My quest for a natural drug-free birth at the hospital

When I became pregnant with our first child in 2013, I knew right from the start that I wanted to have a natural drug-free birth. I was willing to deal with the pain of labor even though I knew that it wouldn’t be easy. Millions of women gave birth long before the invention of drugs and epidurals, and I intended to do the same.  I’m conscious that modern advances in obstetrics have saved the lives of countless mothers and infants over the past century, but it seems to me that the same measures may at times actually be disrupting the natural process. However, if I wanted to go as natural as possible, I wasn’t comfortable of having a home-birth.

Doctors and hospitals don’t expect women to give birth without drugs. I’m here to tell you that not only it is possible, but it can also be a pleasant and positive experience, surrounded by a supportive team!

I’ve gotten several questions about Noa’s birth lately, so let me share some tips I’ve found helpful during my two labors.

 

Natural drug-free Birth 

I’d like to preface by saying that a drug-free birth was the option I chose, and I do not necessarily think that it’s right for every woman. This choice was best for my baby and me (medical issues aside!). Giving birth is such an intimate experience. Every woman needs to research all the options to make the best decisions for their own labor, and birth.

 

Being mentally ready is key!

The pain during labor is real and intense, that’s no secret. I will never judge a woman for deciding to get pain relief of some kind. Labor is a marathon, it’s a physical and mental challenge. I cried, passed out in between contractions, threw up, was freezing cold and then burning hot… I never imagined I could be in such discomfort, but I was ready for it.

My ideal place to give birth: Saint John's Hospital with Doctor Ghozland

My ideal place to give birth: Saint John's Hospital with Doctor Ghozland

Resting between contractions. Pain is temporary... 

Resting between contractions. Pain is temporary... 

Preparation plays an important role. Knowing and expecting the different stages makes a tremendous difference in one’s ability to avoid drugs or not. I don’t think you can go through a drug-free labor thinking “I’ll try and see if I can do it without drugs”. You need to be strong-willed, determined, and most importantly, committed.  100% ready for it.

Learning about the natural process of labor and becoming informed about the risks of induction, pain medications and C-sections will help you make the best decision for you and your baby. Do your own researches so you know what to expect. Fear makes labor harder, so try to work through any fear that you have and use the times that you feel fear as a chance to practice relaxation. I used an Hypnobirth CD and some YouTube “birth visualization videos” at the end of the pregnancy to help mitigate my fears.

Since the birth of my 1st child wasn’t ideal, I was scared to go through the same experience again (it was a drug-free birth, but I wasn’t well prepared and ended up with a 3rd degree tear. I suffered a lot postpartum). Relaxation and meditation helped me beat this fear. Writing down my birth plan made a big difference. The simple fact of sitting down and taking the time to think about everything I desired for the birth helped tremendously. 

First scream! Thank you for everything Doctor Ghozland

First scream! Thank you for everything Doctor Ghozland

Natural Pain Relief

Being against drug options doesn’t mean suffering though labor without any pain relief. My husband and I were prepared to try a variety of natural options.

 

Here are a few very useful things we used:

  • Lighting the room as warm and intimatly as possible. It may sound silly and unimportant, but it helped me a lot to feel at ease and comfortable in the hospital room.
  • Calming music, a good playlist helps a ton. The soothing piano Jazz of Bill Evans worked very well for me!
  • Breathing was my best friend. It calmed my mind and helped me keep control of the situation and of my body. Deep and long abdominal breaths - in through the nose, out through the mouth.
  • Changing positions.
  • Sitting/rocking/bouncing on an exercise ball.
  • Taking a hot shower, aimed at my low-back.
  • Using cold/warm wet wash clothes on my forehead, chest, back when I went through hot/freezing flushes.
  • Staying hydrated, small apple juice boxes allowed me to keep my energy up.
  • Back massages.
  • Counter-pressure on the low back and hips.
  • Focusing on the baby and “opening” my hips and pelvis.
  • Relax and surrender. The more tensed we are, the more painful the contractions will be. Every contraction brings us closer to our baby. I set my mind to accept them rather than fight them.
  • Focusing on the fact that the pain is temporary and that I was about to finally hold my baby in my arms!
  • Good vibes and encouragement! My husband’s good energy gave me more determination and self-confidence to go through this challenging hardship!

