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.
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.
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.
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?