[Birth Stories] How Her Goals Of “No Epidural And No Whining” Helped Her Befriend The Labor Pain

Celeste and Claudiu Bancos share their perspectives of their son’s birth (who chimes in too!), often surprising each other with moments the other didn’t remember or knew about. Ultimately, Celeste achieved her birth goals of not whining and avoiding getting an epidural, with the help of a veterinarian’s memoir book from the 30s, strong vocalizations, a crisis of confidence, realizing how well her hormones were working, and the live narration by Claudiu of their baby’s beautiful emergence into the world.


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Celeste Bancos, wearing a green hospital gown, reclines in the hospital bed with a red pillow behind her head, cradling her newborn son Luke in her arms

Image description: Celeste Bancos, wearing a green hospital gown, reclines in the hospital bed with a red pillow behind her head, cradling her newborn son Luke in her arms



[Birth Stories] How Her Goals Of “No Epidural And No Whining” Helped Her Befriend The Labor Pain

Adriana Lozada: Hello! Hello! Mighty Parent or Parent-To-Be. Welcome to Birthful. I’m Adriana Lozada and today we have a birth story as part of our Birth Beyond The Clinical Experience series. Now, this story comes with a special twist, because both Celeste and Claudiu Bancos, who are my guests today, are here to share their experience together. Well, I guess it’s really Celeste, Claudiu, and Luke— because their baby does chime in here and there with his point of view as well. 

Now, along with having a healthy outcome for both her and baby, some of Celeste’s other birth goals were to avoid getting an epidural, and to not whine (these are her words, not mine). Listening to the story I really appreciated how much of what they share fits perfectly with what Rhea Dempsey was talking about in our episode on the Purpose of Childbirth Pain, including her description of a crisis of confidence. I mean, that fits almost to a T.

This was really a fun conversation, not least because Claudiu has an interesting sense of humor. And, it was great to hear the point of view of the partner, which is one we don’t often get to hear, as well as Celeste’s description of how he was such a strong support for her in his own quirky way. You’ll see what I mean.

I also loved Celeste’s realization of all the hormonal changes she was having while she was having them, and how that sort of became a positive feedback loop for her that was helping her through the labor. Yeah, that was some wonderful meta-laborland stuff. 

You’re listening to Birthful, here to inform your intuition.

Adriana: Celeste and Claudiu, welcome. I am so happy that you’re here today.

Celeste Bancos: Thanks. We’re excited too. 

Claudiu Bancos: Thank you for having us.

Adriana: Yeah. So let’s go to the beginning of when you were pregnant: What were your ideas for the birth experience? How did you want this birth to go? And what did you do to prepare for that?

Celeste: Well, I did a lot of listening to the Birthful podcast!

Adriana: Yay!

Celeste: I don’t remember how I got connected to it, but it really became my go-to resource and I pretty much listened through all the archives, ‘cause I— this is my son Luke, by the way. He’s joining us!

Adriana: Hi, Luke!

Celeste: Yeah, my job let me do a lot of podcast listening. So it was really helpful to be able to listen to all the different guests and just kind of absorb all this information. ‘Cause, really, my idea about natural birth, before I did any research, was remembering my mom telling about how she didn’t have an epidural for my one brother and she regretted it. And so going in I knew, “Okay, some people don’t have an epidural… but why is that?” like, “I don’t know! Do I want one? Do I not?” That was kind of my main question. So then, the more I learned about natural birth, the more interested I was. Just realizing all the hormones that go into it and just how it can be, I got more and more convinced that this is something that I want.

Adriana: And so aside from listening to the podcast, what did you do? Anything you kind of honed in on those birth choices? Did you do anything else to prepare ahead of time?

Celeste: We took a childbirth class from the hospital, which was nice. It wasn’t super helpful. I did probably other internet research, as different questions came up.

Claudiu: You had me listen to the audio from the support person.

Celeste: Yeah. The labor support. 

Adriana: Right. The Labor Support Kit. How did you like that?

Claudiu: I wasn’t so sure about it at first, but when I actually experienced it, different parts of it were very helpful. So that was positive. That was good.

Adriana: Good. So that’s the thing about birth— that it’s hard to explain what it is and what you’ll need until you’re in it.

