May 25, 2023 - 4 min read
May 25, 2023

The Instinctive Side of Labor

The instinctive side of labor

An unpredictable birth story

My due date was November 26th, but I ended up having a natural, unmedicated birth about a week early. With my two previous pregnancies, I went into labor around 39 weeks and progressed pretty quickly for both of them, so the timing was not unexpected, but it surely did not go according to plan! My name is Chelsea Delgado and I am now a mother of three and am here to tell you about the instinctive side of labor. 

With my previous births, I had epidurals. 

My first was a 13 hour labor and had to wait 7 hours to get my epidural because the anesthesiologist was in back to back surgeries. With my second, I went in for an induction because Christmas was in a couple days and we (albeit selfishly) wanted him to come before then. I had false labor the day before so we were ready. When we checked in, they had only started the first step with a cervix softener (half a pill) before I started having intense contractions. I didn’t expect to go very quickly after a 13 hour labor with my first. I expected maybe 7-8 hours. 

Well, when these contractions started, he was born 105 minutes later. 

I didn’t think I was going to get the epidural in time for this one. They administered it, even though they explained I might not have enough time for it to really kick in. I was so terrified during this time since I was feeling EVERYTHING and not planning on an unmedicated labor. My fear was so intense that I was vomiting, sobbing, and shaking. Toward the time I needed to push, the epidural had kicked in just enough to take the edge off and I only felt light pressure. That was my first peek at what an unmedicated labor was like, and what a precipitous labor felt like. I knew if we ever had a third, I needed to be prepared to go fully unmedicated. And that’s exactly what happened

This is the story of the birth of my third child. 

Signs of Active Labor

November 21, 2022


2/10 pain

I start feeling a little crampy. 

I thought it was false labor but they started to become more consistent so Derek convinced me to go check in just to be sure I wasn’t in the beginning stages of real labor.


5/10 pain

We check into Labor & Delivery and they send us to triage. By now things have picked up a bit and I realize these are real contractions. 

Natural birth or epidural?

November 22, 2022


3.5 cm dilated

They send us on a walk because I’m only dilated to a 3.5. During this time I started feeling lots of lower pressure and realized things were progressing quickly.


5cm dilated, 9/10 pain

I tell the nurse my pain is now a 9/10 and this baby feels very low and ready to come out, so hurry and get us a room! 

She checks me and I’m at a 5. I ask her for an epidural asap. I knew things were about to speed up. They said it would be about 20 minutes, but I knew I didn’t have that time. 


10cm dilated

They officially check us as I’m finally declared ‘in active labor”. We get to our room and I tell my nurse this baby is coming out NOW. They didn’t believe me because I was just at a 5 a bit ago. I told them I could feel her head. 

She’s coming. They check, sure enough she’s right there and I’m at a 10. There was no time for an epidural. I embraced the fact that I was going to do this naturally (thankfully I prepared for this by studying Hypnobirthing and positive affirmations for birth based on my previous experiences). 

They are yelling for a doctor. I tell them I need to push but they tell me to hold her in. 

I did my best to hold her in for a bit but it was like ignoring my instincts. My body wanted to push, so I did. I kept repeating to myself, “I can do this” and working on my breathwork. If I would have let the fear take over, I would have been hysterical. But I kept my focus. 

“Our bodies are freaking incredible.”

The instinctive side of labor


She’s here

Out came our sweet girl, Andi. I couldn’t believe I had just birthed her naturally and I felt like Wonder Woman. I cried and hugged Derek for giving me positive affirmations the whole time. It was so magical and wonderful (and a little scary to be honest) but I am SO glad I got to experience natural birth for my last baby because it really was amazing. I’m so proud of us and the recovery has been amazing. With prior births, I felt like I got hit by a bus afterwards. This time, I felt fine. If I knew natural labors were like that, I probably would’ve had water or home births. Our bodies are freaking incredible. 

The instinctive side of labor. 


It was so amazing and interesting feeling the instinctual side of labor. My body knew when to push and when to stop and rest. Even during the “ring of fire” moment, when her head was coming out, (full disclosure – I let out the biggest scream pushing her head our and Derek said I was cussing a lot *I don’t remember this). The rush of adrenaline got me to the end and I’ve never felt such a strong sense of joy and accomplishment. This was something I never really wanted, or planned on doing, but I knew it was going to happen. 

It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced and it all got me my baby girl and I am so unbelievably happy. 

An unpredictable birth story

For more birth stories on the Bumpdate blog, start here.


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Image of Chelsea Delgado

Chelsea Delgado




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