What 19 Hours of Natural Labor Felt Like

This is what 19 hours of natural labor felt like for me. When I say natural, I mean drug free. When I say labor, I mean ACTIVE labor – not the mild symptoms before it. So, this is what 19 hours of drug free contractions, headaches, hunger and exhaustion felt like for me.


As you may know I started in a birthing tub and ended on an operating table (read more about that here)…nevertheless, here is what 19 hours of natural labor felt like for me.

Hour 1: Bliss. Around 11pm we’re admitted to the birthing suite. My cervix is 4cm dilated, the birthing tub is filled and we (yes Josh and I) get in.

Hour 2: Euphoria. We’re still in the tub excited about expanding our family.

Hour 3: Intense. Contractions started to hurt more and I could feel more pressure in my back. We get out of the tub and I began to bounce on the stability ball.

Hour 4: Calm. My contractions continued and I was confident my body would do what it needed to do to get our baby Earth side.

Hour 5: Tired. I’m encouraged to eat and get a little rest before we get the show on the road.

Hour 6-8: Hypnotized. We listened to this (https://youtu.be/6RONRewr8oA) on repeat. I don’t know how but it helped me get to a mental state that allowed me to breathe through contractions and eventually fall asleep.

Hour 9: Confusion. I was urged to eat and drink but began to throw up everything I took in. The midwives encouraged me to become more active. I started walking around and doing some squats. I felt I was trying to pour from an empty cup. This was the first time my body and mind didn’t feel in the same place. It was also the first time I mentioned going to the hospital to Josh.

Hour 10-11: Dehydrated. Unable to eat or drink much I was hooked up to 1000mg of ibuprofen. While the meds worked their way through my system Josh and I napped.

Hour 12: Optimistic. We got back into the birthing tub because that’s where I felt most comfortable. Our midwife though I might have been too comfortable so we got out and I was checked vaginally and thankfully my cervix had progressed to 6/7cm dilated.

Hour 13: Scared. The midwives decided breaking my water would speed up the process and the more intense contractions would assist baby girl in turning face down.

Hour 14: Pain. The contractions you feel after water your water breaks are gut wrenching. It’s like you’re falling from a cliff and in midair your abdomen and pelvic region are wrung tightly (think of wringing water out of a towel) and then you continue your descent before hitting the ground. They hurt so bad I didn’t know how I could even attempt breathing through them.

Hour 15: Exhausted. I was able to rest while trying to breathe through my contractions before we gave what would be the final round.

Hour 16: Recharged. Josh was amazing. He amped me up to really give it one last attempt. Contractions were closer together instead of breathing through them I got active. In between contractions I did high knees and squatted a pushed when a contraction hit for a FULL hour.

Hour 17: Defeat. I’m checked vaginally and after all that work, I’ve failed to dilate past 7cm. We drive to the nearest hospital where I’m admitted through the emergency room. I’m still trying to breathe through contractions but I no longer see the point because I’m so close to pain relief drugs.

Hour 18: Agony. I’m in the Labor and Delivery ward at the hospital. My contractions are lasting for 2 minutes and are happening with the slightest movement. I’m trying to hold on to my sanity while counting the seconds until my blood work results are in and I can be wheeled into the operating room.

Hour 19: Relief. I get the magical prick in my spine and go numb from the chest down. Thank God. I’m prepped, cut open and Lavender is pulled out at 7:17pm.



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