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Hi Mamas! I wrote a post about six weeks ago about GOING NATURAL(AKA…no epidural…). I’m happy to say, it got a LOT of traction! It makes me so giddy to know that there are women who are as passionate as me about having a natural delivery.
I thought to myself, “Hey Liesel, maybe you should GIVE MORE ADVICE on going natural!?”
So that’s what this is. We will call it, GOING NATURAL…PART TWO.
I realized that while my original post IS chocked full of awesome sauce (you can read it here), I wanted to pump you guys up some more with some tid-bits. AND SOME INSPIRATION!
First, I want to get a little personal…and share a secret.
I, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT, was gung-ho, pro-epidural, gimme-the-drugs, I-don’t-wanna-feel-nothing when I first became a labor and delivery nurse.
NO lie. I was afraid of birth. I was afraid of the pain.
I honestly didn’t understand why women didn’t get epidurals! They looked SO much better than the alternative. I mean, WHY would you want to put yourself through that immense amount of pain, when you could make it go away?
And, I think that’s a common thought process! Which is all good. Again, I’m not judging you if you choose (or chose) the epidural route. Probably 70% of my patients receive them and have good outcomes!
Quite honestly, YOU ARE A BEAST if you grow a child, and then give birth to that child, whether that little one comes out of your abdomen or your vagina. And whether it’s a numb-ish vagina or a not-so-numb one. (spoiler alert: epidurals don’t take ALL PAIN away….hence why I said numb-ish)
Can we all agree on that? Great! Moving on..
TID BIT NUMBER ONE: BE CONFIDENT AND HAVE SUPPORT
I had a change of heart after I got pregnant. I started to become much more curious about trying to give birth without getting an epidural. I had seen COUNTLESS women do it…right in front of my eyes. I started to really amp myself up.
I kept thinking, “IF SALLY JO CAN DO IT, THEN I CAN DO IT!”.
I also started analyzing how my natural mamas were coping throughout labor, and when exactly that BREAKING POINT of epidural-land broke through. I realized that many of my patients who were successful in delivering naturally all had two things in common:
CONFIDENCE AND SUPPORT
It takes A WHOLE LOTTA confidence to give birth, whichever way you do it! But, for the sake of this article, I’m going to blatantly say….if you want to go epidural-free, you’ve got be CONFIDENT!!
You’ve got to BELIEVE you’re going to do it. You’ve got to CRUSH those contractions. You’ve got to AMP YOURSELF UP LIKE I DID!
Now for the second thing I noticed…Support.
All of these women had A SUPER SUPPORT TEAM. Whether it be their partners encouraging them, their mothers, their sisters…these women all had someone to back them up (and sometimes it was just me, little ol’ labor nurse!).
So, lesson two, make sure you’ve got someone who knows what you want in terms of pain control, and make sure they BACK YOU UP!
Giving birth is hard (Okay, let’s be honest, PARENTING is hard), you NEED someone who’s on your team. (PS: I’m ALWAYS on your team too!) 😊
*Let me also say, I generally recommend not having too many people in your room. It’s totally up to you, BUT sometimes I notice that once there are more than 2 or 3 helpers, sometimes there are power struggles. Don’t be afraid to tell (insert annoying family member) you don’t want them in the room.*
TID BIT NUMBER TWO: NO FEAR
You’ve also got to get rid of the fear factor.
What is the “fear factor”? It’s exactly what I had BEFORE I amped myself up.
I was TERRIFIED of labor pain. What is it going to be like? What if I can’t do it? What if I pass out or something? WHAT IF I JUST CAN’T DO IT AND I STAY PREGNANT FOREVER???
Labor is PAINFUL AS F*CK, there’s no other way to put it. Fear of this pain, makes labor 100 times worse. Going natural is about realizing that labor is going to be the worst pain you’ve ever experienced in your life, and taking it on LIKE A BOSS.
Accept the pain. Welcome the pain. The pain is your B*TCH.
Get rid of all the “what if’s”, and get rid of the fear. KNOW YOU CAN DO IT.
TID BIT NUMBER THREE: CHOOSE WISELY
That simply means, choose your provider…and your place of delivery wisely. If you’re interested in having an epidural-free birth, the FIRST thing you should do is interview your provider! Ask about some statistics. What is your providers opinion on going epidural-free? How is the success rate of your hospital? You may be surprised when you start asking! (PS: Did you know you can look up your hospital’s C-Section rate on Yelp?)
TID BIT NUMBER FOUR: DO SOME RESEARCH
I mentioned this in my previous article, but I think it’s worth mentioning again! You’ve taken a great first step by simply reading this article, because you’re DOING SOME RESEARCH on going natural. Talk to women who have gone natural, learn about your OTHER options for pain, read books!
PS: my absolute favorite book I read during my pregnancy was Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth. Seriously, I think that had a HUGE impact on my ability to withstand contractions. It’s chock-full of positive birth stories, and countless tips for overcoming the pain that is labor. An absolute must read (pick up your copy here from Amazon!).
Also, have you taken a prenatal class yet? Many hospitals offer them as a weekend class you can do with your partner. Or, if you don’t have the time to devote a whole weekend away, you can take an online prenatal class (right from your couch, in your PJ’s). I personally took this class, and it has everything you would learn in a standard classroom setting (I’ve taken a classroom setting prenatal class as well). I’m all about the internet, guys (and my PJ’s).
UPDATE: Use code LABORTEEN for 10% off any course!
TID BIT NUMBER FIVE: STAY AT HOME AS LONG AS YOU CAN
Or, if you’re delivering at your home…well…just stay there! But seriously, if you begin to labor at home on your own (your water hasn’t broken yet, you’re not bleeding, baby is moving around), you need to literally stay at home as long as you can possibly bear it.