Claudiu: Right. Definitely!

Adriana: What were your wishes for the birth experience? What were you looking for?

Claudiu: I don’t know that I had anything specific, just to make it through with a healthy baby and a healthy Celeste. I supported you in not doing the epidural, but I let that be your choice entirely. Yeah, I don’t know. I didn’t have many preferences other than that.

Celeste: Yeah. Claudiu did suggest to me… when I was talking about this, he said that I could have my goal to be “no whining.” And so I decided, like, “Yeah, that would be really helpful.” Not just for him, but also for me, in terms of having a good attitude. So, along with no epidural, my main goal was “no complaining.”

Claudiu: See, I forgot that I even suggested this! I thought that was your idea.

Adriana: Little did you know! Very good. So then, come the day of, how did you know you were in labor?

Celeste: Well, I went to bed and then maybe half an hour later I felt a gush of fluid. And so I rushed to the bathroom and then I tried to figure out, “Okay, was this my mucus plug? Was it my water breaking? Did I just pee my pants?” ‘cause that had happened a couple weeks ago. So I called the doctor and they basically said “Pay attention to what’s going on. Call us in the morning unless something big happens.” And so I went back to bed, but contractions were starting pretty mild, but I definitely knew something was up.

So the next morning we went into the doctor and it turned out my water hadn’t broken, so it was just the mucus plug. And she basically said it could be any time. It could be that day, it could be up to a week— like, there’s really no way to tell at this point how long it’s gonna be. So then we went home.

Adriana: Okay. And you were still having contractions?

Celeste: Yeah. So, mild contractions— I wasn’t timing them, just ‘cause they were not very frequent. But yeah, I was feeling pretty good. Claudiu talked me out of running errands, because I wanted to rush around and get everything ready, but he said, “No, just take it easy. Let’s just go straight home.” 

Claudiu: It was a nice, relaxing day.

Adriana: So what were you seeing in her that made it… like what was she doing that you were like, “No, let’s not do errands”?

Claudiu: Nothing really, it was still very mild at that point, but I just thought the more rested she is for when the actual pain hits, the better.

Adriana: Indeed. Yeah.

Claudiu: So I just wanted her to be as rested as we could.

Adriana: Good! So then you spend the day doing, you know, pampering, and just not doing much of anything and just relaxing. And that carried you through the whole day?

Claudiu: Pretty much. And then we went to sleep with the hope that we can just wake up in the morning and really get things started. Then half an hour later…

Celeste: Half an hour later was when my water broke. And immediately my contractions kicked up a notch. I definitely couldn’t sleep at that point.

I woke Claudiu up, spent a lot of time in the bathroom. Claudiu was surprised by how I was on the toilet so much.

Claudiu: Yeah, that one was weird to me! I just… I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t expecting the toilet. I was prepared for a lot of other things, but not for the toilet. And so I just found it strange and I didn’t know how to respond or how to care for you well on that one.

Adriana: And was it just ‘cause it felt good to labor in that position?

Celeste: Yeah, partly that, partly I was peeing a lot and pooping a lot. So I kind of needed to be on the toilet. But yeah, like it also just helped me relax. So yeah, it was good.

I had forgotten about the option to sit backwards on the toilet— like that didn’t cross my mind at all. But I wish I had remembered that, ‘cause I think that would’ve been helpful!

Adriana: Did you have pillows or anything that you could lean back on?

Celeste: I don’t think I used pillows. I did have a Swiss ball, so that was helpful at home. Just leaning forward onto it, bouncing and rolling a little bit.

Claudiu: Yeah, that was much more familiar territory for me. Because we practiced it in the birthing class, and I read about it and everything. 

Celeste: Yeah, I tried taking a shower, but that wasn’t really super helpful.

Claudiu: We pretty much just went to the hospital. 

Celeste: Yeah, like pretty soon, it was only an hour or two before we decided to go to the hospital. So I remember I was nervous about the car ride, ’cause it was already… I was already pretty uncomfortable during the contractions and so I was nervous like, “I’m not gonna be able to be in too many positions in the car.”

Claudiu: And it was a pretty quick car ride, yeah. The hospital wasn’t far.

