“I will NEVER give birth naked!” I told my husband. We had just completed our childbirth classes which had ended with a video of women giving birth.
The video was enlightening, but for some odd reason several of the women depicted were completely naked.
I can understand how pants might complicate a vaginal birth, but why take off all your clothes? Wouldn’t you get cold? And that wasn’t the only place I had seen naked birthing women.
One of the natural childbirth books that we read was filled with photographs of happy, laboring nude women, usually with their scantily clad partners/ husbands lying beside them. Most of the men were wearing shorts and no shirt. Is there really any good reason for a man to take off his shirt during his wife’s labor? Was he trying to show support? Was it just really hot in there? Was this childbirth or soft porn?
I guess there could be valid reasons why one would choose to give birth naked.
For instance, if you lived far from civilization, then I can see taking off your clothes. After all- you will soon have a newborn to care for and probably won’t have time to pound the blood out of your clothes with a rock in a stream. But why here? Why would any civilized person want to add nudity to the list of humiliations that a woman endures during the childbirth process?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not a particularly modest person nor do I have a problem with nudity in general. I just don’t see the point. Plus, I had gained about fifty pounds with the pregnancy and I didn’t even want to imagine what that would look like.
We hired a doula to help us hopefully have a drug free birth.
I liked the idea of natural childbirth; I just didn’t want to do it “au natural”.
In our pre-birth interview, Susan, our doula, suggested I might want to sit in the jetted tub in the hospital room’s bathroom during my labor.
“But what will I wear?” I asked. I had seen “A Baby Story” on The Learning Channel often enough to know that when laboring women get into water, the clothes tend to come off.
“You could wear a sports bra.” she answered. Ahh, a sports bra, I thought. I could handle that. The rest of me would be under the water, right?
When the time came, I had to have my labor induced because of complications in the pregnancy. That meant I sat around with wires taped to my belly and an IV drip in my arm (wearing a hospital gown, of course). When things finally got moving and it was getting painful, Susan said it might be time to try the jetted tub. My husband handed me my trusty sports bra, but I couldn’t get it on over all the tubes and wires.
“Just get in, we’ll cover you with a towel,” the nurse said.
So I took off the hospital gown and got in. The nurse dipped a bath towel in the warm water and used it to cover my upper half. I must say that the water did help with the pain. And the towel was fine until they had me stand up and get under the shower to help “bring the baby down.”
The towel fell off, but by that time I was really hurting and pretty oblivious.
When my legs grew too shaky to continue standing, Susan and my husband helped me out of the shower and back onto the bed, which had been folded up into an “L” shaped sitting position. I knelt on the bed with my back facing the room, holding on to the head of the bed for support.
The upright position would help the baby continue to descend, Susan explained. The nurse followed and threw a big blanket over me. Soon after that I felt a tremendous pressure “down there” and I wanted to lie down. They returned the bed to its horizontal position and I dropped to my hands and knees. But before I could turn over, the pressure intensified.
“The baby’s coming!” I shouted. The nurse came over, flipped the blanket up and looked.
“She’s crowning!” she said. Suddenly everyone was running around like crazy, and seemed to forget about me. The baby was coming and the obstetrician and pediatrician had yet to arrive.
Another nurse came in, flipped up the towel, and said “Oh wow!” and then ran off somewhere. My husband and Susan looked too, and made similar exclamations. One of them left the blanket folded up over my back.
So now there I was, on hands and knees, naked- except for a blanket covering part of my back with my big butt sticking out for the entire world to see.
“What’s happening? Can I turn over?” I asked. At the nurse’s affirmative nod I tried to flip over but only got halfway and was lying on my side when the blanket covering me completely fell off. Susan grabbed my leg and the baby came shooting out with one big, involuntary push.
“It’s a girl!” the nurse cried.
I looked at my red faced baby, then up to see a bunch of strangers standing by my bed. They all wore looks of astonishment (or was it horror?) on their faces.
In all the chaos, someone had pushed the emergency call button and called in all available staff. I looked down at myself and realized I had just given birth completely naked.
This post originally appeared on the website, Errant Parent