My friend's baby came at 2:31 this morning! It was the first birth I witnessed as a "bystander", and it was absolutely beautiful. I got the call just after 1 a.m., and we got to the hospital just before 1:30. My friend was nearing transition, and was doing wonderfully. It was amazing to watch her focus on her breathing, and working with her body during contractions. She was so calm and peaceful. Once we got a room, she changed into the infamous hospital gown, and we were left alone for almost half an hour. Then the nurse came in to get the monitors hooked up, and my poor friend had to get on the bed. I've decided beds should be outlawed for laboring women. :p She looked so uncomfortable, and had to work much harder to stay relaxed during her surges. And the nurse even had the nerve to ask if she could insert the IV during a contraction, so my friend "wouldn't feel it". I politely asked her to wait until the contraction was over... After a few minutes, we got my friend back out of bed, and just put the bed up high so she could stand and lean on it. That worked much better for her, and she soon got back into the rhythm of birth. Then she started groaning, and I thought "here comes the baby". Sure enough, a few seconds later she announced that the baby was coming. The nurse was just standing there, not even really paying attention, when my friend's water broke. That sent her running for the dr (haha). The doctor soon came in, and we managed to get my friend on the bed so she wouldn't birth the baby on the floor. :p The nurse, of course, proclaimed that we needed to get her on her back. Fortunately, the doctor said hands and knees was just fine, and she could birth in whatever position she wanted. The baby soon started crowning (amazing to watch!), and all I had to do to help was tell my friend to relax her jaw, open her throat, and use a low pitched voice (all to help relax her bottom). She did great, and it was so cool to watch the baby emerging, and my friend just going along with what her body was doing, all instinctively. The little boy started crying before his whole body was even out, and looked wonderful. He's a champion nurser, too, and doing really well. I got home around 4:15 a.m. and went back to bed, but didn't really get any more sleep. I was too excited. :o)
I think witnessing this birth has really strengthened my belief that natural birth can very well be calm and peaceful. It's powerful and intense, but it doesn't have to be the excruciating pain and out-of-control screaming that we so often hear about, and see on TV etc. I believe that if a woman is well prepared for a natural birth, knows different relaxation techniques she can use to help her cope, works with her body instead of fighting it, moves around during labor, and has a great support team, she can really have a calm and peaceful - empowering - experience. Yes, there may still be pain, but not to the point where it's unbearable. I think the excruciating pain comes from being frightened. Women going in and planning on getting an epidural, and not having time to get one. Women being confined to bed. Women having unecessary interventions. Women being stuck on their back to birth. That's what makes birth excruciatingly painful. Women get scared, the fear makes them tense, and the tension hightens the sensation of pain (fear-tension-pain cycle). When women work with their bodies and follow their instincts, natural childbirth is simply beautiful and amazing.