There's more than one way to give birth, and the only "right way" is whatever works for you, your body, and your baby. In a hospital, at home, in a tub, standing up, with an epidural, without any medication: it's entirely up to you. And while whatever way you give birth is "natural," as long as you're not, like, bringing an alien into the world, more and more woman are wanting to experience a non-medicated, low-intervention birth. If that's you, you might want to listen to advice from women who’ve had “natural” childbirth experiences. After all, they've been there and done that.
I used to think that I would be the sort of mom who would get an epidural right off the bat and as soon as humanly possible. But when I finally found out I was pregnant with my son, I realized that I didn't really need one. I read up on the positives and negatives of medicated versus unmedicated births, and felt that a low-intervention birth was the right way for me, my body, and my baby.
My biggest advice for those wanting to experience labor and delivery sans epidurals, or any other form of medical intervention, is to be flexible and open-minded to your birth plans changing. I also hope that you'd be kind to yourself if they do, in fact, change. Here's what other moms advise you do if you're planning on experiencing a "natural" childbirth:
“My second was a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) with no pain meds. My best piece of advice is yoga breathing. Somehow harnessing how I used my breathing from yoga class centered me during the really painful contractions and the crowning."
“Don't get inside your head. Take deep, slow, controlled breaths and don't tense up your body. Move into whatever position is most comfortable for you and keep moving if you need to.”
“All three of mine were pain-med free. My third (just three weeks ago) was an induction though, if that matters. My biggest pieces of advice are as follows:
1. Don’t fight the pain. Let it come and realize that you have to move through it. It’s not forever.
2. Go into labor and birth with an open mind. Every delivery is different and things can change quickly. I wanted to try for med-free, but I was open to the fact that it might not happen that way. Oddly, for me, knowing that it in my head made it less of a big deal.”
“I used a method called Hypnobirthing, which involved self-hypnosis to eliminate fear. The idea is that fear makes you tense, and tension increases pain. It's basically a type of meditation that you practice and then use while giving birth.”
“I've had three vaginal births without medicine of any kind. My only advice: take a class on childbirth and breathe.”
“Three no-medication deliveries here. My simplest advice is to stay upright as much as possible. Ask if they can hook you up for intermittent monitoring, instead of constant, so you can walk around. If you are stuck near the bed, get up and stand next to it. My second and third labors were 3.5 and 4.5 hours long, and much less painful, because I was standing almost the entire time.”
“Third birth was med-free by surprise. I guess advice for that situation is don’t panic, you can do it.”
“I went natural because I have horrendous reactions to anesthesia of any kind. I wanted to be aware and not puking my guts out after [my daughter] was born. It’s hard. You’ll end up totally naked. Screaming like a feral animal, probably, and the midwife might even offer an enema so you feel less hell no about pushing. I never want to do it again.”
“I’ve had two completely unmedicated births. One at age 29 one at age 33. Biggest advice: use a doula and midwife!”
“Consider your mental health before you decide to go unmedicated. If you've experienced any panic or anxiety issues, if you've experienced any pregnancy or birth-related traumas, consider what you need to do to keep yourself calm. Consider your environment, who will be there, if there is any medication you and your healthcare provider are OK with, and make sure it's handy.”
“I had one epidural (with my son who was stillborn), one completely drug-free, and two with just a small dose of pain meds. My advice is, if you don't feel like you can do it without meds, there is no shame in asking for something to help you.”
"There's a maneuver that our doula taught my husband where you push in and down on the hips from behind. It feels good normally, but during a contraction it cuts the pain a lot. Learn it. Practice it. Use it during labor."
“Trust in your body and breathe. Also, have a good support system present.”
“Just breathe and push through the contractions! And, honestly if you’re blessed to have a quick birth, the stitches will be the worst part.”
“My second was med-free by surprise. [My daughter] came quickly and I was begging for an epidural (had one with my first). I never planned for an epidural-free birth. No Hypnobirthing, no meditation, no calming music in the background... none of that. My only advice is you'll survive, but I wouldn't recommend it, especially if it's for an extended period of time. From first contraction to birth, I only had three hours. However, the recovery was just about immediate. I felt like a million bucks."
“Find a birthing class that makes sense to you. For me it was The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth. I swear by it and made two different partners go through the course with me (different babies).”
“The ‘I can’t do this’ phase means it’s almost over. You can totally do it. Just breathe and take it slow.”
“Your body is capable of incredible things once you get out of the way with your preconceived limits! Do whatever you need to in the moment to get through each contraction, and eventually your body will take over and tell you what it needs.”
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