My Very ‘Un-Hollywood’ Birth Story

It is absolutely terrible that movies and television shows make us believe that labour is nothing but a walk through hell! Friends and family often do not help to alleviate our fears regarding birth, but rather find a strange joy in telling horrific stories of how (or from where to where!) so and so tore open during fourteen hours of natural birth. When you have to sign all sorts of forms in the hospital to give permission for a vacuum extraction or forceps delivery, or when you are shown a scary and ugly-looking sucking-contraption and a tong-like thing that looks a bit like a braaitang… it doesn’t help either!


With frightening images in my mind of women screaming, sweating, swearing and heaving while pushing out their babies, I sat in front of my gynae, tears flooding my face. “Please, please let me have a C-section!” I begged. ‘I AM SO SCARED.’

The doctor looked at me sympathetically: “What are you afraid of?” What does he mean ‘what am I afraid of?’ “The terrible pain!” I cried. “Mrs Ferreira”, he said, “We DO NOT do pain!” He assured me that I could get an epidural the moment I asked for it and that he had no doubts about my ability to push this baby out, even though I am quite small at about 48 kgs! He strongly believes that a C-section involves major abdominal surgery that shouldn’t be performed on a completely healthy person.

“But what if my water breaks in the mall?” I was imagining scenes of myself in the middle of a busy supermarket, grabbing my pregnant belly in agonising pain, with a puddle of water at my feet. The gynaecologist calmly replied: “Then you drive home, slowly, take a nice shower, pack your bag and drive, not chase, to the hospital.” It started dawning on me that giving birth is nothing like in the movies.


If I, with my small frame, extremely nervous disposition and my tremendous fear of pain, could give natural birth to our 3kg old baby, then I am pretty sure anyone can get it right – unless of course some medical condition prevents you from doing so. I have had sessions on the ‘loo’ more painful than giving birth to our boy!

I do of course understand that not everyone has the opportunity or want to make use of an epidural, so I cannot speak for these women. I can tell you, however, that giving birth with the help of pain medication was still a breathtaking experience for me. Nothing beats the moment your baby is put on your tummy after you have just helped to bring him into this world!


Soon after Alex was born, I started feeling extremely guilty for making use of pain medication. It felt like I chose the easy way out…

After meditating upon this matter for some time, I realised that it does not make me weak or less of a women for making use of an epidural. If I were to develop an abscess in my mouth, would I get it treated the way they did fifty years ago, or would I opt for the latest technology suggested by my dentist? I know that an abscess is not something as natural as being pregnant, but similarly there is now technology that has not been available to women before. The only reason why women in the past did it without pain medication is because they did not have it! I am sure if you could ask your grandmother whether she would have used an epidural if it was available to her, she would say: “Hell, yes!” And besides, the epidural alone isn’t going to bring baby in to this world – you’re still the one doing the labour (in every sense of the word!).

There is nothing wrong with deciding to give birth naturally without pain medication, but neither is there with making use of an epidural. Today I only feel pride when I remember that I carried my son for nine months, supplying him with everything he needed to be here today.

May you stop worrying about the labour process and about being part of a scene similar to those in some romantic-comedies. These films create drama and commotion in order to entertain. The media is not interested in showing the birth process as it really takes place today – it would be way too ‘undramatic’ to gather the crowds! Who wants a crowd during labour, anyways?!

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