Celeste: And we’d already had our practice visit. There you go! We did, like… ‘cause we had, like, a nurse check-in a few weeks before I was due, to do all the paperwork. And we got lost on the way to the hospital. So we said, “This is why they do it! So that we know where we’re going when the actual day comes.”

Adriana: That’s great. So this time you didn’t get lost. You got there.

Celeste: We didn’t get lost! We got there, we went in, the nurse came down to take us up to the labor and delivery unit. 

Claudiu: We packed very heavy . 

Celeste: Yeah, he said “I can tell you guys are first timers, ‘cause you have so much luggage.”

Claudiu: I always pack heavy for everything. I never regret packing too much.

Adriana: Any things that stand out, from what you packed, that was really super helpful?

Celeste: Let’s see… We packed battery-powered Christmas lights, which were just fun, ‘cause we just draped them around the room. 

Claudiu: It was the middle of December! 

Celeste: All the nurses loved them. What else did we bring? Well, I’ll get to this in a little bit, but Claudiu brought a book that he read to me and it was really nice. But yeah, so we got to the hospital. Checking in was pretty easy, ’cause of the practice visit. And they went to triage and they checked my cervix and I was at three centimeters so I was pretty good. It was… I guess ‘cause that morning I’d been at two centimeters, so it was encouraging to have some progress.

And then pretty soon they moved me to the labor room, and at that point I had the mindset going in (from reading your toolkit!) to ask the nurses for things. So I asked them right away for a Swiss ball, and extra pillows, and containers so I could throw up into it. And I don’t think I would’ve been so quick to make those requests if I hadn’t read the toolkit that talks about that. So that was neat!

Adriana: Cool! Good.

Celeste: Yeah. Yeah, I was still, I was drinking a lot of water, peeing a lot, pooping a lot, throwing up. I didn’t realize I was gonna throw up so much. I think that was a big surprise for me. But yeah, so this book, the book, I don’t know if you’re familiar with James Harriet. He was a country vet in Yorkshire in the thirties and forties and fifties, and he wrote memoirs and so they’re just wonderful stories about animals and interesting people. But he does a lot of helping animals who are having difficult births.

Adriana: What’s his name again?

Celeste: James Harriet. So this book is called All Creatures Great and Small, and I brought it along thinking, “This will be so much fun to read while I’m in labor to distract me.” And it was wonderful. So Claudiu read it aloud to me, and it was all this gross, like, dirty, painful misery.

Claudiu: He was reaching inside the cow to deliver the calf that was like turned around with its neck. It was very graphic and Celeste loved it! It calmed her down. It made her happy. I read her the whole chapter. It was great. She loved it.

Adriana: That’s fantastic. 

Celeste: That was a lot of fun. So after that, Claudiu got really sleepy. So he napped…

Claudiu: Maybe two or three hours

Celeste: Yeah, two or three hours. 

Claudiu: So talk about some of the other pain stuff, Celeste, like the low moans and other things you did for the pain.

Celeste: I don’t know. I feel like you have more to say about that.

Claudiu: Alright, one of the most helpful things that I found was encouraging Celeste to do low moans instead of the high screeches. That helped me a lot. I think it also helped her be more calm and breathe and not whine, which was her goal. And did it help you overall, Celeste?

Celeste: Yeah, it was definitely good. One thing that I wish we’d done to prepare ahead of time was practice different comfort positions— because it’s one thing to read about them, but like in the moment, we didn’t go digging up the resources that we brought along and we didn’t have any muscle memory from anything that we’ve tried. So, next time, I definitely would want to try… practice ahead of time. Act it out. 

Claudiu: The birth class tried to have us do this, a little bit.

Adriana: Yeah, and I’m really glad that you’re bringing that up, because sometimes it can feel almost kind of silly, like practicing when you’re not in labor. Like, yeah, “What’s the point? I’ll sit on this ball and go, ‘Oh, and you rub my back’.” Right?

Celeste: Right.

Adriana: So, Claudiu is taking a nap, you are laboring…

Celeste: It was very dark, very quiet. I was alone for most of the time. Every so often, the nurse would come in and hook me up to the fetal monitors and then leave me alone for 15 minutes and come back and unhook me. [Baby Luke makes noises.] 

