Yes, it was incredibly painful. Yes, it was exhausting. But I am glad I went the natural route and it was a truly empowering experience. I knew the pain was productive and not due to sickness or injury (well, maybe the pain immediately AFTER the birth was injury-related pain, haha), and I knew it had a definitive end point. Each "pressure wave" (what hypnobabies moms call contractions) worked its way up to the intolerable point, but only stayed there for about 30 seconds or so and then eased its way back down and gave me a minute or two respite before the next one. Anyone can get through 30 seconds of excruciating pain, knowing it will go away (and come back, yuck), especially with wonderful and patient coaching.
If I could have had an epidural with the 100% guarantee that it wouldn't slow down my progress and lead to the need for pitocin, wouldn't hinder my ability to push, wouldn't take away my right to eat and drink and move about on my own, and wouldn't ultimately end in a c-section, then yes, I most definitely would have gone for it! And it seems most women in America do go for it (and most doctors and nurses encourage or even push it). Unfortunately, the risks I mentioned are quite frequent with epidurals (if you haven't seen it, watch "The Business of Being Born" - an amazing documentary about childbirth in America). I do not judge anyone who goes that route, in fact, up until a year ago when I watched that documentary I had no doubt that it would be epidural city for me!! But in the end, it just wasn't worth the risk for me and luckily I was able to endure the "discomfort" (another hypnobabies term, which looking back, is freaking HILARIOUS).
I could not wrap my head around was the price tag associated with this natural birth and short hospital stay. A whopping $25,000 was billed to my insurance company!! After paring that down using their "contracted rates", $15,000 was paid out by my insurance company to the hospital and my midwives' practice, and $3,000 was owed by my own little pocket. My city/county/state employed teacher friends like to brag that they paid a mere $25-100 for each of their births. My UK friends brag that it's entirely free over there!! In Japan, childbirth is not covered by insurance, but your city pays you a healthy stipend after you report the birth (part of their attempt to reverse their ever decreasing birth rate), usually around $3,000 I believe, which basically covers prenatal visits, birth, and ONE WEEK (luxurious and relaxing) stay at the birth clinic. But America's ridiculously problematic health care system is no surprise, after all...
So, what was your birth experience like? Gimme the good, the bad, and the ugly!