10 Things No One Will Tell You About Having An Unmedicated Birth, But I Will

Ad failed to load

Having babies, like the actual giving birth part, is not something most women look forward to. Obviously I don't want to speak for all women and I do know some women who love the act of giving birth but, if I'm being honest, those women are few and far between. For most, it's what happens at the end of labor and delivery that helps you get through labor and delivery. Perhaps that, among many other reasons like medical and technological advances, is why many women opt for medicated births, so the pain of labor and delivery is minimized. While that option is wonderful and something no woman should feel ashamed for utilizing, it has created a list of things people don't know about having an unmedicated birth; Things that, honestly, all pregnant women should know and familiarize themselves with when they're weighing their birth options and deciding what will work best for them. The devil you know beats the devil you don't, right?

I've had two unmedicated births myself and, given my own experiences, find myself talking about unmedicated birth and the many nuggets of information that I believe are overlooked, on a regular basis. Usually, during those conversations, one resounding and vital fact is touched on, over and over and over again. If you're planning on a drug-free, intervention-free birth, and things don't work out that way, don't beat yourself up. Always remember that the most important part of giving birth is, well, giving birth. Get that baby out by whatever means necessary, even if it's not how you planned. I believe that whenever labor and delivery is discussed, that undeniable fact should always remain the focal point. Get the baby out however it is safest. Safest for the baby. Safest for the mother. Safest.

Having gone through the dreaded back labor, as well as a relatively short, easy birth (both unmedicated) I can tell you that it's really f*cking hard (there's really no better way to describe it), no matter which way you slice it. It's difficult if you sans medication and it's difficult if you decide to have an epidural and it's difficult if you end up having a c-section. Birth is hard. Labor is hard. Delivery is hard. It's all just freakin' hard, you guys. I won't judge any woman for the way she decides or ends up giving birth, because we have choices now and women know themselves better than anyone else can. Having said that, I'm happy that I chose to go pain medication-free with both my kids. So, if you're considering it for yourself, here are 10 things no one will tell you about having an unmedicated birth, but I will:

Ad failed to load

It's Going To Hurt


It's pretty common to be in denial about the inevitable pain. I'm pretty sure I was before I gave birth for the first time. I had this ridiculous secret hope that I would be in that small percentage of women who don't even realize they're in labor until the baby is crowning. Oh, sweet sweet, silly me. Please know that I say this with all the love in my heart: you are f*cking kidding yourself if you think this will happen to you. Being in labor hurts. A lot. However, knowing is half the battle, or something like that.

You May Question Your Sanity For Going Unmedicated, At Some Point. Maybe Even At Multiple Points.


I happen to be the incredibly lucky type who has fast labors. My first baby was just under six hours, start to finish. My second was about six hours of prodromal labor, but the active labor (when contractions are at regular intervals, less than five minutes apart) was less than three hours. All of that said, when it came time to push, I was wondering what the hell I had been thinking, going medication-free. I don't know if I would have lasted for 12 hours.

Did I Mention That It's Really Going To Hurt?


I can't overstate this. Labor and delivery are a type of pain like no other. The great thing about the pain is that it's productive pain (I mean, you're producing a baby with this pain, so there's a reason for it, and an end in sight), rather than suffering, which is pain without any reason.

Ad failed to load

Low, Wordless "Toning" Actually Helps, Even If It Feels Dumb


I remember before my first birth, I swore I wouldn't do any of that chanting or moaning or grunting. I had a doula, who was a dear friend and I trusted her, but when she mentioned the whole toning thing, I inwardly rolled my eyes. Well, it didn't take long before I was willing to try anything to help ease the pain, so I finally swallowed my pride and gave it a shot. It worked. Don't ask me how or why, but it worked.

You May Start To Panic When The Pain Gets Bad


You will have moments when you don't know how to go on, usually when the pain has passed the point of overwhelming, and you'll probably start freaking out. Unfortunately, panicking can actually make the pain worse, so make sure you have someone who can look you in the eyes and bring you down. Focusing on your breathing and on slowing it down can really help.

Screaming Makes The Pain Worse


I needed to be reminded of this fact both times. I'm not talking about when you're finally pushing, I'm talking about during contractions. Apparently that high pitched scream, which we usually associate with pain, fear, and panic, actually tenses you up and makes dilation more difficult to achieve. Let's be real–who wants the baby in any longer, at this point?

Ad failed to load

The Pain May Be Bad, But It Will Eventually Be Over


The one thing that stuck with me during my unmedicated births, that I learned during prenatal classes, was the difference between pain with a goal or meaning, and suffering. If you can remind yourself that this pain may be awful, but it will end, it can help you push through it.

If You Need To Be Stitched Up, It'll Hurt


The women who talk about not feeling it when they were stitched up are (usually) women who had epidurals. If you are going medication-free, then you will need numbing creams and a few needles to freeze the area before stitching can happen. And, even then, it will probably still hurt. It certainly did for me.

If You Have Back Labor, Going Unmedicated Is Pretty Awful


Sorry, but it's true. Back labor, for those who don't know, is when the baby is facing out instead of toward your spine, which slows labor and pulls the contractions into the back. It also causes longer contractions with fewer rests in between. It f*cking sucks on the best of days (as if there's a "best day" to have back labor), but when you are unmedicated, it's brutal. In fact, had my first labor lasted any longer, my midwife was planning on recommending an epidural for me.

Ad failed to load

You Can Absolutely, Positively, Do It


OK, have I scared you yet? Honestly, if I were to do it all over again and for a third time, I would still go without medication. With the exception of complicated deliveries, or ones that require an intervention, this is kind of what giving birth to a baby is all about. You may be afraid you can't handle it, but none of us would be here if women couldn't handle giving birth.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

13 Unique (& Totally Not Mainstream) Mother's Day Gifts For The Hipster Mom

Hipsters thrive on being outside the norm and not really digging anything considered "mainstream." Whether it's in their fashion, what music they listen to, the books they read, or how they enjoy beverages, there's just something that makes them dist…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills