Women seem to fall into one of two categories when it comes to the end of a pregnancy. The two camps are often so vastly different that there doesn’t seem to be much gray area in between the black and white. These two opposing views are that of the natural minded gal who truly desires a medication free birth and that of the give-me-whatever-it-takes to-be-sure-I-don’t-feel-a-thing kinda gal. I have been on both sides of the issue from my first birth to my pending 6th birth and I am here to share some tips on ways to increase your chances of having an all natural, medication-free birth.
First and foremost a woman must know what her desirable birth looks like and why she feels that way. The unfortunate part about birth in this current day and age is that the majority of women are scared. Wait, before you argue with me on this point, talk to a new mom. There is a fear surrounding birth that has been perpetrated for about the last 75 or more years. This seems to have really come about since the invention of medications meant to relieve pain during childbirth and the subsequent thought that those are so essential, no woman should have a baby without them. Ladies, I am here to tell you that may not be accurate. With the addition of each different medication meant to relieve pain during childbirth there have been side effects. From twilight sleep in the early 1900s, to narcotics and epidurals, they all carry a level of risk for mom, and for baby. So if you want to have a medication free birth, here are some things you must know.
1. KNOW THAT YOU CAN DO IT
Guess what, God designed your body. God designed women to have babies. It is as simple as that. For literally thousands and thousands of years women have been giving birth. Many of whom were back to tending the house and working in the field shortly thereafter. Do you know why? Without medications our bodies actually recover more quickly, as do our newborn babies.
2. DON’T ALLOW AN INDUCTION
The drugs given to women to bring on labor such as Pitocin, Oxytocin and Cervidil to name a few are synthetic. That means that though they are designed to mimic the body’s natural hormones that bring about labor, they are not natural and they bring about contractions that are significantly stronger, faster, and more unbearable than a woman feels if she goes into labor on her own. Many women do not even realize that they have the option of refusing an induction. Though there does seem to be a swing in the other direction, for a number of years inductions were studied as they were on the rise. Lets face it, the scheduling of birth and delivery is much easier for both mom and doctor than random middle of the night labor. However, when hospitals began seeing an increase of over 40% + inductions there were some studies that came out and actually did show that many of the inductions were more of an elective nature than a seriously necessitated one. (article here) What that means for a mom with a natural bent is that you SHOULD NOT ALLOW AN INDUCTION.
Do some research mama, those dates are not exact and your baby will be born when he or she is good and ready. It took me years to realize this one, and 3 waaaay to early inductions to figure out that I was making poor choices by allowing them. My subsequent children have all been born without synthetic hospital inductions, there are a few herbal supplements designed to help a woman in labor, I do use and recommend those but they do not bring about labor (trust me as a mom who has gone over 40 weeks with babies #4 and #5).
3. HIRE A DOULA
Unless you are totally crunchy and old school like this girl here who loves and touts homebirth for normal healthy pregnancies you will be in a hospital setting. Look into the service of a doula. They are worth their weight in gold and if you cannot afford one get a hold of the certification agency DONA and ask if there is one in training who needs to attend births for her certification, you just might be able to score one for little to nothing out of pocket this way. What in the world is a doula anyway?
“The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.” -DONA international
In short, imagine if you had someone you felt extremely comfortable with whose sole goal while you were laboring was to serve you. Almost a handmaiden of sorts, she would use therapeutic touch (sometimes pressure on lower back during a contraction) she would help your partner with suggestions to calm and soothe you, she would help make sure your birth plan was followed, she would wipe your sweaty forehead with a cool cloth, I’m telling you it's like being a celebrity in the birthing room. SO WORTH IT especially if you are seeking a natural birth. The two best things that mine does for me is ease the pain in my lower back during contractions and gently get in my face when I need to be reminded to breathe through a difficult contraction, sounds simple enough but without that I may well be a squawking banshee.
4. TALK TO YOUR DOC
Seriously talk to your doc. Find out what his or her stance is from the get go. There are some doctors who insist that women need pain meds, if you want a natural experience, this is not the doc for you. When you are in the heat of a rough peaking contraction you are VERY susceptible to someone telling you that you NEED pain medications to calm you so you can have your baby…don’t buy it.
5. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE
This may be the hardest one yet because for some reason when the subject of birth comes up every woman is passionate about her own story, and often wants to share about the 30 hour long labor, the horrible episiotomy, the excruciating pain, etc. Leave those conversations immediately because often what we expect is what we get. Instead surround yourself with women who have had positive, natural births. If you don’t know anyone personally there are a ton of groups on facebook and other social media sites with the sole purpose of answering questions and offering support to mothers wanting a natural birth. Seek those out and jump in with your questions. Watch the documentary, The business of being born and read positive birth stories. They are out there. I personally had 3 less than desirable births before hitting my stride and learning enough to realize that natural birth, whether in the hospital or home setting, is far superior and allows mom and baby to recover so much more quickly than medicated birth.
There you have it mama. It can be done, it is worth it, you will be on a high that no drug could ever give you and you will be empowered. If natural birth is what you seek, go for it and know that you can do this.