Something that won't be news to moms considering birthing without drugs, but is apparently shocking to everyone else: some of us are just as afraid of having a needle in our spine as other people are of labor pain. For some of us, optional medical interventions are scarier than the thought of birthing without them. We are the minority on this, though, so memorizing some necessary mantras for birthing without drugs can be super helpful as you go through pregnancy and into labor.
As a first time bio-mom who decided to birth with midwives and without medication, I know firsthand both how challenging and rewarding it can be to birth the way you want. Of course not everything is in your hands— unforeseen circumstances and emergencies do arise sometimes — but birthing without drugs is entirely possible for many people, including first-time moms. It requires physical and especially mental preparation, since (legitimate medical possibilities aside)the biggest hurdle you’re likely to encounter is overcoming a lifetime of cultural conditioning that teaches people to be afraid of giving birth. Chances are, you'll also be surrounded by people who were socialized to believe the same things you're now trying to unlearn, so it's infinitely more difficult to unlearn what has been engrained in not only you, but those around you, while simultaneously going through the physical act of labor and delivery.
For all the flack and often unfair assumptions out there about moms who choose an unmedicated birth plan, in my experience there is no shortage of people who either have had medicated births, people who want them in the future, or men who should just STFU in general, who have no qualms whatsoever telling parents like us why our choice is silly, misguided, or wrong. So aside from learning all you can about what "normal" birth is really like, if you want the best possible shot at a med-free birth, choose your care provider wisely, and find ways to protect yourself, mentally and emotionally, from people who are going to try to talk or scare you out of our choice. Doulas and well-informed, well-prepared birth partners are super useful on this front, both before and during labor. The following little mantras can help, too.
“My Birth, My Business”
I purposely stopped telling most people my birth plan because I didn't want to deal with their bullsh*t assumptions, projection, and drama. At any rate, whether you tell everyone, a few people, or no one at all; remember that your birth is your business. You don't need to do anything for anyone else’s reasons, and you don't need to justify or explain yourself.
“Other People’s Horror Stories Aren't Part Of My Birth Plan”
For some reason, people think it's OK to scare pregnant women with their own or other people's traumatic experiences. Yeah, you don't need to listen to people who want to freak you out in order to be prepared to birth, or to make the necessary adjustments to your birth plan if genuine complications arise (or even if you just change your mind, which is 100 percent OK).
Real talk: You're smart, competent, and thoughtful enough to make the right choices for yourself, and as a rational adult, you're already aware that your birth plan might need to change in an actual emergency. You don't need to endure other people’s bullying disguised as “trying to make sure you're being realistic” or “helping you get prepared for what could happen.” Tell them to keep their patronizing nonsense to themselves.
"No Needles Near My Spine And I’ll Be Just Fine”
If you're like me and think needles are scary, feel free to repeat this to anyone who thinks shoving information about epidurals at you is somehow being “empowering” or “supportive” despite all your protestations to the contrary.
“My Mind Is As Open As My Body”
Your body is capable of birthing, and your mind is capable of changing. You're prepared to do what you gotta do, no matter what that ultimately means.
“I Got This”
Cause you rock. See also: #4.
“My Ball Keeps Me On The Ball”
Because it's true. Bouncing, rolling, even laying across a giant ball is surprisingly helpful. Exercise balls that help you work out, labor, and bounce your newborn to sleep are a mama's best friend.
“No Risk, No Rush”
Unless you or your baby are in imminent danger, there's no need to rush your baby out. Repeat it to yourself when you feel like you've been pregnant for eight forevers, before talking to any providers who might want to induce without a good reason, or to anybody else who's running out of patience and trying yours.
“All I Need Is Love (And Snacks)”
Oxytocin is so powerful. Surrounding yourself with love and affection while you labor keeps it rushing, which keeps your labor moving along. Also? This is a super grueling physical event, so your body needs fuel to keep it up. Having someone nearby to give you hugs and kisses, and lots of easy-to-eat snacks, is super clutch when you're laboring med-free.
“Give Dance A Chance”
Dancing in labor is a thing, because it's awesome. Dancing, and good music, keeps you loose, keeps you happy, and keeps that baby moving down and out. It's worth a try.
“Warm Tubs And Back Rubs”
More comfort measures to remember, because going med-free in labor doesn't necessarily mean suffering. There are lots of ways to feel your best so you can keep working to get that baby out.
“Yes, I Can”
Because it's true. Say it to anybody who doubts you, even if that person is you sometimes.