A couple of weeks ago I told the story of Baby Woww’s drug-free birth. As I was getting prepared for labor, I searched for blogs and stories from women who had gone all the way with no drugs. There are lots of great stories out there, but not too many practical tips and clickable links for natural childbirth that weren’t associated with signing up for a class. I didn’t have time for that!
Here’s what I did to get prepared, and I would recommend these things to anyone trying to do a labor with no drugs. Even if you decide to have pain interventions (no shame in that–I did the first time around!), these techniques can still help.
Read Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan. This book has relaxation strategies and breathing exercises that I used practically the whole time in labor (unlike the random techniques from the catch-all hospital birthing class we did with K-Pants). Mongan’s big focus is bringing you out of the fear-stress-pain cycle and getting your endorphins up. Sounds good, right?
I really liked her affirmations and deep breathing techniques. She tries to get you to sign up for hypnobirthing classes the whole time, but if you waited too long like I did, you’ll still find the book on its own really helpful. For more info on hypnobirthing, try these sites:
Read hypnobirthing, hypnobabies, and natural birth blogs. Reading other women’s experiences with drug-free childbirth gave me confidence that I didn’t have to be an Amazon woman or a yogi to do it. My nurse said to me as I was going through contractions, “You must have a really high pain threshold.” My husband can attest that this is not the case. (Stubbed toe? Illness? I’m the one complaining the loudest.) So I loved hearing other people’s stories as an affirmation that real women who aren’t superhuman can have kids with no drugs.
I especially liked the Enjoy Birth blog, and its author Sheridan has a free downloadable book and newsletter.
Download relaxation audio. I liked hypnotist Andrew Johnson’s pregnancy and pain relief apps that I got from iTunes. I used them at night before I went to bed, and then alternated them with the hypnobirthing techniques during labor. Andrew has a lovely Scottish accent that adds to the appeal. I also downloaded Pacific Ocean wave sounds because the beach is my favorite place. (Bonus: the wave sounds are great as white noise for Baby Woww.)
Use a good midwife or supportive practitioner. After we moved from the Bronx, I happened upon a great OB/GYN practice that has a group of midwives who practice alongside them. I had a midwife for my care with Baby Woww, and it was wonderful! My midwife for labor (YES, it was the milkshake midwife) was great at suggesting different positions and even getting me into the jacuzzi. Since I was trying to go without drugs, the midwife allowed me to eat breakfast and lunch before my intense labor phase started. Having food and water was soooo helpful! This girl needs to eat!
In Oregon? You might try looking for a midwife through the Oregon Midwifery site.
Think about getting a doula. You certainly don’t need a doula–someone whose job is to support you through labor–but they can be really wonderful. My husband and I used a doula with our first baby because we figured neither one of us had done this before, and we wanted someone around who had. The second time we felt more confident and didn’t use a doula. If you are in Oregon, the Oregon Midwifery website has a doulas section.
Work consciously on your fears. I don’t know about you, but I was afraid before labor. Labor is completely unpredictable and hard to fathom. It would be much easier if a stork actually did bring your baby. Marie Mongan talks about fear quite a bit in Hypnobirthing. I also talked with my midwives, my husband, and worked a lot of visualizations of a positive birth experience into my nighttime relaxation time.
Treat your preparation for labor like training for a marathon. With K-Pants, I felt like birth was pretty much just what happened at the end of pregnancy. I thought that my healthy lifestyle and positive attitude would be all that I needed. Well lifestyle and attitude aren’t enough to get you ready for 26.2 miles, and they probably won’t do it for birth either.
I needed to actually do some training. Nighttime before bed was my chance to practice different techniques and visualizations. This practice time allowed me to actually remember the techniques I was comfortable with during labor. (I pretty much forgot all the information on my handouts when I was in labor with K-Pants!)
Good luck, moms! May God/The Force/The Universe be with you!
Experienced moms, please share techniques that have helped calm and soothe you in labor! Your birth definitely didn’t have to be drug-free to be a positive experience. What worked for you? What blogs and material have you found helpful?