Can Labor and Childbirth Be Addictive?
Labor and childbirth are viewed as painful in modern society. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes giving birth can actually leave you wanting more. This was certainly true for me after my first natural birth (baby number 2), but even more so after giving birth unassisted two times after that. How is it possible that something so painful at times can make you want to do it again?
Chalk It Up to Hormones
Your feelings associated with labor and birth can be attributed to a cocktail of various hormones surging through your body. While it certainly takes all of your concentration to go through labor and birth, it can leave you feeling immensely powerful after the fact. I’m not going to lie. Giving birth can hurt. A lot. But eventually, your baby is born, and then all of it vanishes, leaving you with a natural hormone-induced high that can last for weeks or months.
It’s important to understand that you won’t be able to experience this kind of high if your birth is significantly interfered with. Artificial oxytocin is not the same as the hormone produced by your body. Similarly, an epidural will take away all sensations (good and bad). While epidurals have other side effects, they can deprive you of that natural high after pregnancy. My hospital birth (Pitocin-induced with epidural) left me feeling weak for days. It took me several weeks to really bond with my baby, too.
Listen to Your Body
In order to really enjoy labor and childbirth, you have to be in a position to listen to your body. If you’re surrounded by unsupportive hospital staff having to fight for what you want, you won’t feel relaxed. Having a caregiver you don’t trust is worse than having no caregiver at all. But it’s not just about who is with you; it’s also about where you are. Who can really feel relaxed and comfortable at the hospital where it smells like antiseptic? A birth center may offer a cozier ambiance, but it’s still not the same as being in your familiar surroundings at home.
Whether this is your first or your tenth birth, it’s really important to pay attention to your feelings. You can only give birth a limited number of times in your life. Make the most of each birth and create the memories you’ll want to remember.
Fighting the Addiction
As much as it hurt in the moment of giving birth, I really loved giving birth unassisted. I also relished the natural birth experience with the midwives. And even though I think I might be done having children, I can’t help but want to give birth again. Logically, it doesn’t make sense. Being pregnant is uncomfortable, giving birth hurts, and sleep deprivation before and afterwards is nothing to laugh at. Yet, I want to do it again. That’s pretty powerful. Hats off to mother nature for devising a way for women to want to keep the human race going indefinitely.
In the end, I would rather battle with wanting to give birth again than being deprived of this beautiful experience. While there are plenty of things I regret, giving birth naturally is certainly not one of them. Besides, there are worse things you could be addicted to, although this craving is hard to satisfy.