10 Natural Birth Fantasies That Went Out The Window Faster Than You Can Say ‘Crowning’

I had a natural birth for both of my sons, at a birthing center and at home, respectively. When it comes to natural birthing, most moms fall into two camps: You may picture an old-fashioned 1800s scene with a woman biting down on a wooden spoon and a pot of boiling water beside the bed. The stuff nightmares are made of.

Or, if you drank the natural birth Kool-Aid and are all gung-ho about the idea (like me), you may imagine a drug-free birthing fantasy that will bring you the most beautiful connection with the baby you have yet to meet.

But with the first contraction, shit hits the fan, literally and figuratively. This is true whether you plan to birth in a hospital, a birthing center, at home, or in a barn.

Here are a few birthing fantasies that may go out the window the minute shit gets real in the birthing pool:

1. Lighting scented candles

lit candles

Scented what? In the midst of contractions, I forgot that I had a nose, let alone a preference for sandalwood or lemongrass. Candles may or may not have been lit during my “magical birthing experience,” but I was none the wiser.

(photo: Ravinder Maramamula)

2. Listening to my special birthing playlist

pregnant headphones

I vividly remember asking my midwife if she would be offended by 90s gangsta rap while I was giving birth. I may be a token white girl, but there’s something about hip-hop/rap jams that make me feel like running five miles or giving someone a roundhouse kick to the face. Silly me, I assumed that birth would be just like a grueling workout at the gym. When my husband asked what tunes I wanted to hear mid-contraction, I snarled at him to turn on my soothing “Grey’s Anatomy” playlist. Ah, much better.

(photo: clfx)

3. Eating my special birthing snacks

chips and crackers

With my first birth, I took painstaking care in my snack selection, like I was choosing goodies before a blockbuster movie. When active labor hit, I felt a sensation that I’ve never felt before: the complete absence of hunger. Ultimately, my midwife and husband forced me to drink old-people Ensure shakes the entire time to keep up my strength, and my delicious trail mix was left untouched.

(photo: Old Shoe Woman)

4. Wanting my partner in the birthing tub with me

partner in birthing tub

I actually knew from the start that I wasn’t planning on having a touchy-feely birth experience. Our midwives said my husband could wear swim trunks and get in the tub with me to “hold me,” and I was like, “Nope. That’s where I draw the line.” He can rub my shoulders perfectly fine from the side of the tub, thankyouverymuch.

(photo: Kamepyon)

5. Wearing a cute bikini top in the birthing tub

I totally pictured myself wearing a cute little bikini top as midwives and my husband gathered round while I gently pushed a baby into the world. But by the time the midwives gave me the okay to jump in the tub, I – to my surprise – ripped off my shirt and bra and free-boobed it. Come at me, bro!

6. Worrying about pooping in the birthing tub

toddler pooping birthing tub

Yes, I said it. Before birth, I was super paranoid about pooping in the pool, like a naughty 5-year-old at a birthday party. I asked my midwife about it, and she said that they used small fish nets to scoop any “debris” out. Awesome. When the big day came, I spent some time laboring and grunting in the birthing tub, and I’m pretty sure unspeakable things happened there.

(photo: conradzone)

7. Giving birth in the actual birthing tub

birth in birthing pool

When it was finally go-time, and I was pushing, the midwives had to move me into many different positions to get that stubborn baby out (both times). With baby number one, I was moved from the tub to the birthing stool to the bed before he popped out. With baby number two, I moved from the tub to the toilet to the birthing stool for my final hurrah.

(photo: krb_70)

8. Blessing the placenta

placenta smoothie

Believe it or not, my midwives generously suggested I say a special prayer or blessing over the placenta after birth. Once again, I decided to pass on that offer. As allisonjayne put it so eloquently in this Mommyish after-birth thread, “I’d really rather look at my adorable baby than that veiny-shit-bag kthanx.” Couldn’t have put it better myself.

(photo: paxye)

9. Enjoying the final birthing moments

drinking in birthing tub

I kid you not, when my second son was crowning, my midwife asked me if I wanted to reach down and touch his head. I said something like, “Hell, no! Just get him out!” I’m going to have 50 or so years to snuggle and touch that little guy, so let’s just get this pushing thing over with!

(photo: harryalverson)

10. Having an instant fuzzy connection to my new baby

mom and kitten

My midwives advocated skin-to-skin contact, letting the cord pulse out, the whole nine yards. Still, my husband and I didn’t weep tears of joy the moment we saw either of our sons. We were more like, “Sweet, glad that’s over with!” The love for that goopy, bloody, puffy baby grows over time.

