Is a natural birth as painful as women have said? Is it euphoric like other women have said? What’s the truth and what techniques are there to get through without medication?
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I’m going to start by being very straightforward with you, I don’t know the perfect answer. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say, no one knows the perfect answer. That’s the trick…you won’t really know what is best for you until you go through birth yourself.
This is why so many women choose the “safest” route they believe is possible for birthing their baby, which in America is commonly in a hospital. But did you know that studies show that there can be more complications in hospital births than planned home births?
I won’t go into where it is best to give birth to your baby, that’s your choice as parents and the mother of your children, but what I will try and help you understand more clearly is that you need not fear a natural or unmedicated birth wherever you choose to be when your baby makes their debut.
I gave birth at home, vaginally, after 16 hours of labor, with a certified midwife and doula present. That was my safe space. But guess what? It wasn’t pain-free.
I felt pain during labor. Some women describe their labor as pleasant, relaxing and even orgasmic, but it wasn’t quite that enjoyable for me. I was vomiting and I had a bad case of diarrhea a few times, I had been sick with a cold the previous two days, our baby was facing the wrong way giving me cluster contractions and back labor, and it was in the middle of a much needed night’s rest that I was in delivering her.
RELATED: Our Home Birth Story.
But, it’s ok to feel pain or what some in the natural birth community call “pressure”. Because that is how your body is communicating with you!
Though it was hard in the moment and hard to think about the following days after birth, it is SO worth it when you get to push down your baby and FEEL them and remember that after birth. To move about and touch the baby’s head as it’s crowning to motivate yourself and ignite this power you never knew you had before. That moment of feeling your baby coming from your womb is amazing. I’d much rather feel the pressure, nausea, and the pain of my body opening up to let baby through and for me to move about while doing so than be strapped to a fetal monitor and unable to move.
Nothing in my life since has proven as incredible as experiencing an unmedicated natural birth. Because and unmedicated birth was so incredible I’d love to share three tips that were key to my understanding that my “pain” during labor was completely normal:
#1 Ina May Gaskin said so…
“Wherever and however you intend to give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.”
Ina tells it to you straight in her Guide to Childbirth, and as I’ve been reading the book for the second time during my second pregnancy, I’m realizing that she is so clear about what can happen during childbirth and why it is happening, that it helps to diminish the FEAR behind the pain, pressure waves, contractions, opening of your body, etc.
For example, she explains in her book how for some women it is natural to throw up or have loose bowel movements, and even a good sign that the body is “opening” more, loosening up to give birth. So as I was tired and feeling oh so nauseated and sick I remembered this was part of the labor process and was how my body was relaxing and releasing.
There is so much more than this in the book and I could go on and on, but you should truly read it for yourself, especially if you are expecting! It helps unmask any fears and “complications” that go with birthing your child naturally.
RELATED: Chicken Soup to Increase your Milk Supply Post-Birth!!
#2 Hypno-help is incredibly effective.
Because it may not be sunshine and butterflies for you, and you will be trying to focus and zone into your body during labor, I highly recommend buying the Hypnobabies Home Study Course or taking a Hypnobirthing course in person. I did both.
I didn’t plan on doing both, but after I bought the home study course with Hypnobabies, I realized I’m not very good at being committed with the exercises if I only have me to answer to…*shrug*… So I signed up for a Hypnobirthing course with an instructor and it helped me understand so much more! The combination of the two was well worth the money in the end cause you have LOADS of different hypno-tracks to listen to and choose from.
Doing Hypno-training for birth is more than what you might think. It’s not chanting and lighting candles or anything weird like you might see in the movies. It’s training your mind and body to relax no matter what may come during your birthing time.
As I was going through the few hours of pushing it was unbelievable what my mind could do as I was listening to the “pushing” tracks given in the Hypnobabies home study course. I was able to enter a completely different realm of focus, where my mind and body were working as one and nothing could stop me from birthing my baby girl. So empowering, ladies!
#3 Doula, Midwife, and/or Doctor, who knows what’s right and wrong with you and baby giving birth.
Better yet, get all three.
“My experience has also taught me how necessary the midwife’s role is in any given society and how important it is that the profession of midwifery stand on its own–independent of obstetrics but always able to work with obstetricians…” -Ina May Gaskin
It helps to have an experienced professional that you can trust in, who has attended many births before yours, and who can reassure you when everything is alright. Mostly, because they have seen when things haven’t been right with births in the past and have been trained to know the difference. I have yet to meet a midwife or hear of a midwife who would risk a baby’s or a mother’s life just to attend a birth outside a hospital or without medication.
Now, this is just my opinion, but I feel that is the biggest fear parents carry when choosing where to birth. The fear of the unexpected, unplanned and unpredicted physiology of birth and that midwives and doulas don’t know as much as a doctor with technology would know in an emergency situation. But it’s completely opposite, for doctors have been trained for the emergency and not the natural physiology of it all.
“Birth is a normal physiological process. In no field other than midwifery could my partners and I have entered as amateurs, arranged for our own education, and still have managed to safely produce results that far outstripped those of medical professionals in hospitals with the most up-to-date technology.” –Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth Pg 131-132
If you want a natural birth, a midwife is your best bet. With, of course, the back up of a medical OBGYN in case of an emergency such as a prolapsed cord, or anything else that would require a c-section, though rare. If you’d like to know more about what emergencies would constitute a hospital transfer, speak to a certified midwife yourself!
Bonus tip, sometimes the Epidural isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
If you need some further convincing to “go natural” during your next birth, read this article that breaks down the Truth About Epidurals by my favorite natural mama in the blogging world. Did you know it could cause difficulty breastfeeding? Or even lengthen your labor?! Yikes… Give the article a read for some much-needed information for all pregnant mothers out there.
Thanks for reading fellow pregnant mothers, and those just curious about natural birth! I hope it ignites in you a desire to learn more about the capabilities of our bodies and the incredible things we can do if we are told we can do it! Just believe and birth happily!