Gearing up to bring a new baby home is exciting, but no matter how many of them I have there’s always that momentary freakout when I remember…I have to go through labor and delivery before I meet this sweet child face to face. I *prefer* natural, unmedicated birth (NCB), but I think I have to re-brainwash myself each time to forego the standard, “WHERE’S MY EPIDURAL?!” question most women ask sometime during labor and delivery, whether they get one or not. I’ve had one medicated birth with pitocin – 6hrs; one unmedicated, no pitocin – 3hrs; and, one unmedicated with pitocin – 3hrs (yes, you can be induced and make it through with no epi).
Thinking about all of this reminded me of some NCB tips I wrote up for a friend when she was preparing for her labor day. She said that the tips proved helpful and so I saved them. Here they are; Maybe they’ll be helpful to you, too…
- Relax – As you feel a contraction coming, relax your muscles, bones, and mind entirely and envision ocean waves splashing your body. Something about the calming effect of the Ocean is nicer to think about than what’s actually going on.
- Massage – During all three of my labors, I apply some counter pressure of the area that felt affected (stomach or back, depending on what kind of labor you’re having).
- Counting – During my last labor, I somehow got the idea to start counting to 30 during each contraction. The contraction was “building up” for 1-15 and “descending” for 15-30. I vaguely remember hearing that contractions are 30 seconds long which is where the idea came from. I would just look forward to getting to 15 knowing that 16-30 were going to be down-hill.
- Ask Questions – I ask lots of questions during labor. Things I want to know “what’s that tool?” “what are you going to do now?” “when are you going to turn the pitocin up?” “how dilated am I now?” “how is it looking?” “what are you doing with that?” I think building a dialogue with your nurse is helpful as well and will make you feel at ease. Additionally, if you can anticipate anything at all that’s coming, you can relax.
- Don’t be afraid to move. During my first labor I laid flat on my back, rolling from side to side. During my second and third, I moved around a lot more. It helped SO much. Thing about if you have a stomach ache and need to walk around, change positions, change your clothes, all of these things help you get more comfortable in labor, too. Take your socks off…put them on…hair up, hair down, whatever you have to do.
- Know that once you get to transition, you’re almost finished! My friend (who has home births) was told by her midwife that most people beg for the epidural at transition when they are almost finish. It is the hardest part, just know that the contractions don’t get more painful – just closer together.
- Know that IT WILL BE OVER! I kid you not, once the baby is out you’ll most likely go “ahhhhhhhh so much better!!”
- Relax – if you can relax your mind and muscles, you will get through much easier. If you tense up, it may slow things down.
- Don’t be afraid to push. When considering natural childbirth, I thought that it would feel like every one of my bones was breaking as the baby came down. Thankfully, I was wrong. I’ve had two natural childbirths. Pushing relieves the pressure of the contractions and you’ll find the motivation to do so just knowing that you’re that much closer to being done with each push.
- Watch some videos about birth on YouTube. I gained a lot of motivation by knowing that other women have positive NCB experiences. Terms to search for: hypno-birth, water birth, natural childbirth, natural birth, birth, ncb, etc.
When it all comes down to it, you are going through labor and delivery for one reason – to have a sweet, adorable, loveable baby. No matter how he or she gets here – via natural birth with or without pain management or via c-section, you will do a great job!
If you have any tips on labor and delivery, comment below!