Last week, I polled my Instagram followers. Did you give birth without pain medication? Are you planning to? Tell me why!
The reasons came rolling in, and they were as different and varied as my followers themselves. So let's consider the question:
Why unmedicated birth?
Some choose unmedicated birth (sometimes called natural birth) because they feel it will best connect them with their bodies. They feel confident that their body is powerful and capable, and feel that birthing without pain medication will enable them to best tap into that power.
Others choose unmedicated birth because it helps them feel more in control of their body. Without pain medication, you're able to move around freely and choose the positions you labor and birth in. You aren't restricted to a bed and can walk, dance, sit, stand, kneel, squat, shower, bathe, use the bathroom... In short, you can move as you'd like!
Some want to give birth without pain medication as a way to connect with their ancestors and the generations of people for whom anesthesia wasn't an option.
Many believe that it is safest for them and their babies to avoid interventions in the birth process. Some are grateful for the option of medical intervention in birth when necessary, but want to avoid it--including pain medication--unless it becomes necessary.
Others trust that birth will unfold in the way it is meant to only if the body has the opportunity to orchestrate its own hormonal symphony, without interruption from medication.
For others, unmedicated birth isn't a choice. One follower shared her experience with me:
Went into labor really fast, baby was born 20 minutes after we pulled into the hospital... Spent most of that 20 minutes yelling at the nurse that this was not my birth plan.
This birth experience highlights the emotional strain of having an unmedicated birth without feeling prepared for it. For this mom, the right choice for her second and third births was to birth with pain medication, and those births were peaceful and empowering for her. Others who have had an unmedicated birth that caught them off guard choose to double down in their preparation for future unmedicated births.
Whatever your reason for unmedicated birth, it will go most smoothly if you prepare both your mind and your body for the experience. There are many different approaches to preparing for unmedicated birth, oftentimes adopting a method such as Hypnobirthing or the Bradley Method.
As a doula, I've found that most of my clients prefer a "toolbox" approach. Rather than learning a specific method, they learn about lots of different tools that they can use to be as comfortable as possible and manage pain during labor. These tools range from learning as much as possible about what happens during birth, to deep breathing and meditation, to using a TENS unit, to aromatherapy ... and much more!
After five years of working as a doula specializing in unmedicated birth, I'm adding a comprehensive birth class series to the services I offer. This class is the toolbox. We'll begin by building a deep understanding of labor and birth. (Knowledge is power! ... And it helps provide pain relief.) Then, we'll learn about alllllll of the tools that will help you be confident, calm, and open during your labor. We'll spend a while learning about communication and decision-making, giving you the skills and practice you need to make informed decisions you feel good about and to advocate for yourself in the birth space. We'll finish out the series by exploring the postpartum phase, newborn care, lactation, and building a community of support.
Are you preparing for to birth without pain medication? If you'd like to learn about all of the tools and skills I've honed as a doula over the last five years, come join my Comprehensive 8-Week Childbirth Class.
This class is interactive, engaging, memorable, and ... Dare I say it? ... Fun! Watch for next week's blog post that will give a sneak peek into some of the activities we'll be doing in class.
I hope to see you there!
Hi, I'm Sara. I'm a birth + postpartum doula serving Utah county. I'm a twin mom (plus one!), natural VBACer, and birth lover!