4 hours after we arrived at the hospital Noa was born. Doctor Ghozland called me “Speedy Gonzalez”! He looked at my husband and said “She’s so strong!” Ha! 2nd births are usually faster and easier than a 1st, but still, I’ll put that down to my fit pregnancy and birth preparation.

natural drug free birth - family

Women are powerful. After giving birth to my 1st son I felt like a super hero. Then I realized that most women on the planet give birth. You simply don't know how powerful they are until you give birth yourself!

Your turn, what are you tips to going through an easier labor?

 

 

 

 

 

DIY frozen smoothie packs

frozen smoothie packs - pre  made

Let me share with you my secret weapon to avoiding the hassle of making healthy snacks!

Nesting isn’t a myth.  The Baby is coming in the next few days and the fridge is full. It doesn’t mean I’ll want to cook though… Since I want to breastfeed and loose the baby weight quickly, it’s still very important to pay attention to eating well. Nutrients in food support the body’s growth, repair, and wellness. Investing in clean simple ingredients and getting organic foods is a great way to start healing and nourishing my postpartum body.

Clean healthy foods that contain lots of vitamins and minerals naturally!

Clean healthy foods that contain lots of vitamins and minerals naturally!

In our home we make a lot of smoothies. They are a great way to incorporate fruits and veggies into our family’s diet any time of day. They are delicious, and very quick and easy to make. We always try to find clean healthy foods that contain lots of vitamins and minerals naturally. Having a few super foods on hand such as chia seeds, flax seeds and kale, give us the convenience of quickly adding some extra nutrition to our daily diet.

I know that for the next few weeks (years!?) after the birth I’ll be exhausted, too tired resist sugary, fattening snacks, and too lazy to cook healthy meals. That’s why I’m trying to make my life as easy and healthy as possible with some pre-made frozen smoothie packs!

pre-made frozen smoothie packs

pre-made frozen smoothie packs

Instructions:

Simply use ZipLock bags and pre-make your smoothies according to your taste. I usually use 3 types of fruits – ½ cup each and 1 handful of baby kale. Place the individual ZipLock bags in the freezer. Whenever you need, you’ll just have to pour a bag in your blender, and mix with a cup of liquid (coconut water, almond milk, water…). DONE!

I love adding some flax seeds or chia seed to my smoothies. Depending on my mood, I can add a few nuts, dry fruit and granola to make a smoothie bowl.

Here are the recipes I used this time:

smoothie recipe - frozen packs - healthy snacks

Not only are green smoothies super healthy, but they are also tasty! You can experiment with flavors, add super-foods and control the amount of sugar or protein. Sometimes I even put a bit of broccoli! And if you don’t like the green color, just use more berries. You’ll get the benefits of the kale without seeing it.

You can find more healthy tips and recipes here

What about you? What are you DIY kitchen secret weapons?

Drink a rainbow everyday

Drink a rainbow everyday

Homemade Sourdough bread

A Kitchen Blog ~ Boule baked in a Japanese donabe 

A Kitchen Blog ~ Boule baked in a Japanese donabe 

Enjoying my maternity leave in the kitchen!! As a French woman abroad, I missed bread! I missed it so much that I’ve learned to make the best bread ever! It’s not easy and it takes patience and dedication. I think I enjoy the process as much as the taste! Luckily, because the process lasts about 36 hours and the tasting barely reaches 15 minutes according to who eats it with me… “Wait, did you say 36 hours!?” Yes… It’ a whole process. So Let’s be honest, this post is not for busy and slightly (or very!) overwhelmed Moms, it’s only for bread maniacs who have some time to consecrate to make magic happen in the kitchen! And for those, don’t worry, there is a LOT of resting time.

A Kitchen Blog ~ bread dough 

A Kitchen Blog ~ bread dough 

A Kitchen Blog ~ bread dough

A Kitchen Blog ~ bread dough

Here’s the recipe I use. (If you are too busy to experiment in the kitchen, keep the recipe, once retired and duty-free you may want to try it…). I slightly adapted it from a recipe that had been taught to me by Yuko, amazing and talented pastry and bakery maker, owner of the beautiful and delicious Blog A Kitchen Blog (Thanks so much for your help, Yuko!) 