Adriana: He’s telling us his story too! [Laughs.]

Celeste: I didn’t have a super strong sense of time passing. It was just kind of the rhythm of the contractions and at some points I was even kind of dozing off in between them, ‘cause I was so exhausted from not really having slept the night before.

But I think that was probably the hardest time for me because I was starting to feel… like it was getting tougher and I was alone and so I was starting to feel a sense of despair, like, “Can I really do this?” I remember thinking, “I don’t wanna do this again. This is awful.” I had some fear of, “When they come and check my cervix again, what if there’s no change? And then I’m just gonna feel like it’s gonna take forever.” I started having some of those doubts, I guess. 

Claudiu: When I woke up you were in the hot tub. 

Celeste: It started to become morning, and I guess the doctor came in and checked my cervix and I was at six centimeters, which was encouraging. And I decided, “Okay, I think I’m ready for the hot tub,” ‘cause I had remembered the suggestion to leave that for towards the end when it can really— 

Claudiu: Yeah, that was really helpful.

Celeste: —when it can really help with the harder contractions. And so I went into the jacuzzi and it felt so good. It was interesting, like, when I was pregnant, I remember reading about using the bathtub and thinking like, “Oh, that’s nice.” But, then, at one point I had a dream where I went in the tub and just felt the water and I woke up and I realized, “Oh yeah, I really like swimming and being in the water. Like, I’m really excited for this.”

Adriana:  Oh, cool.

Celeste: So I went in excited about it and it was really nice. So yeah, after maybe 45 minutes in the hot tub, I started to feel a little dizzy and sick. So I had the nurse call for Claudiu, and when he came I decided I was done, so I got out and went back to the labor room and—

Adriana: So, hold on. In the hospital where you were, the jacuzzi tub is in a different room?

Celeste: Yeah, it was a little room down the hallway and there was just one, there was just one for the whole hallway, I guess.

Adriana: So, we’ve got several hospitals here in Rochester. There’s one that has that kind of setup, like one room is an enormous jacuzzi tub, really great. And then all the other ones are laboring rooms. But I find that that tub… I’m glad to hear you say that it was helpful and you used that, ‘cause I find that here very few people go into that tub, just ‘cause it’s in a different room. And then if you get out, you gotta walk back to your room. So, yeah. I’m glad it helped you!

Celeste: Yeah, it was really nice. But yeah, I think if I hadn’t gone in with a high value for it, I probably wouldn’t have thought of it. I don’t remember. I don’t remember if anybody suggested it, or if I was the one to make the request. But anyway, it was really good. So then we got back to the room and contractions were getting even stronger, but I had Claudiu there, so it was much easier just with him encouraging me and reminding me to use low breathing and low moans.

And then there was a certain point where I suddenly realized, like if I put more power into the noises I was making, I felt better. And I suddenly got this sense of control. Where I was able to, I don’t know how to describe it, but just like I kind of got angry at the contractions. 

Claudiu: Yeah. You simultaneously got much louder and much happier. It was an interesting experience. Because on the one hand she was loud and in pain, but on the other hand she was smiling and happier than before. 

Celeste: Yeah. So that was really cool, and that was something I wasn’t completely expecting. And pretty soon after that the contractions stopped and I knew, “Oh, I’m in transition.”

And then, like, I just had so much excitement and anticipation and energy! I was giggling! 

Claudiu: Adrenaline rush!

Celeste: Yeah! So that was really cool, to be able to identify like, “This is the adrenaline kicking in,” ‘cause it had been so helpful for me learning about all the different hormones that have a role in birth. Because I really didn’t know about that until I did that research and learned about it. So that was really neat, having that perspective, being able to identify like, this is what’s happening.

Adriana: And I love how you were like along the way, just reflecting on what you were experiencing and going like, “Oh, great.”

Celeste: So, then, at that point, I was really excited. I was like, “Okay, let’s get this baby out of here!” So I wanted to start pushing. And then I think I was at like eight or nine centimeters at that point. And the doctor was saying I wasn’t completely dilated, so she didn’t want me to push yet, in case, like, my cervix got swollen or something. So… but I really wanted to, and so then she said, “Well, I can try kind of pushing it back and see if I can, like, push it outta the way.” So I said, “Okay, let’s try that.” And so she did that, and I guess it worked. So then I was cleared to push and, but then I realized I didn’t really know what I was doing in terms of pushing. So the nurses were there. 

