With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I decided to put together a little something called the ‘One Mom’ series.
The aim of this series of four posts is to highlight that even though our journeys to motherhood were different, we are all united in our title of ‘mom’.
At the end of the day, whether you had a C-Section or natural birth, whether you got pregnant easily or had help conceiving, whether you had your baby in a hospital or at home, or whether you were old or young when you became a mom, you’re still a mom.
It doesn’t matter what the particulars of your story are. You’re a mom, I’m a mom, and the woman standing behind you at the grocery store is a mom. We are One Mom. We’re here to share our stories and lift each other up. That’s what matters.
If you’ve been around for a while you know my birth story. In short: I was fully prepared to give natural birth but, 29 hours later, ended up having an emergency C-Section.
My birth story couldn’t be further from Judy’s.
It gives me great pleasure to introduce the first guest of the One Mom series: Judy MacGregor, also known as Fun Mamma SA, who has given natural birth seven times.
I repeat, SEVEN TIMES.
Meet Fun Mamma SA
I’m Judy MacGregor, mom of 7 amazing children. I blog over at www.funmammasa.co.za
Mostly, I am Hamish’s mom, but I’m also a freelance writer, content creator, children’s author, retired educator, and homeschool mom.
Currently, we live in a small coastal town and I spend most of my spare time in nature, on the beach, or exploring our beautiful city of Cape Town with my youngest son Hamish (4) and my husband.
My blog is my passion project and I blog about parenting, early childhood education, crafts, recipes, and day-to-day topics of mom life.
I was 17 when I became a mom and had all 6 of my children before I turned 30. My children are now 28, 25, 24, 22, 20, and 18. After my divorce in my 40’s, I met Brent, and together we have the cutest, red-haired, 4-year-old Hamish.
Answering The Natural Birth Questions You’re Afraid To Ask
1. Let’s cut right to the chase. Just how much does natural birth hurt?
My first natural birth was painful and I was given the drug Pethidine to minimize the contraction pain.
Being 17, young and totally naive as to what to expect, also played a huge part in my heightened anxiety and pain threshold.
But 7 natural births later, with little to no complications and no drugs for the last 6, I can honestly say that whilst the pain is intense during active labour it’s not a pain you remember after holding your precious little one in your arms.
2. Did you ever take birth or Lamaze classes? Does that weird panty breathing thing really work?
We were forced to sit through government childbirth classes in the hospital way back in 1992. Not that these really prepared you for the reality of the actual birth process.
I honestly never took a Lamaze class but my third son had the cord wrapped around his neck and I had to use all my focus to not push whilst nurses unraveled it.
I learned to breathe during this and relied heavily on breathing my way through the pain, contractions, and birth.
So, to me, yes, the breathing does work.
3. What is the one question you get asked the most about your natural birth story?
Was it painful?
4. Did you experience any of the ‘negatives’ associated with natural birth? I’m talking pooping in the bed, vaginal tearing, and episiotomies kind of ‘negatives’.
Yes. With my first and last children, I tore but it was stitched and healed well.
With my last child I also had a bowel movement, which I want to tell you was embarrassing but honestly, our doctors, nurses, and midwives see this regularly and our partners will get past it — after all, we’ve just put our bodies through trauma, so what if there’s a bit of poop?
You do not need to shave or have an enema if you discuss these things with your attending gynae or midwife.
I was happy to shave myself, not so much to have the hospital do it, but I point blank refused an enema. And surprisingly enough, I was only offered this at a private hospital.
5. Other than your babies, what were your 3 favourite parts of the natural birth experience?
There are so many benefits to natural birth.
My number one reason I love natural birth is for the ability to be 100% present. To feel all the emotions and pain. I believe these helped me bond faster with my babies.
For my first birth, I was given Pethidine and have scattered memories of my birth and our first few days in hospital together. Days later, this left me struggling to remember what doctors had said to me.
Secondly, without drugs, I always felt more energized after delivery and ready to look after my baby immediately. I felt fine to have a quick shower and soak in my little newborn. All of my active labours were very short.
Lastly, a natural birth allowed me to see that my birth plan was carried out, that my partner was able to be with me the entire time, and it seemed the right choice for us to gently welcome the new baby.
Having said that, having a C-Section was my biggest fear and I had to prepare myself emotionally each time should a C-Section be needed.
I believe each woman should birth in the healthiest and safest way for her health — and her baby’s.
- And what were your 3 worst parts of the natural birth experience?
I was lucky. I had wonderful births.
Although I had a few complications — cord around the neck, bleeding with not dilating, needing an induction — and delivered one of my sons alone in a government hospital because the midwife refused to believe I was fully dilated as I was walking around … I don’t hold negative or unhappy memories of my children’s births.
However, I do think that when it comes to natural birth (or any birth for that matter) a doula should be in attendance to be the mom’s voice.
Sometimes mom is in too much pain, too tired, or is intimidated by doctors, and isn’t able to see her birth plan through or ask questions during complications.
I think back to my teenage pregnancy and know just how much I would have liked the presence of a doula.
7. What do the movies get right and wrong about natural birth? What are the most common media misconceptions?
The screaming. Not every woman is screaming the house down.
8. Did anything happen in any of your births that you weren’t prepared for or that took you by surprise?
My eldest son was born in 20 minutes and I almost delivered in the car! I just managed to get to the maternity room bed.
My second son had the umbilical cord around his neck and I’ve never been so frightened for one of my children.
My third son I delivered myself, after finding the first open bed to climb on. I was in such shock I remember gently shaking him to get him to cry and wrapping him in a snowy white gown. The nurse walked in a few minutes later and said “Oh you done!” and delivered my placenta whilst seeing to my baby.
My youngest daughter didn’t drop even though I was fully dilated so I started bleeding and they used forceps to assist her out the birth canal.
9. Obviously, you’ve got this natural birth thing waxed by now. What do you consider a must-have birth item? Ice chips? Classical music? A Big Mac?
A birth plan, a supportive partner, and an understanding that sometimes a natural birth — no matter how much you want one — does not always go to plan. And that is ok.
As far as things to get you through, I didn’t rely on much more than water, good maternity pads and panties, and coarse salt for the bath to heal the stitches afterward.
10. What advice would you give to someone who is planning a natural birth?
Don’t be afraid of the pain. As I mentioned, it is intense but honestly you forget the few moments of pain as you snuggle your newborn.
Make a birth plan, try to use a doula if it is your first birth, make sure your medical team know you want to do a natural birth, have a supportive partner, and be prepared to know that you’ve not failed if you need to have a C-Section for any reason.
That’s a Wrap!
All I can say is wow! I’m not gonna lie, as someone who pushed (get it?) for natural birth and ended up having an emergency C-Section, this hit home.
But it also opened my eyes and showed me just how unprepared I would have been to have a natural birth.
I learned a lot in today’s post and I hope you did too. I’m super thankful to Judy for helping me out with this. I can only imagine what giving natural birth is like, and I cannot even begin to wrap my head around doing it seven times. Judy, you’re a babymaking machine!
Even though our birth stories are so different, we can both wear our mom pants proudly. And so can you.