When I was about 20 weeks pregnant with my daughter, I started toying with the idea of having a natural, unmedicated birth. It was intriguing to me and the more research I did, the more it made sense for me to have one. An interestingly enough, the more research I did, the less scared I became because it was no longer the “unknown!” At about 25 weeks, I made the big switch from my OBGYN to a midwife, and made a birth plan to deliver in a birth center instead of a hospital. It was a smooth transition, and my midwives at Better Birth welcomed me with open arms even though I was halfway into my pregnancy.
I thought I was prepared for an unmedicated birth. But how could I have been? I had a very unhealthy couch-pregnancy, so my body was very weak. I delivered safely and I am proud of what I did, but I know I could’ve done so much better by following a few tips that I’d read, and some that I came to know by experience. I want to share these with any of you that are considering have an unmedicated birth. It’s hard, but it’s beautiful. And it changes you in ways I can’t really describe. I always say, “If I can do it, ANYONE can do it.” I came into it not very prepared, in every way, and I still did it. I can only imagine how much better of an experience it could’ve been had I prepared the way I should’ve always done. I hope that by sharing these tips, it will help better prepare some of you for the best experience ever!
1. Do your research.
Knowledge is power. Knowing what you’re preparing for can eliminate any fear and worry. I watched a lot of live birth videos on YouTube and that honestly helped the most. I also read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and that was such a good resource. Read, read, read!
2. Practice Hypnobirthing.
This is something I didn’t do before but really wish I had. It’s a form of meditation that is meant to keep you calm and focused during labor and delivery. This is something you practice throughout your pregnancy. You really have to train yourself in this method! You can go to classes to learn about this or even download a course. Something worth looking into because I know people that swear by this method.
3. Practice having a positive mindset.
I didn’t practice hypnobirthing but I did practice having a really positive mindset and that worked WONDERS for me during labor. I know it seems like such a simple thing, but being able to depend on yourself and a good attitude during a really, really hard experience makes a massive difference.
4. Use essential oils.
I know this sounds super hippie (natural childbirth is pretty hippie so we might as well dig in), but I swear by Grapefruit essential oil for intense situations such as labor. It is invigorating, calming, and so refreshing. The moment my midwife turned on the diffuser with the essential oil, I felt so much energy and it changed the atmosphere for me.
5. Hire a doula.
I didn’t hire a doula and this was perhaps my biggest regret. My husband was my doula and while he was absolutely AMAZING, it was just too much for him to be both a physical support and an emotional support. It takes a LOT from your significant other
and we both could’ve benefitted from a specific person to help with counter-pressure and positive motivation. Doula’s are so great to help move things along as well by recommending labor positions and movements, so my labor could’ve potentially been shorter by having someone very knowledgeable about labor there to coach me.
Exercise. Move. Especially during your pregnancy. Activity while you’re pregnant is supposedly helpful to labor and helps it move faster. And TRUST ME. You want it to move as fast as possible. Go on walks, jogs when you’re early on, and do basic, simple exercises. Movement during labor is extremely helpful too when you’re trying to progress your labor.
7. Fuel your body.
Give your body what it REALLY needs. Not what you want. Splurge little. Eat healthy often. Get the salad instead of the burger. Don’t think of it as dieting, just providing you and your baby with the nutrients you need. You need strength during your pregnancy and during labor, and healthy food will give you that strength. I ate extremely unhealthy during my pregnancy and by the time I was ready to deliver, I felt it. I reallllly felt it and I regretted all of the ice cream and fries. It wasn’t worth it in the end! Oh and water. Drink that like your life depends on it. (Because it does.)
8. Invite your power people.
When I was preparing my birth plan, I planned to only have Alonso there. I wanted it to be a special, spiritual experience with just the two of us. And I definitely had that! But a big part of me wishes I would’ve invited people that give me power. That motivate me. My mom and mother-in-law are those people and it would’ve been so helpful to have them there, too!
Sleep when you’re in labor! (I know, I know. Sounds like a joke. And it kind of is.) Sleep and rest as much as you can because chances are, you’re in for a long day or night and sleep will give you the energy you need to get through it.
10. Take hot baths.
I had heard that hot baths are the midwife’s epidural. And I can totally vouch for that! During my early stages of labor, I labored in a hot bath and it took away the pain almost completely. It was magical and so relieving. I can’t imagine laboring without it!
Good luck to you mamas out there preparing for a natural birth. It is an incredibly rewarding experience and not just because you get your sweet baby by going through it. It can change you and strengthen you and give you confidence. And for ALL mamas, regardless how you delivered, you are a rockstar. Childbirth, in any sense, is something worth celebrating and you should know how powerful and amazing you are by going through it. It’s requires so much more than an endurance for pain. It requires courage and a kind of strength that no one can understand unless you’ve given birth yourself. Be proud of it. Be proud of yourself. You are amazing.
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