My grandmothers had done it. So had my mum and aunts. If they could go through labour without epidural, why couldn’t I do it, too?
Boy, was I wrong.
Armed with nothing but my guts and extensive textbook knowledge on drug-free births, I psyched myself up for my child’s arrival.
Alas, from the time my water bag burst and the doctor put me on a drip to speed up labour, things didn’t go as planned.
A gruelling 12 hours later, without any medication to cope with the awful artificially induced contractions, my doctor told me: “Oh my, you’ve only dilated another half centimetre.”
All that agony for nothing. Then came the worst news for a first-time mum: I needed an emergency C-section. Too many hours had passed since my water bag burst, and this was dangerous for Baby.
Apparently, I’m typical of the 80 per cent of women who attempt labour without using drugs, according to Dr Paul Tseng, an obstetrician gynaecologist at TLC Gynaecology Practice at Thomson Medical Centre (TMC).
I also belong to the majority who fail the mission – only 25 per cent succeed in doing so.
Still, it seems that mums-to-be are not discouraged by the statistics. The National University Hospital (NUH) now sees about 10 bookings every month for water birth, a natural birth method.
This is a sevenfold increase compared to its early days, shares Deborah Jane Fox, a midwife at its Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Since its launch in 2006, more than 100 women have gone through it.
“Women are starting to realise that childbirth is really not as scary as it appears to be,” says Ginny Phang, owner of Four Trimesters, which offers doula (childbirth support) services and antenatal classes.
“When you’re not drugged out during labour, the experience can be empowering.”
Ginny and her team assist six to 10 women in labour each month. About eight in 10 clients will have already decided that they didn’t want pain relief before they approach her.