I’m talking…you’re shaking, you’re vomiting, you think you just can’t do it anymore…THEN leave for the hospital.
Unless you have a super long commute (I’m not advising you wait TOO long, did you see what recently happened to Seth Meyer and his wife?), wait until your contractions are 3ish minutes apart, lasting about a minute long, and about a 9 out of 10 on your pain scale.
This happens all the time, women end up rolling into triage BEFORE they are in active labor.
If this is your first pregnancy, it’s also extremely common to wonder, “is this it?”, get excited, and come straight to the hospital. It’s okay, MANY women do this. The key here is, you shouldn’t be coming to the hospital until you ARE ABSOLUTELY SURE THIS IS LABOR, AND IT JUST KEEPS GETTING WORSE.
TID BIT NUMBER SIX: KEEP TELLING YOURSELF THAT IT’S GOING TO GET WORSE
Okay, I know you’re probably wondering “Huh??”
The truth is, this is a little mental game that I played with myself during my own labor.
I kept saying, “Okay, I got through that contraction, but it’s going to get worse…be prepared for it to get worse.” This went through my head at 4, 6, and 10 centimeters. It was my way of retaining some control over the pain.
My thought process was…if I can somehow trick myself into thinking “It’s going to keep getting worse, it’s going to get worse”, then maybe when I was ACTUALLY at the peak of “it being the absolute worst” (which for me was around 9.5 centimeters right before I started pushing) I had already gotten through the worst of it! Success, now downhill!
TID BIT NUMBER SEVEN: MOVE AROUND A TON
I’m actually surprised at myself that I didn’t include this in my original article! But YES! Move around A TON!
I remember MY lovely labor nurse telling me mid-labor “don’t do the same thing for more than 30 minutes”, and I didn’t. In fact, I couldn’t help BUT move!
I’m the kind of person that completely CANNOT sit still when in pain. I was moving, shaking, kicking my legs, rocking back and forth…basically ANYTHING to distract myself from my contractions.
Moving and changing your positioning not only helps labor not feel so long (because you’re always changing something up), it also helps with progression! Seriously, the more movement you do, (usually) the quicker your labor will progress once you’ve reached the active stage.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had patients who just want to lay in bed on their backs in agony during their contractions. I’ve literally had to pick patients up out of their beds before and encourage them to move.
I get it, though. The way some women deal with contraction pain is tensing up and trying to stay as still as possible, hoping their stillness will lessen the pain intensity.
Unfortunately, this prolongs everything and has a negative effect on your labor pattern. Remember what I said earlier about NO FEAR? This “staying still” drill is fear. Instead of laying there and letting each contraction hit you like a ton of bricks, it’s WAY more beneficial to SHOW THEM WHO’S BOSS. Move your butt around the room! I promise movement will shorten your labor duration SIGNIFICANTLY.
Gravity is also your best friend, and any position that allows your pelvis to be upright is great! (Walking, squatting, leaning over your partner, sitting on a yoga ball etc.) PS: Ina May Gaskin’s Book that I mentioned earlier has a whole section of great labor positions you can try!
TID BIT NUMBER EIGHT: KNOW THAT THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER OPTIONS
Have you read my post on alternative pain control methods you can use during labor? I’ve put a list together of EVERYTHING you can do INSTEAD of getting an epidural. Trust me, there are a lot of options out there…and I’m not just talking about “labor breathing” (even though that is one!) 😊
TID BIT NUMBER NINE: FIND YOUR FOCUS
This can be a spot on the wall, the sound of your own breathing, looking someone directly in their eyes (I’ve done this many times with patients and it helps!), or simply thinking of one certain thing that helps you overcome that current contraction you are having.
Labor is a huge control battle. Finding a focal point to direct your out-of-control mind is HUGE.
If I have a patient who is really out of control (crying, kicking, screaming, jumping all over the place etc.), I get right in her face. I sternly say something like “FOCUS. Think about that baby! You can do this. Look at me and take a big deep breath. Breathe it in, blow it out. Let it all go” This is usually enough to get through a contraction! It’s all about FINDING THAT FOCUS and concentrating on it.
AND FINALLY, TID BIT NUMBER TEN: IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD
Labor is “mind over matter” as cliché as that sounds. It’s a huge mental game you play with yourself, and the biggest battle is convincing yourself YOU CAN make it to the end.
Have you ever run a marathon? Labor is undeniably similar to running a marathon.
I’ve completed a few half marathons, and it’s actually amazing to me how similar the little voice in my head during my half marathon….was during my labor
“You can do this, ok this is the easy part”
“Getting tired, but KEEP BREATHING”
“Pace yourself, it’s going to get worse, just keep the end in sight”
“Get over this hill! I know it’s so hard, but you’re almost over the top! Come on! FINALLY, downhill…ahhhhh”
“Almost at the finish line, I CAN SEE IT! I’M SO TIRED BUT I GOTTA PUSH A LITTLE HARDER TO GET THERE!”
I’m not advising you sign up for a half-marathon while you’re pregnant (even though some bad*ss mamas totally do that!), but maybe look at it this way for some inspiration!
Are you planning a natural birth? I want to hear from YOU! What else will help you through YOUR labor?
Labor is very personal, and everyone is different. Some methods that work for some ladies, work terribly for others. It’s all about finding what works for you and harnessing the power and drive within yourself that you knew you had all along!
Happy birthing! 😊
Katie is a mom of three boys, and really struggled with healing after the birth of her first child. She even went through pelvic floor physical therapy for weeks to manage scar tissue that developed from tearing. She has experience studying nutrition, physical therapy and she’s a Pilates instructor, so she’s put together a complete postpartum recovery fitness program! I personally wish I would’ve followed from the beginning, too!
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