Sen. Tammy Duckworth on Wanting Epidural for Vaginal Birth: 'I've Been in a Lot of Pain in My Life'

The politician opens up about the birth of her first daughter Abigail during a new episode of PEOPLE's podcast Me Becoming Mom

Sen. Tammy Duckworth's birth plan for her first baby didn't pan out as she expected.

The Illinois senator, 53, appears on a new episode of PEOPLE's podcast Me Becoming Mom, where she opens up about the birth of her older daughter and needing to have an emergency cesarean section.

Asked about her initial birth plan, Duckworth explains that she originally wanted to have a vaginal birth.

"It was funny because my obstetrician was like, 'So we're gonna go ahead and schedule you for a cesarean right?' And I said, 'Well, can't I go ahead and give birth naturally?' He said, 'Well, we could. Do you wanna do that?' I said, 'Yeah I would like to try to give birth naturally to her,' " she recalls.

"And he goes, 'Oh, does that mean you don't want an epidural?' I was like, 'Oh, oh hell no.' Let me tell you, I've been in a lot of pain in my life. I want the painkillers, but I would still like to deliver naturally,' " she tells host Zoë Ruderman, Head of Digital at PEOPLE, with a laugh.

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"I was in labor for 36 hours and then she got wedged. She had her arms above her head. And so I labored a day and a half," she says. "And then they finally said, 'We have to do an emergency cesarean.' By that point I was so exhausted, I just cried. He's like, 'Well we have to do it.' I think I just cried from exhaustion."

'And I tried so hard, and I just couldn't make it happen. But she was wedged in and she wasn't coming out naturally so I had to have the cesarean," Duckworth explains.

Senator Tammy Duckworth
Sen. Tammy Duckworth. Sarah Silbiger/Getty

Duckworth welcomed Abigail in 2014 when she was a member of the House of Representatives. In 2018, she gave birth to her second daughter, Maile Pearl. The senator shares both children with husband Bryan Bowlsbey.

The 12-episode weekly Me Becoming Mom podcast explores the various roads to motherhood through different interviews with both celebrity guests and experts in the field. Topics on the show include IVF, adoption, surrogacy, single parenthood, same-sex couples, home births, pregnancy loss, unexpected and surprising birth stories, among other subjects.

Guests on the show include Alyssa Milano, Hoda Kotb, Jillian Michaels, Shawn Johnson East and more.

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