(photo: whaas987)

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  • blh

    Partner IN the birthing tub?? People ACTUALLY do that? With the shit and the blood and whatever other gross things come out? That has to be the nastiest thing I’ve ever heard of.

    I’m with you on the “touching his head” when it’s coming out. My doctor repeatedly asked me if I wanted a mirror to see it or to reach down and feel it and all I could thing is wtf is wrong with you? I want him OUT I do NOT want to see or feel my vagina ripping or to prolong this anymore.

    • DMH

      Ditto. I didn’t use the mirror. Or touch anything. Nope, sorry, that’s not something I want to see. Props to my husband for being there and watching and all, but no.

    • Andrea

      My husband took the “supporting” route. He felt his place was beside me, wiping my brow, and holding my hand. He did not at all get anywhere near the action area. Midwife asked if he would like to cut the cord and he seriously almost fainted. (he didn’t cut it)

    • Psych Student

      Your husband made a good choice. Some couples end up with problems because the father watches the baby emerge and then can’t get the image out of his head during sex later. A guy can totally be in the room without looking at the emerging baby if he doesn’t want to. I’m guessing that your husband gave you plently of love and support from a non-faint-inducing location!

    • NYCNanny

      I can totally understand someone who doesn’t love blood/guts/birthing scenes… but a man who can’t “get the image out of his head” and have sexual problems later… NO way, jose. That’s so awful!

    • Paul White

      I about gagged reading that myself. It’s why the whole tub birthing thing grosses me out; unless you’ve got a pretty good filter and possibly replace the water as it goes just…ewww

    • Tinyfaeri

      There is no filter strong enough.

    • blh

      I can understand sitting in the water before you start pushing BC it does help with the pain but during pushing blahhhhhhhh no.

    • ElleJai

      I would love to help guide my baby out or watch in a mirror.

      Although with the last birth it was more of “baby out NOW” and I didn’t care how he got there. I may get a video for next time though, I’d love to be able to look back on it one day (when enough time passes to forget the pain!)

    • Jayamama

      My daughter was born in our bath tub, since she came too quickly to get the birth tub set up and filled. When I got in, the pain relief was instantaneous, and there was no way I was getting out until it was over. The water actually does wonders to soften and help the skin stretch, so crowning hurts less and you’re less likely to tear. And in the moment, I didn’t care at all about the condition of the water, though it really didn’t get contaminated at all. Once the baby’s born, the midwives typically have the mother get out to birth the placenta, so it’s not like you’re sitting indefinitely in bloody, nasty water.

      I totally agree about the mirror and feeling the baby’s head, though. In the middle of everything, I could care less about cherishing the moment. Just get her out of me!

    • disqus_RcnfTzAghr

      Am I the only one who found the water did nothing? I was sitting there going “Well this is the biggest crock of shit ever”.

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      I actually appreciated how the hot water helped relax my muscles and took some of the pressure off my hips and back. Then again, I’m a huge bath fan, so it just helped me tap into relaxation. I didn’t give birth in the tub, but it definitely helped during those 3 days at the hospital.

    • CK

      I didn’t get relief from being the tub, either. A pool may have worked better, but tub, no.

    • A-nony-mous

      I reached down to touch my son and I’m pretty sure my finger went into his eyeball or mouth because it was incredibly squishy and just seemed to…give way when I touched loool. Welcome to the world son!

  • SDA

    Hahaha! I could have written this almost word for word. I remember the sweet nurse taking my hand and pushing it down “so I could feel the baby”….I jerked it back and I believe screamed “Dear GOD NO!!!”.

    I too spent a good amount of time on the toilet after getting (flopping, screaming) out of the tub. Everyone was convinced that is where baby would be born. Fortunately I found my way to the birthing stool and bed. I didn’t think I cared then, but I believe I would be a little upset for that to be the ending/beginning to the story now. :)

    • Bethany Ramos

      This really made me LOL! We also had a close call birthing on the toilet, and I was later thinking, hmmm… that wouldn’t have been a very good birth story. :)

    • Lilly

      That sounds like what I did — the midwife asked if I wanted to touch the head and my reply was “no I believe you when you say there is a baby there, I going to just keep pushing”. My husband thought it was hilarious that my sarcasm gene was still alive and kicking at that point.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    Aw, thanks for the quote love!
    And hell yes to a lot of this list. I was soooooo not hungry, they were force-feeding me spoons of agave syrup to keep my energy up.

    • kitten

      i find this snacking idea interesting, i birthed in the hospital both times and not eating made mad as HELL. with our third, i snuck sips of my husbands diet coke while swearing at the nurses under my breath. of coruse i wasnt hungry during active labor, but before that god damn. i was also induced all three times though, so maybe its just super different. I still dont want to look at ice chips

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      I guess I’m talking about active labour. I had a huge meal of thai basil noodles and probably some spring rolls while I was in labour, but my contractions were only like every 10 minutes at that point. Once the midwives arrived, I had no interest in putting anything in my mouth.