Claudiu: The nurses were fairly unhelpful, though. 

Celeste: The nurses were there telling me, “Okay, you have to push for 10 seconds and hold it for the whole 10 seconds.” 

Claudiu: And they would count!

Celeste: And they would count and I couldn’t hold it for that long.

Claudiu: They also kept on saying “Bear down!” over and over again. 

Celeste: And I realized I was pushing with all of my muscles, instead of only the ones that I actually needed for pushing. So I was wearing myself out that way.

And then one of the unhelpful things the nurse said was like… she gave me this impression that if I didn’t push properly, the baby would get stuck in my pelvis and like would stay there for a long time and not come through, unless I pushed long enough in one push, which I don’t think is probably true.

But anyway, so I had this sense of anxiety, like, “Oh no, I’m failing. I’m not doing it right. This is gonna take forever. Do I have enough energy?” like “I’m losing stamina here.” So that I feel like was more stressful than it had to be. And next time, I definitely want to, if there is a nurse like that, ask her not to be so overbearing and just give me some—

Claudiu: No, we should, we should make that clear in our pre-meeting with the hospital nurse, just tell her we don’t want anyone to rush you or push or count (I mean count with your pushes), unless there’s like an actual medical reason for urgency. Otherwise, let’s just not do the rushing thing. 

Celeste: Yeah!

Adriana: Listening to you guys describe this whole pushing and how things went, I have an episode with Whapio, specifically on rethinking the pushing stage, and it fits so good… fits perfectly with all you’re saying.

Celeste: Like, I really hadn’t done a lot of research into the pushing stage. I kind of just assumed, “Oh, my body will know what it’s doing.” But I hadn’t really heard many stories about other women’s experiences and so on. So I think if I had been more informed going in, I would’ve had more confidence and not been kind of distracted by the nurses. 

So I just remembered the other part about pushing— so I wanted to push on my hands and knees like facing the back of the bed, holding onto the head of the bed that was tilted up, ‘cause we had seen a video in our childbirth class where the mom did that and it looked really cool. 

Claudiu: I thought it looked like a cool way to push too!

Celeste: And that was kind of the most comfortable position for me throughout my labor. But the problem we had was the belly band for the fetal monitor was too loose on me. And so it was sagging and the monitors would fall away from my belly and stop picking up any signals. And so the nurses, we tried to… we tried to troubleshoot it, but finally they just said, like, “Just do it on your back.” 

Claudiu: They had a reason… I forget what their reason was, but they wanted more monitoring for a specific reason.

Celeste: Well, I think maybe something was concerning about what they had monitored at some…

Claudiu: Right. I forget the details of that though. 

Celeste: Yeah. I don’t know. But anyway, so looking back on that I really wish somebody had thought of more solutions, like, “What if we taped it on?” Or what if we like improvised with a tank top or something. I feel like we could have figured out a way that I could still push comfortably on my hands and knees, while still having the monitoring. But we ended up just, I was on my back, which was okay. So I was lying down, just, I guess the standard. 

Claudiu: You were a little tilted, but yeah, you were pretty much on your back.

Celeste: So yeah, I was pushing and gradually the baby was coming down. 

Claudiu: And it was so cool for me to watch! I thought I would be grossed out by it, but it was actually really awesome.

Celeste: At this point, Claudiu— who’s very much an extrovert— was narrating, which is really fun. I just… I felt so much fondness for him ‘cause he was really excited and just kind of telling me what was happening, ‘cause I couldn’t see completely. 

Claudiu: They brought you a mirror at one point? 

Celeste: Yeah, they did bring a mirror, so I could see the baby’s head starting to poke out. Although I feel like that was more distracting than it was helpful, ‘cause it was one more external data input distracting me from what my body was feeling. ‘Cause I could feel the urge to push, but I was also getting distracted by all these other constraints and requirements, and people saying things and like, “I wanna push as efficiently as I can. So let me think this through.” I was too much in my head, not enough paying attention to what was really going on in my body. But anyway, so then Luke was born! 