A Kitchen Blog ~ Bon appétit!

A Kitchen Blog ~ Bon appétit!

Ingredients: 

 

Final starter: Scroll down at the bottom of the page to learn how to make your own Mother starter.

12g Mother starter (recipe at the bottom of the page)

60g Bread flour

35g Water

 

290g All-purpose flour

200g Water

7g Salt + 3g Water

 

Directions:

  

1.    In a bowl, mix 290g all-purpose floor and 200g water, cover it with plastic and let it rest for 6 to 12 hours in the fridge (this step is named Autolyse).

2.    At the same time, make your final starter in a small bowl mix 12g mother starter, 60g bread floor and 35g water, cover with plastic and let it rest for 6 to 12 hours at room temperature to activate the final starter very well.

3.    After 6 – 12 hours, add the active starter into the floor + water mixture. Mix by folding the dough in the bowl.

4.    In a tiny glass, mix the salt and water. Let it dilute and then add it to the dough by slapping the dough on the table and folding it. Repeat for 4 minutes.

5.    Bulk fermentation at room temperature. Stretch the dough and fold it 3 times. Let in rest for 30 minutes. Repeat 3 times. You will see, your dough become stronger and it won’t stretch anymore.

6.    Cover and let it rise until the dough starts showing the yeast activity and becomes about a third in size.

It takes about 4 – 6 hours total (the warmer it is, the faster your yeast will react).

7.    Place in the fridge for 12 – 18 hours.

8.    Pull it out of the fridge and leave it out for 1 hour.

9.    Shape your dough by folding the dough. Give it the shape you want (loaf, ball...) and place it onto a floured kitchen towel

10. Let it rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour (according to the temperature - the hotter, the faster).

12. Put the pizza stone (or Japanese Donabe) into the oven and preheat to 500˚F

13. Final formation for about 1 hour (according to the air temperature)

14. Score the top of the dough using a lame or a sharp serrated knife.Place the bread on the pizza stone (or in the Donabe : Very very carefully open the lid (it’s HOT!) and put the bread in the preheated Donabe, replace the lid and slip it back into the oven.) 

15.    Add a large oven pan with some water in it and close the oven (best result if you pour some water on brick blocks sitting on the pan) and shut the door immediately. Turn down the oven to 480˚F, bake the bread for 30 minutes.

16. Turn the heat down to 460°F and bake for 10-15 minutes (without the lid if you use the donabe – once again, be carful it’s very HOT).

17. Once the bread is nicely brown, turn the heat off and remove the bread.  

18. Let it cool onto a rack.

Enjoy!

Make your own sourdough starter!

From Yuko - A Kitchen Blog

Credit : A kitchen Blog

Day 1.

In a mason jar, mix 30g Whole Wheat floor and 30g canned pineapple juice (unsweeted / room temperature) until all the floor is hydrated. Mark the level of the starter with a piece of tape or rubber band. Leave it at room temperature for 24 hours. Stir 2 – 3 times a day.

 

Day 2.

You probable won’t notice much change at this point.

Add 30g Bread flour and 30g pineapple juice and mix until al ingredients are evenly distributed. Mark and cover the container just like Day 1. Let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Stir 2 – 3 times a day.

 

Day 3.

You may notice some activity at this point.

The mixture may have risen and there might be bubbles. Regardless of whether you notice any fermentation or not, discard (or give it to a friend to cultivate!) half of the mixture (in this case 60g), and mix 30g of Bread Flour and 30g of Water (filtered / room temperature) until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Mark and cover as before. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

 

Day 4.

The mixture should have at least doubled in size at this point. It seams to be sluggish and hasn’t doubled in size, allow it to sit at room temperature for another 12 to 24 hours.

Otherwise, repeat instructions for day 3.

 

Day 5.

Feed the starter (repeating day 3 instructions: discard or save it for pancakes or pizza dough!) half of the mixture (in this case 60g), and mix 30g Bread flour and 30g Water (filtered / room temperature). Feed it twice a day about 12 hours apart.

 

Day 6.

If your starter has been very active and always doubles in size (or more) between feedings, then your starter is ready to bake with! Congratulations!

You may also choose to refrigerate your starter at this point and slow down the feedings to every 3 days. If your starter still seems a little sluggish, continue with twice a daily feeding as above.