Read Elizabeth's story and learn from the Lamaze childbirth educator's comments that follow.
I am a mother of two healthy, beautiful daughters, each born under very different circumstances. With my first daughter, I gave birth in a maternity hospital, and it was a pleasant, relaxing experience.
With my second, I gave birth in a general hospital, and I found the staff to be unsympathetic. My contractions were irregular (anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes apart), but strong. Because I am not the type to scream in pain, the nurses did not believe my labor was strong enough. My husband and I both tried to tell the nurses that this was normal for me, but they did not listen.
They continued to tell me I was not dilating, but before long I felt the urge to push. The nurse examined me, said I was at three centimeters and told me to relax and get some sleep. I was fine for about five minutes, when the next contraction hit, and five minutes after that my body started to push. I couldn't stop. The nurse examined me and said, "Boy, when you want to get it going, you really get it going!" I asked if I could have an epidural and she said, "No, dear, you're going to have a baby." I was scared and upset, and my daughter was almost delivered by the nurses because everything happened so quickly. My doctor arrived in time to guide her shoulders out.
Once I started pushing, nothing mattered anymore. I was overcome with the irresistible urge to push, and within minutes, it seemed, my daughter was born. Afterward, I felt I was better off without the epidural because I experienced every aspect of the birth and felt a strong connection with my body.