Claudiu: And it looked so cool to see his head kind of start to come out. It was just… I don’t know. I was really expecting to be grossed out, but I wasn’t. It was awesome!

Celeste: Yeah. It was just so cool to have my baby on my stomach, and he was there and he was amazing. And I just, like… just got to look at him. I was a little bit annoyed because Claudiu stopped looking at him and started texting people. 

Claudiu: I was just exhausted! I just needed to sit down and take a break!

Adriana: And you got like a three hour nap in the middle of it. What are you talking about?

Claudiu: Yeah. And I knew it was worse for Celeste, ‘cause she’d actually had the baby, but I just wanted to sit down and chill.

Celeste: Yeah. And I was saying, like, “Look at this amazing baby! What are you doing?”

Claudiu: You know what though? He was an awesome looking newborn. He was not like the videos they showed us of newborns. He was really good looking for a baby that had just come out and hadn’t even had a bath yet. He wasn’t all purple and wrinkly. He was not purple and wrinkly. He was good looking. He was huge. And he looked great.

Adriana: How big was he?

Celeste: He was nine pounds exactly, I think. 

Claudiu: Yeah, nine pounds. 

Celeste: So I needed some stitches, ‘cause I had torn a little bit, and so that was kind of tough. I mean, I don’t even remember the placenta coming out. I was just looking at Luke.

Claudiu: I remember the cord was so long, though, they just kept pulling and pulling. It was just more and more cord. I was surprised by just how really long it was, because it was just… it kept going. Also, there was a lot of blood, which I feel like I should have expected, but I was surprised by how much blood there was.

Celeste:That was another thing that I didn’t really notice, ‘cause I was just looking at my baby.

Adriana: Yeah. A couple of dads have told me that also, like, “That was a lot. I wasn’t expecting that much blood.”

Celeste: So while they were stitching me up, it was tough ‘cause it hurt and I wanted to be feeding Luke— like, he was definitely rooting around trying to nurse, but I didn’t have room for his legs ‘cause they were stitching. So I couldn’t slide him all the way down as much as I wanted. And I forgot about kind of rotating him so that his legs are off to the side, then I was just kind of holding him there.

Claudiu: Well, you also wanted to let him find you and then I put him in position. Talk about that part.

Celeste: Yeah. Well… ‘cause I’ve been reading all these things about all the babies have these instincts, and they can do it and so it’s like “I wanna let him do it.” But this was already like an hour or so after he was… maybe not that long.

Claudiu: No, at least half an hour, but not much longer than that. 

Celeste: So I think he was getting tired and starting to struggle more. So finally Claudiu just said, like, “Here, can I help him out?” And so he kind of helped guide him a little bit better, so then he finally latched on. Yeah, that was really cool.

Adriana: And once he was in position, he latched right away?

Celeste: I forget exactly what happened. Like he was, he was already mostly in position. I think Claudiu just guided his head a little bit. 

Claudiu: I helped him then. Then he latched on pretty quickly though.

Celeste: Yeah, he latched on pretty quickly and nursed… and then I think everybody fell asleep.

Claudiu: Pretty much.

Celeste: And I… I don’t know. I slept for three, six hours. I don’t remember. 

Claudiu: Luke slept for six hours that day, like, straight— 

Adriana: What?! 

Claudiu: —which I was surprised by. I was like, “He’s been asleep a long time. Is he okay? Yeah. “Does he need to eat?”

Celeste: And I tried!

Claudiu: He was all right, it turned out. 

Celeste: But he woke up once and I tried feeding him again, but he just fell asleep again. So then at one point, like, we said, “Is this okay?” And the nurses said, “Well, you should probably try to wake him up and nurse him again.” 

So I remember at one point I got up to try to go to the bathroom, but I got really dizzy, so they hooked me up to an IV.

Which, that reminds me! So when I got to the hospital, they said, “Oh, can we put the IV in so that it’s ready just in case?” And I said, “Yeah, that’s fine,” So I had this needle in my hand, but then when I was in labor trying to get comfortable, and especially when I was tired, just kind of laying down, trying to rest— like, for me, the most comfortable position is putting my hands under my pillow, under my head— so it just, like, it was always this annoying pain in my hand from this needle. And then by the time that they needed it for, I guess—

Claudiu: IV Pitocin when you were bleeding after Luke came out.

