If you are thinking about having a natural or medication free childbirth, I’m here to offer some help! Or at least I hope I can help. I’m going to share some helpful insights into preparing yourself for a natural labour and delivery. I’ll also be sharing some of my own story and how I experienced two natural childbirths in hospital.
This post isn’t about what it’s like to have an epidural or caesarean because I have no experience with either of those methods. All methods of birth are important and this post is not casting a negative light on other types of birth. I have many friends who are epidural and c section rockstars. Be proud of yourself however you gave birth. You brought a baby into this world with your body and that is a huge accomplishment, however it happened!
Natural childbirth is incredibly painful and I can truthfully say that from experiencing it twice. If it’s something you want to try (I say try because anything can happen in birth. There are so many variables!) it’s vital to prepare for it. Preparing for a natural childbirth is like preparing for a marathon. You have to train your body and mind to be ready. It takes time and effort. You can’t expect to deliver without traditional pain medication if you don’t have a plan on how to deal with the pain of childbirth. (And just to reiterate, I’m not knocking pain medication. I’m simply sharing how to cope with the pain of labour if you do not want medication). Here are some important points to consider and things that aided me in having two fairly quick, natural childbirths.
- Midwives are great advocates for medication free birth. Midwives partner with the hospitals here in Canada and are part of our healthcare system. They provide care during and after pregnancy.
- Doulas are also great advocates for medication free childbirth. Doulas do not have hospital privileges like midwives do. They are hired privately and while they can offer emotional support, they can’t make medical decisions. (at least not here in Canada)
- A resourceful book to read is Ina May Gaskin’s, “Guide To Childbirth”. Ina May is a midwife of over 40 years with profound insight and experience in natural childbirth.
- Natural Pain Management Techniques. I took a class where we learned about rebozo, how to use counter pressure and water therapy for pain relief. If you live in the KW area check out Balancing From Birth To Baby.
- Chiropractic Care. I received regular chiropractic care during both my pregnancies. I credit chiropractic care for putting both my boys in optimal position for optimal labour. Chiropractic sent me into labour with my second son, I have no doubt about that! Here are some great facts on the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy.
- Physical activity. I walked every day during my first pregnancy. I was naturally active during my second as I had a baby (becoming a toddler) to care for. You don’t have to even work out during pregnancy. A simple walk, once a day provides great health benefits and can aid in shorter labour.
- Preparing your uterus and cervix for labour and delivery. I implemented four things to prepare my body for labour and delivery during my 3rd trimester. Evening Primrose Oil can help ripen the cervix. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is known to strengthen the uterus for stronger contractions. Clary Sage Oil has been used to bring on contractions and labour. Please do not use Clary Sage Oil unless you are at least 37 weeks term and/or cleared by a doctor. Also used for cervical ripening is date fruit.
When you are finally in active labour you will want to have techniques to progress labour quickly and ways to manage the pain of contractions. These are 7 things that helped me progress my labour and cope with most painful part of contractions.
- Yoga ball during early labour
- All fours position, rocking back and forth (help move baby into position)
- Low, guttural noises or let some roars out. Do what feels the best.
- Shower water pressure on the lower back
- Straddle the toilet backwards (this can help get baby into position)
- Walking, deep squatting, stair climbing
- Horse Lips (blowing raspberries)
Movement is important when you are in labour. It aids your body in moving the baby deeper into the birth canal. It helps baby adjust himself into optimal position for birth. It helps dilate your cervix. Movement can also help with pain relief. If you listen to your body and do what it says, you will be amazed at what happens!
It took me 45 minutes to push my first son out. He was 6 pounds and 15 ounces. I had a 2nd degree tear with him. It took me 18 minutes to push my second son out. He was 9 pounds and 2 ounces. I barely tore with Jack. Interesting right? I’ve had quite a few people ask me how on earth I vaginally birthed a 9 pound 2 ounce baby as quickly as I did, when I’m a fairly small person. I’m 5’1” and weighed around 145 pounds when pregnant with Jack.
Jack it wasn’t my first rodeo so I had a better idea of what I was doing. Muscle memory! A few things made a huge difference in how efficiently I pushed him out. These things can also help lessen tearing and remove the need for an episiotomy.
- Not screaming (or minimizing screaming as much as possible). I closed my mouth and directed ALL my strength towards pushing.
- Not laying on my back. I started pushing while I was standing. Then I was placed on my left side with my birth team holding my legs.
- My midwife put her fingers exactly where I needed to direct my pushing.
- Warm compresses on the perineum between pushes.
- Holding baby at the entrance to the birth canal, between pushes to help stretch everything (less tearing!)
Having a solid, supportive birth team is very important. Surround yourself with people who support what you want. Don’t have anyone in the room that will cause unnecessary stress. This could cause your labour to stop and cervix to retract. You don’t want that!
My first son was born after 7 hours of active labour. My second son was born after 4 hours of active labour. Giving birth is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I definitely screamed a lot but the pain of childbirth is temporary and it will end. That helped me when I felt like I couldn’t endure another contraction. I was cheered on by my midwives and husband. While the pain was truly intense, I was so proud of myself when both my sons were born!
In conclusion, remember that birth has so many variables. There are more and more stories of birth trauma that I am reading about. I think it’s really important to have realistic expectations instead of setting yourself up for extreme disappointment. It’s ok if nothing goes as planned! That is how birth can go. As much as you prepare for it you also keep an open mind. A healthy mama and healthy baby are what matters most. Cheers to you, mama.
“I don’t care what kind of birth you have…..a home birth, scheduled caesarean, epidural hospital birth, or if you birth alone in the woods next to a baby deer. I care that you had options, that you were supported in your choices and that you were respected.”
What kind of birth did you have? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!