Committing to an unmedicated birth is as frightening a decision as it is an empowering one. If this is your first pregnancy or you've never experienced an unmedicated birth before, you're likely doing your best to prepare and research the most effective strategies for getting through an unmedicated birth so that you can be as ready as possible once you go into labor.
I know the feeling: you're scared, but committed to doing things as "naturally" as possible. Luckily, your body knows what its doing when it comes to growing and birthing a human, and if you have a risk-free pregnancy, chances are pretty good that you'll have a smooth labor and won't need any medical interventions. Although there's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting medications, for some moms the thought of a natural birth is exciting and seems like the best way to let nature do it's thing.
There are many strategies to getting through the pain of labor. Most of them emphasize using positioning, deep breathing, and other non-invasive pain management techniques. Whatever method you think will be most effective, it's best to read up on more than one, so that you're well-versed in the common techniques when your big day comes.
Some moms choose to attend birthing classes, which usually discuss one or more of the common "birthing methods," others decide to read up on effect techniques separately and piece them together to make a method unique to them. However you decide to go about it, knowing the most common birthing methods and separate techniques for managing pain will help you decide what's best for you.
1. The Alexander Technique
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA) the Alexander Technique can be used for a variety of issues to release muscle tension and increase breathing capacity to allow your body to have the "proper posture" to give birth. Although it's not exclusively a childbirth method, according to the Alexander Technique website, it can be used to heighten relaxation and increase ability to breathe deeply, both incredibly important skills for a natural labor.
2. The Bradley Method
One of the most well-known birthing methods, the Bradley Method also utilizes relaxation techniques, healthy nutrition, and the involvement of a birth coach or partner, according to the aforementioned APA article. Typically, the Bradley Method is taught in classes at most hospitals or birthing centers, and will teach you the best labor positions to ease pain as well as how to best be in tune with your body and know what it needs to give birth smoothly.
According to the Bradley Method website, the classes typically run for 12 weeks during your pregnancy and will equip you with necessary skills to give birth naturally.
3. The Lamaze Method
The Lamaze Method is another popular birthing technique that relies on deep breathing, massage, and distraction to help mothers get through pain during contractions. According to Baby Center, the goal of the Lamaze Method, is to increase a woman's confidence during labor by learning a variety of "coping strategies" to use as they progress through labor.
4. Water Birth
In addition to the standard "methods," there are other techniques that many moms find useful during a natural labor. Water births, according to the APA, are one of the most common. The organization noted that the method promotes relaxation, lessens body weight, and can help a mother stay calm and more comfortable during labor. Furthermore, many argue that since baby is already surrounded by liquid the transition from uterus to a warm water bath is more smooth for both baby and mother.
Meditation, or hypnobirthing, is an excellent strategy to use in conjunction with your other relaxation techniques. According to Parents, women trained in "self-hypnosis" were more relaxed, had fewer contractions, and shorter hospital stays than other women.
6. Deep Breathing And Visualization
Since almost every birthing method will rely heavily on deep breathing, it's worth researching on it's own, even if you don't take a childbirth class. Deep breathing, or patterned breathing, not only provides your body with more oxygen and energy, but distracts your mind, keeps your body relaxed, and promotes a smooth progression of labor, according to the APA.
7. Massage, Touch, And Positioning
Along with the other techniques mentioned above, massage and intentional touch from either your birthing coach, midwife, or partner will be hugely beneficial. Fit Pregnancy noted that massage wherever you feel your body needs it will help you relax and can take away a lot of pressure or pain that you're experiencing. Massage is particularly effective for back labor, as certain pressure points can be kneaded to relieve tension, according to Baby Center.