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Our Natural Childbirth Story... Take Three |


Our Natural Childbirth Story... Take Three

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez - The Philippine Star

I'm writing this on my phone while in my hospital room. On Monday, April 22, 2013, at around 10.40 p.m., I gave birth to our third child, a beautiful little girl, who unfortunately has to stay in the hospital for about a week. She has to undergo photo therapy and antibiotic treatment due to her having jaundice and sepsis.

It was my third time to go for natural childbirth and the doctors on duty probably thought I was half-crazy to do so. Almost everyone I told about my plan asked why I opted to "go natural" Why not have an epidural instead; I'm not in Timor Leste this time around anyway. You see, with my first two kids, I really had no choice - the national hospital in Timor Leste, where they were both born, has a policy where mothers are to give birth naturally - in other words "anesthesia-free".

When I gave birth to our eldest, who is turning 7 in October, I didn't think I'd be able to do it. Seriously! But when I found out during my prenatal visits that birthing the natural way were the norm at the Guido Valadares National Hospital in Dili, and perhaps everywhere else in Timor, I started preparing myself mentally and emotionally for it.

Since there was no such thing as childbirth preparation classes in Timor, I also prepared myself with whatever material I could get from the Internet. At the time we had very limited access. When we were evacuated out of Dili due to the violence between the Eastern and Western Timorese during my fifth month of pregnancy, I bought a few books about natural childbirth from local bookstores and brought them back with me to Dili.

Still, no amount of preparation could have prepared me for that first natural birth. This post would be too long if I were to explain in detail how it went, so for the sake of brevity, I won't. Let's just say that although I consider the miracle of birth to always be a beautiful experience, I was still a bit traumatized by our son's birth.  Well, actually, mostly because of what happened afterwards but like I said, that's material for another blog post.

Despite that, I chose to have our second baby at the same hospital and of course, naturally again. The second time around wasn't as "bad" as the first, thank God. It was then that I realized that, "Hey, this natural childbirth thing really isn't so bad after all! Some not-so-good things just happened after the first time, but really, it's not so bad!"

So when I found out I was pregnant again, I knew I wanted to give birth naturally again. After all, I was able to do it twice before, right? Some friends and family members said I must be so "brave" to want to do so, saying, "Ang galing/tapang mo naman!" I'd always answer that it was God and Mama Mary who helped me through the first two births and I believed they would too  the third time around.

Sure enough, they did. During the first few hours of labor, I was blessed to have been with Anthony, my husband, moving about as I pleased in the ward and around the hospital. I was even able to take several visits to the hospital's prayer room. Most of the time, I was saying prayers from the novena booklet that I had with me or just praying Hail Mary over and over.

When the resident on duty performed an internal exam and found me to be 7 to 8 cm dilated, I was asked to go to the Labor Room, where companions are not allowed, so Anthony couldn't go in with me.

After a while, my OB had my water bag ruptured to check if there was any meconium staining (and true enough there was which meant our baby had already pooped inside my womb - not a good thing). That was the time REAL pain began and I had to remind myself of the "end-goal" of it all - seeing our little girl and finally getting to hold her.

As labor progressed and I started moaning in pain more often while trying to remember the breathing exercises I was supposed to be doing, the residents kept asking me if I could still take the pain. I would say yes but it came to a point when I would just look at them and make unintelligible noises! (Ha, ha!) All throughout, I tried to focus on these images: the Divine Mercy, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mama Mary and the Infant Jesus, Anthony and our kids, including the one yet to be born.

Thankfully, it was soon time to go to the Delivery Room, where Anthony was allowed to join me. The pain was getting unbearable and when my OB asked if I still wanted no anesthesia, I seriously almost changed my mind. But then I felt it - that feeling that the baby was going to come out. So it was too late to ask for one anyway.

And so, after three big pushes, our little girl was born. By God's grace, I "survived" another natural childbirth. The residents who were on duty at the time kept saying, "Ang galing mo, Mommy!" whenever they saw me afterwards especially since I was already walking to and from the nursery the next day. But really, it's not me who was "magaling" - it's God, and how amazingly He made our bodies.

So will I go natural again in case I get pregnant for the fourth time? Most probably. But maybe I'll wait another three or four years before getting pregnant again, so that I'll forget how painful natural childbirth can be! Ha, ha!

How about you? If you're a mom (or even if you're not) and you're reading this, what are your thoughts on natural childbirth? What was your birthing experience like? I'd love to know - just leave a comment or connect with me on Twitter @tinasrodriguez. Or you can email me at

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