naturally and after studying and meeting many midwives, we felt a home birth was for us. My labor cramps felt like really intense stomach, period cramps. That’s it. Pushing him out wasn’t as bad as I though. My body did not feel like it was ripping in half like “everyone” said it would. And while there was a ring of fire, that’s all it was. Big deal! We tried for 4 years for this baby so the whole process was extra special and exciting for us….as it will be for you :)
    We also took the Bradley Method classes, which I think helped A LOT! To me, it seems a lot of women go into it not knowing much about the actual birth process, and that was really helpful for DH and I to be on the same page. I think the first step is to go into it determined to do it naturally. Commit 100% to it (but be okay with the alternative if that happens) also, reading positive natural birth stories helps, too! :)
    Good luck! xoxo

  37. oh, one more thing: i haven’t run a marathon (the furthest was 18 miles while 13 weeks pg) but i think it’s compared to it because you’re doing a physically hard task for hours on end. it gets harder and more intense as you go, you’ll hit a spot where you think you can’t go any farther, and then you cross that line and it’s the greatest accomplishment you’ve ever done.

    it really is a beautiful thing. i really wish i could give birth every week. it’s really that much of a high! (for me, anyways)

    ps: i hope i didn’t offend anyone with either of my comments!

  38. I’m sure you will get the labour and birth you’re wishing for Jen, if you go in with a strong, positive mind you’re off to the best start.

    I had my son 11 months ago naturally and it went exactly as I had hoped for. It can’t have been that bad bcause I’m pregnant again with #2! Mental strength is the key, along with a bunch of stubborness ;-) And having your husbad on board with your wishes so he can advocate for you. I had a fast 3 hour labour and was up and showering straight away – bliss! Water was a big help for me, it helped me relax and take some focus away from the pain.

    The other piece of advice that helped me was to remember that the pain is only caused by uterine muscle fatigue – the uterus is doing what it’s designed for, and the pain is a good sign that it’s WORKING!

    I’ve only ever run a half marathon, but in my mind having a baby naturally was (for me) easier than I think a full marathon would be. One of the main reasons is because you don’t have a choice. Your body will keep contracting with or without your help… unlike running. Sometimes when you have to do something, you just get on and do it.

    Good luck, you’ll do a great job.

  39. I bet you’ll do a beautiful, awesome job and a lot of your reasons are similar to mine in wanting a natural childbirth. I too actually like the type of pain you described when I workout and my mom went naturally too and I feel if she can do it, then I can too!

    Her one piece of advice is to go into it knowing what to expect – to stay calm and to not get scared by the pain and like you said, knowing that there’s an end. I bet you’ll do fabulously and I look forward to hearing your birth story when that moment is here!

  40. Good luck! I had a natural birth with my second child, he was 10lbs4oz. I did not find it painful – it was just great. I hope for more children and more births.

  41. I’m also 24 weeks pregnant and have decided to try for a natural, drug-free birth. I feel exactly the same way you do about making it positive, not scary, and hope my body will be able to do what it’s designed to do when the big day comes. This is my first, so I don’t want to be naive, but I also want to try to give myself and my baby the best birth experience I can. I have really enjoyed reading Hypnobirthing, the Marie Mongan method, and highly recommend it. And good luck! I hope you bring your baby into the world exactly how you hope to-you can do it!

  42. You can do it if you set your mind to it. I had to be induced with my first and the labor was WAY too long (and had some literal non-stop contractions at one point). I went into it determined not to have drugs but hadn’t slept in roughly 24 hours so needed them to get rest and be able to push. With my second things moved a bit more quickly but again, back labor and continuous contractions, I had an epidural. It is painful and I’m not sure I could even describe the pain anymore (must be hormonal – I’d be willing to do it again since it couldn’t have been *that* bad) – not really anything like I remember the pain of the marathon or a long run but it isn’t unmanageable if you’re mentally strong enough to get through it.

  43. YOU CAN DO IT! I had a 47 hour labor (first day was early labor though after water broke-no serious pain until day 2) sans meds. I was at home, and I will say there were times that second afternoon when I started talking transport because I thought there must be something wrong. There wasn’t. Everything was perfect and the pain does NOT last forever. You get a break between active labor and pushing, and pushing doesn’t hurt if it’s done correctly. I consider delivering my son drug-free as the biggest accomplishment of my life, and I’m so excited for you!

  44. I love this post! I may have to add a link to it on my own post about child labor – I wasn’t specific in this post, but I am also a strong advocate for natural child birth… and this was my post about that. :)

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