While I am no birth expert, I have had 2 (almost 3) medicine-free, natural deliveries. (I say almost because after 8.5 hours of pitocin-induced labor, I got an epidural 17 minutes before I delivered my oldest daughter.) It was through lots of reading and researching that I determined that a natural labor and delivery was my “perfect birth”. There are essentially 3 options for labor/ delivery: medicine-free, epidural, or scheduled cesarean section. In no way do I feel a medicine free delivery is the “right” way to have a baby. In fact, I feel it is more important for every woman to do their research and design a birth plan that describes their “perfect birth.” That being said, I have become very proactive in my own deliveries to achieve my “perfect birth”. With each labor and delivery, I have learned a little more that has helped me towards my goal. My labor with my second daughter was only 5 hours with only 1.5 hours of “hard” labor. And the birth of my third daughter was only 3 hours and honestly no real “hard” labor. Each baby came out in only 3 pushes! People always ask me to tell them what I did. I don’t know if it was anything I did but it certainly doesn’t hurt!
If you are considering a medicine-free delivery, here are a few things I do that have helped me acheive my natural births:
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Red Raspberry leaf tea is an herbal tea that has many benefits during pregnancy and postpartum. It is a uterine toner. The uterus is a muscle and this is essentially its workout! I did not drink red raspberry leaf tea during my first pregnancy but did in my second two. I could tell a difference in my contractions. With my second two pregnancies, I really felt every contraction working. Since every contraction was actively helping me dilate, my labors were shorter labors. In the first trimester, it is recommended to drink 1 cup per day, 2 cups per day in the second trimester, and 3+ cups in the third.
Doula / Support Team
Your support team needs to not only be supportive of your choice to deliver naturally but want that choice for you as well. You do not want anyone in the room who will negatively influence you. Imagine wanting to train for a marathon (and labor is a marathon!) and asking a couch potato friend to train with you. More than likely this person will be counterproductive to your goal. Your support team should include your significant other, doctor/midwife, and a doula.
Knowing I wanted a medicine-free labor and delivery and knowing my husband had never assisted anyone during labor, we decided to hire a doula. We realized the role of a doula cannot be replaced! A doula is a woman trained to assist another woman during childbirth. They typically are on call starting at 37 weeks and are ready to assist on a moments notice. While she has knowledge of the medical side of childbirth, she is not there in a medical role and cannot offer any medical assistance. She helps the woman manage her labor and in the event medical interventions are needed, she helps to better explain what is being said and the options a woman has. The way my husband and I view a doula, is that she is the levelheaded person who is thinking clearly! Doula’s vary in price range but a good doula is invaluable! Do your research and find a doula that you feel comfortable with.
People always ask how a chiropractor can help and is it safe. I was skeptical at first,, but then I finally went. Oh my, I never felt better! As soon as you get pregnant your body begins moving to make room for the ever growing baby and eventually the delivery. Things do not always move into an optimal position. Seeing a chiropractor regularly can help the bones stay in the right spot and keep the birth canal open for a speedy delivery. Also, if your baby is breech, the chiropractor can help open the pelvic bones allowing the baby more room to flip head down. I had 2 babies who were breech and both flipped around 34 weeks!
We all know how a baby is born but taking birth classes can help you better understand what is going on. You will understand why labor hurts when it does and things you can do to help alleviate the pain. There are many types of birth classes from comfort measures, Bradly method, Lamaze, and Hypnobirthing. Look at the description of each and see what best fits your needs.
Hide the Clock
Time is the enemy for a woman in labor! The pain can be intense but the fear of how long the pain will last is much worse. If you cover any clocks in the room, you will lose track of time and be able to focus on the contraction at that moment. Before you know it, your baby will be here!
I know it sounds obvious but do your research! Regardless of the type of labor you want, know what it will take to achieve it. There are pros and cons with each one. Knowing why you are choosing that particular labor option will make you more determined to achieve it!
Regardless of which type of labor and delivery you choose, be sure to discuss all of your options and desires with your OB or midwife. Having their support and understanding is important. If you do not feel supported by your provider, you are not obligated to stay with them. You can switch at any time in your pregnancy. Have a birth plan that details all of your wishes for best and worst case scenario. Being happy with your birth, even if it is not exactly as planned, is the most important thing! Then you can just sit back and snuggle the new love of your life!
Disclaimer: This post is not to be used as medical advice. All thoughts are my personal opinions based on my personal research. Please be sure to make your own informed decisions and consult with your physician and/or midwife with questions.