4 things you know if you’re considering giving birth naturally. Tips from a two time natural birth mama who never believed she couldn’t do it.
I am passionate about natural, un-medicated birth. I’ve had two babies naturally, and yes, I do mean without drugs. The biggest struggle I encountered when sharing my natural birth plans was the lack of support. It’s really easy to do research to determine what kind of birth you feel is the best fit for you. But, it’s not so easy to find real support. I had to do a lot of reading, watching videos, and convincing my husband to take a natural childbirth class. Doctors want to make you think your pregnancy and child birth are events that should be highly managed. Their insistence perpetuates a sense, in many women, that they’re incapable of giving birth naturally. I was often met with (hopefully unintentional) undermining comments like “you’ll change your mind when you’re in labor” from friends and family members.
For the purposes of this post, when I mention natural birth, I’m considering natural in the sense that we exclude medical induction, epidural or other pain relieving drugs, or interventions. My aim is to help you get past any doubts in your mind. Whether doubts were placed there, or you’re just a new mom who isn’t sure, I want to change that for you. If you’re truly interested in not taking an epidural during labor and giving birth naturally, I want to help you. Will you let me point you in the right direction?
Why I Chose Natural Childbirth
When I was young, I thought I wouldn’t want to suffer through childbirth. Suffer. Television had a negative effect on my perception of childbirth for as long as I could remember. As I got older, I realized I had a fear of needles that greatly outweighed necessity. I didn’t want to get stitches in my arm that had been sliced open with a box cutter because I didn’t want to get a shot. (There’s no special story there – except those box cutters don’t retract if your thumb doesn’t KNOW to retract).
Years down the road, my fear of needles catapulted me on a journey to learn about natural childbirth. The thought of having a large needle jammed into my back was terrifying. Yes, I know they’re not actually going to stab me maliciously. I also didn’t say my fear of needles was rational.
The more I learned about the benefits of a drug-free birth, the more I began to realize incentive wasn’t simply to escape the big, scary needle. Then, I survived, if you will, two natural childbirths. Being able to convince my husband it was the right move for us was also a huge success story of its own. And, my passion for natural childbirth grew after having each baby. And, though I’m finished having babies, it doesn’t mean I can’t help to inspire and encourage other women, like yourself, to succeed at giving birth naturally.
Talking to a couple, last year about the wife’s plan to birth naturally was an enjoyable experience. My husband and I discussed our experiences, and shared how important his role was in our success. When my husband came home to tell me she did it, I literally got chills. And, rare as it is, I got a little teary-eyed.
Your journey to giving birth naturally
I have two suggestions, and I’m not sure which I consider more important than the other. I believe both of the following resources played equal parts in helping me to understand how inappropriately the medical community treats pregnancy and childbirth.
*Disclaimer: The following includes two affiliate links for the purposes of helping you find my recommendations. If you make a purchase after clicking these links, I will receive a small commission, which helps me to pay to continue hosting this blog.
- Watch videos like The Business of Being Born. I highly recommend this documentary which helps you to understand the cycle of interventions that hospitals use to “manage” labor and childbirth.
- Read books about natural childbirth. My favorite book was The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer. This book thoroughly details the cycle of interventions and really explains how one intervention directly impacts you and/or the baby, which likely causes the next.
- Take a natural birth class. I’ll reiterate this point again in the next part. But, a highly pro-natural childbirth class should educate you and your support person on the reasons why you shouldn’t opt for medical intervention. A really good instructor will tell you what doctors want you to know vs. what is real. And, you should learn some really good tactics for pain management without medication.
Arm yourself with as much information as possible. Education is going play a big part in your success. Not the only part.
People naturally wonder about your birth plans. It’s weird how much people want to know when you’re pregnant. And, I feel like most people ask because they want to give you their horror stories or undermine your decision. Maybe I only feel that way because most people didn’t understand natural childbirth themselves.
Even with all your research and determination, you will need support. I don’t recommend relying on someone who hasn’t experienced a natural birth, or someone who isn’t willing to learn about it.
- Overcome your fear of labor. Speak with others about positive natural birth stories, take a birth class, and have support. Your fears and doubts about your abilities will be self-fulfilled if you don’t conquer them before.
- Take a birth class. Not just any birth class! Find one that is VERY pro-natural birth. The one we took locally was taught by a woman who had 4 natural births but had also been a nurse. She was able to give us the run-down on what the medical community will tell you, and what is real. The most amazing thing to me is that she endured a Pitocin induced labor without the aid of drugs to make it through it.
- Your birth support person. This person is going to get you through your labor. I recommend a doula, especially for first timers. For my first birth, my husband was the main support and my doula helped both of us. The second time around, however, I needed only my husband. He’d been through the natural child birth class and he was strong enough to know that no matter how much I begged for drugs, he wouldn’t let me have them. Not for torture, but because he knew I’d be disappointed in myself when it was over. Additionally, this person needs to be able to talk to doctors on your behalf. You must trust that your support person has been educated and will respect your wishes.
- Let people know how to support you. Share this post to let friends and family know how they should support your birth plan. Of course, telling them what you feel you need is totally acceptable.
Strength and Giving Birth Naturally
Giving birth naturally isn’t all about how strong you are. Your pain tolerance will be tested. Sometime during your labor, you will more than likely begin to question whether or not you can do it without medication.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to remember
- The pain is temporary.
- This is a productive pain.
- Fear drives pain.
[tweetthis]Your labor support person should not “rescue you” from the pains of labor[/tweetthis]
Your support person shouldn’t rescue you from the pains of labor. They are natural. Your body is doing exactly what it’s designed to do … deliver your baby. By tolerating the pain and getting through without drugs, you are allowing your body to do its natural exchange of hormones.
Your support person needs to encourage you. He or she needs to remind you of everything above and continue to express what a wonderful job you’re doing. Your support person should be your strength when you are feeling your weakest.
[tweetthis]Your labor support should be your strength when you feel weakest.[/tweetthis]
Results of Giving Birth Naturally
From my experience, achieving natural childbirth without the aid of drugs was the most empowering thing I’ve ever done for myself. I benefited greatly from this, but I wasn’t the only recipient of the rewards for this great achievement. Aside from the obvious benefits, these are the most notable in my mind:
- Short recovery time. The day after I had my first baby, I was begging to leave the hospital. I would have done the same with the birth of my second, but I wanted to spend the allowable days in the hospital being cared for instead of rushing back to work around a 5 year old and newborn.
- Empowerment. I solidified my belief that women’s bodies are amazing. A woman’s body is made for birth babies! Giving birth naturally in a hospital setting surprised the nurses in both my births. It doesn’t seem to be that common and I believe it’s good for the medical community to see that women are capable. And, it helps me to empower you to believe in yourself and your body.
- A deeper connection with your support person. In my case, I have a much stronger connection with my husband than I’ll ever have with another human being. Plus, I couldn’t imagine entrusting such a special event with anyone but him. He’s been through the only event in my life that I will not have shared with anyone, ever again. It was an intimate (not sexually) event that I believe made us a better team.
I would love for you to share your stories with me. Ask me questions. Comment here or send me a personal message, because natural birth is one of the things I truly enjoy talking about.
I hope, by sharing my stories, I can inspire you to consider natural childbirth for yourself.
Do you have any suggestions?
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