So one of the things I’ve been asked a lot about regarding my most recent labor and delivery was about how I did it without medication. And my first reaction is to say, I still can’t believe that I did that!
But to be honest, that’s not entirely true. I can believe it.
Let’s rewind a bit and go back to how I came to the point of wanting an unmedicated birth. It all started when the OB I had for my first two deliveries stopped practicing which led me down a rabbit hole of finding a new one. I went through a couple OB’s before finding an office and doctor I liked. However, appointment after appointment I still was feeling unsettled about something.
My friend and past nutrition coach had her last baby in August of 2018 and had a water birth in her home. It fascinated me. Birth has always fascinated me. It’s just incredible what women’s bodies can do. And seeing her accomplish an unmedicated birth (all while I was searching for a doctor and feeling just a little off about my decision) inspired me to start looking into it as well.
This led me to finding a midwife. I just began to feel something tugging on me about having this natural birth experience. And I was really not interested in having a baby at a hospital. There are so many unnecessary interventions that happen and after my last delivery I was truly dreading having to be in a hospital again. So after I found a midwife and starting visiting that practice I felt immediately better about my decision. However, then I needed to really start preparing for this birth.
I wanted a natural birth for a lot of reasons. Epidurals are dangerous and risky. I honestly wish I had researched them more prior to having one the first time 4 years ago. For example, the middle of my back is forever numb to the touch from my first epidural. That can never be fixed because a nerve was damaged in the process of getting an epidural. And to me? That wasn’t worth it. Aside from the risks of another epidural, I simply wanted to experience allowing my body to do what it was made to do. I had struggled for months with acceptance of a fourth boy and I really needed this birth experience to bond him and I together. I also trusted enough in myself to know that I could do this. I was made to do this.
Next I needed to really prepare myself for it. And here are some ways you can prepare yourself too if you’re considering a natural, unmedicated birth.
First I hired a doula. An entire post is coming up next dedicated to all the reasons why you need a birth doula, so I’ll save all my gushing over her for that one, but what I can tell you is that if you desire a natural birth the best thing you can do is hire yourself a doula. She will be your biggest advocate and support. You need one!
Not only will she support you, but she’ll also assist you in providing natural pain management techniques like using essential oils during labor, swaying and breathing through every contraction, etc. I surprised myself in how well I was able to focus on my breathing during each contraction. I would stop what I was doing and focus solely on breathing deep, lengthy breaths through the entire contraction and only focusing on the one I was getting through and not what was still to come. My doula encouraged me to continue to breathe when the pain got really intense and I was starting to hold my breaths in a bit.
Then I read a lot of birth stories and affirmations. I poured over other women’s experiences. I watched Youtube video after video of natural births (this was my favorite channel to watch for amazing natural births). Seeing all these women do it empowered me to feel the same. I CAN DO THIS. I also listened to a lot of podcasts to psych myself up for this. Hearing how so many women roared their way through birth gave me encouragement.
Here are a few of the podcasts I listened to:
Here is where you can purchase birth affirmation cards like these:
I educated myself on what happens during birth. Even though I had experienced birth before, I had never experienced it this way, so I wanted to really educate myself on what happens during labor, what your body is doing and how it all works. There are so many resources out there to help you understand what is exactly happening and why (check out Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth). It’s good to know all of this ahead of time (especially if you’re a first time mom) so you can know what your body is doing.
I empowered myself to know I could do it. Ultimately, it comes down to your mentality of birth and what it is. I’ll be honest that I was terrified of the pain before my first delivery in 2014. I thought I was going to go without medication, but I didn’t fully prepare myself for that and ended up with an epidural. My 2nd delivery went the same way. However, this time I knew that it was going to be painful, so I prepared myself for that. I wasn’t in denial. But there were a couple things I schooled myself on this time. I followed an acronym for the word pain that goes something like this:
P – Purposeful. The pain you’re experiencing is serving a purpose. Your body is doing exactly what it knows to do to get that baby out.
A – Anticipated. The pain is anticipated. You know it’s coming. It’s not unexpected. You can prepare yourself mentally with pain management techniques.
I – Intermittent. It’s not a constant pain. You WILL get breaks. Albeit short breaks when you’re at the end, but you will get a break.
N – Normal. This pain you’re experiencing is normal. It’s what needs to happen in order for you to deliver your baby. You can’t
When all is said and done if you want an unmedicated birth you have to KNOW you can do it. You have to believe in yourself and the power of your body. You created life and you need to trust that your body will do it’s job to birth that life into the world. With a strong mental mindset and a supportive birth team by your side you will accomplish what you set out to do and experience the birth you’ve imagined is possible.
My final tip: when you feel like you can no longer go on (and you will feel like this!) push past your doubt because your baby is on the cusp of being born. You are about to meet your sweet baby!
YOU CAN DO THIS.