Celeste: —so by the time they needed it, it had slipped off, so they had to redo it on my other hand. 

Claudiu: Wait, really? Oh, I forgot about that.

Celeste: And so then—

Claudiu: You might as well have not had it the first time! 

Celeste: Right?! So I might as well not have had it. And so then they kept it in on the other hand after the Pitocin, but then when they wanted to give me fluids after I fainted, they had to redo it again.

Adriana: So you got it three times!

Celeste: So I had it done three times, and I had to put up with all the annoying pain of it being there, and it didn’t even do anything good. So next time, I might say—

Claudiu: Just have them put it in each time. 

Celeste: Right?! I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that.

Claudiu: We’ll figure it out!

Adriana: Now Claudiu, let me ask you what… Going into it with no expectations, what was the whole experience like for you?

Claudiu: Mostly I really wish it wasn’t overnight, because we were both really tired. Yeah, I wish it had started in the morning or early afternoon instead. But we don’t have any control over that, so, yeah, it’s tough. Yeah. Otherwise, I don’t know. It was pretty good, I guess. Yeah. You did a great job, Celeste, of not complaining.

Celeste: I know! I was so excited that I met both of my goals, because there were times when I was tempted to just, like, whine and complain, but I remembered like, “No, I don’t wanna do that.” So I think that really helped me to keep my spirits up and be focused on, “I can do this. It’ll be okay.” 

Claudiu: And we had a healthy, good-looking baby, so that was nice. It was tough to see Celeste in so much pain a lot of the time. I think I was expecting that. And I’m glad I was able to encourage her. I think I was surprised by just how much you were encouraged by me. I felt like I was just kind of trying things… I’m glad they were helpful. So, yeah. I don’t know. I’m ready to do it again, so much. Yeah.

Adriana: Well, and it seems like you really enjoyed watching him be born!

Claudiu: Yeah. That was nice.

Adriana: To me, it’s super cool. 

Claudiu: It was neat. It was really fun, yeah.

Adriana: So then for you, Celeste, what was the most challenging and how was it different from what you expected?

Celeste: Well, I think the hardest part was that part when I was just alone in the middle of the night, just being on my own and starting to have some doubts. But I’ve definitely… like, I was afraid that it would be really hard for me to, like, stick to my decision not to have an epidural. But really, like, I never questioned that, which was cool. So yeah, it was neat to see, like, even when it was hard, I still had a sense that I could do it. And then when it got even more difficult, Claudiu was there for me again. 

Adriana: Hopefully next time it’ll be during the day and then you’ll guys will be together the whole time!

Claudiu: Hopefully!

Adriana: Or you take lots of naps the day before knowing that it might start.

Claudiu: You know… I could have done more napping ahead of time… 

Celeste: Yeah, ‘cause you’re good at napping. I have trouble napping unless I’m really tired, but—

Claudiu: I can sleep anytime anywhere, so.

Adriana: What are your parting words for those out there that are listening to the story and preparing to have a birth?

Celeste: Well, one thing that I didn’t talk about yet was just I’m really glad that I watched the Natural Breastfeeding video that you always link to. That was so helpful for me, learning kind of what is gonna be the most helpful for my newborn baby. And I really… like, in all the different breastfeeding resources that were given to me at the hospital, that barely came up at all.

And so… but it made so much of a difference. So I would really encourage people to watch that and learn about just how to be comfortable and how to work with the baby’s instincts instead of against them.

Adriana: I love that concept of, you know, “baby-led breastfeeding” or “natural breastfeeding” or, you know, “laid-back breastfeeding.” It has many names! Great for newborns, it’s great for itty bitty ones.

Celeste: Yeah. Another fun resource… I don’t know where I found this, but Claudiu and I, while I was in early labor, we read through this PDF called, Emergency Childbirth – A Manual. And it’s written by Greg White, and it’s from the fifties. And it’s aimed at just anybody who happens to be in an emergency situation where there’s a mom giving birth and it’s how to help the mom. And it was just really cool, because it describes the process— like, the labor process— from that onlooker’s perspective, without all the medical knowledge that you don’t know about.

