The Labor Advice that Helped Me Have An Unmedicated Natural Birth
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably thinking about going through unmedicated labor and birth, or perhaps, you just want to know what it would be like to do so.
Let me just say, every birthing story (no matter whether it was a c-section, vaginal birth and/or unmedicated) is nothing short of a miracle. The fact that you get to finally hold your baby is what matters the most. So no matter how the little one comes into the world, be proud and cherish those precious moments.
My decision to give birth naturally and medication-free came from a place of wanting to know what it’s like to labor. Call me crazy, but there was really no other reason why I decided to do this.
I mean, sure, I had read that it’s better to try to go unmedicated to reduce your risk of tearing amongst a couple of other “benefits”. And of course, it’s a bonus to be able to get up and shower straight away (that first much-needed postpartum shower!).
But all of that wasn’t a big deal to me. It’s nothing to do with wanting to brag or say I did it naturally (I mean, who really cares?). But I was doing it for me. I wanted to know what labor pain feels like all the way till the moment my baby is in my arms.
So today, I’m going to share my story. It’s not gorry or disgusting (at least, not really), and it’s really just about what I did differently the second time around.
When I had my first baby, I ended up screaming for an epidural. But with my second baby, I went through it all epidural-free.
The funny thing is that I only did one thing differently during my second time going through labor. But that one thing really really really helped me have the unmedicated birth I always wanted!
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The Labor Advice that Helped Me Have An Unmedicated Natural Birth
My first labor experience
Finally, the big day had come. I was scheduled for an induction (one that I wish I could avoid) on a Monday night. They started the Pitocin drip at 8 PM and I was ready to use all my natural birth relief strategies straight away.
When I started feeling the tightening sensations (extremely tolerable at that point), I sat on the birthing ball and bounced up and down.
I was already taking long deep breaths in and out, just as I had learned to do from this book (which I read from cover to cover).
I was expecting the worst and even though I was in the early stages of labor, I kept using every single pain relieving tactic that I could think of, as though my life depended on it.
My mind was already ahead of my body (too soon) – I was too anxious about the unknown.
I remember being so desperate to give birth naturally and medication-free that I was anxious to do everything “right”.
The One Labor Advice I Forgot About
In the book Birth Skills by Juju Sundin, I read various ways of distracting myself and focusing my breathing. I also learned many different laboring positions (including ones I could do with my husband’s help).
There were so many things I could try but I forgot one major labor advice that was mentioned in the book.
And that was, to conserve my energy.
That simple advice was completely forgotten as I was already way ahead of myself.
Juju Sundin advises that you should really just be doing almost nothing (even resting in bed or taking a nap) during the early laboring phase.
She goes on to explain that the best way to make use of all her pain-relieving strategies is to use them when you really need to.
When the pain starts to become intolerable – that’s when you should start focusing your breathing, utilizing various laboring positions, vocalization and other strategies.
There are two reasons why you should delay using all of your amazing laboring techniques.
The first reason is that you’ll exhaust yourself before you even start the active phase of labor. Laboring is a journey. It takes time – for some, it’s extremely long.
And the second reason is that you will have “finished” all your pain management techniques by the time you actually need to use it. In other words, it’s most effective when you’re putting it to practice at the right time.
What I did differently with my second labor
When it came time to go to the hospital to birth my second baby, I was in a completely different state of mind. I didn’t over-plan, I didn’t make any fuss. I didn’t even write a birth plan (a far cry from my meticulous birth plan for my first labor).
Birthing plans are great because they help guide what you want to happen. But this time around, I wanted to let it be. I wanted to surrender to the experience and save myself from having to think about the pressures of laboring un-medicated.
In fact, I remember telling my husband that even though I would love to be able to experience an un-medicated birth, I’m okay with whatever happens.
So the thing that I did differently was that I relaxed. I stopped over-thinking everything and I took it slowly throughout the majority of the labor. Until it was time to use the pain-relieving strategies I had learned beforehand.
When it came time to ride the intense contractions, I was using one strategy after the other until the pain became extremely unbearable. At that point, I was 10cm dilated and ready to push.
It was a labor experience I would never forget. The emotions, the tears, the sheer joy of seeing our second-born for the first time.
Tips for taking it slow
Now, this is obviously my experience of what worked for me. But if you decide to try taking it slow for the most part of your labor process, you might be wondering what to do during the early phase of labor. Well, the best thing to do is really – nothing!
If you are like me and you tend to get anxious, be sure to write up a list of ideas for what you can do during this uneventful time. As long as you make sure it’s nothing that will use up all your energy or your main pain-relieving strategies.
Here are some ideas you can try:
- Delay your trip to the hospital or birthing place unless you live too far away from it or you know the traffic will be unfavorable.
- Enjoy small snacks and have sips of water
- Take a walk around the house or hospital (if you’re there).
- Take a nap or just rest in bed.
- Do some reading, coloring, drawing and whatever else you enjoy doing.
- Watch a movie on your laptop or iPad if you have one.
- Call someone and talk about something unrelated to labor.
- Dream and plan what you will do when the baby arrives.
And that’s a wrap!
Well, I hope you found these tips useful. Remember, that labor and birth are unique to you. Your story is unique. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
No matter how you birth your baby, remember, you got this, mama.