How to have a natural unmedicated birth
Do you dream of a natural unmedicated birth? Are you also scared out of your mind about a natural unmedicated childbirth?
If so you are in the same boat as I was in when pregnant with my daughter Lilia. After suffering a miscarriage I vowed to everything possible to give this baby a fair shot and make the best decisions I could. For me, that included a natural unmedicated childbirth.
When people find out I had a natural, unmedicated childbirth I get a variety of reactions. “Wow!” “You’re a crazy woman” and “that is amazing, HOW?” are the top three comments I get.
Let me start by saying even though I wanted a natural unmedicated childbirth, and fully went into the hospital thinking that would be the way it went…. when I was actually in the hospital going through transition, I was yelling every swear word in the book at my husband to give me the _______ epidural. It was only because I went from 4 cm to baby out in under 1 hour that a natural childbirth actually happened. I tell you right then and there I would have given anything to get those glorious drugs and take away that unbearable pain.
But…I DID IT! And man can I tell you I felt like superwoman for doing it. It is the most amazing feeling in the world. Painful?? Yes, but the beauty of a natural birth far outweighs the pain.
Before I continue, please mamas I am not shaming those who choose to use an epidural or other medication to ease the pain of childbirth. If that is what is best for you then great. I just knew what I wanted, and why I wanted it and yes I felt like a superhuman for actually accomplishing it.
Bringing a baby into this world anyway is a feat. C-sections, medicated, unmedicated, whatever. All that matters is a safe and healthy delivery. I celebrate all women and their choices for their birth. Everyone has different experiences, tolerances, and reasons for the birth they choose, and in many cases do not choose. Natural, unmedicated birth just happens to be my choice.
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The reasons why I wanted a natural unmedicated birth
- The epidural needle and potential side effects scared me more than the thought of a natural delivery. I have never liked needles, I have a hard time even getting my blood drawn. So when our instructor at our prenatal class pulled out the epidural needle to show us I was actually sick to my stomach. It is HUGE!
- I wanted to be able to feel the pushing part to minimize tearing
- I wanted an easier recovery
- I DID NOT want a catheter
- I wanted to be able to walk around
- I didn’t want unnecessary interventions – far too often this leads to a c section
- I wanted to avoid a c section and having to recover from surgery
- I had the thought process of millions of women have done this, so can I
- I didn’t want my baby to be affected by any sort of drugs
- I had midwives who are well trained in natural births, I knew I had the right people helping me
I will save my full birth story for another post but in the end, it was fast and furious and I felt like I was dying. Truly nothing can prepare you for what childbirth (mainly transition) feels like. As I wrote earlier, I would have gotten the epidural in the end if I could of. The out of my mind pain was that intense (baby was also sunny side up so back labour was AWFUL) But I am so glad I didn’t.
Having a natural unmedicated birth allowed me to:
- stand within half an hour of giving birth
- go home 4 hours after giving birth
- feel the pushing and know when I needed to push harder or hold back
- not have any sort of risk factor for back pain or a spinal headache
- feel the rush of adrenaline from having a natural birth
- feel like superwoman – like I could do anything, there has been nothing to this day that has ever topped that feeling
The second time around I was prepared for what it was going to feel like and I had a much calmer, and less painful experience. I just fully allowed my body to do what it was naturally doing. I listened to my body, I stayed quiet and calm. I managed the pain by rubbing my feet back and forth and put all my concentration into that sensation. I felt even more like superwoman and had an even better recovery. I was home from the hospital within 3.5 hours and had very minimal tearing.
So if you have the same mindset as I did and still do, that we are meant to birth our babies with as minimal interventions as possible, you are probably searching the internet on how to have a natural unmedicated childbirth and doing as much research as you can. That is good… keep researching. Preparation is the biggest key to success here.
Here are my tips for helping you succeed with your natural, unmedicated childbirth.
- Prepare. Do not go into it thinking I will go drug-free for as long as possible. Think “I will do this drug-free no matter what the pain feels like” Ladies. Birth hurts….like breaking 100 bones at once hurts and then some. You have to mentally prepare for it. I was not prepared enough the first time and I totally would have caved. Do the natural childbirth classes, read the articles and blogs, talk to other moms who have done it. You have to have the mindset of “I will do this”. This book was very helpful as was this one. I also really liked this one about a holistic approach to pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
I also love anything and everything by Ina May – this is a great book read everything by her!
- Stay home as long as possible. If you show up to the hospital as close to pushing as you can the less time allowed, resources available and the ability to change your mind will be taken away. Stay home in the comfort of your own house. You want to be almost out of it for the drive to the hospital not thinking “hmm did I pack everything I need?” if you still have the sense to be thinking things like that you have left for the hospital too soon.
- Find the right people. Use a midwife. Doctors want you to deliver as quickly and as safely as possible. Midwives are much more apt to let your body do its thing and not rush things along. This does not mean it is not safe. The medical approach and the natural approach to childbirth are 2 very different perspectives. Find someone who agrees with your perspective so you are not feeling pressured into “moving things along”. Yes, there are of course times when it is not safe to allow your body to continue to progress on its own or when a c section is absolutely necessary but it is not the norm. Even though many doctors make it seem like the norm. Hire a doula for extra support, talk to friends who have done it and see what/who supported them.
- Do not beat yourself up if it does not go that way. Maybe your pain tolerance isn’t as high as you thought, maybe the baby was in danger, maybe you are just too exhausted. Listen ladies growing and carrying a baby for 9 months is hard. Pushing one out is even harder. There is no shame in not being able to do it. There are many reasons a natural unmedicated birth might fail. Be OK with that.
- Work on a focus technique in another area of your body. For me, this worked. Every time I would get a contraction I would close by eyes and rub my feet against each other and focus on that sensation vs the contraction pain. It was a huge help with pain management.
- Drink red raspberry leaf tea and take the capsules and take homeopathic remedies if overdue. I am not a doctor so I do not want to recommend but I think these were vital to my success. My labours were short and pushing was under 10 minutes both times. I gave out my remedies and recipe to several friends and it made a huge difference for them the second time around (of course it could be a coincidence) but after using the herbal remedies their labours were much shorter and the amount of pushing time drastically decreased. Heck, my one friend had her baby on her bathroom floor, he came so fast. I very much believe in the natural remedies that God has given us so research them and take them (with the advice of your doc or midwife)
Use Evening Primrose Oil – orally as well as topically – this helps things to stretch down there to minimize tearing.
- Know you are going to sound…well primal. Noises you have never made will come out of your body. You will not care who is in the room looking at your lady bits. Prepare your husband for this. Or else he might be a little scared! Giving birth is a natural thing, but everything that happens during natural birth is truly out of this world crazy.
- Think about after. Neither you nor your baby will be groggy, you will feel so empowered, your recovery will be so much better. You will be up and be walking around much sooner. You will have the satisfaction of knowing you controlled your body through immense pain.I hope these tips help you to have the natural unmedicated birth that you desire. Remember mama, do not doubt yourself. You CAN do this! This may sound crazy but I actually look forward to doing it again. The jury is still out whether we will continue to grow our family through more biological children or adoption only.