Claudiu: It’s intended for like police officers, or firefighters, or random people nearby. 

Celeste: Yeah, like rescue workers. 

Claudiu: Rescue workers who do not have medical training. 

Celeste: So it just focused on, like, “This is how the mom’s probably gonna be feeling,” and “These are the signs to be looking for,” and “This is how you can encourage her.” It was just really neat and we had fun going over that and imagining, “What if we get stuck in the car, in the snow?”  

Claudiu: I mean, we did take a trip to Boston a week before your due date in the van that’s prone to breaking down in the winter!

Adriana: You would’ve been ready. You would’ve been ready.

Claudiu: Yeah.

Adriana: So, okay. Claudiu, do you have any words of wisdom for partners out there?

Claudiu: Be patient, hang in there. I found the Labor Support Kit thing was a lot more helpful than I had originally expected. At first, I was just… I was not sold on it. I was skeptical, and after listening to it I was like, “That’s nice, I guess.” But it was being… actually being in it, I was like the low moaning thing and the hot tub  and several other things that, I’m not remembering the details of right now, it turned out to be surprisingly helpful. So be prepared and find some resources to help you be prepared, I guess.

Adriana: Alright, so I am so glad that it was super… I keep waiting! He’s like, “I dunno. I dunno.”

Claudiu: It was worthwhile. It was worth it!

Adriana: Okay!

Claudiu: I’m glad we got it. It was worth it in the end.

Adriana: And I’m sure anybody who’s listening knows that, I did not… like, I’m not paying for you to say this! That it is your proper feeling about it. But I am so glad that that was the case. That that’s the point, right? To be helpful.

Claudiu: Yep, definitely!

Adriana: Good. I’m so happy you guys had the birth you wanted. 

Claudiu: She did a fantastic job! It was really great.

Celeste: Thank you!

Adriana: Thanks so much for coming on the show to tell your story.

Celeste: Oh, you’re welcome. Thanks for having us.

That was Celeste, Claudiu, and Luke Bancos sharing their fun birth story. 

And if you enjoyed their story, why don’t you tell us about it? Connect with us on Instagram @birthfulpodcast. And in fact we love it when you take a screenshot of this episode and, if you’re not driving, right? Post is to your Instagram stories sharing your biggest takeaway from the episode. Make sure to tag @birthfulpodcast so we can see it and amplify it.

You can find the in-depth show notes and transcript of this episode at birthful.com, where you can also learn more about my birth and postpartum preparation classes and download your free postpartum preparation plan. 

Also, if you find that Birthful is becoming your go-to resource for all things pregnancy and postpartum then the best way to support us is by taking any one of my perinatal classes, doing one of my doula workshops, or trying out some of the wonderful products made by our sponsors. That is what allows us to continue doing this work. 

Birthful is created and produced by me, Adriana Lozada, with production assistance from Aysia Platte.

Thank you so very much for listening to and sharing Birthful. Be sure to follow us on Goodpods, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and everywhere you listen. 

And then come back for more ways to inform your intuition. 


Lozada, Adriana, host. “[Birth Stories] How Her Goals Of “No Epidural And No Whining” Helped Her Befriend The Labor Pain.” Birthful, Birthful, April 19, 2023. Birthful.com.


Celeste Bancos, a white-presenting woman with dark hair pulled back, wearing glasses, reclines with her three young sons surrounding her

Image description: Celeste Bancos, a white-presenting woman with dark hair pulled back, wearing glasses, reclines with her three young sons surrounding her

About Celeste Bancos

Celeste and her husband Claudiu live in Eastern Pennsylvania with their three energetic boys. Grateful for the flexibility of their part-time work-from-home schedules, they have made homeschooling and foster parenting a priority in their busy lives. 

As a homeschooling parent, Celeste is passionate about making learning fun and engaging for her children. She shares her math games and activities on her blog, The Daily Nurture, and occasionally posts about parenting and education topics on Twitter as @CBancos. 

When she’s not teaching or fostering, Celeste enjoys gardening, reading, and exploring the outdoors with her family.

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