  • Blahblah

    They’ve already asked me if I want a mirror to see the baby come out. No, not really, I don’t think I want to watch that. That’s okay! Just asked my fiance about climbing into a tub with me.

    “That’s nasty, dude.”

    Love you too, honey.

  • Tinyfaeri

    I liked my midwife. There was no “want a mirror?” or “here, touch this!” during labor. She just kept telling me to aim for the blue lady’s face (a painting on the wall), and laughed at my joke that at least I didn’t have a papercut. The soaking tub was nice for transition, but I don’t think I could deal with actually giving birth in a tub – I don’t think I could sit in that much… stuff, nevermind having anyone else in there with me. Ick. And as far as food goes, I didn’t want to eat but I drank through most of a 6 pack of gatorade.

  • Athena A

    Darn, scary stuff! I definitely do not want to give birth in a tub, no matter how appealing it sounds. I’ve seen birthing shows where half the family was hanging around the tub, whilst the lady was birthing. I’d rather have as few people as possible witnessing this very disgusting miracle.
    The whole poop thing freaks me out, although I’m guessing at the moment of birthing you don’t give a fiddler’s fart. Although I did hear in the hospital they usually give you a laxative in the beginning, to avoid the pooping on the table. Not that laxatives sound appealing. Le sigh, why can’t it just happily slide out.

    • lea

      I don’t think they do the laxative thing anymore, unless you request it. At least not here in Aus.

      And from what my midwife says, its no better than not having it. In fact she reckons its worse, as for a lot of women a laxative (or even enema) doesn’t quite finish the job so instead of doing a normalish poo on the table, you’re squirting out liquid shit with each push. F*ck that!

    • Bethany Ramos

      I was not on board with a family birth!! We didn’t even allow visitors at the birthing center or at our house because you can hear everything going on in the next room. Not very private. IMO, a newborn baby is still going to be new, even eight or 12 hours later.

  • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

    I wasn’t expecting to want to see my daughter’s head crowning, but when it happened and the doctor offered a mirror for me to see, I just had to get a grasp on what that massive thing ripping out of my vagina was. I’m actually really happy I did because it gave me a boost of confidence that, yes, it was coming out! It was almost over!!!!! (And it gave me a better idea of where to push. Once it was all over with, her sticky little body was put on mine and all I remember thinking was “It’s done, I’m done, I’m done, it’s done, oh my god, I’m exhausted… you’re really sticky… I’m done…”

  • telepanda

    The mirror was good. Seeing progress helped me get through the end part. I don’t think I’d have had the energy to reach down and try to touch. Even with an epidural it was a long labor (20 hrs and then 2-3 more of pushing) and by the end I was falling asleep between pushes even though they were what, a minute apart? thirty seconds?

    The pooping was surprisingly a non event. It happened. By the time it started happening, I was way past caring. And the nurses gave me a quick, yup, no big deal, just means you’re pushing right; and then it was never mentioned again. An endless supply of fresh cloths just magically appeared.

    We did have the instant bond because although I really wanted to hold the baby fresh and messy before anybody else really touched him, he came out; they took one look at him, and whisked him over to the table, and there was the scariest silence in the world while we watched this huge silent flurry of activity. Even though it was probably only a couple of minutes tops, it felt like forever and we were starting to panic that he might not make it. So when he finally screamed, the relief washed over us like a flood, and when we did get to hold him shortly thereafter, we FELT IT.

    (Which is not to say that two weeks later I wasn’t fantasizing about packing him in a box and dropping him off at the post office but that is a whole other ball of wax.)

  • me

    My husband was in the tub with me for both of my children’s births, one in a big birthing tub and one in a hospital bathroom tub. He got to deliver both of our babies with instruction from the midwives who were standing by. It was an amazing bonding experience for us as a family and I am so proud of him for wanting to be a part of everything. It may not be for everyone, but I feel very lucky to have a partner who wants to be so hands on with our children.

  • Jordana

    I love this! Hahaha and who actually wants to be in a birthing tub if you don’t have to? Are there actually guys that do that?? And I definitely feel you on the lack of immediate connection…I kind of think that is a Hallmark idea that puts way too much pressure on new moms. The protective instincts are immediate, but the fuzzy love takes time.

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  • emily

    for months i had visions of my husband feeding me blackberries. NOPE. my MIL brought me raspberries instead of which i ate 2. however, the days after labor i needed all the food. i ate giant bags of kettle corn.